Businesses need to respond to online enquiries within at least 24 hours to retain their customers, according to research by data agency Lifestyles Online.
The study into consumers' expectations for online enquiry response rates showed 84% of users would like a response within at least 24 hours, while just 16% felt an answer after 24 hours was satisfactory.
A massive 88% of the respondents were prepared to wait only 24 hours or less for a business to respond to their online enquiry before shopping elsewhere and 42% of these users said they would wait just an hour or less.
However, if online queries are completely ignored it could prove the end of any business with that customer as 85% of respondents said that if their contact was ignored they would never bother with that same business again.
Craig Carr, co-founder and Director of Lifestyles Online, said: "A business wouldn't survive very long if it ignored customers' questions on the shop floor. The same is now true online, as this research proves.
"Online leads, whether gathered from your website or captured externally, have a real prospect behind them and need treating as such."
Lifestyles Online surveyed 7,637 consumers for the study.
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