How to Improve Your Customer Service Response Times

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There are many ways you can engage with customers and show them that you care. However, few are as effective or important as providing great customer service. When done right, good service leaves customers feeling happy, turning them into loyal advocates and preventing against churn.

While “great” service is comprised of a lot of things, speedy response times are a crucial component. Customers today are used to getting what they want quickly. They can have packages delivered in two days, their groceries are on their doorstep in an hour — it’s easy to understand why they expect their customer service interactions to be just as fast.

In fact, a recent Zingle study* confirms this. The number one thing customers want from customer service is faster response times.

Unfortunately, many companies struggle with their response times, that is, if they even respond at all. It turns out that 62% of companies don’t even respond to customer service emails, ignoring them altogether. When they do actually respond though, the average response time is 12 hours and 10 minutes.

Of course, companies don’t set out to have poor customer service and slow response times, but a multitude of common factors can lead them down that road:

Not establishing processes: Companies that don’t have a standardized set of practices in place for fielding, answering, and evaluating responses are invariably setting themselves up for failure.

Not holding agents accountable: What happens if an agent responds in 10 minutes versus 10 hours? Companies should think about how they’re ensuring agents are fulfilling their responsibilities.

Not leveraging tech for automation: When customer service teams are wasting resources by doing things manually that could be handed over to automation, response times will inevitably suffer.

Not prioritizing inquiries: Not all inquiries are necessarily created equal, but if your agents are treating them as such, then some more involved or complicated inquiries could prevent others from being handled quickly.

If any of the above sounds familiar then it’s time to refuel your customer service engine and get into the fast lane.

Imagine that someone is contacting customer service because he or she had a bad experience with your company’s product or service. If that customer has to wait 12 hours to have their inquiry answered, or ignored altogether, then you’ll likely lose them. Don’t think so? Well, the same Zingle survey found that the majority (38%) of consumers would stop doing business with a company altogether after a bad customer service experience.

So now that the risk that slow response times pose is clear, let’s focus on some ways you can prevent them from happening in the first place:

Create a process: What do you do when you get a customer service inquiry? Who answers it? How do you decide who answers it? How is it prioritized over other inquiries? Is it prioritized at all? These are all questions that can be answered by establishing a process to ensure that once an inquiry arrives in your queue, everyone on the customer service team knows how to handle it promptly and quickly.

Have employee accountability: Setting standards and using collaborative team tools means that everyone knows what each other’s responsibilities are. The team can see what each other is doing, and therefore, will know if someone isn’t upholding their duties.

Expand channels (email, website chat, phone, social, text message): Give your customers multiple ways to reach you so that they can communicate in a way that’s convenient for them! At the same time, you can consider which platforms your team excels at – or maybe specific team members – and build your team around that.

Use automation: Once you’ve established a process, automation can take care of some of the steps for you. Automation can trigger pre-planned responses, solicit feedback, and streamline your process so that your team can focus and handle the other parts, ultimately speeding up your entire workflow.

Create templates: Once you start using templates, you’ll wonder how you even handled customer service before them. Templates are great ways to pre-package answers to your most frequently asked questions, comments, and concerns. By using a template, you not only ensure that you have a quick answer readily available — but you’re ensuring consistency across your team when they provide responses to the same questions.

When it comes to customer service, time is most definitely of the essence. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to meet all of your customers’ needs and expectations, but with the right tools and processes in place, you can not only meet them, but exceed them.

*Survey Methodoloy
Zingle commissioned a Google Survey “Zingle’s Text & Customer Service Survey 2018” of a sampling that is accurately representative of the current U.S. population, with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 6.4%. RMSE is a weighted average of the difference between the predicted population sample (CPS) and the actual sample (Google). The lower the number, the smaller the overall sample bias.

Ford Blakely
Ford Blakely is the founder and CEO of Zingle. As a frustrated consumer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Ford sought to figure out a quicker way to order his latte in the morning. He did - and in 2009 Zingle was born as the first two-way, business-and-customer communication platform. Currently, thousands of hotels, food retailers and other businesses use the software platform to increase efficiency, revenue and customer loyalty by providing a quick and simple way to communicate with customers through text messaging - people's preferred method of communication today.

1 COMMENT

  1. When I read Jeffery Gitomer’s book “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless” back 1998, I was shocked that the data shows someone with a good experience would tell a few people while someone with a bad experience would, in effect, shout from the rooftops to everyone they could. If member serves me it was; good = tell 5, bad = tell 13.

    I swore from that time on that customer service would be everyone’s job, where ever I worked. With the growth of the Internet since 1998, I’m sure the numbers have grown exponentially on the telling of the “bad” news. Learn it or be burned by it.

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