What is First Response Time (FRT)?

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week

What is First Response Time (FRT)?

First Response Time (FRT) is the average time taken to respond to an initial enquiry from a customer. It reflects the efficiency and effectiveness of your teams in addressing customer needs promptly. Excelling in FRT can lead to increased customer satisfaction, trust, and loyalty ― all vital for your success.

How do you calculate FRT?

To calculate FRT, subtract the time the customer initiates contact from the time the customer gets their first reply. Total up the total amount of time taken and divide this by the total number of enquiries received in the time period.

Steps to accurate calculation

  1. Choose a time frame Determine the time period for measuring FRT, such as daily, weekly, or monthly
  2. Record timestamps Note the time a customer query is received and when the first response is sent
  3. Calculate the difference Subtract the initial query time from the first response time for every enquiry received in the time frame
  4. Total time taken Add together all the times you’ve collected
  5. Average time calculation Divide the total time taken by the total number of queries you received in the set time period to get your FRT

Example result

Time frame: 1 month Total number of enquiries in time frame: 2000 Total time to respond: 10,000 minutes

10,000 / 2000 = 5 minutes average first response time in month 1

By actively monitoring FRT, you can focus on delivering quicker resolutions, enhancing customer experiences, and increasing customer retention rates.

What is a good FRT benchmark?

A good benchmark for FRT typically ranges between 5 to 10 minutes, although the benchmark may vary depending on the industry and customer expectations.

Rethinking FRT strategies to suit the age of AI

By their very nature, AI assistants will deliver a first response to every customer within seconds. That means calculations in minutes become somewhat irrelevant ― like all the AI experts building new tools, you’ll be comparing seconds and fractions of seconds instead. For this reason, it becomes important to look at FRT alongside other metrics:

  • Compare the time your teams previously spent on answering customer queries manually with the time you save using AI to automate these and see if your customer churn rate goes down or your Customer Retention Rate goes up as a result of having more time to work on service improvements
  • Look at instant AI responses compared to human responses alongside the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), so you can identify where customers have been most helped by an automated AI response and where they still benefit from hearing back from a human
  • By the same token, you can ask every customer for instant feedback at the end of every conversation or, in the very least, give the option for a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate how well their query was resolved 👍👎

“With a feedback functionality, the Get Living AI assistant is a crucial tool for our team in understanding our residents’ needs so we can continue to improve our personal service and rental offer.” ~ Christian Armstrong, Director of Brand, Product & Technology for Get Living

Launch an AI assistant today

You can get started with just your website URL and your AI assistant is ready in less than 10 minutes!


What impact can a low FRT have on customer loyalty and trust?

A swift initial response can significantly influence customer loyalty, trust, and overall satisfaction with your brand’s service by demonstrating attentiveness, care, and value for each customer’s time and needs. See also: Building customer service mindset.

How does FRT affect the overall perception of customer service quality in the eyes of clients?

The correlation between FRT and customer perception of service quality underscores the vital role of timely responses in shaping positive customer experiences, building trust, increasing your Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and enhancing overall satisfaction with your brand’s service. 

What strategies can be implemented to reduce FRT effectively?

You can be sure to offer quicker response times to customer enquiries when you have efficient communication channels, using effective automation tools like NLP-led AI assistants, training staff for prompt responses, and regularly reviewing and optimising your workflows.

In what ways can optimising FRT contribute to a competitive edge in the market?

Maintaining efficient FRT metrics can set your brand apart from competitors by showcasing your commitment to exceptional service responsiveness. This practice attracts and retains customers who value timely and efficient interactions, often leading to long-term loyalty, successful upsell and cross sell rates, and positive brand perception.