Business Practices | | Published December 30, 2014

Is Having a Fast Time to Resolution Really That Important?

No doubt you’ve seen them – the little clocks at the McDonald’s or Taco Bell drive through that show just how much time has elapsed since the transaction began. They’re designed to show just how fast your service has been so you know how quickly you get your food and get out.

Even if you don’t see it, they likely have one inside near the computers so they can work at keeping their service time down. Service time is important in food service establishments like this because they want to keep people happy as well as get as many customers through the line to maximize profits – it is called FAST food after all.

Many customer service departments go for the same tactic. Speedy service is important, of course, as you don’t want to keep your customers sitting on the phone all day. But is being super-fast the most important metric?

Understanding the Problem

Let’s say your customer contacts you about a problem with their software. They downloaded it, it worked for a while, but now the computer just seems to hate it for some reason. They can’t get to the main menu and there’s a crazy buzzing sound coming from the speakers.

They contact you to figure out the problem. Now, you’ve encountered this before, so you figure you can blast them through the process and move on to help somebody else. You speed through the process and they hesitantly leave the phone call as you go onto the next ticket.

Unfortunately, the customer wasn’t 100% clear on what just happened. So a few weeks later the same problem comes up, buzzing from the speakers and all. They call back, irritated this time from having to deal with the same issue again.

Did you really save time by doing this if the customer has to contact you multiple times? Not at all, in fact you may have extended the time spent on that issue beyond what it could have been - on top of that, the customer is now irritated with your company. They figure this problem will just repeat itself and you don’t really care – they might even cancel the software. If only you had taken more time to make sure they understood the process.

Finding the Middle Ground

Of course it is important to help customers as quickly and efficiently as you can. You don’t want to keep your customers waiting all day when they’re already at least a little out of sorts from having an issue. So making sure the exchange is as speedy as possible is a good idea. But the key word here is “efficiently” – that means doing it as well as possible, as quickly as possible.

There has to be a middle ground between speed and total understanding from the customer. In the example above, the customer wasn’t totally sure what you were talking about. They just faked it, sensing you wanted to get off the phone and onto other matters.

While you could argue they should’ve said something, not every customer will be so forthcoming with their issues. Maybe they didn’t want to seem dumb or were just a little shy. Whatever the case, it’s up to you to make sure they’re satisfied, not the other way around.

In customer service, the most important goal is resolving the customer’s issue. Doing so in the shortest time possible is important, but comes secondary to customer satisfaction.

If you find your issue resolution time is too long, and are therefore are limited in the number of customers you can help each day it may be time to evaluate your options. Maybe you need to bring in more support, update your online material and/or instructions, revise your process, or even examine your product to see if it can be simplified.

Does your company measure time to resolution for your Customer Support team?