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In the universe of customer support, response rate or first response time (FRT) refers to the speed and accuracy with which your customer support team reacts to customer queries. Naturally, all customers prefer to be given immediate attention, especially if they are in some sort of fix or are upset. 

However, your FRT rate is your average first response time, so it takes all your customers’ communication and responses into consideration. It’s not about keeping just a few of them happy. But more about consistently delivering a quick response rate and positive CX, across all customers. 

How is FRT calculated?

To improve your average response rate, it would be useful to understand how response rate is worked out. 

These two elements lead us to the magic number:

  1. The total amount of time taken to respond to queries, compared to number of queries
  2. The number of effective responses sent in that time period

If we break down this equation into simpler terms, it means that you need to take care of 4 aspects of responding:

  1. How many queries are received via email, chat, whatsapp message, social media DM/comment, or any other channel
  2. How many pieces of communication are opened and read
  3. How long you took to respond to each
  4. How good or effective was each answer that you provided

Though this sounds pretty straightforward, it can get complicated, especially when customers have the privilege of communicating with you, via different platforms. Some may email you, others could send whatsapp messages, while handling real-time chat can be a 24 by 7 job.

Related: How Does First Call Resolution Enhance Your Brand Image?

So, how should you go about handling your response rate?

Systematically.

Planning the Process 

Like every business improvement requires a step-by-step approach, upgrading your response rate should also be done via a smooth process.

Follow these basic steps:

  • Isolate the commonly asked questions 

Identify those queries that are largely asked by your customer base. You can get those via tickets or emails, chat history and even recorded phone calls. Then create a resource bank or FAQ section that answers all of them in detail. 

This will ease the burden on your agents, allowing them to answer the more unique and complicated queries rapidly. 

  • Select the right tools or plan

If your customer support is handled in-house, you will need to figure out what your needs are, which tools will work best for you and the workflow. The most common customer support tools being used today include voice assistant, chatbot, emailing systems, and live chat setups.

Alternatively, if you’re utilizing an outsourced customer support company or team, all you will be required to do is choose a plan that suits your needs and budget. A customer support company that operates via an omnichannel platform is ideal as it can give you the option of every tool – audio, video, chatbot, human chat, email, whatsapp, sms, tickets and FAQs. 

Naturally, the right mix of tools or plan will impact  your response rate, positively. 

  • Define the escalation points

Escalation refers to the process of taking queries from one level to the next. This usually happens when an automated response gets escalated to experienced and trained agents. These highly qualified agents are equipped to give the right answers in the shortest time, leading to a better response rate. 

The trick is in knowing when exactly a chatbot should be handed over to a human or when an email needs to be addressed over and above the template. 

  • Maintain a feedback mechanism 

Genuine feedback from your customers, once their tickets are resolved, will offer you insight into their comfort level with the response time. 

Using this feedback, you can identify the bottlenecks in your process, if any. These can be ironed out at any of the above stages, to ensure improvements in response time and better CX.

Practical ideas to improve your response rate

Once your process is in place, you may move to the next level of ensuring you have certain technologies, practices or tools in place.

Let’s find out some primary methods used to ensuring a good response rate:

1) Automated responses and templates 

Most customer queries are quite simple, whether they ask them via calls, emails, DMs or whatsapp messages. Such queries can be addressed by automated processes via emails, chat, DM or Whatsapp responses. 

For other more complicated queries, an automated system plays the role of being the first responder, or an acknowledgement of the customer and his query. You should also thank the customer for reaching out, manage their expectations regarding response time or even offer additional resources that are not available on the website. 

Robotic Process Automation uses machine learning and predictive response-giving. 

Likewise, find or create a set of email or chat templates that suit a variety of query-based communication and use those instead of drafting fresh, creative mails and messages every time. You may also provide links to FAQs and other sources of information. 

2) Omnichannel customer support strategy 

An omnichannel customer support platform is one that allows a 2-way communication between your customers and you, via a unified system. The system helps in keeping response time down as it makes all the communication between a particular customer and your company available on a single dashboard, to make the best decisive response. 

Also, offering a wide variety of channels to your customers, distributes the volume of enquiries to be able to answer them quickly. 

You may also like: 7 Ways Omnichannel Customer Support Benefits Your Business

3) Chatbots for 24×7 support

Chatbots are perfect as the first line of customer support. They work during downtime, after hours and for a variety of queries. 

They are especially helpful when human agents are away or in training.  Chatbots can be trained to offer better responses each time and in record time. Many companies utilize a Human plus Chatbot set up for optimum efficiency and CX.Visual engagement tools

In today’s video dominating times, visual engagement is the way to a customer’s heart! Live customer engagement tools such as voice and video chat work really well in quick resolution. 

They drop the number of times a customer needs to contact you and lead to quicker solution finding, with minimal gaps in communication. You will also be able to offer personalized solutions that suit the customer on camera.  Customers are able to show issues via video and the technical teams supporting them are able to merely see them and suggest fixes. It’s that simple.

Hence, improving your response rate involves identifying the right process, tools, technology and team. 

If you would like guidance on improving your response rate or any other matters related to your customer support, contact us.

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