As a local business owner, you already know that responding to leads in a timely manner is important—response time to a customer message can have a monumental impact on lead conversion. But what may seem timely to your business, may not feel timely to your customers. When customers are reaching out to businesses for quotes or questions, most leads go with the vendor that responds first, so answering promptly is essential. In this article, we’ll discuss the impact response time has on lead conversion, action items for improving response time, and new Podium features that can help improve overall lead response time.

What is Lead Response Time?

Lead response time is the time it takes for a business to follow up with a lead. In other words, it is the duration between a lead’s initial inquiry and the moment the company reaches out to them for a follow-up discussion. Lead response time is a critical metric that helps businesses optimize their sales processes and improve their conversion rates.

Why does lead response time matter? Leads quickly lose interest and seek out alternate solutions if they do not receive timely responses. In fact, studies show that the odds of reaching a lead decrease significantly if the company waits more than five minutes to follow up. That’s not a lot of time to win the sale. If you want to stay competitive, you must have a rapid and reliable response process that allows you to capitalize on leads and convert them into customers.

How to Calculate Lead Response Time

To calculate lead response time, use the following formula: 

Lead Response Time = Time of Contact – Time of Lead Generation

For example, if a lead submitted a form on your website at 9:00 AM and was contacted by a representative at 9:30 AM, the lead response time would be 30 minutes. 

It’s important to note that ideal lead response time can vary depending on the channel through which the lead was generated. For instance, leads generated through text message or social media may require a faster response time than those generated through email.

man looking at text on mobile phone

Statistics That Show Lead Response Time Matters

1. 78% of customers purchase from the first responder.

As competition among businesses in all industries continues to rise, the need for quick and efficient customer service becomes more and more crucial. The first business to respond to that inquiry has a distinct advantage—they are able to address the customer’s needs first, increasing the likelihood that the lead will do business with them over their competitors. 

2. Conversion rates are 8x higher in the first five minutes. 

So, the longer you wait to respond, the less likely a lead is to convert into a customer. On the flip side of that, statistics show that if you respond within the first five minutes, you can greatly increase your conversion rates. This means that by making lead response time a priority, you can boost your bottom line and grow your business more quickly. 

3. Only 37% of companies achieve a lead response time of one hour or less. 

The reality is, a timely response to a lead can make or break a sale—but shockingly, most companies have a pretty slow lead response time. If you want to outshine your competition, responding to leads quickly is a great way to do it. 

4. Customers expect businesses to reply to their email queries within a day or less.

While most people don’t expect an immediate email response the way they do with channels like text, they still expect a timely response. When it comes to emails, a good rule of thumb is to try and respond within one business day. 

5. Responding within the first hour meets the expectations of most (88%) consumers. 

Responding to leads in 5 minutes or less is a pretty tall order. If you’re just getting started in your lead response time journey, start with a more manageable goal. Most customers are happy as long as they receive a response within an hour.

6. Responding to leads after 30 minutes is 21x less effective.

Every minute counts, especially in today’s fast-paced world where customers are obsessed with research and convenience. By waiting even half an hour to respond to a lead, you significantly decrease the likelihood of winning that lead’s business. 

7. 41% of companies feel following up with leads quickly is a challenge.

If consumer response time expectations feel overwhelming or unattainable to you, you’re not alone. Nearly half of all businesses feel the same way. The good news is that modern-day tools like Podium make it easier to automate lead response efforts. 

8. 44% of leads are generated outside of business hours. 

Outreach during business hours is one thing, but nearly half of all leads are generated outside of business hours. Based on this, you might consider looking into automation tools that allow you to respond to leads even when your team is not in the office. 

How to Improve Lead Response Times: 8 Tips and Tools

Responding as quickly as the modern customer expects is a tall order. The good news? With the right tools, you can improve your lead response time and provide a superior customer experience—without burning out your sales representatives. 

Let’s talk about how

1. Invest in automation.

Automation can play a key role in improving lead response times. By automating the lead qualification process, you can identify high-quality leads and prioritize them for immediate attention. By using a tool like Podium, automated workflows can be set up to respond to leads via text, which reduces response times significantly.

2. Track speed to lead.

Speed to lead is a critical metric that businesses need to track to improve their response times. By measuring the time it takes for a lead to be contacted after the initial inquiry, you can identify bottlenecks and optimize your lead management process for faster response times. 

3. Prioritize lead notifications

We can understand trying to avoid a constant stream of notifications—notifications are distracting. That being said, you should definitely prioritize notifications about leads. The sooner you know about a new lead, the sooner you can act. If you use Podium, you can download the mobile app and enable notifications so you can hear, see, and respond quickly when a new inbound message has arrived—even if you’re away from your computer.

4. Implement CRM software.

A powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help your business manage leads and interactions more efficiently. By storing all information about leads in one central location, businesses can reduce response times by accessing lead information more quickly and effectively.

5. Use a web chat tool.

Web chat is an essential tool for local businesses that want to provide a fast and convenient way for customers to contact them. By integrating web chat tools or chatbots on your website, your businesses can respond to inquiries in real time, increasing customer satisfaction and lead conversion rates.

Pro tip: Try Podium’s Webchat tool, which allows you to respond to leads via text and keep the conversation going long after they’ve left your site. 

6. Train your sales reps.

It may seem like common sense, but it’s worth pointing out that improving lead response times requires a well-trained and efficient sales team. By providing sales reps with the training and tools they need, you ensure that they are responding to leads promptly and effectively.

7. Streamline lead management processes.

Identify and eliminate any bottlenecks in your lead management processes. There’s a good possibility that you can improve the way you’re currently doing things. Optimizing existing processes can lead to faster response times, a higher conversion rate, and happier leads and customers. 

8. Establish response time goals.

Finally, you need to establish clear response time goals if you want to improve your current response time. You need to know what you’re aiming for! By setting benchmarks and goals and tracking outcomes, businesses can ensure that they are meeting their targets and continually improving their response times.

person using laptop at wooden table

Lead Generation and Management Solutions

Nurturing and converting leads can seem daunting at first, but implementing management tools like Podium and creating an actionable plan can help improve your overall conversion rate. Ultimately, improving your response time can help you compete and win against competitors, every time. With Podium, you can take advantage of features like: 

  • Contact Form Leads for Outlook: Never miss a chance to engage with leads that come from contact forms on your website and 3rd-party sites. Connect your business Outlook email to Podium and our AI Assistant will bring those leads into your Inbox and sends them an automated text message, notifying them that your team members will be in touch shortly. 
  • AI-Powered Message Reply Suggestions and Quick Reply Suggestions: Respond to customer messages faster than ever before. Podium’s AI Assistant analyzes context from customer conversations and from Contact Profiles to generate intelligent replies in mere seconds. 

And so much more. Ready to give it a try? Start a free 14-day trial of Podium today and see how we can help you cut down lead response time, improve customer retention, and generate more revenue.


1. What is a good lead response time?

The ideal lead response time varies depending on the lead source. For example, leads who contact you via text will expect a much faster response than those who contact you via phone call or email. That being said, sticking to the 5-minute rule greatly increases your chances of leading them down the sales funnel and getting a conversion. To sum it up, the more quickly you can respond, the better. 

2. Why is lead response time important?

Lead response time is critical for businesses, as it directly affects their ability to convert potential customers into sales. Local businesses that give a quick response to leads are more likely to close the sale, have happier customers, and generate more reviews and referrals. A fast response time is also a reflection of a company’s commitment to providing excellent customer service, which leaves a positive impression on potential customers.

3. What is the average lead response time?

Unfortunately, the average response time is much longer than what is considered “good.” According to a study by InsideSales, the average lead response time for businesses was over 42 hours. This delay can heavily impact businesses, as leads are more likely to lose interest and choose competitors if not responded to promptly.

Podium Staff
Podium Staff

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