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Basics of Customer Service & the Ideal Response Time

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Baskar Sundaram

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The average company responds to an email in about 12 hours and 10 minutes according to a study conducted. But is this quick enough is the question! 

Research Findings 

With numerous avenues to contact a company including Twitter, email, and Facebook how fast does the average customer expect a response and does their age affect their expectations? A study conducted in 2017 showed that under 45% of customers were very satisfied with their email correspondence. Customers that were satisfied noted down speed being the top factor affecting their interaction. A typical business takes about 12 hours to respond to an email. This is definitely an upgrade from the previous one-business-day standard response time but it may still not be up to par. A previous study done showed that the ideal response time expected even then was just one hour. A follow-up study was done in 2018 to see if this expectation has changed. According to the results the ideal standard for response times through email was still one hour with a response within fifteen minutes remarkable service. This was based on what would satisfy at least 80% of the individuals surveyed.  

Email Response Time Expectations 

If an email was responded to within a couple of hours a company could capitalize on 70% of customers. A one hour response time is the expectation that would satisfy 89% of customers. When categorized by age the findings showed that Baby Boomers within the ages of 55-73 actually expected the fastest response. Expectations were similar among coworkers expecting responses within the hour. At work, this may be very hard to fulfill and may lead to emails being glanced over quickly and not getting detailed responses back. The average email thread amongst coworkers was reported to be 4.5 emails. The age group that expected the fastest response was GenX, who are 39-54 years old.  

Managing Twitter & Facebook Response Times 

On Twitter the stakes are even higher with the standard expectation being just fifteen minutes. This can be especially challenging to fulfill as Twitter is decreasing in popularity and is usually not the preferred method of contact. Phone calls, and email are still used more, thus allotting staff members to focus on Twitter may not be the best allocation of company staff. Again, Baby Boomers expected the fastest response.  Expectations on Facebook were similar to email with one hour being ideal and fifteen minutes being remarkable. Millennials, ages 23-38 expected the fastest responses on Facebook. Although more people use Facebook to contact companies than Twitter, a rise from 40% to 50%, only 55% of Millennials reported using Facebook to contact a company.  

In conclusion, the ideal response time for a company to  reach a majority of their customers would be to respond within the hour. 

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