When customers complain about your response times

A few years ago, I did some work for a large energy provider in the UK. One of the most common complaints they received was that they were too slow to respond to customer queries.

Now, this was an extreme example – they took up to 17 days to respond to customer emails, but it is a problem that many companies have. There are so many ways now that a customer can communicate with a business and it can become difficult monitoring all your communication channels to make sure you respond quickly.

Sometimes what the customer sees as a late response is due to issues with the business, but more often it is because they have failed to set customer expectations properly.

Here are some top tips on how to minimise complaints about response times:


If you are a large business, allocate a person or department to monitor incoming customer communications – usually these will be e-mails, tweets or other social media messages. Make sure that person or department is trained to understand who in the business is best placed to answer the customer. If your business is too small to do that, allocate time in your diary each day to review and respond – the beginning and end of the working day is best.


Have clear service standards on how quickly customer queries will be answered – monitor them and look to make improvements quickly if you are not hitting your own standard.


Set customer expectations about response times. Customers understand that you are not just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, an email to pop up in your inbox or a tweet to appear in your feed, but they do want to know when you will reply.

Make sure you have a simple message such as “We are available on the phone between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. If you leave a voicemail we will call you back the next working day. If you email or send us a message on social media we will answer the same day wherever possible, but during the next working day at the latest.

Again, you need to make sure that you can keep those promises once you have made them. If you have a small business, block out time in your diary each working day to respond to customer queries.

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