Customer response time is defined as the total time taken by your support team to first respond to a customer query. Whether you run an established business or a startup, the quality and speed in which you provide customer service can make or break your business. Fast customer response is a priority for customers across all industries. Customers want to have their questions, concerns, and/or requests answered as soon as possible. The longer a customer waits, the greater the chance of them changing their minds and taking their business elsewhere.

A satisfied customer becomes a repeat customer, and will most likely recommend your business to others; while an unhappy customer will not. In fact, they may share their unpleasant experience with potential customers, tarnishing your company’s reputation and brand image. Improving customer response time can improve customer service efficiency, close more sales opportunities, and boost customer loyalty. 

Customer satisfaction is now the biggest differentiator of brands, replacing price and product quality. CMO council found that the most important attribute of a good customer experience, according to the customers’ themselves, is a fast response time.

For this reason, businesses should really consider how they can deliver a superior level of customer service and stand out from their competitors. Here are 5 ways you can reduce customer service response times and better serve your clients: 

1. Implement customer service software

Customer service software, also known as help desk software, dominated the market and accounted for a revenue share of over 20% in 2021. Customer service software is one of the best investments you can make to improve your customer service. Support software helps you streamline your team’s workflows and organize incoming customer requests by assigning them to designated customer service agents.

There are various helpdesk solutions available that allow you to put all your customer queries, whether they be via phone, email, social media, or messaging, into one easy-to-use dashboard. This can help your business’s customer service team resolve customers’ issues efficiently and effectively. With every inquiry organized, your team will be able to process a greater volume of customer queries in a shorter amount of time. Support software also lets you track the status of customer requests and customize different kinds of reports to monitor your team members’ performance and support quality.

2. Use email autoresponders

No matter what business or industry you’re in, your customers just want to be heard and get a simple, fast response. Less than 10% of companies use autoresponders, but this simple technology can be used to let a customer know you have received their email and what they should expect to happen next. 

Automated responses can be used in three main ways:

  • An immediate automated email for every inquiry received
  • Certain types of common inquiries receive an automated response
  • An automated email is used for messages received out of business hours

Automated responses may seem impersonal, but that prompt acknowledgement will let customers know that they and their questions and/or concerns matter and that they’re being taken seriously. Automatic response is a excellent way to: 

  • Thank them for their message 
  • Remind the sender of the opening hours of your customer service department and that it may take several hours until their email is seen by someone
  • Set expectations up front and Inform the customer of your average response times
  • Provide links to FAQs and other self service tools that they might not have been able to find on your company website

3. Use time-based email alerts  

Every business focused on its customer service understands the importance of optimizing their response time. As much as a company would love to respond to every email as quickly as possible, there are times when the lag in resolution time is out of their control. For example, an agent may be waiting on information they need from the customer to be able to resolve their inquiry. In this situation, it’s important to flag your customer emails for a timed follow-up so that they aren’t left behind and forgotten.

Using time-based alerts is best because your team will always be notified within a set period to either work through the query (if the customer has provided the requested information) or they’ll be notified to follow up with the customer to obtain the necessary information. Either way, time-based alerts make sure that nothing is dropped. Although team members can create manual alerts, it’s much more effective to automate this using customer service software, most of which have handy features that can automatically tag new inquiries with a timer.

4. Use templates and text shortcuts

There are some common questions that are repeatedly asked by many customers. Sometimes, these questions are rather simple and don’t require a lot of hands-on responses. Such frequently asked questions can be handled quickly and efficiently by making use of templates that contain prepared answers. Rather than drafting a new email for each and every customer inquiry, your support team should have access to a number of email templates or how-to guides covering the most commonly asked questions.

Email templates that provide the right information can be used by agents to respond to customers quickly, without having to individually type out the same answer over and over again. This allows them to handle more inquiries in the same amount of time, reducing the average response time.

5. Categorize and prioritize emails you receive 

Categorizing and prioritizing emails is one of the best ways for a business to reduce customer support response time. Categorizing emails can help you keep track of your customers’ needs. Customer support agents should handle an email based on its subject and then assign it to a specific category. Different categories represent different levels of priority. Categorizing the emails you receive based on subject matter and complexity helps your support team be more productive. They’ll know which ones to prioritize and will be able to work within an organized framework. Some email categories include: 

  • Technical issues
  • General questions
  • Invoices
  • Refunding
  • Payments
  • Spam

You can also categorize emails according to the type of customer: 

  • Lead
  • Customer
  • Old customer

Improving customer response times will not only improve your customers’ overall experience, but it can also enhance your brand’s reputation, and improve efficiencies throughout your entire company. Better customer response time means better business.