Can I Call You Back Later?

Has telephone CRM lost its value? One might think so from the results of a recent study conducted by InsideSales.com. The research team sought to investigate lead response management out of the top 500 web companies. After filling out web-based inquiry forms, researchers awaited responses. Surprisingly only eight percent of companies responded to by phone. Forty-seven percent responded by email, but forty-five percent never responded to any inquiry at all.

Where has the phone contact gone? "I think it's [the lack of phone contact] mostly because web-based organizations haven't made the leap back to using the phone as a media," says Ken Krogue, founder of InsideSales.com "When they first rolled out the web marketing, they intentionally tried not to put phone information on the web." Yet, research shows that telephone call response has as much value as ever, Krogue speaks of one particular company that found so many people wanting to call with questions about its website that it finally put up a number on the page. On an immediate basis, sales increased 20 percent.

The study was conducted by Incoho, an Ottawa-based data research firm and was presented at the Omniture Summit 2008 in Salt Lake City. As for the web companies put to test, Krogue said the research team started with the top sites on Alexa and worked its way down. They looked for web forms that were to supposed to lead to follow-up responses. The team inputted phone numbers that would be automatically recorded, much akin to secret shopping. From there, the team could gauge results based on response times. He says they were shocked that some of the companies did not call back at all.

This is InsideSales.com's first study on web inquiry response. Last year paired with Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT, the company conducted research on lead response management, ultimately finding that quicker response times lead to quicker sales.

"We found there was an interesting effect if you called back really quickly. If called back after five minutes, sales increased tremendously. If you wait 30 minutes, it's different," says Krogue. "Things are moving so fast on the web that even awhile later people have moved on to something different." Data shows a 90 percent increase in contact rate when responding within five minutes to a web-based inquiry. In what InsideSales.com refers to as the "Wow Factor," responding on immediate basis increases the likelihood of contact because shoppers are more often near there phones. The customer also has the intended purchase close to the top of the mind.

So what does the lack of response say about web-based companies CRM? Krogue attributes the delay in response and lack thereof to the gap between sales and marketing. "We are finding that marketing is taking more control but they don't realize how important lead response is."

Krogue suggests implementing power tools that automatically insert query data from the web-based forms into CRM systems. He also says that building a process with a timestamp is key. And if companies hurry, there's a good chance picking up the phone is worth it.

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