Why Late Responses Are Costing You Money

Ever heard someone say, “I don’t mind waiting on the phone for 30 minutes for my customer service solution?”.

Never? Shocker. Your customers hate late responses. They have things to do, whether that’s errands, work, family time, catching up with friends, or spending time in nature. Whatever it is, the news flash is that anything is better than waiting around for something or someone to get back to you with answers.

So, when we’re talking about delayed responses, what does that mean time-wise? How detrimental to your business can a late response be? Hint – massively.

What constitutes a late response?

Simply put, response time is the period between your customer contacting you and someone from your team getting back to them.

Customer response time is a crucial concept to management as it has a big impact on customer satisfaction. The longer they wait, the more dissatisfied your customer will become.

Consumers are most frustrated from waiting on hold and having to repeat themselves to multiple support representatives.

So, what exactly constitutes a late response? Hours, days, or weeks – and how do you measure up?

Generally, most business schools teach that you have a 24-hour window to get back to your customers or one business day. We’re talking about non-emergency interactions here.

If you’re creeping towards the 48-hour mark, you’re irritating your customers and chipping away at your brand.

If you notice a pattern of late response complaints from your customers, it’s time to acknowledge the problem and seek the solution. You can start by calculating your average response time.

Your average response time is calculated by taking the total time taken to provide all initial responses divided by the total number of queries your team responded to.

If your numbers drastically vary from the average expected response times, you might need to rethink your customer support processes.

Why late responses can undermine customer satisfaction

Customer service is an extension of your product. It is a way for customers to contact you if they’re unsure of something. How you offer customer service is also a reflection of how you perceive your customers.

They deserve to be treated well.

A late response or a lack of response gives the impression that your customer must now fend for themselves, that they’re on their own.

One of the most critical elements of business is that customers make decisions based on emotions. If they feel alone, unwanted, or that they don’t matter, you will likely lose a repeat customer.

Bruised customer satisfaction not only hinders your business with that customer but also others they know. Think about it, just one angry review or post on social media can mean a loss of dozens, if not hundreds, of customers.

When it comes to late responses, you need to know how to placate people and not allow lousy customer service to break your business.

How to start a conversation when your response is delayed

So, you’ve failed to provide one of your valued customers with an immediate response. Can anything help alleviate the situation? Yes. The first sentence is crucial when attempting to smooth things over.

Be sure to get personal and use the recipient’s name. It will prove that you’re not just using random email templates but are taking time out of your day just for them.

How you greet them will largely depend on your relationship with the individual. For example, you will start a conversation with a CEO differently from how you might with a co-worker. Choose any of the following:

  • Hello
  • Good morning/Good afternoon
  • Dear (recipient’s name)
  • Remember to appeal to the empathetic side of the customer in your message and show respect from the very start.

How to apologize for a late response
As mentioned above, the first sentence of your late response message is crucial. You need to jump right in with an apology such as:

  • Sorry for the late response
  • Apologies for the late response
  • Sorry for the late reply
  • My sincerest apologies
  • After this, you need to choose your words wisely. In fact, without making excuses, you should explain why you were late in your response.

Maybe you’ve had organizational or technical difficulties, where your business is adapting to new software, or the email in question ended up in your spam folder. You might have been inundated at work. If the individual in question and you are in the same field or organization, you might even consider filling them in on your current project.

Other reasons for your late responses to important messages may include personnel change, leave of absence, or even vacation time.

Once you’ve covered the why, it’s time to address the initial topic of the message.

Reread the message and carefully answer every question asked by the sender. Additionally, you can add more questions to the message and keep the conversation flowing.

Tie things up by thanking the sender for their patience and assure that you’re very much committed to being more efficient in getting back to them in the future.

Finish off with a greeting best suited to your relationship and channel of your message

Best regards
Take care
How to avoid late responses
If you want to keep customers happy and regularly coming back for more, you’re going to have to avoid late responses. You can do that by:

Investing in customer service software
Using auto-responders
Creating quick and easy canned responses
Using live chat support or chatbots
Organizing your inbox
Prioritizing messages based on waiting time
Creating an informative FAQ section
Auto-assign tickets to agents upon receiving messages
You also want to think about recording what types of customer service questions are coming in, in addition to collecting data on what is stopping your agents from providing customers with answers promptly. By gathering this information, you will be able to determine the best practices for the future.

How can live chat software help to minimize late responses?
Traditional channels such as phone or email support let you help one customer at a time, but live chat allows you to deal with multiple customers concurrently and provide them with round-the-clock support.

One of the biggest highlights of this tool is canned responses. This means you don’t have to type out the same sentences over and over again. With just a few clicks, you can add dynamic content in the form of pre-formulated templates and chat away to your customer with greater efficiency. What’s not to love?

By using live chat software, you’re sending your customer a message that you’re always on hand and that they won’t have to wait until next week for a solution to their problems.

In fact, your customers can rest assured that they will get answers in real-time while conversing asynchronously.

It’s never too late to improve your customer service game
Unless, of course, you leave a flood of constant late responses in your wake. In which case, your customer is likely already making eyes at your competitors.

Nailing that initial interaction is great but having your customer stick around for years to come – now that is a true accomplishment.

Delivering the best customer service through various channels, including live chat software, is crucial for growing your business.

So, don’t be hasty, and show your customers they’re valued.

Source: Freshworks

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