News Byte: 59% of Companies Take More Than Eight Hours to Respond to Email Inquiries

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59% of Companies Take More than Eight Hours to Respond to Email Inquiries
59% of Companies Take More than Eight Hours to Respond to Email Inquiries

Customers want answers to their questions, and they want them now. But many organizations aren't living up to customers' expectations, particularly when it comes to responding to inquiries via email. In fact, 59% of companies take more than eight hours, or one full working day, to respond to customer email inquiries and 26.5% take 24 hours or more to reply, according to a survey of Call Center Association members released yesterday by customer service software solutions provider KANA Software, Inc.

But that doesn't mean that customers will stop venting via email altogether. In another KANA study, 42% of respondents said email is the most common channel for complaining to a company, followed by 36% who listed the phone. And in 2011, technology market research firm The Radicati Group, Inc. predicted that the number of email accounts would increase from 4.1 billion in 2011 to 5.1 billion by 2015.

"Organizations must remain aware of the continued role email plays within customer service," Steven Thurlow, head of product strategy for KANA Software, said in a press release. "Social customer service is very much the 'now,' yet the vast majority of customers still, and will for the foreseeable future, choose to interact with organizations via email. It need not become a second-class citizen to more modern digital channels but, rather, email can fill a dedicated role within robust and highly responsive customer service strategies."

A lack of email management and marketing automation can be linked to slow response times, KANA reports. According to the company's research, 64% of companies surveyed admit to not having a system to classify and assign email. Likewise, less than half of organizations surveyed (40%) have knowledge management systems that they deem effective in speeding up response times through predefined answers to frequently asked questions, cites the research.

Slow response rates can be detrimental to a brand's reputation, KANA reports, especially when customers take their frustrations to the social sphere. But once there, customers won't find much relief. According to social media analytics company Simply Measured, the average Twitter response time is 4.6 hours.

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