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          Jane Farber.

ASP Forum

Speed vs. Satisfaction

"Has anyone seen evidence that satisfaction rates go up when the average speed of answer improves? We're trying to make a business case for a few more agents on the phone, but it's surprisingly hard to find concrete data on the potential ROI."

—Cindy from Cincinnati                           


Speed to answer can be tied directly to time to resolve. The faster a call is answered by a skilled support representative the quicker the resolve time will be—it will require fewer interactions on the issue. We operated a direct to support rep model using an ACD/IVR in a very complex enterprise software company. We consistently answered the phone in less than 1 minute 90% of the time. We found our Resolve times come down and our overall customer satisfaction and loyalty go up.

While you may need to start with a couple of more people, you will find the lowered resolve time will improve your efficiency. Use the freed time to do more training and watch the resolve time drop even more.

—Jim Hendrickson
    Technical Support Management
    cell 650-759-8995

I have some mathematical evidence from two years of ticket data for Lucent/Alcatel-Lucent. Statisticians from our Bell Labs organization studied the data for us. We found the number one most important variable stored in our ticketing system that relates to score on a transaction survey is resolve duration. The relationship is linear with satisfaction decreasing the longer the ticket takes to solve. Lastly, the study showed that the linear relationship holds true regardless of the severity of the issue or regardless if the issue is a product defect or just a need for help.

—Jennifer Janik
    Alcatel- Lucent

I can show a direct correlation with email speed of response to satisfaction.

I don’t have experience with phone average speed of answer, but can follow our daily satisfaction rating as far as how quickly we respond to customers via email. We call it “initial response time”. We are primarily an e-service center.

Feel free to contact me with questions or to discuss.

—Linda von der Heide
    Director, Customer Care

There seems to be two worthy measurements about speed of service vs customer satisfaction.

1. Cleverly worded survey questions will provide valuable information. "Please rate your satisfaction (scale – low to high of your choosing) with how quickly you are connected to our Reps when you call for assistance."

For this qualitative survey question, the actual number (time to respond) is far less important than the customer's satisfaction. You don't need to overshoot the mark, once you find out where the mark is.

2. Measure abandon by WHEN the hang-ups occur, not just the number of abandons as a percent of total calls. For example, if the hang-ups spike at 5 minutes, then staff to answer in something less than 5 minutes. The problem with abandons is its very difficult to tell if you have many different callers hanging up or is it mostly the same callers calling back and then hanging up again. But the spike point will tell you their tolerance level.

Depending how you create your survey, you might want to use the GAP method. You ask the customer how IMPORTANT speed of answer is to them (say it is on a 1 to 10 scale) and then you ask how SATISFIED they are with speed of answer (on the same scale). The critical measurement is the GAP or difference between those two numbers, IMP – SAT=GAP. Generally IMPORTANCE is higher. For example if the GAP is 2.0 or less, you are probably doing OK, When the GAP gets larger to 2.0, you have an issue to correct. If the GAP is 3.0 or more, you may be losing the customer on this aspect of service; serious repair is necessary. Ideally you want a GAP of about 1. Less than that and you are wasting money on a non-issue.

—Rick Kilton
    RWK Enterprises

Rick Kilton provides business process consulting, organizational development, survey development, and professional skills training to technical support, help desk and field service operations.

[If you have any other advice on this question, please send an email to membership director Jane Farber at, and we'll post your feedback.]