What is the First Response Time?

The First Response Time (FRT) is the average length of time within a period that it takes for a customer service agent to first respond to a customer’s inquiry. The relevant time length can consist of seconds, minutes, hours, or even days. While a relatively straightforward metric, FRT is nonetheless an extremely important KPI for optimizing your customer satisfaction.

First Response Time is a relevant KPI for your customer support team to monitor.

Why is the First Response Time important?

First Response Time is important because it’s a direct reflection of the quality and effectiveness of your company’s customer support. A prompt response time is directly correlated with customer happiness, and can serve as the ‘wow’ factor in attracting and retaining customers.

First Response Time is also important because if it’s too high, it can point to deficiencies in your customer support. Knowing the acceptable benchmark for your FRT and being able to consistently apply it is not only a winning formula for your customer satisfaction, but also a means of ensuring that you’re able to provide your support team help and resources if needed.

How to calculate First Response Time

Unless your customer support staff is on the clock 24/7, exclude night hours, weekends, and holidays from your FRT calculation. If you have any unusually long or short FRTs, you can exclude them from your data set to avoid skewing your results.

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How to decrease First Response Time

While benchmarks will vary by industry, generally accepted standards for FRT are:

  • 3 minutes for phone;
  • 60 minutes for social media;
  • 24 hours for email.

The best way to decrease your FRT is to ensure you have enough customer support agents to match your company’s needs, and that your agents are properly trained. A too-high FRT likely indicates that either or both of these criteria are not being met. If this is the case, you’ll need to invest more training and/or resources into your support team to raise the level of service.

Consider investing in an AI chatbot, as this automated service can give customers immediate information without the need to direct their queries to a human agent, thus saving your support team time and energy.

Bear in mind that FRT will probably be subject to seasonal fluctuations, so be sure to allocate resources and staff accordingly. Your FRTs from the busy seasons will likely be longer than normal.

Finally, as with other support-related KPIs, it’s important to strike a balance between speed and efficiency of customer service, and the quality of such service. While FRT is certainly important for evaluating the level of your customer support, it’s not everything!

Other KPIs similar to First Response Time include:

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