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According to one report

  • 62% of contact centers do not respond to customer service emails.
  • Only 20% answer questions adequately in the first reply itself.
  • 90% do not inform the customer on receiving an email.

Even worse:

The average time to respond to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. Some companies take as long as 8 days!

According to another survey:

  • 46% of customers expect companies to respond in less than 4 hours
  • 12% expect a response within 15 minutes or less

Clearly, there’s a mismatch between what customers expect and what companies actually deliver.

In a 2005 Bain study, 80% of companies believed they were delivering superior service, but only 8% of customers believed that they were receiving excellent service. In the decade and a half since this study, many companies are still not meeting customer expectations, especially with regards to timely service and fast response.

But why is timely customer service important?

The Meaning of Timely Customer Support

Ask any customer about their worst support experience, and they’ll probably say something like, “They put me on hold for hours”, or “They kept transferring me from agent to agent, and still didn’t solve my challenge”, or “I had to repeat my problem to multiple people before someone finally found a solution”.

The common theme in all these complaints is time – or rather a waste of time.

No customer likes to call into a contact center that wastes their time. This is the primary reason why you must focus on providing resolutions that are both timely and effective. Along the way, you must set the right expectations, share relevant information, follow up regularly, and provide periodic updates, so the customer knows that you’re doing your best to give them the best possible solution in the fastest possible time.

The Importance of Timely Customer Support

In today’s buyer-led economy, timely customer support is vital for many reasons:

  • Quick responses make customers feel important and impact their brand experiences.
  • Customers demand and expect fast service from the brands they interact with.
  • The price of customer retention is timely support. The cost is customer churn.
  • Slow response times leave a bad impression on current customers, and also affect how they will talk about your brand to your potential customers. Conversely, fast response times can improve customer retention, and also speed up customer acquisition.
  • For customers, the most important attribute of good customer experience management is fast response times. Other attributes like knowledgeable staff and clear, consistent messaging are secondary.
  • By providing timely support even outside business hours – say, with a chatbot – you can build rapport with customers that translate into long-term “stickiness” and brand loyalty.

Timely responses can also reduce your support team’s workload. One report found that 40% of millennials wait just 60 minutes to contact a brand on another channel if they don’t hear from support on the initial channel. This means extra work for agents, as well as unhappy customers. But by responding quickly, agents can spend more time engaging in meaningful customer interactions and impressing customers with support speed and quality.

Strategies to Implement Timely Customer Support

Here are 5 effective ways to respond quickly to customers:

  • Implement a customer service system like Syrow: A powerful AI-plus-human-powered omnichannel system is a great way to respond quickly, and provide customers with timely, relevant, personalized support.
  • Implement email auto-responders: Even if you can’t provide fast answers, you can still provide fast acknowledgments. And for this, personalized email auto-responders with useful links and/or information about working hours, average response times, support SLAs, etc. are ideal.
  • Time-based email alerts: Alerts are an effective solution when you have a large number of emails in your service queue, and want to avoid losing emails or increasing response times for longer than absolutely necessary.
  • Deploy chatbots: Automated conversational AI chatbots are a great way to provide timely responses: i) to common questions, ii) outside working hours, iii) when volumes are high and human agents are especially busy.
  • Create and provide FAQs: With a well-thought-out, updated FAQ page, customers can get the information they need quickly so they won’t even need to contact you in the first place.

Conclusion

Modern customers demand much more than great products or low prices. They also demand timely and relevant support. And that’s why minimizing response times should be a high priority for organizations looking to improve customer retention and acquisition, increase customer loyalty, and boost conversions, sales, and repeat business.

If your contact center has not really thought about this aspect before, we encourage you to get started sooner rather than later. You will see great results very soon, in terms of improved efficiencies, an enhanced brand reputation, and most importantly – happy customers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fast response times can improve customer retention, and also speed up customer acquisition.
  • By providing timely support outside business hours, you can build rapport with customers that translate into long-term “stickiness” and brand loyalty.
  • Timely responses also reduce the support team’s workload where agents can spend more time delivering speedy and quality customer service.
  • A well-thought-out, updated FAQ page can help customers to get the information quickly.
  • Quick responses make customers feel important and impact their brand experiences.
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