How to Optimize Your Time to First Response

By: Sofie De Beule

October 1, 2015

One of the most important aspects of any customer service team is being able to reply to your customers in a timely manner. The speed of a reply is essential to increase customer satisfaction. No one likes to wait for hours and hours in line to get a response.

Even if you’re not able to give a correct answer right away, it’s important to respond to the customer as soon as possible. By simply replying, “Thank you for reaching out, we’re looking into the issue” within 5 to 20 minutes, you acknowledge their issue and show that you are making the effort to fix it to your best ability. Of course, you also need to keep your promise of fixing their issue and then get back to your customers with a correct response.

Optimizing your time to first response is a matter of staying focused. If you keep up the pace and get back to your customers within just a few minutes, customers will gain a great deal of respect for your company. A customer doesn’t care about how your business is organized or who gets him the answer he is looking for; the only thing he wants is to get a quick response.

Here are a few key tips and tricks to optimize your time to first response:

Know When Your Team is Busiest

Analyze when your customers are reaching out to you the most. For an even more granular analysis, drill down into the data and filter on specific social media channels to map the workload on social media in detail. One of our customers in the public transport industry noticed they had a spike in the volume of Facebook mentions in the afternoon. They decided to lighten their team’s load of other tasks so they can have an extra team member jumping in to help with social during the afternoon.

Maximize Your Efficiency

To maintain a clear overview of the incoming mentions that still need a response, without making your team members feel too overwhelmed by the current workload, create separate Smart Folders tailored to your team members’ skills (e.g. based on specific product knowledge, language competences, etc.). Messages that trigger these workflows are automatically routed to the right person in your team, which optimizes your time to first response and your ability to resolve the issue quickly

Noticed a mention in the inbox that needs a response by a specific team member? Simply label the mention with a specific tag to route the message to the person in your team who’s best equipped to help out. Use a chat app to quickly discuss with your team members, case by case, and get an accurate response in just minutes.

Use Canned Responses

Just as with any other traditional customer service channel, a lot of people reach out via social media with similar questions on a daily basis. Use Canned Responses to make replying to those specific questions a little bit easier. Answering a simple question like, “What’s your return policy on this item?” is straightforward and in most cases simply a matter of directing people to a specific website page or your FAQs.

By taking away some of the load and swiftly answering the most frequently asked questions, your social media team will have more time to focus on the complaints that need a lot more action. But be careful: when using placeholder messages or Canned Responses, make sure you actually sound like a human being. If not, your customers will easily tune you out.

When optimizing your response time, involve your social media team in the decision-making process when creating their work schedules. As time goes on, evaluate whether your current work schedule and engagement strategy are still working in your favor. Adjust shifts and go back to the analysis process.

If you recognize patterns in your workload, get questions to the right people efficiently, and re-use responses as much as possible, you will optimize your time to first response and make your customers feel valued.

Do you want to learn more on how to engage in real-time with your customers? Don’t hesitate to read on in our special eBook about real-time social media engagement.