Hosted by Darren DeYoung, Elin Enrooth and Ryan Boog
Customers have high demands for any business. But is anything more intense than the need to quickly respond to customers? You have so many important things to do so a simple response to a customer can wait, right? The digital responsiveness of a business can make or break a sale. It can make or break a customer. It can be the difference between a 5-star and 1-star review. It can also set a business apart from its competition and attract new customers.
We're back for another edition of the Hoist Hangout. Today we're talking about digital responsiveness, specifically how you can attract homeowners while being digitally responsive. And it's a growing concern. So many people expect their questions, their problems, just to be solved immediately by the business they're interacting with. They want to know the cost of a product, the cost of a service. Perhaps they want to book an appointment or ask a question, or ultimately just buy something online and all those transactions, all those interactions have an expectation to be very quick.
Darren: We're back for another edition of the Hoist Hangout. It's Ryan, Elin and Darren here again, and this week, we're talking about digital responsiveness, specifically how you can attract homeowners while being digitally responsive. And it's a growing concern. So many people expect their questions, their problems, just to be solved immediately by the business they're interacting with. They want to know the cost of a product, the cost of a service. Perhaps they want to book an appointment or ask a question, or ultimately just buy something online and all those transactions, all those interactions have an expectation to be very quick. So many businesses are integrating new features: auto email responses, live chat, online contact forms, appointment booking features, anything to appease their consumers with a high level of digital responsiveness. And of course, we need to see all this done on a mobile device, as well as many consumers are taking care of their business from mobile devices as opposed to desktop.
So it's no question that the world is speeding up. A team from the United Kingdom concluded about a dozen years ago that the world was speeding up by about 10% faster than ever before. The lead scientist on that study believed that the increased pace of life is driven by nothing else than technology, the way we are constantly in touch with each other.
A lot of people may refer to this as “hurry sickness'', which we all know that feeling, how you rush from one thing to another. You flip, open your phone, your computer, the moment perhaps you get home, or for some people, the moment they wake up, you're reaching for your cell phone, just to see what's going on to see what you missed overnight. It's a change in the way our society is behaving and it's affecting our businesses. And we want to talk about how it affects your business.
Ryan: Just curious, do you guys ever get that? You get home. It's like, "Oh my gosh, I've been away from my phone for 20 minutes. I got to take a look at it. I just woke up, got to see what I missed when I was sleeping."
Elin: As soon as I wake up, it's the first thing I reach for and I kind of hate it, but I do it.
Ryan: I think everybody does it.
Darren: It triggers the same effect that drugs trigger, right? Looking at your screen. Some studies have said that I don't know which ones off the top of my head, but.
Ryan: The dopamine kick.
Darren: Yeah, it's the dopamine kick.
Elin: That's interesting.
Ryan: No, I'm sorry to cut you off, keep going.
Darren: No, that's all right. So we all agree that there's a need for immediacy and it's triggered by the pace of our society, but as society speeds up, business owners need to do that as well to meet the needs of their consumers, their clients. According to Small Business Trends, 82% of consumers expect an immediate response. Well, what do we define immediate response as? That's defined as 10 minutes or less. Now that's not like a sales or marketing question, but what if you have a customer service question, something broke or you're just trying to get something fixed. Well, that expectation increases to 90%.
So regardless, 82%, 90% that’s a huge pressure on business and especially a small business. Now, let's turn the tables and ask the business owners, how many of them feel like they can respond to a customer before that customer moves on to a competitor? 55% of them say they feel like they have an hour or less. And that's not a lot of time, especially if you're working with a small team. If you have a complaint come in via social media, maybe via Google, you have to get back to them pretty quickly. Now this isn't everyone, but this is merely a survey of business owners.
Ryan: Yeah. And I would agree with that, but I think it's even more dramatic for homeowners that when you're working in a business to business setting, there's more patience there. We all kind of understand that we're busy, we have stuff going on. And so if we don't get back to somebody right away, there's a little bit more grace there, but the homeowner, their life is accustomed to everything being instant. And so if the homeowner's reaching out to a business like yours, for example, and they need something done for them, if you don't answer right away, they're going to want to reach out to somewhere else because they're used to that immediacy of getting something right away. So I think for homeowners, it's definitely less than an hour. If you're not answering within a handful of minutes, they're just going to keep searching until they find the answer they need.
Darren: Exactly. If I have a broken-down air conditioner on a 90 degree day, I'm not going to be waiting too long or a broken-down furnace in the middle of winter. So what's driving this? Why is our society trending in this direction? Well, we've all heard of a company called Amazon. Obviously, they're a big business and they have done very well. And if you're a Prime member, you probably love being a Prime member, shipping and delivery in two days or less. That's slowly created this expectation for so many other businesses, whether you're the size of Amazon or not. So that's just one example. We see that the airports getting through the TSA pre-check, you can subscribe to a service called Clear that expedites that process for you. Basically, there's so many businesses evolving that we can purchase or buy our way to greater convenience. And that's just a trickle-down effect from some of these larger examples and that's spreading to every business that has transactions. So as life speeds up, consumer marketing needs to focus on the ways to be immediate as well. So how can your business improve its responsiveness and ultimately attract homeowners? So Ryan, let's start with you. Let's look at a website, a business's website. What are some of the top recommendations you would have for improving responsiveness?
Ryan: That's a good question. So if you came up to me and you said, I need to reach homeowners and I need to improve our responsiveness, we're way too slow in responding to them. What can we do? There's a handful of things you can do. Right away one of the biggest things I can think of is inserting a chat bot. And I can talk more about what goes on behind that later on today. But a chat bot allows them to instantly connect. So they don't have to fill out a form, sit and wait for you to email them back. It's instant. They get a hold of you and they fill up the chat and you can respond right away. So it's like doing a phone call without doing a phone call. It's almost like texting in a way. So chatbots are something you can put on your website and it's a great way to improve your responsiveness.
Darren: So Ryan, if I'm a small business owner, what if I don't have the personnel to man that chat bot all day?
Ryan: Well, if you don't have the personnel to man that chat bot, I would say you might want to try to find personnel to man that chat bot because responsiveness is that important. If not, I think you're going to have to find other methods to improve responsiveness. So if somebody needs to get in touch with you, you want to make it as easy as possible. So you don't have anybody to man the chat bot, okay, we get it. But you should at least have your contact info very easily discoverable on your website.
So if you have an online form, usually it's on your contact page, make it very simple. Why do you want it simple? Because you don't want to give analysis paralysis where they have to fill out 50 things and they feel like you're trying to pry information out of them. We had great success with one that was literally just a phone number. We didn’t even ask for the email address, their name, anything like that. It was a quick call-back form with just a phone number. And we actually got lots of leads from that. So keep it simple and people are more likely to fill it out and that way you can get back to them at your earliest convenience. But I do recommend that if you can get somebody that can be there for responsiveness right away, that's great.
Also on your website, you can have your phone number and on mobile phones, you tap that phone number and boom, they call you right away. So if you didn't have somebody to man a chat bot, at least you should have somebody there to answer the phone. So one of those two ways you can improve responsiveness right there, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. And do you have your phone number on there? That way they can tap it and get in touch with you right away.
If I can think of another method, I guess it'd be, they might want an answer to a question without even talking to you. If that's the case, you can make a section on your website for FAQs. Answer their questions right away on the FAQ section of your website. That way you're not answering the same question over and over. And then when they do get in touch with you, it's usually for something that's more important. Those are a few examples I can think of top of my head.
Darren: And if you do it right, the way Google is working with schema markup, a lot of times, those FAQ questions may appear right in the search and they'll never reach your website per se, but they can still see the answer to your question if it is done right.
Ryan: For sure. And you build trust that way and your brand improves from that as well. So yeah, like you said, that's a new thing, but people can search for something on Google and get their answer, not even get to your website, but you provided that answer for them. So if you did that kudos to you and your brand, they will remember your brand. And if they do need your services, they will be calling you.
Darren: Right. Right. No, that's huge. So a lot of times consumers, when they are upset, when a business is slow, slow to respond and maybe doesn't respond, you know where they're going, social media. And they aren't going there probably with a kind and loving heart they're going there to rant. So let's turn the tables a little bit and talk about social media, how businesses can improve their responsiveness, there in order so they can attract new customers instead of turning them away. Elin, what do you got for us?
Elin: All right. Yeah. So customers do tend to go to social media, to complain or ask questions and they expect immediate responses just because of the nature of social media. They expect a response right away. So, I mean, don't ignore social media complaints and questions. If someone does leave a complaint on your page, it is going to give your business a much better look if you respond to that versus just letting it sit there. So like your website, there aren't really many tools you can use to help improve responsiveness other than having someone manning those social media sites and making it a practice to monitor your sites daily, if not multiple times a day, to make sure that those questions and complaints are handled and taken care of.
Direct messages also are pretty important. A lot of customers do take to direct messages and expect responses on those right away as well.
Ryan: Yeah. That's like a good, I guess, combination on the website, you have a chat bot in social media land, you have direct messages and it's primarily... You'd say in Facebook you can have Facebook direct messages to the company, but any social media though, a lot of them, they do have the direct messaging capabilities as well. So that's almost like your chat bot in social land.
Elin: Right. Right. And there's really no way to automate that other than have someone monitor that, but it is really important. Even your response doesn't have to be too in-depth. It is a good practice to make sure that you personalize responses, but just sending any sort of response is going to paint your business in a better light, especially since that is public. And if someone does write a complaint on your page, it is able to be seen by followers and everyone else on the internet.
Ryan: Yes. There's some technology that you can use in social media that helps automate the chat process, but really you're right. The best way is to have a person behind there for those personalized responses. And it's the same with the web world. I know I've talked a little bit before about web chat and chat bots that go on your website. It's true, there are chat bots that are AI driven and they can technically answer some questions. "What are your hours? How do I get there from Pennsylvania?" Whatever it is. And it can answer some of those questions, that's fine and dandy. And you can use that. In general, if you're connecting with homeowners, they can get frustrated using AI bots, especially if they're not up to snuff. If they don't answer your question and they don't allow you to contact somebody right away, you have to jump through extra hoops, it causes frustration. So that's why I think the best way is to have some actual person behind there.
Now, in terms of the software that you use, I cannot sit here and just recommend one piece of software, because it really depends on how your business is set up. Let's say you have the Zendesk suite, and that includes your CRM and your support tickets and everything. Well, they have their own chat bot that you put on your website. And so that would be perfect for you. Now, if your business doesn't have the Zendesk suite and you have a different CRM, they might have their own chat bot that you can put in that ties in directly into the CRM. If you don't use any CRM, you can use a third-party chat bot. There's a million of them out there. So there really isn't a tried and true, "Hey, this is the best chat bot that I think you could use," but you should research and find what's going to integrate best into your business. If you have a CRM use one that syncs up with your CRM. And if you don't have any CRM use one, that's the easiest to implement there as well. So for chat, I think that works out great. For sending texts that's a little bit of a different story Elin, can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Elin: It is definitely smart to invest in SMS. Obviously, if it's a good fit for your business, it does have a 98% open rate, which is huge. And obviously, people have their phones on them all the time, and there are different software that you can use to do that. But I mean, if you want customers to get your message fast, it's a good solution.
Ryan: Yeah, it is. It really is. It's a great solution because they're accustomed to it, right? Homeowners are glued to their phone, like we talked about before. The first thing they look at when they wake up, it's the first thing they see when they as soon as they're done with dinner, they look at their phone. That's just kind of the way people are. So if you're reaching them via SMS, you're being responsive because you're communicating to them right where they are. So that was great. No, I think SMS is an often overlooked way to reach new customers who are likely homeowners.
Another way I hinted at earlier is also the CRM. So the CRM is a piece of software that you manage all of your client information in, and there's so many of them out there and they do so many different things, but in general, a CRM will keep your client's contact information, a history of the business they've done with you before any chat information, if they've chatted with you and it's a central hub, basically for your clients, it's your client management system if you think about it that way, right?
So if you actually are using a good CRM, you can increase your responsiveness because it does have those tools like those chat bots. You do have alerts that go to your phone if you have the app installed on your phone. There are ways that if they fill out a form, if they call, if they text, if you really have a good CRM, it's going to notice all those things. And it's going to kick you notifications and nudge you to get back into your CRM and reach back out to your clients. I think another interesting solution that we could do or talk about here is something we implemented for a client a while back. And it's software that as somebody fills out a form on the website, the software will call the business owner. So you, the business owner, who's trying to reach the homeowner, it'll call you and say, "Hey, somebody just fill out a form. Here's their name, blah, blah, blah, blah. Do you want to connect? Press one to connect."
You, press one. And then boom, it goes right to them. So you can stay at your work, focusing on what you're focusing on. And if you need to call somebody who filled out the form, it will call you and initiate that phone call. So you don't have to even do the heavy lifting of waiting for the form to come in, watching it, and then dialing it as soon as it's ready. It does all that for you. So that's some interesting technology that does exist that initiates that phone call between you and the customer and it's amazing the amount of deals they would close because they responded so quickly. Typically by the time somebody hits submit on the form, the software called the business. The software initiated the call between the business and the homeowner. It was less than two minutes. It was probably less than one minute. And for you're sitting at your house and you need somebody to come over, you fill out the form and within a hundred seconds, somebody is on the phone with you. That's incredible! So that's another piece of software for you to think about is some automated form response software that can really help us your business as well.
Darren: And that may be available if you get a general phone answering service, which is something else to consider. I know some small businesses may be opposed to it, but there are plenty of options out there for 24/7 phone answering services. Something as simple as if your business hours are eight to five, the service will pick up the phone. It'll reroute the phone calls from 5:00 PM to 8:00 AM the next day.
It just gives you that 24-hour presence, that in some cases you need, especially if your primary client is a homeowner and if they have a furnace that's not working and they're calling you at 10 o'clock just sometimes to hear a live voice will allow them to leave a message that can be delivered to you or your technicians the following morning. And then you can follow up with them at that point. There's a plethora of phone answering services-- ones that have real-life human beings, ones that are based on time zones, when they're going to answer how they're going to answer. And a lot of them are really good. So sometimes you just need that someone to pick up the phone or for those people who do pick up the phone, they just want to hear a live voice as opposed to being routed to a messaging system.
Ryan: I agree. I think outsourcing that is a very smart idea. And if you're stuck with some of the things we're talking about, let's say social media, you should outsource that as well, right Elin?
Elin: Right. Yeah. So social is important obviously, as we've discussed, and while there are a few software solutions out there, you really should have someone monitoring it 24/7. So if that's something you're able to do on your mobile device during the day, and that works for you, then just making sure that you're staying on top of things is good. But if this isn't something your business is capable of doing, making sure that all those inquiries are being answered in a way it might be smart to consider hiring an agency to manage your social accounts.
Ryan: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. It's “do what you do best, hire out the rest.”
Darren: So that's all we have for you today. We just want to help you attract homeowners and make sure your digital responsiveness is where it needs to be. We hope the few tech-based solutions that we discussed, maybe spring some actions so you can go out there and grow your business.