5 Steps to Improve Customer Response Time


Customer response time is one of the most important metrics for any sales or customer service team. Keeping customers happy, after all, is what makes or breaks a business. According to one study, a quick response time improves the customer experience for as many as 71% of those surveyed. 

Now that companies are competing in a much bigger landscape, it’s essential to focus on setting your business apart by delivering top-quality customer service. You don’t have to spend thousands on customer service training or try to reinvent the wheel here—something as simple as improving your response times can do wonders for your customer satisfaction ratings. And when customers are satisfied, they’re more likely to become lifetime customers and refer you to others.

So, how can you make improvements? Although the details of your company’s strategy may be unique, here are five general steps to set you on the path to success. And at the end, we’ll discuss how you can also outsource to a team like Smith.ai to handle your outreach campaigns and other communications needs. 

Step one: Create a process for customer service responses 

Do you have a process in place for responding to customer requests or inquiries? The companies that struggle the most with customer service issues, including response times, are those that don’t have an organized structure or process for handling these issues. 

To create your own process (or improve your existing one), consider:

  • Identifying common inquiries to automate later (more on this in step two)
  • Planning the workflow for all customer service channels. 
  • Creating and following an escalation process. 
  • Including follow-up in your process.

When you have a structure in place, it will be much easier for you to identify obstacles and areas where you may be able to improve response times. Even the process itself can reduce response times drastically, so that’s something to consider, as well. 

Step two: Automate recurring actions and tickets 

Once you’ve identified items that come up often, you can find ways to automate support for them. Is there a common question customers ask before buying? Add it to your FAQ page. Do you see a lot of support tickets for order status checks? Create an automated order status process or use a chatbot to help people check on their orders with ease. 

There’s no limit to what you can automate. The caveat is that you don’t want to overdo it or automate the wrong things. A helpful tip to keep you on track is to automate transactional inquiries, not human connections.  

You can also use canned responses to answer common questions or queries so that there’s less waiting time for the customer and less repetitive work for your customer service reps. 

Step three: Create (or enhance) a self-service knowledgebase 

People love that the Internet can help them to help themselves to things they want to know or services they need to find. In addition to all of your customer service contact options, you should have a robust knowledgebase on your website that includes:

  • Blogs and articles
  • Press releases and industry news
  • Product/service information 
  • Whitepapers and downloadable eBooks
  • A detailed FAQ page/section 
  • Any other useful/relevant content

This will allow people to get access to so much information that they may never need to reach out to your people. Plus, it positions you as an authority in the industry because you’ve built such a solid foundation of information and offer it up at no cost. 

Step four: Utilize chatbots and live chat 

This is a step that improves response times, while also providing customers with more options for reaching out or getting help besides calling or emailing. You can enlist a chatbot to handle simple inquiries and set it up to redirect to live chat agents if people need further assistance. It’s a great way to make sure that people get the support they need in the way they need it. 

You can even train your chatbot with AI so that it responds to customer needs in real time and delivers more accurate, quicker responses that don’t require a human. It isn’t effective for every need and situation, however, so you’ll want to make sure that you offer a hybrid chatbot/live agent system to hand people off to your reps when necessary. 

(As a bonus, Smith.ai also offers live chat support as part of its package of solutions. Reach out below to learn more!)

Step five: Test, measure, and improve 

Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to sit back and let the new process work as it should. This is the time when you’ll be able to see if there are hiccups in the response process, other issues with communication, or common support queries that you can add to your automation to further refine your response times. 

You should have an omnichannel strategy for customer service, including how and when you respond to queries across various platforms. For example, you might have a live agent ready for phone calls, but use a chatbot to see if people can’t self-diagnose and resolve their issues before redirecting them to one of your customer service reps. 

If you see areas where you can make changes or improvements, do it. Take advantage of metrics, including the average response time for each channel, average time to a resolution, and the average first response time (for first-time contact), as well as others. This will help you monitor your efforts and see if you are indeed making improvements. 

Outsource what you can 

Your sales and customer service reps are busy. However, they don’t have to handle the burden of all those calls, emails, and social media messages on their own. When you partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, you get support not just for outreach campaigns, but for things like lead intake, appointment scheduling, and a 24/7 answering service to handle all manner of customer inquiries. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai

Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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