Your customers are the foundation of your business. Without them, your company won’t ever realize its maximum potential—so you need to meet their needs and keep them happy.
Responding quickly to customer queries and complaints is a fundamental factor in improving customer satisfaction. 71% of consumers believe that a fast response time from customer support representatives can enhance their experience substantially.
With millions of brands competing to differentiate themselves by providing excellent customer support experiences, you must up the ante and do what your customers want.
That’s because response time is a crucial customer support metric that influences customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Also, it’s the key to delivering exceptional customer experiences that increase revenue and improve customer loyalty.
So, if you want to beat your competitors, the best way to do that is by responding to your customers quickly and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Why Does Response Time Matter?
Customer response time is the total time your customer support agents take to respond to a client’s query; the less the response time, the better.
Jason Whitehead notes that if we [help] our customers and we help them build value, then they [will] tell other people, and that’s how our company [will] grow. Although excellent customer service comprises many things, response time is one of the most crucial elements. That’s because customers expect immediate responses to their queries, and when done right, reducing response time can delight your customers, reducing your churn rate.
Quick responses are the primary customer concern when deciding which businesses they’ll continue to do business with and whether they have received adequate customer support. Conversely, when companies lower their response times, they witness substantial benefits, including:
- Faster resolutions. 59% of customers are likely to buy when companies answer their questions in under a minute. You can leverage chatbots to engage your customers 24/7 and offer faster responses to their queries when your customer support team is away.
- Improve customer satisfaction rates. Customer satisfaction gauges how happy consumers are with your service. A fast response time delivers desired solutions quickly, creating a positive brand image. Higher customer satisfaction scores translate to a higher customer lifetime value.
- Increased sales conversions. 78% of consumers will buy from the first brand that responds to their queries quickly and accurately. Addressing the sales questions with fast answers streamlines the process, encouraging customers to make quick purchasing decisions.
How to Reduce Response Time
Taking a lot of time to respond to customer questions and complaints can leave your business vulnerable to consequences, such as negative reviews and negative word of mouth. Here are seven proven strategies that can help you respond to your customers quickly:
1. Use a Live Chat Software
Response time plays a critical role in delivering exceptional customer experiences.
One of the primary reasons consumers abandon online transactions is that their queries aren’t addressed quickly.
The two most common customer support frustrations are:
- Waiting for sales or customer support agents to connect with; and
- Being kept on hold for long periods.
Live chat is the most preferred medium for brands and consumers to deliver real-time answers to consumers. 73% of participants said that response time is the primary reason live chat improves satisfaction rates. Live chat and email are two essential mediums where response time is very crucial.
Here are some live chat features you can leverage to improve response time:
- Create predefined answers for common questions and deliver quicker and consistent responses. Canned responses lower the response time and boost customer satisfaction.
- Route customer queries across proper departments to connect with the right representatives, improving response time while lowering the queue time.
- Manage multiple queries simultaneously to answer customers’ questions instantly. This way, your customers will receive instant responses without having to wait a long time.
2. Use Auto-Response Emails
Often, all a client needs to know is that you’ve received their email, and you’ll respond to their query soon. It’s only when their complaints, concerns, and problems have been ignored that negative sentiments seep in and potentially affect your long-term relationship with customers.
A brilliant way to overcome this is to leverage auto-response emails. Unfortunately, less than 10% of businesses use email autoresponders. Still, you can use this old-age technology to let customers know that you’ve received their email and what they should expect next.
You can also use email autoresponders to:
- Thank customers for their messages. It tells them you’re taking their questions seriously.
- Announce the opening hours of your customer support department. This informs customers that if they email you on the weekend or in the middle of the night, it may take several hours or even days until your customer support team sees their emails.
- Share typical response times. Informing your clients when they should expect a response sets expectations upfront and eliminates disappointments. Also, adding a timeframe takes the pressure off your customer support team by eliminating follow-up inquiries.
3. Use Time Based Alerts
While you may aim to answer every customer support query, some customer complaints might sometimes be left behind.
For instance, you might be waiting for additional information before you can respond in full, or maybe there are more questions in the customer support queue than you expected. Whatever the case, your clients deserve your attention within a reasonable timeframe.
Set up time-based alerts to avoid losing customer questions in the system or responses being delayed than they need to be.
Brands that use a shared access mailbox may need to do this manually. However, if you use a customer support tool, you can automatically tag new customer queries using a timer. You just need to decide how quickly you want to answer customers’ questions. And then, you should create an alert to trigger before that timeframe. This way, your customer support representatives will have enough time to read and respond to your clients within your specified response time.
4. Prioritize and Categorize
It’s crucial to prioritize questions from customers who are experiencing recurring issues. But the response might be more urgent because this could be the third or fourth contact made concerning the same problem.
It’s tempting for agents to leave complicated issues for later and tackle the simple ones first. But if the complex issues are tagged as high-priority, they’re likely to get resolved within a time frame that’s acceptable to customers. Alternatively, reassure the customer that you’ve read their questions, but the response might be slightly delayed because of the complex nature of their inquiry.
Although there are many tagging systems you can use to prioritize and categorize customer inquiries, use a system that everyone understands. For example, you can use the triage system to prioritize inbound communications. You just need to assess customer inquiries based on their subject or theme and assign them a tag accordingly.
By concentrating on one topic at a time, you’ll save more time, improving your customer support response times rather than juggling between multiple issues, which is inefficient and time-consuming.
5. Use Templates in Your Responses
Sometimes, it’s likely that many customer inquiries are similar, if not identical, issues. Having customer support agents create individual and unique answers to each of these queries is time-consuming. Instead of drafting new responses for every customer query, your customer support agents should access several email templates addressing the most common topics. This enables them to pull up templates, add relevant personal details, and add a conversational extra. In addition, it aligns with your brand’s tone of voice.
Leverage the experience of your customer support representatives to build a library of responses. Experienced representatives know the questions customers ask often. Use this information to equip your customer support team.
Messaging templates speed up your response time. Also, it helps you to keep your communications consistent. Eventually, it means that every client will get the same answer to similar questions, with minimal deviation, reinforcing your branding while keeping your customers happy.
6. Implement Customer Service Software
Suppose your business still uses a shared access mailbox to manage hundreds or even millions of customer support emails. In that case, there’s no better way to improve your customer support processes than investing in and implementing customer service software.
Customer support software stores every single interaction you’ve during your brand’s relationship with your customers. This means you can refer back and understand their issues, identify the details of the product they purchased and use that information to create valuable responses.
Also, using customer support software means you’ll respond to your customers faster than you would when trying to piece all that information from shared access mailboxes. For instance, the Customer support agents at Buffer save 24 hours per week using Zight (formerly CloudApp) while reducing customer frustrations. Zight (formerly CloudApp) helps them understand their customer’s queries better. And if in doubt, they record their screen with audio. And then, they ask their customers what options are the root of their problem. By enabling customers to give an easy and quick answer, Buffer speeds up the resolution time, thanks to Zight (formerly CloudApp).
7. Equip Your Team With Ample Product Knowledge
Consumers expect relevant responses to their complaints or concerns over the channel of their choice. Thus, having an incompetent team can cause poor customer experiences.
89% of customers abandoned brands because of poor customer service. Thus, if your company lacks a knowledgeable customer support team, you’re likely to lose loyal customers, deflecting your reputation. This shows the essence of having a knowledgeable and competent customer support team to foster smooth customer experiences.
To improve customer support team efficiency:
- Provide regular training. Conduct regular training sessions on the updated features of your products or services and convey a clear brand messaging across all departments and teams.
- Share company details. Distribute all the vital company information across your entire customer support team to inform them of the common issues and solutions.
Reducing Customer Support Response Time Will Help Your Business
Reducing your customer support time is extremely crucial. Not only can it improve customer satisfaction—but when executed correctly, it can also help you scale your business. Once you reduce your response times, you’ll also see reduced churn rates and improved conversion rates. However, don’t forget that consumers won’t trade quality responses for quicker responses. A swift yet unhelpful response only leads to a lot of back and forth, which is time-consuming. Find the right balance and leverage the seven strategies discussed above to improve your customer support response time gradually.