What Is Your Close Ratio?
People are talking less and less to humans - Thumbtack and Home Advisor Know it Too
Have you noticed that you are talking less and less to humans? Heck, I’m a people person and even I’m enjoying people-less business transactions. For example: I use the ATM almost exclusively now… I don’t talk to a bank teller unless I have to. I use the self checkout lines at the grocery store for speed… skipping the human lines almost every time. I use touch screens at my favorite restaurants to have my order placed before the server gets to my table. I always check amazon.com before I consider buying anything in person.
But think of it: Doesn’t it mean that by missing out on the human touch I’m not enjoying all the world has to offer?
Really it means that I get my “have to’s” done faster so that I have more time for my “want to’s”. It means less energy with people I won’t have long-term relationships with in favor of getting back to friends and family.
What about you? Are you skipping humans more? According to Fast Company, 70% of people online expect a company website to include a “self-service application”. And according to Harvard Business Review, individuals spent up to 30% more at a service kiosk than at a register in the same store. Harvard Business Review concluded that in today’s culture when people spend more when they don’t feel “judged”, “pressured”, or “social friction”. People love instant gratification… so sometimes being able to serve themselves in the middle of the night is the main selling point. And that’s where Thumbtack comes in.
Online and Over the Phone Quotes
Do you pay for leads from Home Advisor or Thumbtack? Have you noticed that these companies have figured out how to “productize” your service by selling to customers the way they like it? They have found a way for customers who have “bounced” from your website to find what they are looking for on theirs. They provide the shopping experience customers are looking for and then sell the leads back to you. They get paid by each service provider and let them fight over the customer. Finding this exploit in the market, has built an entire industry off of selling your service to customers looking for instant gratification.
Have you considered remaining in control by giving quotes to your customers directly from your website 24/7 where you only compete against yourself? Do you give quotes over the phone? Both are great and will appeal differently to different customers. The important thing is consistency by building out a great system. In some cases the quote will be the most important transaction you’ll have with customers.
Benefits to the Customer
Today, most customers won’t wait for an in-person quote. The texting generation loathes to even call. The quicker they get their quote the sooner they can decide to move forward. There are many more benefits, but this personal story illustrates best:
When I had my window cleaning & pressure washing business I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving after I launched my basic online instant quote feature. I was in the kitchen helping my wife prepare the turkey while my phone kept buzzing on the counter. It was strange my phone would be active on a holiday, but after washing my hands I went over to check. I had received 3 instant quotes while preparing the turkey. It was an exhilarating experience, and my wife was almost more excited than I was because I had been able to “unplug” while I helped. But do you know who was the most excited of all? The customers who wanted quotes on Thanksgiving morning… and got them. I closed all 3.
Benefits to the Company
About 60% of my business’ quotes came from my website’s instant quote feature saving us about $7,300 of fuel one year. I eventually built my quoting and follow-up system into something other window cleaning companies could use and called it ResponsiBid. Some users experienced over 90% of their quotes were self-service online bids! Then there were the upsells. People sell themselves so much more. The average window cleaning ticket of a ResponsiBid company has steadily climbed to $387 at the time of writing which is a 23% increase from the national average of $220!
Be sure you don’t share pricing until you get the customer’s contact information. This puts you in a position to follow-up with the customer to help sell them fully on the unique and valuable benefits of using your company.
Is Self-Service ALWAYS Right?
Notice that at the bank I had the choice between the teller or the ATM. The grocery store offers self-service or a cashier. The restaurant gives the choice between a server or touch screen. While self-service is getting very popular, there is still demand for human interaction. People are quickly choosing a less personal touch in exchange for convenience, but you should plan for both scenarios. Make sure your system can do both.
When I began offering “instant online quotes” to my customers, I only noticed a slight dip in the amount of phone quotes we gave. I had been missing the needs of certain customers and I was missing out on serving them. Most people who chose online quotes had previously been slipping away to other means of getting the service done. Customers who didn’t need a lot of human touch spent more money per service and were even easier to please. I was making more money, and working way less hard to do it. It was shocking but a total win-win.
Curt Kempton is the founder of ResponsiBid.com and a champion for service business owners to help make their lives better. He speaks regularly at industry events and has a free video blog at customerservicefactory.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.