First Response Time In Customer Service: What It Is, Its Importance And Ways To Reduce it

Time is precious and in customer service, it can make the difference between good and excellent service. When choosing to work with a company, customers are highly influenced by their customer service experience. In fact, research shows 60% of customers would pay more in exchange for a better experience. This includes high level of responsiveness and a low reply time.

When it comes to customer service, customers may have high expectations about what they want to receive from your business. Although you may not be able to handle all of them, you need to pay attention and consider them, especially when it comes to response time.

The time you take to answer a ticket is a strong indicator of your customer service quality. Customers want answers fast or even immediately and you need find ways to somehow fulfill their expectations. In order for you to determine your response time, it is important to look at and understand your first response time.

What is first response time?

First response time (FRT) measures the time between the moment a customer places a ticket and the moment a support representative comes with the first response. If the ticket is solved before the representative manages to offer an answer, it acts as a null value and doesn’t affect the FRT rate.

According to Zendesk, low FRT is associated with customer satisfaction. The less time you need to offer a response, the happier your customers will be.

The importance of first response time

Paying attention to your first response time is beneficial for your customers and your business.

No matter the mean of communication, customers expect to receive an answer within a relatively short period of time. Forrester Research shows us 41% expect a response via email within 6 hours. When using social media, 32% consumers expect an answer within 30 minutes, 42% within an hour and 57% of them expect the same response speed during nights and weekends as during normal working hours. Your first response time lets you know if are close or far from what they are expecting from your business.

This metric shows if you are efficient and if you are respecting your business objectives. If you promised your customers you will answer them within an hour, FRT lets you know whether you managed to keep it. Also, an increasing FRT is a sign you may not be efficient enough. Whether you have too many tickets to handle or you have some gaps in your support strategy, it can indicate it is time to make a change.

How to reduce first response time

If your FRT is high or you notice a tendency of increasing, you need to take action in order to bring it to the level you want. Finding new ways to respond to customers faster can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can do.

Here are 4 actions to reduce your first response time.

Take care of your support team

Your support team is the first piece of the puzzle you need to look at. You can see if they are overwhelmed with requests or if they are dealing with complex issues which require time. From there on, you can decide how you can help them. You may want to organize a special training session or hold feedback sessions more often. In each case, you want to focus on:

  • the issues that are slowing your employees down
  • how to improve their working processes
  • how to make your support strategy more efficient

Note: Listen to what your support representatives are saying. Their feedback is your most reliable source of information.

Analyze your ‘peak’ support moments

You may want to check which are the daily moments or week days you receive the most tickets. You may find a pattern, as customers may contact you more often at specific periods of time. It can help you decide if you need a stronger support service at certain moments and take action in this direction.

Use multiple communication channels

You may improve your first reply time by becoming available on different communication channels. Here we are talking about email, phone, chat applications, live chat and social media. You give your customers the chance to choose the option they are more comfortable with.

Having multiple channels of communication enables you to handle multiple customers at the same time. While you are speaking with one on the phone, you can also write a response email to another.

Offer self-service methods

Community forums and FAQ are a must for a successful customer support strategy. Some customers prefer to find the information they need on their own. Self-service can be more helpful for them and it can allow you to concentrate on more complex issues.

We are gladly inviting you share with us your customer service experiences!

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