The Importance of Follow-Up
“Congratulations, Captain Obvious.” That’s probably your first thought when I mention that timely follow-up* to leads is essential for conversion.
Yes for many of you, this topic may be old news. But it never ceases to surprise me how many practices don’t take this information seriously.
In this overworked, multiple-hat, reduced margin, controlled overhead business category of ours, it’s easy to understand how a practice staff simply doesn’t have the time or resources to dedicate to immediate follow-up, especially for email leads.
Yet it’s a Catch 22, because the attention span of prospects is just as fleeting. They’d no sooner forget they contacted you and considered your service, than they’re on to the next practice or simply disregard the initial intention.
By failing to respond quickly to inquiries you’re essentially killing the lifeblood of your practice: new patients.
How much damage are you doing? Let’s take a look at research from some of my favorite studies:
A couple years back, MIT did a study on both contact and conversions called the ‘Lead Response Study.’ I won’t go into complete detail (you can read a good summary here), but one of the key measurements was associating phone call follow-up response time to email leads and the likelihood of contact. Two key discoveries:
1. The odds of contacting a lead decreased by over 10 times in the 1st hour.
4. The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times.
Yes, you read that correctly. People who weren’t followed up after 5 minutes were 100x less likely to do business with you.
Thirsty for some more compelling research?
Data from a study of 2,241 U.S. firms** showed that: “Companies that try to contact potential customers from a web-generated lead within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations… as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour.”
Still not convinced? According to insidesales.com: “…responding to a lead within 15 minutes equates to a 900% increase in potential conversion.”
Now many of you might think that’s absurd: “You expect us to pay to have someone just waiting to respond to an email?”
Well then I ask would you like to see success such as this real world example?***
A cosmetic practice (that shall remain nameless) developed a pretty ingenious lead capture system on their website. It would ask visitors realistic questions about their cosmetic desires, and based on that information send customized information via automated email. The capture system worked great, to the point where the practice was generating hundreds of email leads a month just from one form. Yet growth remained stagnant.
How is that possible? One reason: the practice made the mistake of trusting the automated system to do all the work.
Recalling the data from these studies, the practice decided to do a little test – “Okay what if we called each of these people immediately after receiving the lead?”
From then on, every form that came in triggered an immediate outbound call, with a simple (paraphrased badly) message: “Hi, I’m so-and-so from ABC practice and I saw you filled out one of our personalized cosmetic forms. Here’s what you should expect to receive, and the information it will contain…etc. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to answer them personally for you, and please let me know if for some reason you haven’t received the information.”
Yes, 75% of those phone calls went to voicemail – but it still was a personal touch.
So what were the results? A 300% increase in monthly gross practice revenue just 3 months after implementation, all because of that one little change in outreach.
Now this isn’t meant to diminish the value of a good CRM and automatic follow-up process. It’s to state the case for a more personal, and timely, initial response.
When it comes to follow-up, there’s really only 2 rules:
1). Get to the lead before your competition.
2) Stay in touch with leads after your competition gives up.
#2 is best utilized through a quality CRM and drip campaign system. Here’s a good one to check out. In the meantime, pick up the phone (or better yet, have us do it for you), and give your prospects a call…before your competition does.
*when I reference ‘follow up,’ I mean follow-up from a real live person representing your business. Not an auto-generated email response.
**Study conducted by South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University in 2012.
***This is a 100% true case with growth #’s produced in 2012-2013.