How We Brought Down First Response Time

We’re living in the era of instant gratification. The realm of customer support is no exception. Customers today expect companies to respond to their queries or complaints almost as soon as a ticket is raised, and demand a quick resolution of the issue. In fact, the First Response Rate is now increasingly gaining importance as companies are beginning to see the kind of positive impact it has on customer satisfaction.

We at Freshdesk too took on the task of tracking this metric and bringing down the first response rate as we saw a rise in the number of tickets we received everyday.

I recently had a chance to chat with Bharghavi KKA, manager- customer support, at Freshdesk about how we brought our first response time down from nearly eight hours to just about 58 minutes. She shared some great insight into the initiatives we took, including leveraging Freshdesk’s automation features and motivating the support team with unique incentives. Here’s an overview of what we did, so you too can adapt these for your organization and bring down your first response time on tickets.


Given the proliferation of automation technologies, it was a no-brainer that we use technology tools to simplify the process of ticket resolution and reduce the time agents spent on each ticket.

During the initial days of Freshdesk, nearly a decade ago, we received less than 100 tickets a day. Our agents didn’t work the weekends, they didn’t have to manage night shifts, and were able to handle all the tickets during their regular work hours. Agents picked tickets up from the queue, or managers manually assigned tickets to customer support agents who then worked on their and resolved customer queries. Over time, ticket volumes began to swell. From a few dozen, the number of tickets grew to nearly 300 a day. Agents had to proactively pick tickets up from the queue and this would cause a delay in response, and agents would, at times, miss picking certain tickets up altogether.

At Freshdesk, we knew that once tickets were assigned, agents would respond to them quickly, but having tickets assigned to them was where the hitch was. We took upon the task of seeing that any ticket that comes into the system is assigned to an agent within 25 minutes from when it is raised.

Ticket assignment is critical to reducing the first response time. Click To Tweet

Initially, to handle this, we began hiring specialists who would sift through the tickets, study the priority, categorize it, and assign it to agents. This initiative helped bring the first response time down, but there was still scope for improvement.

And that was when automation came into the picture.

With the automatic ticket assignment feature, the hundreds of tickets that entered the system every day were analyzed, categorized, and assigned to the agents available. This instantly helped us reduce the time taken to respond to tickets.

At Freshdesk, we send out an automated email to all tickets as soon as they hit our inbox, but we don’t consider this the first response. Only an email/reply sent to the ticket manually is considered the first response. With the automated assignment system, this first manual response process was expedited.

First response email

The automation allowed agents to focus their time on resolving the ticket efficiently rather than spend time on picking tickets one by one from the buck of customer queries. Agents could, for instance, take the extra effort of telling the customer how his issue would be solved, rather than just sending him a broad, generic response saying the issue would be handled and resolved.  

Over time, Freshdesk also introduced other add-ons to the automatic ticket assignment feature so the efficiency and productivity of the agents could be maximized. For instance, the team introduced a feature called agent availability that allowed supervisors and managers to monitor all agents and see to it that agents are not allowed to tamper with the tickets on their plate.  

Agent availability

The product also offers features such as load-based assignment (where the system assigns tickets based on the agent’s workload and the number of unresolved tickets he/she already has), and skill-based assignment where the system analyzes the ticket and assigns it to an agent who is specifically qualified or skilled to handle that type of query. Freshdesk’s Omniroute is a patent-pending feature that auto-assigns emails, chats and calls to your agents based on their available bandwidth to support customers faster.

Earlier, the system would only assign new tickets to agents, and tickets that are passed on from one team to another internally wouldn’t get picked by the system. Now, tickets that have been partially responded to are re-assigned to agents for further resolution.

Employee Incentives

In addition to adopting technology tools, we found a few other ways to ensure that agents are efficient when it comes to responding to tickets quickly.

For instance, we decided to include the average first response time as one of the factors we consider while giving out support awards to employees. This motivated employees to respond to tickets quickly and helped bring down the average first response time of the entire team.

Support team

We also launched a leaderboarda dashboard that lists the most efficient workers, the top performers, and achievers from the team. The leaderboard displays the response time against each agent’s name, motivating employees to respond to tickets efficiently.

Leader board

All these initiatives together helped us bring down our first response time from around five hours to less than an hour now.

Try Freshdesk for free, customize these features to suit your organization’s needs, and see your customer satisfaction levels rise!