First Response Time

Why First Response Time Is Not Enough For Your Mobile Customers

There probably isn’t a more common KPI in customer service than First Response Time (FRT). I’ve asked many people, and even myself, whether FRT is still important in today's world of mobile customers. The answer is yes, FRT is important. But it is not the end-all of customer service metrics.

Let me tell you why, but before that, have a look at what I mean by “Mobile” in this context.

Speed of reaction is not the only important thing to consider when it comes to handling high volumes of digital inquiries.

Every time I talk mobile during presentations, people ask if I mean native mobile apps for customer service agents. Well, sounds cool but no, that's not my point. What I mean by mobile is the customer. The habits and expectations of people today revolve around our capacity to be mobile, to be continuously connected — anywhere, anytime. While shopping, at the movies, cooking dinner, waiting in line, or traveling. It means customers can raise a question, voice a complaint or just share their feelings at, literally, anytime.

Mark Hillary of the CX Files recently interviewed me about an omnichannel experience and putting the customer first. By having a digital first mindset, contact centers can seamlessly talk to customers across platforms, so the customer isn't repeating themselves and thus having a better experience.

FRT + Prioritization = Managed Customer Service Virality

Many organizations take first response time as an isolated metric measured as a simple indicator or benchmark of customer service performance. It also typically serves as an incentive for customer service agents. But, is speed of reaction really the only important thing to consider when it comes to handling high volumes of digital inquiries?

I see a very strong correlation between FRT and Prioritization, simply because First in First Out (FIFO) is outdated. Deciding which conversations are most important, and thus should be handled with priority, is not so straightforward, particularly on social media.

Prioritization can be based on many things, such as source origin, CRM data, keywords or number of likes, comments, shares, retweets, or followers. Such prioritization, or “social influence”, can and should be calculated systematically and interpreted at scale. I believe it’s vital to prioritize first and then focus on keeping FRT as low as possible. Because who wants to run a competition for responding to unimportant issues?

Are we on the same page? 

Imagine you're at the supermarket, the kind that resembles a football stadium, and you find yogurt that expired three weeks ago. You could go and find a member of staff to report the inconvenience (and disgust) of the expired product. In other words, stop shopping and start playing Where’s Waldo. But that’s never going to happen, right? You would rather take a picture of the spoiled yogurt, tag the brand, and share it on social media.

Now what would be really cool — the holy grail of real-time social customer care — would be if you got a response while you were still in the store.

And what if you are on the move, without laptop access and in a hurry to catch a flight? In a desperate attempt to make the connection, you tweet your airline #pleasewait!  Of course, they won't hold the plane, but customer-oriented airlines will definitely prioritize your tweet and assist you immediately on how to get to your gate as soon as possible. In the worst case, they can tell you which other connections are available to get you to your destination with minimal delay.

Not all customers need service NOW, but some do ...

Do you see what these mobile customers have in common? They expect answers to their questions immediately. It's not under 60 minutes as many studies suggest, it's literally NOW, because after a few minutes the context changes and the solution isn't important anymore. Without a beyond light speed first response time, a response 60 minutes later is futile.

So here the issue comes down to FRT again, but ahead of that somebody or something had to set priority based on the fact that these customers are mobile, in a hurry and can’t wait even 5 minutes. That’s the beauty of technology.

A powerful customer service platform can definitely help. Reducing first response time to make sure your mobile customers with urgent issues get their answers in a timely manner is important. However, it isn't just about timing. It’s also about priorities. 

The digital age is changing customer expectations. Check out our webinar, Digital – First Customer Service: The Future is Here Today, to learn more.