What is first response time (FRT)?

What is first response time (FRT)?


  • First response time is the measure of how long it takes for a company to first acknowledge a customer's contact.
  • The formula for calculating FRT is First Response Time = Total FRTs during a specific time / total resolved tickets.
  • While this is a good metric to track, it doesn't provide a complete picture on its own. To get a more accurate understanding of your company's customer service, you'll need to track other KPIs in addition to first response time.
  • There are many ways to improve first response time, but one of the easiest ways is to use technology that integrates with your customer support software to make it easy for agents to see and respond to customer inquiries as quickly as possible.

First response time KPI that measures the amount of time it takes for your company to respond to a customer's inquiry. This metric is important because it can help you determine how efficient your customer service department is and whether or not customers are being responded to in a timely manner.

In this blog post, we will discuss what first response time is and how you can calculate it using a simple formula. We will also discuss some tips on how to improve your first response time!

What is first response time, and why is it important?

First response time is the amount of time it takes for a business or organization to respond to a customer's or client's initial contact. In other words, it's the length of time between when someone first reaches out to your company and when they receive a response.

This metric is important because it can be a key indicator of customer satisfaction. A quick response time shows that you're attentive and available, while a slow response time can make customers feel like they're not a priority. Plus, 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question.

Additionally, the first response time can be a good gauge of how efficient your operations are. If it's taking a long time to simply answer the phone or reply to an email, that's a sign that there may be some inefficiencies in your process. Ultimately, monitoring first response time is a good way to ensure that you're providing the best possible experience for your customers.

First Response Time (FRT) Formula

How to calculate first response time

First response time is calculated in terms of days, minutes, or hours. The first response time formula looks like this:

First Response Time = Total FRTs during a specific time / total resolved tickets

The idea is to take the total number of first response times and divide it by the total number of tickets that were resolved. This will give you an average first response time. For example, let's say your company took a total of 62 minutes to get to 15 tickets. In that case, the First Response Time would be 4.1 minutes.

FRT Excel/Google Sheet Calculator Template

You can copy our template and paste your data in it, to automatically calculate FRT at both team-level and agent-level. Our template also includes benchmarks on how individuals agents differ from the team's average, so that it can effectively be used to track individual performance too.

First Response Time Excel Template
Open the spreadsheet template

Benchmarks: what is a good first response time?

As painful as it might be to hear, even if we showed you benchmarks for specific industries, they would not make a lot of sense as FRT is a channel-specific metric, and on top of that it's also heavily industry and product specific.

In a live chat, yours may expect an answer in less than 2 minutes, but for a ticket submitted via an online portal, the expectation might be to get an answer within the day or within 12-24 hours. For a callback, most users would expect to receive it within a few hours, but once again, this is also based on the product you offer and the lever of urgency your support requests normally entail.

In an ideal scenario you should aim for a first response time of under one hour, no matter what the channel, but depending on different factors, one hour may be way too long, or be unrealistically fast. So you see how averages don't make much sense when it comes to FRT :)

Here are some of the factors you should consider to understand if your FRT is too high:

  • Are you providing different tiers of support? If yes, does your highest tier have a lower FRT than your most basic one?
  • Like most companies, you might be offering different channels to contact support: which one has the most room for improvement?
  • After the first response, are customers often on "hold" for some time?
  • Does "time" or "speed" of response ever come up in your CSAT surveys (or other ways you collect feedback)

Limits: is this a flawed KPI?

The first response rate is one metric that is often used to measure the performance of a team. However, it is important to understand the limitations of this metric.

  • First, it only measures the speed with which requests are answered. It does not track how fast the issue is resolved, let along how well it was resolved.
  • Second, it's possible to manipulate it by for instance responding immediately to a customer in a live chat, but then letting the customer on hold for a few minutes before actually looking into their case. This is something department heads should keep in mind.
  • Third, FRT only applies to requests that are received during normal working hours. If a team not operating 24/7 receives a high volume of requests during after-hours or on weekends,  FRT may not provide an accurate measure of their performance.
  • Finally, the first response rate only applies to requests that are submitted through the proper channels. If a team receives a high volume of requests through less tracked channels (like social media) response rate will again not be an accurate measure of their performance.
So, while the first response rate can be a useful metric, it is important to understand its limitations in order to properly interpret its significance, and it should be used with other metrics such as first contact resolution rate or average handle time.

How to improve your first response time

If you want to improve your first response time, there are a few things you can do.

Keep track of your First Response Time

One of the first steps is to start tracking your First Response Time. This will give you a baseline to work from and will help you see if your efforts are actually improving your response time. Not only will this provide a benchmark for you to work from, but it will also help you identify any areas where your response time could be improved.

Set goals for First Response Time

Setting goals is a great way to improve your performance in any area, and first response time is no different. Once you have a baseline measurement of your current response time, you can set realistic goals for improvement. Make sure to involve your team in setting these goals, as they will be the ones responsible for meeting them.

Communicate with your team

If you want to improve your team's first response time, it's important to communicate with your team about the importance of this metric. Let them know why it matters and how it impacts the company. This will help them understand the importance of meeting or exceeding goals for first response time.

Automate some processes

While we'd argue that too much automation is never a good thing, it certainly has it's place. If you receive a particularly high volume of support tickets and notice that your support agents are falling behind, leading to increased first response times, one of the simplest measures you can implement is an auto-reply message to let your users know that you have received their support request and will get back to them shortly. You can tailor these messages to particular situations and we have a bunch of examples of auto-reply messages for you to choose from if you need help getting started.

Use support tools

When every second counts, you can't afford to waste time switching between support platforms. It's for this reason that you need to carefully consider what your support tech stack should look like. It's important from the outset to only use platforms that can 'communicate' or integrate with other platforms in that stack so you can build out your end-to-end support workflows seamlessly.

Fullview integrates with existing tools like Zendesk, Intercom and Salesforce, so you can get the information you need without delay and provide support at lightning speed with full context.

Having a truly integrated tech stack means means fewer frustrated customers and shorter wait times.

Create a knowledge base

Another way to improve first response time is to create a knowledge base. This is a collection of information that can be used to answer common questions. By having this information readily available, you can avoid having to research the answers to common questions, which can save a lot of time.

A good knowledge base should be well-organized and easy to search for. It should also be kept up-to-date so that it can be used as a reliable resource. Creating a knowledge base can be a big help in reducing first response time.

Wrapping It Up

First response time is an important metric for customer support teams. It's a good way to measure how quickly a team is able to resolve issues. However, it's important to understand the limitations of this metric in order to properly interpret its significance.

There are a few things you can do to improve your first response time. Keeping track of your response time, setting goals, and communicating with your team are all good ways to start. You can also use support tools and create a knowledge base to help improve first response time.


Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager