We Measured the Lead Response Time of 323 Service Businesses. Here's What We Discovered.

Written by Jeff Cole on November 1, 2017

I recently moved apartments.

A week or so before my move-out date, I needed to schedule a vacancy cleaning.  So I went to the website of a local cleaning business to ask about their pricing.  There was no live chat option to send them a quick message so I navigated to their “contact us” form.  

They wanted me to fill out 9 fields of information for one simple question.

I closed the window.

I then decided to give them a call.  Of course, I was met with was an automated voice messaging system:  If you know your party’s extension, dial it now. If you’d like to speak to a customer service representative, please press 0. I’m sorry – no one is available right now. Please leave your name and number. Someone will get back to you soon.

I hung up.

Fortunately, there are lots of options for cleaning services and I simply clicked on the next listing from my Google search. 

As I landed on the next cleaning company’s website, I was immediately greeted with an invitation to start a live chat.  Within 60 seconds, I understood their pricing and had booked an appointment.

While I had previously written about the importance of lead response time, this experience made it real and personal.  The cleaning company won my business because they engaged with me when it mattered most – when I was live on their site.  

How many other businesses were winning, or losing, business because of their response time?

Because the Path team are data nerds, we decided to run a study.

We visited the websites of 323 service oriented business websites, filled out “contact us” forms, requested appointments, and measured how quickly each responded to a “hot” sales lead.

Here’s what we discovered:


Get ready to wait: Only 6.8% of the companies we surveyed responded within 5 minutes and 39.63% took more than one day to respond.

Fastest responders have one thing in common: The companies with the top 10 fastest response times all use live chat, with an average response time of 90 seconds.

But live chat is rare:  Only 3.4% of the companies we surveyed have a live chat tool on their website

Here’s what we found after measuring the lead response time of 323 companies:



Why does it matter?  Because response time drives conversion rate.

According to a study by Harvard Business Review / InsideSales.com, the odds of contacting a lead decrease by over 10x in the first hour.  In addition, the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drops 21x.

Most shockingly, Dr. James Oldroyd’s Lead Response Management Study estimates that 35-50% of sales go to the business who responds to a lead first.

How fast your business responds to leads has a huge impact on your lead-to-sale conversion rate.  Put another way, responding to leads faster means more revenue.


Companies with the top 10 fastest response times

Out of the 323 companies we surveyed, the top 10 companies averaged a response time of 52 seconds, with all ten companies responding under 3 minutes.

The top 10 companies had one thing in common: they all used live chat on their website.

Unfortunately, only 11 out of the 323 companies used live chat on their website.


The takeaway

Filling out web forms and playing phone tag is not a modern way to connect and leaves your prospects with the wrong impression. People today expect instant service. Businesses who take more than 5 minutes to respond to leads are leaving money on the table.

Your business may provide the best service, offer the lowest pricing, and have a winning “secret sauce”, but if you don’t respond to inquiries within 5 minutes, hot leads turn cold.

Imagine if you walked into a store, asked for help, and the clerk told you to fill out your information on a clip board. The clerk then didn’t tell you how long it would be until you could expect a response.  This would obviously be a terrible experience.

Forcing prospects on your website to fill out a form is the same thing.

Fortunately, live chat allows you to instantly connect with your prospects when they are live on your site. It’s a critical, but very brief, window of opportunity to engage a prospect, capture lead details, and move them down the sales funnel.

As our study showed, the top 10 companies that had the best response times all used live chat to respond to leads.  But, only 11 out of 323 companies we surveyed were currently using live chat.

This means there is a huge opportunity for your business.

90% of consumers today want to use messaging to connect with businesses and as we’ve highlighted in this study, lead response time drives conversion rate. By providing your prospects with a messaging channel on your website, your business will generate more leads, close sales faster, and improve customer service.

Here at Path, we believe that there is no reason why anyone looking for care, legal advice, or other services should not be able to do so in an instant with a message.  The issue is that most businesses do not offer live chat and SMS as communication channels. We built Path to change this.

Click here to learn more about Path’s intelligent messaging platform and start a free trial today.