While you strive to produce and deliver the best product possible, there are bound to be issues that arise from customers. Depending on the size of your company, you likely have a Customer Service department, or at the very least an individual, whose main responsibility is communicating with customers and remedying their issues in a timely manner.
While many businesses take the "if they aren't driving sales, employees are a financial loss to the company" approach to these employees, you know better. You know that the better service you provide to your existing customers, the happier and more likely they will be to return and to bring their friends with them in the form of referrals.
Since you can't improve what you don't measure, it's important to understand what's happening with your customer service, so you can make it better. Thankfully, there are a number of customer service metrics you can use to get an honest look at your service and put yourself in your customers' shoes. One of these is called a Call to Resolution Time, and you're about to learn what it is, why it's important, and how to improve it.
What is Call To Resolution time?
Call to Resolution is a metric that measures the average amount of time it takes to resolve a customer's issue. The clock starts ticking the moment the customer interaction begins (a phone call, chat, email, support ticket, etc.) and doesn't stop until the situation is fully resolved to the customer's satisfaction.
You may also see this presented as Mean Time to Resolution, Time to Resolution, Average Time to Resolution, or Time to Resolve.
Why Does Call to Resolution Time Matter in Customer Service
Call to Resolution Time matters in customer service because it shows that your customer's time is important to you, and you're going to do everything in your power to make it easier for them to get the solutions they need as fast as possible.
Your teams are well-trained and can quickly escalate issues to the right individual or search for a solution for themselves. As a result, customers aren't stuck waiting on hold but can reach an agent, explain their issue, and come to a solution.
No matter how you look at it, this is one of the most important metrics you can measure in customer service, and if you're not already using it, the time is now.
How to Calculate Call to Resolution Time
To calculate your average Call to Resolution Time select your preferred time frame and divide the total resolution time for all tickets by the total number of tickets solved.
Total Resolution Time / Number of Tickets Solved = Average Call to Resolution Time
How to Benchmark Time to Resolution
Having a number isn't enough without context and without setting a goal or a benchmark for your customer service metrics. To determine what your resolution time should be, you'll need to look at a number of aspects:
- What do customers expect? (This may not be realistic, but it's real for them)
- How much work or effort is required to solve this problem? (Will it need to be escalated to management or transferred to a different department for resolution?)
- How long does it take competitors to resolve a similar issue? (Keep in mind your competitors may have more or fewer resources at their disposal)
When you are deciding what your organization's benchmark will be, you'll take all of these into consideration. You can calculate time to resolution by department, product, agent, or any other number of factors. You'll then use this number to set goals and expectations for your agents… just make sure you actually communicate them to your employees as well.
How to Reduce Time to Resolution
You understand the importance of this metric in properly servicing your customers and you've determined how quickly you'd like customer issues to be resolved, now it's time to bridge the gap between where you currently are, and where you want to be. Your next steps will depend on what issues you uncover during this process.
Issues can vary between organizations and even between departments within the same organization. But, hopefully, one of the following "common challenges" will strike a chord with you. If not, it may inspire you to look deeper into your research to determine the real cause of time to resolve slowdowns.
If your first response time is too slow, you may want to:
- Assign a few employees to focus on issues that have just come in
- Review the process by which you take a call and route it to the correct department or employee
- Automate processes to free up your employees' time
If you don't get enough information from the customer to resolve in one conversation, you may want to:
- Examine your contact forms and then tweak them to collect more information before they speak with a person
- Have agents ask for details during the first human contact that they may need throughout the call or resolution process
- Train your employees to listen better, so they don't miss underlying information
If your customers don't respond in a timely fashion (or don't respond at all), you'll want to:
- Review how employees respond to make sure they communicate expectations, next steps, and what will happen (ie: a closed ticket) if the customer doesn't get back to them within a certain amount of time.
If issues that must be escalated or sent to other departments or bogging you down, you will want to:
- Identify the process by which a ticket is transferred and determine if more communication needs to be implemented or if they need more employees or resources to handle the workload.
- Train your employees to handle more situations or empower them to make decisions to resolve issues so tickets needn't be escalated.
If tickets or work is being lost within your organization, you will want to:
- Identify the transfer process and how tickets are flagged for follow-up.
- Clarify "ownership" so employees know when they are responsible for follow-up and when it will be handled by someone else.
Keep in mind that not every issue can be resolved quickly. Some will take longer to fix, and that's okay. Just make sure that your employees communicate this to the customers, so they aren't sitting by the phone waiting for an immediate response.
Over To You
Being cognizant of your time to resolution will ensure that your customer's concerns are being dealt with quickly, efficiently, and to their expectations. It will also help you identify concerns that your employees may have but have never mentioned (or aren't necessarily aware of). As your time to resolution decreases, your customer satisfaction, and probably your employee satisfaction, will increase.