Customer support response times can make or break your business.
Poor customer support can cause even the most loyal customers to stray. Conversely, excellent customer support can win over angry and even skeptical customers. One of the most effective strategies in delivering top-notch support is providing help and answering customer questions and complaints within a reasonable amount of time. That’s why many businesses strive to reduce the average ticket response time.
Why Speed Matters in Customer Support
Shep Hyken notes that customers will overlook specific issues when there’s transparency, a flow of information, and the effort to create an excellent customer experience.
A quick response makes your customers feel valued. Also, speed matters in customer support because customers demand it! Research shows that the essential attribute of an outstanding customer experience, according to consumers themselves, is a fast customer support response time. So, responding swiftly to customer queries means you’re meeting customers’ expectations.
When companies invest in customer-focused efforts, they experience massive benefits, such as:
- Faster resolution: 59% of consumers are more likely to make purchases when businesses answer their questions in under a minute. You can offer prompt responses and engage your customers 24/7, even when your customer support agents aren’t available, by leveraging chatbots and live chat.
- Improved sales conversions: A survey of over 500 000 respondents found that customers are ready to spend more with a brand that responds to their queries promptly. Responding to sales queries quickly reduces the sales process while encouraging customers to make prompt sales decisions. Thus, a fast response generates more profits.
Let’s now dive into a detailed discussion on the best practices to reduce customer support response time.
1. Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Identifying KPIs is essential because it helps you understand how your customer support team performs based on customers’ expectations. When you define goals for your team and company, it becomes easier to check the map that helps you know where you’re heading.
Since prompt response is one of the primary aspects of customer support, you must also set up goals to reduce customer support response times. To define your KPIs, you must also identify your target customers’ channels to reach you. KPIs will help you plan an effective customer support strategy and instantly leverage different tools to respond to customers’ questions.
Here are some key metrics you should define:
- Customer metrics. Monitoring critical customer support KPIs, such as Resolution Time, First Response Time, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), can give you a rough idea of how your customer support platforms are performing.
- Team metrics. You need to track your team performance against popular KPIs metrics, such as Qualify, Efficiency, Helpfulness, and Initiative, to get an idea of the performance of your customer team.
2. Using Automated Answers
Automation in your customer support processes can have a significant impact. For example, it can help you organize customer support tickets correctly, ensure they’re assigned to the right agents, and capture customer feedback promptly via automated surveys.
Here are a few instances of workflow automation that you can explore with internal ticketing software:
- Canned responses. There’s no need for your customer support reps to type the same responses repeatedly. Instead, they can leverage pre-defined canned answers to handle customer support tickets faster.
- Automated alerts and notifications. Customer support agents and customers can get automated email notifications about their tickets’ progress. For example, your customer support agents can receive notifications about “New ticket creation.”
- Automated emails for support rating. By leveraging customer support software, you can share survey emails automatically with your customers once their problem is resolved. It enables them to rate their overall experience and your service quality.
Automated responses can help you eliminate the manual and tedious aspects of customer support ticket management.
3. Deliver Faster Responses with Chatbots
64% of companies believe chatbots provide more personalized support experiences for their customers. Thus, you can automate customer support using chatbots and offer an outstanding experience.
Automating repetitive customer support responses with chatbots allows your team to focus on complicated tasks, ultimately reducing customer support response times. In addition, automating how you communicate with your customers improves your brand’s reputation; however, the caveat is that you shouldn’t over automate your tasks.
How to reduce customer response time by leveraging chatbots:
- Prompt support. Chatbots offer swift customer support and engage your customers 24/7, even when your customer support representatives aren’t available.
- Train your chatbots. Develop your chatbot workflows based on your use cases and train your chatbots to deliver accurate and fast responses to customers in real-time.
- Provide hybrid support. Not all the time; chatbots are 100% accurate. You must implement a hybrid approach, where customer queries are handed over to customer support agents once the chatbot can’t answer a question.
4. Leverage Visual Communication Tools to Reduce Customer Support Response Times
The biggest customer frustration is reaching out to customer support teams multiple times to get help with the same issues. This is a massive reason for customers to switch to your competitors.
You can improve your customer retention rates by using visual engagement tools and empowering your team to promptly engage and resolve customer queries. Leveraging visual communication tools, such as Zight (formerly CloudApp), goes a long way in reducing customer response times.
For instance, Gainsight saves $10,000 a year while delivering a better customer experience using Zight (formerly CloudApp). Gainsight’s customer support team uses annotated screenshots and HD videos to respond to customer questions quickly. With Zight (formerly CloudApp), the team takes 2 to 3 typed-out interactions with customers and combines them into 1 GIF or HD video.
5. Distribute Customer Support Volume with Multi-Channel Strategy
When your company invests in one or two customer support platforms, you’ll always experience issues efficiently managing the customer support volume.
Since every customer query or concern is unique and when customers aren’t managed effectively, it often results in poor customer service. Your company needs to have multiple platforms to offer value to customers to avoid this. When your company has a multi-channel strategy, you distribute resources equally across different channels and ultimately manage customer volume on any scale.
How to distribute support volume:
- Plan your resources in a manner that allows your team to handle the workload effectively at different times of the year, including during the off-season and peak times.
- Give equal weight to all customer support channels in terms of resource allocation because it’s challenging to manage customer ticket volume efficiently.
6. Give Your Customers a Quick Access to Knowledge Base
Giving your customers the luxury to help themselves is often the best support you can give them.
To do that, you must give them quick access to an immediate knowledge base with no need for personal assistance. Once you have a database of a comprehensive knowledge base including tutorials, FAQ pages, and product guides, it can serve as a self-service portal for your clients.
But a knowledge base shouldn’t replace human support—it’s meant to help customers while giving them the freedom to get answers to their queries with no hassle. This will empower your customers to find their responses quickly. Also, they’ll feel accomplished, and they’ll appreciate your efforts to make things easier and accessible.
7. Categorize Customer Support Tickers Based on Priority
Handling support tickets as they come isn’t a perfect way to reduce response time. Each ticket is essential and unique. However, not every customer support ticket is urgent. Therefore, treating every ticket as a top priority and urgent isn’t practical. To improve your resolution time, categorize support tickets based on the time needed to resolve issues, the complexity of the matter, the level of impact, and time sensitivity.
Prioritizing customer support tickets will allow your team to handle customer queries based on the difficulty level and similarity of subject matter. This makes handling customer support tickets relatively easy, improving efficiency. In addition, after categorizing tickets, you can auto-assign tickets in different ways, such as a load-balanced or a round-robin algorithm distribution based on customer support agents’ availability.
Scale Customer Experience with Reduced Customer Support Response Times
Customer expectations influence how brands perceive and deliver customer support. This means companies need to align their goals with customer expectations. However, customer response time is a customer-related metric, and companies must strive to reduce customer response time.
Every company must strive to deliver fast response time because it is a direct metric that results in higher customer satisfaction. It can help you achieve the desired net promoter scores (NPS).