Three Trends to Help Grow Your Business Faster
What do your customers want today, now more than ever? Faster response times. The business world has created a need for speed. And if you don’t deliver it, your customer is going to go somewhere else.
Most businesses struggle when it comes to fast response times. A lead response study by Harvard Business Review of 2,241 firms found the average lead response time for B2B companies was 42 hours, and 23 percent of companies never responded.
We’re a little better in real estate, but still nowhere near where we need to be. An agent responsiveness study conducted by WAV Group for Weichert Realtors found the average time an agent took to respond to a lead was 917 minutes. Nearly half (48%) of buyer inquiries never received a response.
There’s an enormous chasm between how fast businesses are responding today and how fast customers want a response. Researchers say 41% of US consumers admit they are more impatient today than they were five years ago, due to their over-reliance on technology to complete everyday life activities.
On social media, 84% of consumers expect a business to respond within 24 hours of a posting. On Twitter, people who are complaining to a company expect a response with an hour. It’s the same for email. And if they call you, a consumer will only wait on hold for an average of 11 minutes before hanging up.
Fortunately, three trends have rapidly emerged to specifically address your client’s need for speed: automation, digital conversations, and artificial intelligence. Let’s take a look at how each of these can help you grow your business faster by tackling the speed issue.
Automation has become more than a time-saver for businesses and their sales forces. It’s also become a way to improve how we incorporate technology into our daily business lives. Take the CRM, for example. Automation has accelerated adoption of a well-designed CRM, like Salesforce, because it makes a CRM a more powerful business tool.
For example, a study last year by Introhive revealed 58% of users found a CRM was more helpful when the CRM automatically inputs data from other sources. Nearly half (47%) said a CRM was more helpful when it automatically surfaces important insights on contacts, accounts or deals. And 46% said a CRM was more helpful when it can automatically format important insights for easy communication with customers or prospects.
Automation is also helping to turn data into customer trust. Automation improves four crucial areas when it comes to mining data: speed, consistency, accuracy and scalability. Because the automation process helps to ensure data consistency and accuracy, the reliability of the data is enhanced.
The deeper insights that automation helps draw out of the data lead to better understanding. And increased understanding can translate into greater empathy from your customers. The ability to provide this experience with warp speed, and to do it again and again, builds customer trust.
Conversation interfaces are changing how we think about technology. How our customers interact with technology on a daily basis has also changed. The good news is: This is a space where your company, large or small, can help close the speed gap in meeting customer response requirements.
The first area of digital conversations you can apply to grow your business faster includes the world of bots. A bot is simply a software program that can execute commands, such as reply to messages or perform routine tasks, typically automatically. In real estate, the most common use is for agent websites, where chatbots often are used to conduct a text conversation to answer basic customer questions. Chatbots are typically used when a popup is deployed, inviting questions a website user may have.
Today, there are all kinds of bots with specialized purposes. Information bots use chatbots, the same technology that agents use, for everyday consumer requests. Application bots are used to build interfaces to mobile applications. Enterprise productivity bots help streamline work activities and improve efficiencies. And Internet of Things (IoT) bots enable conversational interfaces for device interactions.
Today, messaging bots powered by AI are huge timesavers that make business more profitable. Facebook Messenger alone has 110,000 bots.
Remarkably, 44% of consumers say they prefer chatbots for customer service, according to a research study by Aspect. The study also found that 65% of consumers feel good when they can resolve a customer service issue without a live person. That’s up from 57% in a year. And 70% of respondents prefer to use chatbots to interact with companies for simple to moderate interactions and transactions. As chatbots get smarter, consumer preference is swinging towards digital conversations.
The other area that businesses can leverage to grow faster is in the voice-activated speaker world of Amazon Echo and Google Home. Your customers are embracing this new technology. These voice assistants are the most likely technology to be used by consumers, and 56% of all consumers say they like the latest technology, according to research by Fetch.
More importantly, 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that their devices are typically part of their daily routine. And this number might scare you a bit: 41% of people who own one of these devices say it “feels like talking to a friend,” according to a Google/Peerless study.
How can you tap into this new tech? Customers want to access information about your business on these devices:
• 52% want information about deals
• 48% want personalized tips and information that can make their lives easier
• 42% want information about upcoming events and activities
• 39% would like options to find your business or your hours of operation
• 38% want to use these devices to access your customer support
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The last top trend that can help you grow your business is one we’ve already covered at a surface level. Artificial intelligence (AI) is what is makes automation better, chatbots smarter, and Echo and Google Home devices work.
But AI will do even more to help you grow your business if you let it. A great example is OJO Labs, a real estate AI startup from Austin. Like Siri or Alexa, OJO’s AI assistant answers questions that some consumers searching for a home may be hesitant to ask an agent. Consumers in the very early stages of a home shopping process often don’t want to bother an agent with questions, while others fear asking an agent questions could result in sales pressure. OJO’s AI assistant solves both problems.
By tapping into WolfNet’s vast database OJO is already pretty smart. A home shopper can text OJO and ask if a property has a certain feature, like a backyard. OJO AI response? “Yes, it has 4 large oak trees for privacy and shade around the back patio.” Right now, OJO is using image recognition software and AI to quickly learn what a home buyer likes and doesn’t like about homes. It then searches through millions of photographs in seconds to find the homes that match the buyer’s personality and style.
Another example is using AI that most business can relate to is for lead scoring. Over time, AI gathers and analyzes data to learn things about your leads. It starts to discover which leads are most likely to convert and then scores your leads. This allows your marketing folks to figure out which channels are delivering the highest-scored leads. And that will lead to improving your ROI on your marketing spend.
Most importantly, AI gets better over time because it gets smarter. If you have an AI for your CRM, such as Salesforce Einstein, then the more it learns, the better insights and suggestions it can provide your business.
In the end, these three trends — automation, digital conversations, and AI — can all help you increase your response speed. That will help you grow your business more rapidly because customers not only want better service, they will also pay for it.
Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations survey indicated that 68% of customers would pay more to the company that provides great service: 33% would pay 1-9% more; 27% would pay 10-20% more, and 8% would be willing to pay over 20% more if the service was great.
Jump into these trends, provide your customers the speed they need, and they will reward your business for the enhanced service you can deliver.