Customer Service Glossary

What Is Live Chat Response Time?

Live chat response time is the amount of time a support agent takes to respond to a customer’s initial question or concern. Also known as “first response time,” the measurement specifies how long a shopper has to wait until they receive a response from an online chat agent.

As most businesses know, the modern shopper has a clear expectation regarding response times. Previously, businesses could wait as long as 12 hours to respond to an email. However, customers expect a first response time of 15 seconds or less when using a live chat application.

With this in mind, companies must prioritize efficient use of human resources and effective training to ensure that their customer satisfaction rates trend upward.

How Live Chat Response Time Impacts Customer Service

When a customer initiates an online chat conversation with a customer service agent through a company’s website, they anticipate a rapid response for one reason: they believe the communication channel should mirror the experience they have each day while using apps like Facebook Messenger or iMessage. Despite this expectation, many businesses have yet to meet consumer demands consistently.

Live chat response times can significantly impact customer satisfaction and brand perception. More than 50% of consumers are unhappy with their live chat-based customer service experiences.

When managed correctly, online chat support can help improve brand loyalty, increase revenue through customer lifetime value, and encourage returning customers. This tool allows customers to connect with a customer service representative immediately. Further, many online chat platforms store customer information, interaction history, and purchasing data, making it easy for agents to ensure a cohesive, streamlined experience.

How to Improve Online Chat Response Time

Businesses can work to improve customer satisfaction and reduce response time in several ways, such as:

1. Improving Human Resource Management

Many businesses don’t have the budget to hire a 24/7 in-house chat support team. As a result, customers may wait hours for a response.

With this in mind, many businesses turn to live chat answering services or outsourced call centers to provide ongoing access for customers worldwide. Agents often work rotating shifts, ensuring that customers can connect with a live representative in seconds, not hours. In addition, businesses can enjoy access to a large talent pool of agents, making it easy to expand operations during busy seasons.

2. Focusing on Product Knowledge

Both in-house and outsourced agents should have a thorough understanding of each business’s products and services. Businesses can prioritize in-depth training to ensure that agents provide relevant information, answers, and guidance before, during, and after purchases. Businesses can also develop canned responses, which agents can use to assist customers quickly and easily.

3. Considering Automated Options

Incorporating automated response programs – also known as chatbots – into a website can help improve customer satisfaction, increase sales, and streamline customer support operations. Depending on the type of chatbot that a business chooses, the feature may even direct customers to self-service resources or another online solution.

However, if a customer needs to speak with a representative, a chatbot can gather information, clarify questions, and escalate the conversation to the appropriate source. While chatbots don’t impact response times directly, they can help ensure that customers feel heard and valued while agents resolve issues and address concerns.

How to Calculate Live Chat Response Time

Businesses can calculate live chat response time using a simple formula, as follows:

Sum of Response Times / Number of Customer Submissions

Most businesses calculate live chat response time using minutes, hours, or days. While many organizations base the metric on the mean, or average, response time, others use the median time to help reduce distorting information. Regardless of how response time is calculated, companies should not include messages sent by chatbots when calculating live chat response time.

Live Chat Response Time in Customer Service Departments

Minimizing live chat response times can drastically improve customer satisfaction, sales, and brand loyalty. This critical metric identifies how long customers have to wait for a response from a customer service representative. By reducing response time to seconds instead of minutes or hours, companies can enjoy happier clients, increased sales, and more efficient customer service departments.

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