Is First Response Time an Essential KPI?

first response time an essential KPI

In today’s consumer climate, customers expect an immediate response to questions. If they don’t get one, customers may take their loyalty elsewhere. Naturally, the longer you take to get back to a customer, the less likely they are to be satisfied with the service received. But is First Response Time an essential KPI? Here we will examine how FRT can be more than just a ‘vanity’ metric. 

What is FRT?

First Response Time, or FRT, is how long it takes for a support agent to respond to an incoming customer inquiry. The first impression of your company sets the tone for all future interactions. You want to make sure it’s a good one. An FRT benchmark can be an effective performance metric for customer service departments. 

The downside of FRT

FRT only measures the time of the first reply. Thus, this metric won’t give you any visibility into how long subsequent replies take. Additionally, FRT may not be the best way to measure an agent’s performance if you use a gatekeeper to assign tickets. Despite these limitations, much can be gleaned from how long it takes to make initial contact with customers. 

Why Does FRT Matter?

If your first reply doesn’t make the customer feel like their issue is important, you will lose them faster than if you had never replied at all. Even a simple auto-reply acknowledgment will serve to ease agitated or angry customers who simply want to feel heard. 

In analysis of hundreds of online brands, we find that there is in fact a correlation between response times and customer satisfaction, and that you want to get your first response time below 12 hours.

For the purposes of this study, we’ve converted all CSAT scores to a percentage point system.

Once FRT rises above 15 calendar hours, we see CSAT fall below a benchmark 90%. The result continues to multiply the longer and longer it takes to get back to customers. 

What Can Slow You Down?

Your company’s structure can play a key role in your FRT. If it is a large organization, this may mean lots of departments need information to move forward with assisting the customer. The more moving parts involved, the slower things get. Spikes in FRT typically occur when there are staffing shortages, shipping delays, or when a new product/sale is launched.

When you think about what to report on in your CX org, keep in mind that First Response Time is an essential KPI, not just a vanity metric. It has a very real impact on overall customer satisfaction. If you’re unable to hit desirable FRTs with your current team structure, reach out to wrrk for help! 

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