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 5 ways you can Improve First Response Time (FRT)

5 ways you can Improve First Response Time (FRT)

Fast and immediate responses in customer service is no longer an expectation, it’s the norm now.

Customers understand their value to a business, so they expect businesses to ensure they have a great experience.

The financially beneficial strategy that businesses can take at this moment, is to make customer service convenient and accessible.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

In customers’ eyes, the time a company takes to respond to them reflects how much a company cares about them, this might be just a hunch; however, the expectation for immediate service is very real. In the age of instant gratification, customers expect to raise a concern with a company and for the issue to be resolved in the shortest time frame possible.

What is First Response Time (FRT)?

First response time is the amount of time elapsed between the customer’s message and the first response from the brand. However, while analysing it as a metric, you would take the average first response time, not just one-off cases, but for a team or individual social channels.

First response time is one of the important metrics every brand should monitor. Responding to customers fast and providing them with relevant and helpful information is vital for increasing customer satisfaction.

How do you calculate FRT?

To calculate FRT, you need to understand the 2 essential pieces of data you need to collect, the total time taken to respond during the selected timeframe, and the total number of responses sent during the same timeframe.

You can collect the data for a week or a month to get a clear picture of your current performance.

First Response Time = Total time taken to respond during the selected timeframe divided by the number of responses in the selected time period.

How to calculate FRT

This is just a scratch on the surface; you can calculate your first response time for individual agents, teams, or departments. This metric gives you a birds-eye view of your performance in an actionable way.

Why is FRT an important metric for businesses?

It needs no explanation; customers have higher expectations of businesses now. They expect to get their time and money’s worth.

Think of communication in our personal lives, you send a message to someone and they reply instantly. It just feels nice and gives you a positive feeling and perception of the person. Whereas if you send a message to someone and they take a day or 2 to respond, you are bound to feel a little annoyed. Worst case scenario, you send a message and get ignored, you probably would not bother to maintain that relationship.

The same scenarios apply for businesses, except a business is held to a considerably higher standard than friends. Businesses are obligated to treat customers with respect and compassion.

Speed is the most important attribute to customer service, not just because it makes the customer feel important, but because customers simply won’t return if they are not satisfied with the level of service.

5 tips to reduce your First Response Time

Automate your responses

The best way to reduce FRT is by Automating responses to customers, with the right customer service software you can tailor chatbots as per your specific needs.

You could implement chatbots specifically to inform customers about when they’ll hear back or you can make chatbots your primary agent, escalating only complex issues to human agents.

Expand your canned responses to accommodate a vast variety of FAQ’s

Canned responses are pre-formatted responses to frequently asked questions. It is a great opportunity to leverage your support data to build more responses for a wide range of common queries. Investing time into creating a playbook with your canned responses can reduce the effort taken to resolve a query.

Think of it as the time you would take to look for the right solution being used instead to create a help sheet for agents, in turn helping them improve their productivity. The time saved by canned responses can be better used for prioritizing complex cases.

Categorize tickets based on priority

Every query is important, but they are not of the same complexity and not every query is urgent. Responding to every query as urgent and top-priority reaps no benefits, not to mention it would be incredibly taxing for your agents. Prioritize your queries based on the time to resolve, the complexity of the issue, and time-sensitivity.

The ability to filter or categorize queries gives your customer service team members the choice to handle issues based on the similarity of subject matter and the difficulty level. Equipping your agents and teams with the right tool and strategy will help you improve FRT.

Integrate an Omni-channel customer service strategy

This is a proven method to distribute case volume across different channels, preventing a single channel from getting blocked up.

Prevention is better than cure, better safe than sorry, clearly, the best way to address a problem to ensure it never rises so the steps to manage a flooding inbox is to prevent flooding. Omnichannel customer service software will help you provide multiple channels for customer interactions by decentralizing queries on a single platform and preventing individual channels from getting flooded.

Make it easy with Self-Service

Self-service is also another effective way to reduce FRT, enabling customers to help themselves. Most customers prefer to solve their minor issues or queries independently, it is faster and more convenient.

Providing self-service will have a huge impact on your response timeframe. It is also one of the best ways to increase agent productivity, by allowing them to prioritize complex and urgent cases.


Speedy responses are great, but customers would rather have helpful resolutions rather than just fast responses. The quality of your responses matters more than the speed, so don’t compromise one for the other. Set a target FRT and gradually build up to it, every minute less makes a difference.

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