An immediate solution, even a mediocre one, is much more valuable than a perfect solution delivered 8 days later. We’re not suggesting, of course, that you offer mediocre solutions, but if there’s one fundamental ingredient in securing a sale, it’s providing an instant response.

Companies that respond to queries from potential customers in less than an hour are 7 times more likely to qualify the lead. Every time a lead gets in touch with you, take action. Showing speed and efficiency will accelerate the buying process.

A report in eMarketer on key digital trends for 2014 talks of new consumer demands in an age where connectivity has removed limits of time and space. The study announces the end of 24- or 48-hour response times. Your potential clients now have access to all the information they need from multiple sources. If you don’t want to lose those clients in your sales funnel, you need to respond to them immediately (right from the consideration phase through to after-sales service).

A recent study authored by Google and Nielsen supports those findings. Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings explains that more than half the sample said they want to make a purchase within an hour of conducting research on their mobile device. We can conclude, then, that most searches on a mobile are carried out to satisfy an immediate need.

If you’re looking to perfect your interaction with the consumer, read on for some key tips:

Configure your alerts: Whether we’re talking emails, missed calls, tweets, or comments in a LinkedIn discussion that cite your company, you need a system of alerts to follow up on requests, complaints or recommendations concerning your brand.

Prioritise personal contact: As questions can come from a wide variety of media, all the company’s employees need to dedicate part of their time to answering requests. Email inboxes needs regular checking and phone calls noted, plus you need to manage your social network community and monitor what the media say about you. Adopt a friendly, open attitude, and if you receive a comment that could damage your brand reputation, address it in a private conversation.

Respond instantly – and accurately: Prepare responses quickly and back them up with relevant data. You don’t want to keep a customer waiting, pass their request from one colleague to another or provide information that doesn’t solve their problem first time round. You need to get a sales impact with every opportunity that presents itself.

If you’re a big user of social networks but don’t want social activity to interrupt other tasks, use services such as HootSuite, TweetDeck or Buffer to manage publication times. It’s important to know how to plan, and not to improvise.

Personalise responses (but watch out for autoresponders): Always address a potential client by their first and last name. Don’t try to save time by using automatic responses with a general message. If you do, you risk giving a negative impression.

Encourage customer experience: A question-answer interaction is a great way of gaining feedback and detecting opportunities for improvement. Listen to your market and find out what it needs. A two-way dialogue will also put your customer at ease. Use each request to advise them, get to know what motivates them, and quickly adjust proposals that aren’t tailored to their needs. In short, promote a customer experience worthy of recommendation.

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