First response time

First response time refers to the time taken by a support agent to send the initial response to a customer's query/request. In other words, it indicates how long a customer needs to wait to get an initial response. To improve the customer service, it is important to keep the first response time as low as possible.

First response time

First response time expectations

There are expectations on the timeline within which the customer needs to get a first response. And interestingly the acceptable average first response time is different on different channels of communication.


Given that companies tend to have customers around the world, you may think that the average expectation for the first response on email is 12 hours. But you need to look closer to identify whether a given customer is a millennial or a baby boomer or Gen X. Based on which category they fall into, the expectations can vary between 1 hour to 4 hours. Research reports point out that maintaining a first response time of 1 hour would help you meet the expectations of 90% of your customers. Focusing on responding quicker than the average expectation can help you differentiate your customer service than that of your competition. World-class customer support organizations tend to benchmark a first response time of 15 minutes or lower.


One of the primary reasons for customers to choose live chat tool is to bring down the response time. In fact, at Freshdesk Messaging we have seen that one of the key factors in evaluating a chat tool is - by how much would they be able to bring down their first response time. The first response time on chat tool needs to be under a minute. In fact, the customer expectation on this is a few seconds. The average first response time expectation ranges between 6 seconds to 15 seconds.

Setting expectations with your customers

While you understand the support expectations of your customer across different channels. It’s also important to set expectations with your customer. For instance, you can set up your office hours so that customers know when the support agents will be online. You can also use chat tools with bot capabilities that can take care of the initial conversation and then transfer it to the right support agent, with a clear ETA.


Reducing your first response time

It is important to monitor and review your average first response time across channels over time. Identify trends and spikes that correlate with the volume of support requests. For instance, there might have been a huge spike in the number of support queries when a new product feature was announced.  As you strive to bring down the first response time of your customer support team, you also need to keep in mind the factors that can frustrate your customer while on chat.

They include:

Here are some factors that can help you improve your first response time:


What next?

Managing your customer support queue

As your customer support team gets into the groove, the volume of support requests will continue to increase. You will need to put a process in place to handle the number of requests.

customer support queue