How to measure Average Response Time in Zendesk using AirOps

Average Response Time for customer service teams: What it is, why it’s important, and how to (easily) measure it.

Published on Apr 30, 2024 by AirOps Team

What is average response time?

Average Response Time is the average amount of time that a customer service team takes to respond to support requests from the organization’s customers. 

Some teams track Average Response Times down to the second, others measure by minute. Whichever interval you choose to measure by, consistency is key.

How to calculate Average Response Time

Most organizations will track Average Response Time in a customer support tool like Zendesk. You can also use this basic formula to calculate Average Response Time:

Average Response Time = Total Time Taken to Respond During the Selected Timeframe ÷ Number of Customer Service Representative Responses in the Selected Timeframe

Track Average Response Time alongside other important customer service metrics

On its own, Average Response Time doesn’t provide a complete picture of your customer service team’s performance. If you want to get a real handle on your team’s performance, Average Response Time should be tracked alongside other customer service metrics.

And while tools like Zendesk are powerful, our experience has shown that customer service reps (CSRs) and managers find it way more convenient and powerful to access and analyze data in operating documents that they already know and love, like Google Sheets ❤. 

Getting high quality data into an operating document like a GSheet isn’t necessarily easy, though. Especially if it requires you to spend hours manually downloading CSVs from different sources and copying the data into a rickety, VLOOKUP-filled spreadsheet 👎.

Luckily, there’s an easier way: AirOps.

AirOps service metrics summary in Google Sheets

With AirOps, business teams can create amazing sheets, docs, and tools using data from Zendesk, Hubspot, and countless other data sources. In addition to Average Response Time, AirOps makes it easy to track other customer service metrics such as:

… and more! Get in touch with our team to learn more and get started! 

Frequently asked questions about Average Response Time

Should my customer service team track Average Response Time?

The answer to this question is “Yes, and… ”

Average Response Time is a metric that customer service teams should absolutely track, but this metric alone isn’t going to provide a comprehensive overview of your customer service team’s performance.

Average Response Time is a helpful metric that can help you begin to assess the performance of your customer service team. It can show you whether CSRs are doing an adequate job of responding to customers. Monitoring this metric can also help prevent CSRs from gaming the system by prioritizing responses to new tickets.

But you shouldn’t over-rely on it without also considering other elements of your customer service function.

The overall “North Star” for customer service teams is to answer questions, solve problems, and provide support for customers. While responding to inquiries quickly is important, it’s not the be-all, end-all goal. In some cases, responding too fast can even be detrimental – the average speed of response doesn’t say anything about the quality of the response, for example.

What is a “good” Average Response Time?

A “good” Average Response Time varies based on your industry and the channel that the request came through.

Let’s use a property management company as an example. When customers submit support requests due to emergency plumbing issues or other problems related to the habitability of their home, they probably expect speedy responses.

Channel also plays a role. For example, your team’s Average Response Times for live chat support will likely be lower than their average response times for email responses. 

Why is it important to have a low Average Response Time?

Average Response Time can have a big impact on overall customer satisfaction. 

In many cases, a lower Average Response Time can be linked to increased Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, improved customer retention rates, and even an increase in customer lifetime value (CLV). Customers expect and appreciate quick responses from the organizations they do business with. They can quickly become impatient if they feel a company isn’t responsive enough. 

How can I improve my customer service team’s Average Response Times?

Similar to other input metrics, Average Response Times are solidly within your control. To improve response times, here are some tactics for your customer service team to try:

  • Leverage response templates whenever possible
  • Automate workflows
  • Triage responses (aka categorize and prioritize – for example, sales-ready leads would be a higher priority than general inquiries)
  • Respond right away, even if you can’t solve the problem or answer the question right away

Even if CSRs aren’t able to resolve tickets right away, letting customers know that someone is aware of their issue can help improve the customer’s experience and drive satisfaction. Furthermore, average first response time is a common SLA (service level agreement) in service agreements you may be accountable for.

What’s the difference between Average Response Time and average first response time (FRT)?

Average first response time (FRT) is the average amount of time taken for a customer service agent to respond to a customer’s first support ticket or inquiry.

In today’s world of instant gratification, customers’ expectations for speedy responses are higher than ever. 

According to data from Zendesk, here are the average first response times that today’s customers expect. These insights were taken from a Zendesk Benchmark report, which is a data index of 45,000 companies (both B2B and B2C) using Zendesk across 140 countries.

However, note that what counts as “good,” “better,” or “best” will ultimately vary based on industry and severity of the issue – these are just some good general benchmarks to strive for.

Channel Good Better Best
Email 12 hours or less 4 hours or less 1 hour or less
Social media 2 hours or less 1 hour or less 15 minutes or less
Live chat 1 hour or less 5 minutes or less 1 minute or less

Do I need to measure both Average Response Time and average first response time?

Every organization’s metrics framework will look a bit different depending on the goals and objectives of the business, but in general, these are two great customer service metrics to track. 

The first response to a customer’s problem or inquiry is important, but overall response times are important, too. Some tickets require a few back-and-forths to resolve. But whether it’s the first response or the tenth, your customers will expect speedy responses to their questions and concerns regardless.

Recommended resources related to first response time

15 Common Customer Service Metrics and How to Use Them

How to Design a Winning Metrics Framework 

Building Your Metrics Framework: A 7-Step Guide