Customer Service
Time to Resolution: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

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Time to Resolution: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

Mar 18, 2024
6 min read

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In the world of customer service, the minutes it takes to resolve an issue can be the difference between a satisfied customer and one who seeks alternatives.

Let’s say a customer who encounters a glitch while using your software reaches out to customer support, and is left waiting for a solution. With the passing of every minute, frustration mounts, and the likelihood of a positive outcome diminishes. This scenario highlights the critical importance of the concept: time to resolution.

According to HubSpot, a staggering 37% of customer service agents note that when customers cannot complete simple tasks independently, they often manifest noticeable anger, frustration, or stress. 

Additionally, a whopping 90% of customers deem an “immediate” response as important or very important when they pose a customer service question, with 60% defining “immediate” as a timeframe of 10 minutes or less.

Why does this matter? The frustration and stress experienced by customers when unable to accomplish basic tasks independently highlight the critical role of prompt problem resolution. As expectations for immediate responses soar, businesses need to grasp the impact of ‘Time to Resolution’ on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the overall success of their service operations. 

In this blog post, we delve into the vital metric of Time to Resolution (TTR). We’ll explore what TTR entails, why it holds immense importance in the customer service landscape, and how businesses can strategically calculate, benchmark, and improve their TTR. 

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What is Time to Resolution?

Time to Resolution is a metric that measures the elapsed time between a customer submitting a query or problem and the moment it is successfully resolved. This timeline covers the entire journey—from the initial contact with customer support to the satisfactory resolution of the issue.

Why is Time to Resolution important?

Understanding the value of Time to Resolution goes beyond mere efficiency; it’s about the satisfaction, loyalty, and perception your customers have of your brand. Let’s break down why TTR matters and how it directly affects your customer service.

In the case of a swift and effective resolution, where your support team identifies and resolves the glitch promptly, the customer feels a sense of relief and gratitude. This positive experience enhances their trust in your brand, fostering loyalty. On the other hand, if the process drags on, with multiple back-and-forths, frustration builds. The customer’s trust erodes as the glitch remains unresolved, potentially leading 

them to explore alternative solutions, and impacting their overall experience with your product and brand.

Let’s look closer at a few of the key reasons why TTR is so crucial:

  • Value of time

TTR matters because time is precious—to both your business and your customers. Responding promptly is just one part of good service. A customer who gets a helpful answer within a few hours is likely to be more satisfied than if they receive the same answer days later.

  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty

Research consistently shows that being responsive and effective in resolving issues directly correlates with improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s not just about providing a quick response; it’s about delivering a solution that satisfies the customer.

  • Measuring customer experience

TTR isn’t just a timer; it’s a shorthand measure for the overall customer experience. While it’s crucial, it’s not the sole metric you need. First response time (FRT),Net Promoter Score (NPS),and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are equally important. 

  • Variations in customer experiences

Monitoring TTR helps you identify variations in your customers’ experiences. It can flag conversations that are taking too long, categorize complex cases, and highlight internal processes contributing to longer resolution times

  • Realistic SLAs

Measuring TTR helps set more realistic Service Level Agreements (SLAs),aligning customer expectations with achievable resolution timelines.

How to calculate Time to Resolution?

TTR is calculated by measuring the time it takes to resolve a customer query or issue from the moment it is raised. The formula is straightforward:

Average Time to Resolution = Total Resolution Time / Number of Resolved Requests

For a better understanding, let’s break down the components:

  • Total resolution time: The total resolution time is the time it takes to resolve a ticket or a request. It is calculated by subtracting the start time from the end time.
  • Number of resolved requests: The total count of cases successfully resolved within a defined period.

Consider a scenario where a customer raises a query regarding a faulty product. The customer support team records the time of the initial contact and diligently works on resolving the issue. Upon successful resolution, the time taken is recorded. This process is repeated for multiple cases, and the average time is calculated using the TTR formula.

For instance, if the total time to resolve five cases is 100 hours, the average TTR would be 100/5 = 20.

Time to Resolution benchmarks

Understanding what constitutes a good or bad Time to Resolution metric is crucial for businesses aiming to optimize their customer service processes. Setting realistic benchmarks is not only about meeting internal goals but also aligning with customer expectations and industry standards.

Here are key points to consider:

  • Customer expectations​​

Customer expectations regarding resolution times can vary based on the nature of the product or service. For straightforward issues, customers often anticipate quicker resolutions, while more complex matters might be understood to take longer.

Consider conducting customer surveys or feedback sessions to directly understand their expectations. This can provide valuable insights into the timeframe customers find acceptable for issue resolution.

  • Industry standards

Benchmarks for TTR can significantly differ across industries. For instance, sectors dealing with intricate technical queries might have longer acceptable TTRs due to the complexity of problem-solving.

Research industry-specific standards and analyze how your TTR aligns with these benchmarks. This comparative analysis helps contextualize your performance within the broader industry landscape.

The average across all industries combined is approximately 24.2 hours. It’s essential to keep this benchmark in mind while assessing your own TTR goals, ensuring they are competitive and aligned with industry standards.

Source: mindmesh
  • Competition analysis

Looking at the TTR of your competitors can be enlightening. Understanding the resolution times offered by competitors provides a benchmark to strive for or surpass.

If your competition is delivering faster resolutions, it might be an indicator that customers in your industry value swift problem-solving, prompting a reassessment of your TTR goals.

  • Internal efforts and team dynamics

Evaluate the efficiency and collaboration within your customer support team. A streamlined process, effective communication, and collaboration tools can significantly impact how quickly and effectively issues are resolved. Train your agents on employing a clock-in clock-out app to not only track their time but also to improve their productivity by closely monitoring response times and observing workload distribution. Only based on the real data you will be able to identify any bottlenecks or hurdles within your team that might be slowing down the resolution process. Addressing internal inefficiencies can lead to a more agile and responsive customer support system.

​Here’s a breakdown of ideal average resolution times by channel:

  • Phone – 3-7 minutes: Quick resolution due to real-time interaction; customers prefer shorter calls.
  • Email – 24 hours: Allows for detailed explanations; customers understand the delay.
  • Self-service – Instant: No traditional measurement; aims for issue resolution without direct support contact.
  • Live chat – 10 minutes: Real-time engagement facilitates swift issue resolution.
  • Social Media – Comments – 24 hours; Chat – 10 minutes: Comments offer detailed reporting with a longer response time; chat functions similarly to live chat, with quick responses expected.
  • Adaptability to unique business context

Recognize that benchmarks are not one-size-fits-all. Tailor your TTR goals to your specific business context, considering the nature of your product, the complexity of customer queries, and the overall expectations of your target audience.

Regularly revisit and update benchmarks as your business evolves and customer expectations shift.

How to reduce Time to Resolution

Streamlining your resolution timeline involves a comprehensive approach, tackling various aspects for increased efficiency.

Here are some of the primary strategies to reduce TTR:

1. Invest in training

Well-trained support agents are more likely to resolve issues promptly. Equip your team with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle a wide array of customer queries.

2. Leverage technology

Implement advanced customer service tools and technologies. Chatbots, AI-driven solutions, and automation can significantly expedite routine query resolutions.

3. Prioritize critical cases

Identify and prioritize urgent or critical cases. Ensure that high-priority issues are addressed quickly, minimizing the impact on customer satisfaction.

4. Implement a knowledge base

Empower customers with self-help resources. A comprehensive knowledge base can enable users to resolve common issues independently, reducing the volume of incoming queries.

5. Establish clear processes

Streamline your customer service processes. Clear workflows and defined responsibilities can prevent bottlenecks and ensure a smooth resolution process.

If you want to dive deeper on ways to reduce your time to resolution: 5 Steps to Reduce your Average Resolution Time

Keep Time to Resolution under control

By understanding the nuances of TTR, businesses can unlock new levels of efficiency, foster positive customer experiences, and ultimately propel their brand to greater heights. 

Hiver plays a pivotal role in reducing TTR by allowing seamless management of multiple channels, including email, live chat, and more, all within the familiar interface of Gmail. With the ability to assign customer queries swiftly and gain a comprehensive view of task statuses, Hiver empowers teams to navigate TTR challenges effortlessly.

Discover how Hiver can transform your customer support—book a demo today!

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