Average Time to Respond to Email Inquiries
Most companies forget to track one of the most important customer support metrics there is: the amount of time it takes you to respond to a customer request sent via email.
DefinitionThe average response time for an email inquiry is a measurement of the number of minutes, hours or days it takes you to provide a visitor a human-generated response to a email-based inquiry:
Sum of Response Times in [TIME UNIT]/ Total Number of Email Inquries = Average Time to Respond
The [TIME UNIT] in this equation refers to minutes, hours or days, e.g., “Sum of Response Times in Days”. Response time is defined as the difference in [TIME UNITS] between the time the inquiry is received and the time that someone in your company answers the email. While there are a handful of technologies designed to automate responses, rare is the substitute for a personal email responding to the question or concern. Any company concerned with how visitors perceive their commitment to customer suport is advised to respond personally to these inquires.
While summing these times can be arduous, the process can be simplified by creating a central spreadsheet of inquiries and responses or mining your customer support application for the data.
Because nothing is more frustrating to visitors than sending an email and having to wait endlessly for the response, this KPI is one that lends itself well to conservative alerts and warnings being generated. Depending on your particular business, you should set the warning threshold very low and use warning generation as a strong action driver.
Your visitors and customers expect a near-instantaneous response to any email they send you, especially when they have a problem. If you want happy customers and prospects you should consider setting expectations of response times very low, e.g., less than 6 hours or under one day—same day response. As an exercise, track this KPI against the volume of calls into your organization to see if a 10 percent improvement in average response time correlates well to a 10 percent decrease in call volume. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Regardless of your average response time this KPI should never get worse and increase. Any sustained increase should immediately be investigated, looking to see if perhaps there has been an increase in complex inquiries, an extended illness or problem among those responsible for responding or worse, someone completely ignoring requests for help.