In this article:
- What is ART?
- The ART formula
- ART benchmarks
- 12 methods for reducing ART
What is Average Resolution Time?
Average Resolution Time (ART) is best described as 'the average time between when a customer interaction starts, and when it's solved. (Help Scout)
Bri Christiano of Gorgias compares it to a clock that starts ticking 'the moment the customer writes or calls your support team’.
That clock won’t stop until the issue is complete and the exchange finishes.
In some cases, this could be over some hours or in others, many days.
We’ll show you how to calculate Average Resolution Time (ART), how to benchmark it, as well as how to reduce it.
We'll also show you how it can impact other factors and metrics in your business.
How to calculate Average Resolution Time (ART)?
The Average Resolution Time formula
First, decide if you want to calculate the Average Resolution Time (ART) or the Median Resolution Time (MRT).
Average Resolution Time (ART) takes the total resolution time of all completed conversations. Then, it divides that by the total number of completed conversations. (Yaguara).
Median Resolution Time (MRT) takes all numbers in ascending order. Then locates the number in the center of that distribution.
We'll be focusing on Average Resolution Time (ART) today, but if you’re not sure which one to use - keep reading here. There are different reasons to use both, and both are helpful measurements.
First, calculate the total resolution time for your tickets during a certain period. We’ve linked a report from Zendesk here to help you with that.
Then, take that total time and divide it by the total number of completed conversations in a period.
For example, let’s say there were 50 SentiSum tickets solved in 1 month. That took our team a total of 100,000 minutes from the ticket creation date.
The full resolution time for that month is 100,000.
To get the average resolution time, divide the 100,000 by 50. (The number of tickets that were resolved in 1 month)
You’ll get 2000 minutes, which is 33.3 hours.
So, your average resolution time is 1 day and 9 hours.
Average Resolution Time Benchmarks
If you're a Zendesk user you can benchmark yourself with the platform.
While these don't show resolution times, they do show average first reply times:
- Software industry: 14.6 hours
- Retail industry: 18.8 hours
- Global benchmark: 18.8 hours
If reply time is that high, resolution times are likely much higher. So aim lower than this.
Further data from Zendesk shows first response time is 24.2 hours and 83% of tickets are resolved in one touch. Meaning this is the equivalent of average resolution time, too.
Benchmarking is not an exact science. Here are 4 areas to consider
Benchmarks for Average Resolution Time (ART) will vary for many reasons. Benchmarking ‘is not an exact science’ says Front but you’ll need to consider areas such as:
1. Customer Expectations
Do customers perceive some problems to be more urgent and expect a quicker response? Are there more immediate issues or bugs that are affecting more than one part of the platform?
Consider what the ART is for your specific industry. See what measurements your competition sets and what is the norm for your specific.
3. Communication Type
Consider how you’re communicating with the customer. Phone calls may have shorter resolution times. Yet, one of the benefits of email support is that information is gathered efficiently. This ‘allows teams to respond more effectively than through other channels. ‘ (Hiver)
The industry standard is two main support roles, a Tier I and a Tier II.
The Average Resolution Time (ART) data and benchmarks for these roles will vary.
Depending on size, a Tier III role may be available as a supervisor. They'll take fewer general tickets but solve more complicated issues.
How to reduce Average Resolution Time (12 methods)
That’s why we’re here. We’ve provided a list below of 12 ways to help you reduce your Average Resolution Time!
1. Route Tickets Using AI Tools
Whether it’s complicated or time-sensitive topics, AI-Based Ticket Routing is a great way to reduce Average Resolution Time.
Tickets route using AI software to specific teams or people, for a more timely response.
Click here to read how one business was able to use SentiSum’s AI-Based ticket routing for success during the Covid-19 pandemic!
2. Prioritize Ticket Urgency
Create a system to rank more timely issues. Whether that be tagging tickets with Sentisum’s AI routing, or using another method, this will help rank matters by urgency.
SentiSum uses Zendesk Sentiment Analytics to help identify subjective information from text data. This can be used to uncover common issues, bugs, and product feedback and route tickets with specific keywords to an urgent status if needed.
3. Divide Tickets and Issues by Tier
Depending on the size of your team, a tiered support system can help to reduce your Average Resolution Time (ART). (Invgate) The industry standard for tiers is the following:
- Tier 0 - a help desk or self-service option that requires no human interaction (see #4).
- Tier I- a general level of customer support
- Tier II- a more technical or escalations-based role.
Simpler issues can be assigned to Tier 1 representatives for a quicker resolution. More complicated issues or specific department tasks can be routed to Tier II or Tier III.
4. Offer Self Service Options
Offer an external Knowledge Base or Help Desk. This provides organized and detailed information for customers and helps to empower them.
Provide FAQs, video tutorials, and solutions to common issues. This can help to avoid receiving the same questions. It also provides customers with ways to educate themselves on your product.
5. Use Customer Feedback (CSAT Surveys)
CSAT surveys measure your customers’ satisfaction with the service they’ve received. Customers may have to follow up with questions or feedback that they’ll put in this survey. Ensure that these surveys are going out and you’re able to collect customer responses.
Collecting this data can also help inform your self-service options for option #4.
6. Create Internal Knowledge Bases
Have a way for your support team to access information on the backend that the customer isn’t able to view.
Zendesk and other ticketing tools offer add-on applications for these. These applications allow agents to pull information from an internal knowledge base. Then, they can use that information and language to respond.
This can help to join internal processes and assist an agent with questions while they're on a ticket. See option #8 for some more CRM suggestions!
7. Have an Internal Quality Assurance System
Depending on the size of the support center, create a separate role for Quality Assurance (QA). If you're a smaller team, delegate the task of QA to a Tier II or III.
According to Klaus, 52% of support teams who conduct reviews use QA specialists. 91% of customer support agents agree that QA conversations improve their customer service quality.’
Create expectations and benchmarks through KPIs or a rubric outlining performance goals.
8. Use Applications
Embrace applications and features within your ticketing system.
Zendesk, for example, offers features you can use to track if a customer has already contacted you.
This is a quick way to close duplicate questions and spam emails.
Zendesk also offers a feature for representatives to bookmark tickets for themselves. Bookmarks allow you to save and use specific language surrounding common problems. You can also reference past issues.
9. Make a Template Now, and Save Your ART Later
Create templates that can be easily accessed in your ticketing system, for questions and issues that come up often. Have support reps add their unique voice to these, but use them to speed up workflow when you can.
Include variables like [customer name] or [tracking number of order]. This will allow you to provide the customer with clear, personalized information. (Gorgias)
10. Use Automated Responses
Automated responses or show that you’ve received the request and provided a timeframe for when the customer can expect to hear back.
Something brief such as ‘Thank you for reaching out, we’ll respond to this request in the next 24-48 hours’.
This estimates the customer's stress and reduces the number of duplicate tickets.
Chatbots help to engage the customer through simulating human conversation that helps them solve the issue on their own.
Usually, this happens by the Chatbot offering resources from your helpdesk to specific questions they have.
If the chatbot can't answer the question the customer will route to an email or chat with a live agent.
12. Define Clear Performance Goals
Communicate Average Resolution Time (ART) expectations and benchmarks. Train support agents on common problems that may be easily solved with a template. Assist with questions to eliminate the number of exchanges.
Jitbit states that ‘the average number of support tickets that one technician can handle per day is 21’. Keep this in mind when hiring support.
Create standard benchmarks to match up with the number of requests received and the amount of time per request.
Are there other metrics that impact Average Resolution Time?
Yes! As certain other metrics fluctuate, so can your Average Resolution Time. We’ve listed a couple below that can impact or be impacted by your Average Resolution Time (ART).
First Reply Time
First Reply Time counts the duration between when a ticket is first created and then the first 'solved' timestamp on it.
If your First Reply Time is higher, your Average Resolution Time (ART) will be affected. It generally means you’re not responding to customers quickly enough. You may want to consider an automated response in that case. (see tip # 10)
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a metric that measures how well a company meets its users’ expectations. (Klaus).
If your Average Resolution Time (ART) suffers, so can your CSAT scores.
Net Promoter Score is a metric used in customer support programs that measure the loyalty of customers to a company.
It generally answers the question ‘How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? It delivers quick feedback and is an index on a 0 to 10 scale.
In something called a Service Level Agreement (SLA), your company outlines its promises to the customer. One of these is to respond to queries within an indicated time frame.
This is generally indicated somewhere on the company's website.
According to a survey on customer benchmarks, taken by Hive in 2021 46% of teams had an SLA policy of fewer than six hours.
If your resolution time starts going up, you'll need to watch how often it goes outside of your SLA. If this is often, your retention rate may start becoming affected.
Gorgias notes that 63% of customers will leave a brand after a single bad customer service experience
As you’ve heard, there are many reasons why lowering your Average Resolution Time (ART) can be useful.
We hope the tips that we have provided will not only help you to lower your ART but increase your efficiency and improve processes.