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Deliver Faster Support Right from Gmail
The Complete Guide to Average Resolution Time (ART)
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When I reach out to a support team for help, what I value most is speed and efficiency. I’ve reached out because I’m having trouble with the product that I paid money for and can’t properly use yet. I would like for the problem to be resolved as quickly as possible.
And when the company I’m dealing with is able to do so smoothly, it tells me that they value me as a customer. It tells me that they’re reliable.
Your Average Resolution Time is not only an important factor in dictating your customers’ experience, it’s also an indicator of how effective your workflows are, how efficient your team is, and whether the support tool you use is a good fit.
In this article, we’ll delve into:
- What is Average Resolution Time?
- Why your ART is important
- 5 steps to reduce your ART
Table of Contents
- What is Average Resolution Time (ART)?
- Why Average Resolution Time Matters in Customer Service
- 5 Steps to Reduce Average Resolution Time
- Looking beyond Average Resolution Time
What is Average Resolution Time (ART)?
Average Resolution Time refers to the average amount of time you spend in resolving a customer query. You can visualize it as a stopwatch that starts the moment the customer reaches out to you with a query and stops when you’ve resolved the issue and the interaction is complete. Also known as Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR),this is an important metric as it provides insights into the efficiency of your support team.
A high average resolution time might be indicative of several problems such as understaffing, inefficient workflows, or lack of proper training for support agents. Conversely, a low resolution time means things are going well – your customer service team and your systems are working effectively.
To calculate your Average Resolution Time, divide the total resolution time of all the tickets you closed in a set period of time (say, a month) by the total number of tickets closed in that time period.
Note that this calculation should only include resolved conversations. Tickets marked as resolved that are later reopened must be omitted. You can measure your resolution times for each of the different channels you offer support on – phone, live chat, email and social media, amongst others.
Why Average Resolution Time Matters in Customer Service
There are several reasons why measuring your team’s Average Resolution Time can be of value:
- Vital indicator of the quality of support – Your Average Resolution Time is one of the indicators of the overall quality of support you provide to your customers. Generally speaking, if your team is able to resolve tickets promptly, your customers are likely to have a positive experience. On the other hand, longer resolution times can lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and high customer churn.
- Insights into who is performing well and who needs coaching – Tracking the ART of your support agents can help you identify agents that aren’t able to manage their workloads. They can be given additional training and guidance.
Moreover, it can help you better allocate resources to avoid bottlenecks. If certain agents consistently maintain a low average resolution time, they could potentially take on more cases or assist others who may be struggling. Comparing individual agent ARTs to team or company averages can also help set realistic Service Level Agreements, which is good for both, your customers and your support agents.
- Flags any areas for improvement in the internal workflows and processes: Another reason to measure and track your average resolution time is that it can help you identify areas for improvement within your workflows. Any recurring issues, gaps in skill, or inefficiencies will become clear. For example; one of the causes of long resolution time could be the lack of a thorough, current knowledge base. As a result of which, your support agents may be wasting time searching for solutions to very common customer queries or even trying to solve problems from scratch.
Once you have your support team’s Average Resolution Time, you can then look at the different ways to reduce it.
5 Steps to Reduce Average Resolution Time
Let’s delve into some strategies that can help minimize Average Resolution Time and maximize the impact of your customer service operations.
1. Offer self-service options
One smart way to reduce average resolution time is by enabling your customers to self service. You can do this by listing down all frequently asked questions and create an extensive knowledge base to answer these questions. This can help customers find solutions independently and not need to rely on agents for every small issue. Studies show that 67% of customers prefer to solve minor problems on their own as it is quicker and hassle-free.
Even when your agents do need to get involved, they will be able to resolve issues quicker because they won’t have to write answers from scratch or can just share helpful resources with the customers. Not to mention a well-structured and easily searchable knowledge base reduces the need for repeated explanations and streamlines your Average Resolution Time.
Your Knowledge Base should be easy to find so ideally it should be displayed prominently on places like your website and the email signatures of your support team.
2. Include proper training for your agents
Invest in comprehensive training programs for your customer service agents. Equip them with not only product knowledge but also refined communication skills. When I say ‘communication skills’ I’m referring to the following –
-Encourage your team to steer clear of vague, jargon-filled responses. This will confuse your customers and lead to more back and forth and result in a delayed resolution.
-If the conversation is taking place over email, some best practices include – keeping the language direct and actionable, using bullet points wherever necessary, and including lots and lots of visual cues like screenshots.
-Good communication skills also include the ability to empathize with the customer. This will help the agent become a better listener and anticipate and answer potential follow-up questions beforehand.
Product-trained agents that are equipped with communication skills can significantly bring down your Average Resolution Time.
Recommended Read: 10 Brilliant Customer Service Training Games
3. Use automation to enhance collaboration and productivity
There’s several ways in which you can leverage automation to boost the productivity of your support team, all of which contribute to the reduction of your Average Resolution Time.
–Auto-assignment of emails – Manually classifying and assigning emails is detrimental to your support team’s productivity as it takes a lot of time and leaves plenty of room for error. Often, agents are confused about who’s working on what and what they’re supposed to work on. Auto-assignment of emails solves this problem by instantly assigning emails to agents, removing all confusion, and allowing your team to quickly get started on resolving those emails.
With Hiver, you can enable conditional assignments where you specify certain conditions based on which the emails get assigned to a particular member. You can also assign conversations to members on the basis of relevant skill-sets.
–Smart email follow-ups – You can also send reminders/follow-up emails automatically if a recipient doesn’t respond within a fixed duration. This will help you speed up the conversation.
-Distribute the workload evenly – You can also use automations to distribute the workload evenly among your team and make sure no one member is overburdened. This will improve the overall productivity of your team.
Recommended Read: 7 Best AI Email Management Tools in 2023
4. Minimize response times
Another key to bringing down your ART is to minimize the time you take to answer customer queries. Here’s how you can do this –
-Ensure your support team is not understaffed. If you have a large volume of queries coming in and not enough agents to tackle them, you’ll probably struggle with long response times and frustrated customers. So the first step is ensuring you have enough staff to answer queries in a timely manner.
-Set-up and leverage live chat templates and email templates heavily. These pre-constructed messages offer agents a quick, consistent way to respond to common queries. Agents can provide accurate information and solutions without the need for extensive typing, ultimately expediting customer interactions.
-Moreover, these templates ensure the delivery of coherent and accurate information, reducing the likelihood of errors or misunderstandings that could prolong the resolution process.
5. Invest in the right technology
A sureshot way of reducing your Average Resolution Time and providing better support is investing in the right software. Picking the right software generally depends on your specific business needs and expectations. That said, if your company uses Google Workspace, then you should check out Hiver.
Hiver transforms your Gmail into a multi-channel help desk that’s easy to navigate and intuitive. That, paired with all the features you’ll need to improve your resolution times, makes it a great choice.
To help you gauge just how much investing in the right software can impact your resolution times, Vacation Rentals company Vacasa was able to improve their average email resolution time by 80%. This translates to 16,000+ hours saved in a month.
Looking beyond Average Resolution Time
Your Average Resolution Time is a crucial metric and should be measured. You should be careful, however, that you don’t make speed of resolution your only goal. It could be that your support agents are prioritizing speed over quality when it comes to closing tickets. This might result in them rushing through interactions and providing incomplete solutions which then could lead to frustrated customers.