There is almost nothing that kills brand loyalty than long waiting times for accessing customer support. Even if your support agents do a phenomenal job, they are set up for failure by long wait times, given that the customer is already frustrated by the time they reach the front of the queue. The ramifications don’t stop with one customer; a long wait time for one person can bring the entire customer support infrastructure to a grinding halt, leading to everyone else in the queue getting delayed help. Consequently, your brand’s reputation takes a hit and many of the customers who had a poor experience when they needed help would be hesitant to make another purchase with your company.
This should come as no surprise, but 72% of buyers who experience great customer support are willing to spend more money with the brand, per an American Express study. In the same study, it is revealed that about 66% of customers will likely abandon a business transaction if the service isn’t satisfactory. These unhappy customers will not just affect your bottom line, but they will also cause serious damage to future business prospects by leaving bad reviews, doing social media exposes, and ranting to everyone they know about how they wasted a fine evening being on hold with your customer support team.
Jeff Bezos credits Amazon’s success to their laser focus on customer support, as nowadays consumers expect quick, personalized, and omnichannel service throughout the day. To enhance the customer experience when they contact you with a support request, you first need to be aware of consumers’ main area of concern, average wait time.
You can arrive at the average amount of time your customers wait for assistance by using the formula: Average wait time (AWT) = Total waiting time in the measurement period/ Total customers served in that time You need to work towards ensuring that 80% of your calls are answered by agents in 20 seconds, which is a standard in the call center industry. Also, keep in mind that customers will abandon a call or customer support request if they have to wait over two minutes. By constantly tracking your AWT, you can identify where there are delays, whether you need to upgrade your technology, train your staff better, or automate certain aspects of the process.
If your organization has a particularly high Average Wait Time, alarm bells need to start ringing about your customer support process. This is because your customers are far more likely to remember a negative experience with your brand than a positive one. When your customers are subjected to clogged support lines, they will exhibit certain behaviors that you need to be on the lookout for. If your customers are constantly exhibiting these behavior patterns, it is a guarantee your customer support operations need a thorough revamping:
Customers refusing to wait and abandoning the call or live chat
Jumping from one chat or call to another, busting up a lot of your agents
If your customers are constantly left frustrated because of the average wait time, there are several tactics that you can employ to streamline the process.
Oftentimes, the issue is that there are too few agents handling customer calls and chats. Adding more members to your support team can go a long way in reducing the average time of waiting that the customer has to endure. If your customer support team works in shifts, you can have more agents working during peak times and cut back on that number when the demand for support is low. Food delivery apps all over the world effectively employ this tactic; during the afternoon lunch rush and holidays, they have a larger team attending to calls while depending on a leaner team on other occasions.
Your agents don’t have to spend the same time and effort on each inquiry. You can eliminate the need for most of your incoming support requests by having a detailed FAQ section on your website to address simple queries and automated issue resolution over call or chat. You can even have your new staff work on basic queries and support requests while directing the complicated cases to seniors who can deftly handle escalations.
You can’t underestimate the role of technology when it comes to reducing the wait time for customers. There are a range of self-service and AI-powered automation options available for businesses that can bring down the rates of customer dissatisfaction over having to be on hold over the call or wait in a queue to access chat support.
A well-designed website can go a long way in reducing the call volume. You need to enable your customers to make payments, modify their orders, get refunds, etc., quickly and easily through your website, so your support staff won’t get the same calls over and over again. Besides, you need to invest in proper product documentation, tutorials, and an elaborate FAQ section so your customers can get quick fixes.
While a chatbot might further irritate a frustrated customer, it can be a great option to provide quick resolutions to simple queries, like order status, order cancellation requests, and directions to a particular service or section of the website. With the rise of generative AI, chatbots may even end up solving serious issues for the customer. JPMorgan has already introduced a chatbot that will provide investment advice to its customers, so developments in this regard have the potential to cut down on wait time substantially.
Having your customers book an appointment for a callback will altogether prevent them from suffering in a queue. You can address the customer’s issue at their convenience and guarantee satisfaction with your process.
Using key performance indicators to track your issue resolution time is crucial if you want to improve your team’s productivity and have happy customers who continue to buy from you.
Here are the metrics you need to actively track to consistently keep reducing your waiting time.
Average resolution time
This metric measures how much time it takes for an agent on average to resolve a ticket.
Customer satisfaction score
The number of tickets cleared won’t matter if the customers aren’t happy with your resolution. After each interaction, ensure that your customers have the option of rating the experience either as Good, Bad, or Average or on a numbered scale from 1 to 10.
First response time
Using this metric, you can figure out how quickly your agents are attending to the tickets. To determine the first response time, you need to subtract the time your agent responded to the ticket and the time the request came in.
Instances of first contact resolution
This metric measures how many of your tickets are resolved by your customer support agents during their first interaction with the customer.
Tickets solved per hour
Companies need to keep track of how many tickets come in through various channels and how many get resolved per hour.
Occupancy is a metric that gauges the productivity of your customer support executives. You will be able to derive this by figuring out how much time your agents logged in and the hours they spent servicing tickets. Multiplying the value by 100 will give you the percentage of time your service agents are productively occupied.
Implementing the right technology can help with your customer support woes, but trained agents are your biggest asset when it comes to resolving tickets. Your agents need to be trained on how to quickly resolve tickets with simple queries, how to de-escalate situations, how to take on customers who were handled by another agent, when to give refunds, etc. A properly trained agent can be the difference between a customer staying long-term or leaving for a competitor because of a small conflict.
The customer support representative's ability to manage expectations can be quite valuable to ensure that routine calls or chats don’t turn into escalations. One of the first things to keep in mind is that companies need to honor their Service Level Agreements with customers. If you have promised to respond to a ticket in an hour, you need to make sure your agents are aware of the same. If your customer is in a queue waiting for their chance to converse with an agent, you need to set expectations there as well so there are no unexpected delays. Convey to the customer approximately how long they will have to wait before they can be assisted. You need to also consistently update them on their place in the queue.
Predictive analytics technology has come a long way, and it has made its imprint in customer support as well. You can eliminate or bring down the wait time of customers by analyzing your database and figuring out what needs they could potentially have and solving them preemptively. For example, you can have your system detect upcoming payments, order shipments, etc., and send out reminders to customers so they don’t have to call you for confirmations.
Customer data can give you invaluable insights into where you are going wrong in your ticket resolution process and what is causing delays. You can delve into customer feedback from surveys and identify recurring issues, which agents are the most successful, what aspects of your operation can be automated, and where your staff needs training—all through the power of technology like machine learning and data analytics.
Historical data can be analyzed to identify when your customer support staff are overworked and end up making customers wait longer than the ideal time. You will be able to figure out which parts of the day, month, or year bring in the most number of tickets. For instance, SaaS companies can expect a high number of tickets during the time of renewal when customers may want to upgrade, cancel, or renew their subscriptions. Based on this information, you can allocate the needed resources to take on the uptick in support requests.
Aside from that, predictive analytics can be employed to approximate the time it will take for a ticket to get resolved, customer wait time in the queue, etc. When customers know how long they have to wait, they will likely be less frustrated when the agent comes on chat or call.
The focus on bringing down wait time mustn't negatively affect customer experience and satisfaction that their issue is resolved. Technology can be a potent tool, but it is no substitute for companies to understand what issues their customers face and having a sense of empathy towards them. As a brand, you can project empathy toward your customer’s issues by being transparent about how long it will take for your support staff to get back to them and what you can realistically do to help. You can also bolster your customer’s satisfaction with the support experience by providing proactive support, which involves your team identifying problem areas of the customer and reaching out with a solution. For instance, many web hosting providers have a dedicated team to help you with the setup once you have made the payment. Taking the first step goes a long way in ensuring that customers don’t get stuck constantly when they try to use your product and end up raising a ticket.
Another way to guarantee streamlined ticket resolution with minimal wait time and a great customer experience is categorizing customers based on attributes, like type of issue. Say for an airline, a critical issue that requires immediate attention would be flight cancellation-related support requests during bad weather. While dealing with this issue, they need to prioritize the distraught customers and temporarily sideline incoming requests for things, like airfare quote requests for another month.
If you have your ticket resolution metrics, a team of well-trained support staff, and analytical capabilities in place but feel that your wait time is still not optimal, you need a powerful automation solution that leverages generative AI for customer support. With automated customer support, you can deliver impressive results, such as a 35% drop in escalations, an improvement in ticket resolution time by 40%, and most importantly, a staggering increase in customer satisfaction. If you are interested in learning more about how AI can supercharge your customer support efforts, reach out for a demo.