In today’s fast-paced world, customers don’t want to wait—they hate slow response times and they expect a fast response. 

If your customers consistently complain about long response times, you need to make some serious changes—otherwise, you may end up losing business to competitors who work harder to meet customer expectations. 

So, how do you speed up response times without overextending your budget, exhausting your customer service team, and draining your resources? The following tips will help you improve customer response time while maintaining a humanlike feel and the quality of your customer experience. 

Employee responding to a customer

What is Customer Response Time?

Customer response time refers to how long it takes for you to get back to a customer after they’ve contacted you. 

Why is it important? This metric has a significant impact on the quality of your customer experience. 

An effective way to measure your customer response time and assess how you’re doing is by calculating your first response time (FRT). Your FRT is the amount of time it takes for you to first respond to your customers. You can calculate this by finding: 

  1. The total time it takes to respond to customer service queries (you can often separate these by channel–text, email, chat, etc.) in a given period.
  2. The total number of responses you send in that given period.

Then, you divide the first metric by the second to find your average FRT. 

Many companies spend thousands of dollars trying to improve their FRT every year, but waste a significant amount of time and resources on bulky, bot-like solutions that downgrade the quality of their customer experience. 

At Podium, our goal is to help you avoid falling victim to that same problem. 

How Customer Response Time Impacts Your Team and Your Customers

The average customer service response time for many businesses is abysmal—12 hours or more for an email response. And some companies don’t ever answer. 

Yet 46% of your customers expect companies to respond to them in 4 hours or less. And 12% expect you to respond in less than 15 minutes. 

Customers want to feel valued, and a slow response time will leave them feeling like they’re at the bottom of your priority list. In fact, over 69% of customers judge the quality of customer service on whether they received a quick response or not. 

Many companies, including some of your competitors, don’t have dedicated systems and processes in place to deliver a lightning-fast response. 

Lowering your response time is a way to separate yourself from the competition, position yourself as a customer-centric brand, and earn customer loyalty.  It also increases the efficiency of your team by helping them stay on top of conversations and feel like they’re able to keep up, which leads to decreased burnout and all-around happier employees. 

What is a Good Customer Response Time? 

As we mentioned earlier, 46% of your customers expect companies to respond to them in 4 hours or less. And 12% expect you to respond in less than 15 minutes. 

What do we think a good customer response time is? It depends. 

We believe that the content of the message, the channel being used, and the time at which the query is sent play a role in how and when you should respond.

Of course, for any query, businesses should take no longer than 24 hours, or one business day, to respond—at most. For questions sent after hours, businesses can respond during the next business day. 

Specifically for text, ideally, businesses should respond within the hour—in mere minutes, if they can manage—at least to tell the consumer that they will be contacting them shortly or that they are next in line, etc. The key is always transparency. 

How Automation Improves Customer Response Times

Ready to improve your customer service? Look no further than automations. Automations are a real game changer when it comes to lowering your average response time—and with the right software on your side, it’s simple to get started. 

Many businesses successfully use automated messaging specifically for after-hours communication. Consider actively sending texts during business hours and using automated messages when leads engage with you after-hours. An after-hours automated message might look something like this:

After Hours Response

​​With the right technology, you can also respond to FAQs with automated messages. As the conversation continues, if the consumer asks a question that requires live assistance, set up a triggered message such as “a live employee will text you shortly” so that the customer knows they are changing hands. Many consumers understand the need for automations and just want to feel that they are being communicated with openly and honestly.

With the right platform, your automations can be directly connected to your CRM. This allows you to automate messages that are personalized with information such as customer names, preferences, and history. Some software can even recognize the intent of a response such as “Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks so much.” and trigger a response like, “Okay, great!” This substantially increases the conversational feel, reduces friction between your business and the consumer, and decreases your customer response time. 

Reduce Customer Response Times Through Text

Ready to offer great customer service? One tool thousands of local businesses are turning to is text. Text is fast. So it makes sense that rather than dialing in or emailing your customer service department, your customers would prefer to fire off a quick message from their phone.

Best of all, text fits in seamlessly with your daily activities. No matter what someone is doing, stopping for a quick second to read and respond to a text is much easier than stopping for a few minutes to send an email or make a call. 

Let’s say you want additional information from a customer to help them with their problem. What if they’re on vacation and not checking their emails? In that case, you’ll have to wait for days—or maybe even weeks—for them to get back. And until then, you’ll have a pending ticket under their name. Text eliminates that issue. 

Furthermore, allowing your customers to text your business will reduce the number of calls your customer service team needs to answer. The problem with phone calls is that they require your undivided attention, so you can only handle one at a time. That’s not the case with texting. When you allow your customers to text your business, your customer service executives can assist multiple customers at once, which saves time and increases customer satisfaction.

Website chat tools that rely on text, such as Webchat, can also help you reduce response times. To connect with you, potential customers can click the widget when they visit your website and input their information. From there, you can reach out to the customer for live chat or asynchronous correspondence.

Many customers prefer to communicate via text, and Webchat makes it easy for your staff to transfer website conversations to that preferred medium. 

With a top-of-the-line customer texting solution, you can also use text to collect payments, gather reviews, and more. And all of those interactions will be housed in the same place—so there will be no more need to juggle 10+ different communication channels. 

Get Started

Podium makes it easy for local businesses to decrease their response time and increase productivity with world class customer service software.

Podium gives local businesses the ability to automate, speed up, and simplify customer communication. Plus, with Podium on your side, you can do so much more than converse. You can collect payments, set up text marketing campaigns, increase website leads, gather reviews, and more. 

Ready to see what all the hype is about? Start a free 14-day trial today. 

Jono Andrews
Jono Andrews Group Manager of Product Marketing
Jono is a Group Manager of Product Marketing at Podium, the premiere marketing and communications platform that connects local businesses with their customers.  He loves to help local businesses see success in creating the best customer experience.

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