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How to reduce customer response times

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

The importance of responding to customer queries with fast, accurate answers cannot be overestimated. Research shows that the number one priority for customers is to get a quick response to an enquiry. When on the phone, studies have shown that they want a response within three minutes, while on email and social media they would like an answer within 60 minutes.

How quickly you respond has a big impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately the bottom line. It can also impact your contact centre operations, because if customers’ issues are not resolved promptly and they are forced to contact you multiple times, you increase staff workload. As well customers venting their frustration to the agents, customers may also do so on social media and online forums which could damage your brand and reputation.

So how can you reduce customer response times?

Below are seven approaches that are proven to help you deliver faster response times:

1. Allow customers to self-serve on digital channels

More and more customers don’t want to have to call or email you at all. A solution is to offer these customers access to the information they’re seeking through self-service, chatbots or intelligent virtual assistants - means information can be accessed 24×7, even if your contact centre is closed. As well as increasing customer satisfaction it also increases efficiency and frees up agent time to deal with more complex queries, or those that may require more empathy.

2. Deal with the most critical queries first

Every interaction is important to the customer; however, some are more time-critical than others, requiring immediate attention. Therefore, it is essential to triage and prioritise all interactions. Voice calls can be filtered using interactive voice response (IVR) systems and AI technology can analyse digital communications for specific terms to both prioritise and automatically route them to the best available agent.

3. Signpost information in automated responses to save customer time

Customers expect you to acknowledge their enquiry, whether it is via email, phone call or web chat. Automated acknowledgements can be used to provide reassurance but can also be an opportunity to provide additional information, such as links to relevant documents, web page or your contact centre opening hours. You may even be able to completely resolve the query.

4. Use technology to empower agents

Provide agents with the right tools, that enable them to work more effectively, and reduce customer response times. This can also increase job satisfaction and retention rates for agents. Examples of how technology can empower are:

  • Provide access to an up-to-date knowledge base, so agents can quickly retrieve relevant, consistent, accurate information

  • Create templates and standard responses to common enquiries that can quickly be personalised and sent

  • Text shortcuts for commonly used words or phrases, such as sign-offs or terms and conditions, save time and increase consistency and efficiency

  • Integrate with other business systems, such as a CRM system, to give full access to customer records, as the context and history of a consumer can help reduce call times

5. Use Team apps to collaborate across the business

Agents may need to be able to bring in subject experts from other parts of the business when they are handing complex or specialist queries. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams mean advisors can see which experts are available and automatically connect with them, through online chat and in real-time, to help solve customer queries faster. All this can be done without having to put the customer on hold.

6. Deliver an omnichannel service

The omnichannel approach means you can offer consumers the ability to make contact through their channel of choice, such as chatbots, webchat or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Much of the time these channels are faster than calling, particularly for standard enquiries. This also reduces agents’ workload. Offering an omnichannel service also allows incoming interactions to be split across multiple channels, making customer service easier to manage.

7. Get the performance metrics right

Focusing on the right KPIs and metrics means you can analyse performance and use this insight to reduce customer response times, by identifying areas for improvement, whether it is redesigning processes, assigning additional resources, or increasing coaching and training for agents.

With customers expecting faster response times, businesses need to focus on improving efficiency without sacrificing quality. Better response times mean happier, more loyal customers, more efficient operations and greater revenues.

Want to know more? Find out how you can use AI chatbots and virtual assistants to reduce customer response time by contacting us or call us on 0333 6000 360.

Source information provided by Enghouse Interactive:

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