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02.15.17 | blog
Author: Taylor Jones

Arise 2017 Customer Service Frustration Series: Chat Response Times

Customer Service Frustrations: Chat Response Times

Online chat has become a mainstay in customer service offerings with Forrester research showing over 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website offering chat vs. one that does not. 

With chat, speed of response is critical to customer satisfaction.  In fact, 79% of customers who prefer chat noted faster response it provides compared to other channels is the most significant reason why they like it. With that said, Arise wanted to know how long customers are willing to wait for a response before abandoning a chat.

Arise recently conducted a Google Consumer Survey of over 1,500 U.S. Consumers in January 2017 asking them, “When contacting customer service via online chat, how long are you willing to wait for a response before abandoning the chat?” Respondents could select one of the following intervals

  • No wait time is acceptable
  • 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • 1 minute
  • 1 minute to 2 minutes
  • Longer than 2 minutes

These time intervals were shown randomly reversing answer order to maintain structure, but reduce bias from respondents clicking on answers in a particularly slot. Respondents could also note that they do not contact customer service via online chat.

Chatbot Caveat

With this year being dubbed by many “the year of the Chatbot” you may be tempted to think that this question is unneeded/irrelevant because chatbots can provide an immediate response.  Chatbots have huge upside in the future, but today’s bots are limited. Pypestream captures this sentiment noting that “conversations can lack flow, feel clunky, and often fail to resolve the central issues at hand.”  As such, chat response times are still important because as chatbots are challenged, organizations need to staff live agents who will quickly and seamlessly take over and resolve the customer issue.

Overall Results: How Long Will Customers Wait for a Chat Response?**

Of customers that report using chat:

  • 84% of customers will abandon a chat if they haven’t received a response within 2 minutes
  • Over half will abandon within 1 minute (58%)
  • Over one-fifth selected that no wait time is acceptable. (21%)

Chat Adoption Rates

Our survey results show 70% of consumers now use chat showing strong increases in chat adoption compared to Forrester Research (via ICMI) which showed chat adoption at 38% in 2009 and 58% in 2014. While customers certainly choose contact channels by the nature of their issue, the growth of chat isn’t surprising given studies showing it leads all contact channels in terms of customer satisfaction because of its ability to provide fast answers.

Results By Age Group

Results showed a general trend of impatience with waiting for a response as age increases. Nearly 30% of the 18-24 age group was willing to wait longer than 2 minutes for a response, which steadily decreased except for the 65+ group.   

 

Maximal Wait Time for a Chat Response

Age Group

< 1 Minute

1-2 minutes

Longer Than 2 Minutes

18-24

50%

23%

27%

25-34

51%

30%

19%

35-44

61%

24%

15%

45-54

64%

26%

10%

55-64

70%

22%

8%

65+

55%

31%

14%

In terms of differences in rates of not using chat, there’s a general slant toward younger groups use chat more often which would be expected.

Age Group

Does Not Contact Customer Service Via Chat

18-24

28%

25-34

21%

35-44

25%

45-54

30%

55-64

38%

65+

38%

Results By Gender

In terms of maximal hold times, 19% of men were willing to wait longer than 2 minutes for a response compared to only 13% for women.

 

Maximal Wait Time

Gender

<= 1 Minute

1-2 minutes

Longer Than 2 Minutes

Male

55%

25%

19%

Female

61%

27%

13%

Perhaps more interestingly, 34% of women reported not contact customer service via chat compared to only 25% of men.

Gender

Does Not Contact Customer Service Via Chat

Male

25%

Female

34%

 

**The Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) score of this study is 2.5%.

The full raw survey data is accessible here.

 

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