Though merchants’ rapid responses to customer phone calls clearly impact a consumer’s likeliness to buy from and recommend a brand, some companies keep consumers holding more than a minute before connecting them to a live representative. For most consumers, waiting for more than 60 seconds can feel like an eternity. Ifbyphone, a voice-based marketing automation software provider, announced the results of a study which ranks the most recent STORES Magazine top 100 retail brands by “how quickly a customer could connect for a live conversation.”
The Ifbyphone report, titled Consumers Waiting On-Hold More Than One Minute Won’t Convert Or Refer, found consumers were 59% more likely to buy and 73% more likely to recommend a brand when a call was answered within 60 seconds. A Responsiveness Index showed that while most brands were successful in meeting the timeframe, as many as 14 brands — primarily in the Home Furnishings and Consumer Electronics category — were unable to meet the mark.
For all 100 brands, the average time to reach a person when dialing a local store phone number was just under 36 seconds, according to the study, though more than half (55%) of calls were answered in less than 20 seconds.
Corporate response times did not fare as well. In fact, exactly two-thirds of the top 100 brands lagged behind on a corporate level, requiring customers to wait between one and eight minutes for a conversation.
Ifbyphone used secret shoppers to track the time required to reach a company representative. Each contacted the brands with the same intention: to hold a brief conversation about a nearby store location. The secret shoppers then called a local store to compare how long it took to connect there with a representative.
The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index indicated that regardless of ranking, the top 100 brands demonstrated a commitment to answering customer calls quickly, according to Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone. “The outstanding performance of these brands stands as an example of the importance brands place on fast customer response,” said Shapiro, “and is key to their business model. Clearly, for companies to compete, they need a combination of technology and staff to optimize responsiveness.”