KPIs for Product Managers

KPIs for Product Managers: first response time

In this article, you'll learn about the importance of measuring first response time as a KPI for product managers.

As a product manager, there are numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and manage. Many factors come into play when determining which KPIs to prioritize, but one of the most critical is first response time. In this article, we'll take a closer look at why first response time is such an important KPI and how product managers can improve it.

Understanding the Importance of First Response Time

First response time, or FRT, is the period between when a customer inquiry is received and when the first response is sent back to the customer. This metric is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire customer experience. A quick and helpful response demonstrates that you value your customer’s needs and are committed to resolving their issues.

However, it's not just about speed. The quality of the response is equally important. Customers want to feel heard and understood, and they expect a response that addresses their specific needs. A generic or unhelpful response can be just as damaging as a slow one.

Defining First Response Time

FRT can be calculated for various customer communication channels, such as email, phone, and chat. Depending on the type of inquiry, the time window to respond may vary. For example, a customer with a billing issue may require a faster response time than a customer with a general question. However, in general, the goal is to keep the FRT as low as possible. Typically, a response within the same day is considered acceptable, but research shows that customers prefer even faster response times.

One way to improve FRT is to use automation and self-service options. For example, a chatbot can provide instant responses to common questions, freeing up customer service representatives to focus on more complex inquiries. Providing customers with a knowledge base or FAQ section on your website can also help them find answers quickly without having to wait for a response.

Why First Response Time Matters for Product Managers

Product managers must keep their eyes on the FRT metric because it directly impacts customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue. A fast response time is one of the essential factors customers consider when choosing a product or service. It also builds trust and loyalty, leading to increased sales. On the other hand, a slow or poor response can lead to customers leaving for a competitor and damaging your brand's reputation.

Furthermore, FRT can provide valuable insights into product performance and customer needs. By analyzing the types of inquiries and response times, product managers can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance the customer experience.

The Impact of First Response Time on Customer Satisfaction

According to research by the Harvard Business Review, customers who receive a response within an hour are more satisfied than those who receive a response even a day later. Additionally, Capgemini found that 80% of customers who had to wait longer than two days for a response said they would switch to a competitor. Therefore, product managers must place a high level of importance on reducing their FRT to keep customers satisfied and loyal.

However, it's important to note that FRT is just one aspect of the customer experience. While it's crucial to respond quickly and effectively, it's also essential to provide a personalized and empathetic experience throughout the customer journey. By focusing on both speed and quality, product managers can create a customer-centric culture that drives long-term success.

Setting First Response Time Goals

Whether you're dealing with customer support tickets or sales inquiries, setting realistic and achievable First Response Time (FRT) goals is critical. FRT is the time it takes for your team to respond to a customer's inquiry or request.

A quick response time is crucial for customer satisfaction and retention. According to a study by HubSpot, customers expect a response within 10 minutes on social media and within 24 hours on email.

Analyzing Your Current First Response Time Performance

The first step in setting goals is to analyze your current FRT performance. Collect data on response times and identify areas of improvement. Determine the channels with the longest response times, the most common types of inquiries, and the average response time across departments. This data will help you identify patterns and areas where resources and improvements need to be focused.

For example, if your team is taking longer to respond to email inquiries than social media inquiries, you may need to allocate more resources to your email support team. Alternatively, if your team is taking too long to respond to sales inquiries, you may need to prioritize those inquiries over other types of inquiries.

Benchmarking Against Industry Standards

Benchmarking against industry standards is an essential step in setting accurate FRT goals. Research your competitors or industry benchmarks, and use that as a guide to set realistic goals. Keep in mind that small businesses and startups may require a higher response time due to lower staffing levels or customer volume.

For instance, if you are in the e-commerce industry, you may want to aim for a response time of under 5 minutes, as this is the industry average. However, if you are a small business with limited resources, you may need to set a more realistic goal of under 30 minutes.

Establishing Realistic and Achievable Targets

Based on your analysis and benchmarking, establish your FRT targets. Be sure to set goals that are both realistic and achievable. By setting the bar too high, you risk disappointing customers and missing targets. By contrast, setting the bar too low can lead to complacency within your team.

It's important to communicate these goals with your team and hold them accountable for meeting them. Consider implementing a system to track response times and provide regular feedback to your team. Celebrate when your team meets or exceeds their goals to keep them motivated and engaged.

Remember, setting FRT goals is not a one-time task. Continuously monitor and adjust your goals as your business grows and evolves. By prioritizing quick response times and setting realistic goals, you can improve customer satisfaction and retention, leading to long-term success for your business.

Strategies for Improving First Response Time

After setting your FRT targets, the next step is to find ways to improve FRT. Here are some strategies that can help:

Streamlining Internal Communication

Product managers must ensure that their teams operate seamlessly. Efficient internal communication strategies are essential to achieve a faster FRT. Incorporating tools like Slack or Asana can help streamline communication channels, leading to quicker response times and faster issue resolution.

One way to streamline internal communication is to establish clear communication channels. This can include setting up regular team meetings, creating a shared calendar, or using project management software that allows team members to collaborate in real-time. By establishing clear communication channels, team members can quickly and easily share information, which can help reduce response times.

Another way to improve internal communication is to encourage team members to be proactive in communicating with one another. This can include setting up regular check-ins, encouraging team members to ask questions, and creating a culture of open communication. By encouraging proactive communication, team members can identify and resolve issues more quickly, which can help improve FRT.

Implementing Efficient Ticketing Systems

Paper or email-based customer support can be time-consuming and inefficient. Effective ticketing systems like ZenDesk or HubSpot can help manage support requests more efficiently. By routing inquiries to the proper departments or agents, these systems save time and improve FRT.

When implementing a ticketing system, it is important to consider the needs of your customers. For example, if your customers prefer to communicate via email, it may be beneficial to choose a ticketing system that integrates with email. Similarly, if your customers prefer to communicate via social media, it may be beneficial to choose a ticketing system that integrates with social media platforms.

It is also important to ensure that your ticketing system is easy to use and understand. This can include providing clear instructions for submitting support requests, offering multiple channels for submitting requests, and providing regular updates to customers on the status of their requests.

Prioritizing Customer Inquiries

While all customers are important, prioritizing urgent inquiries can help improve the FRT for high-priority issues. By setting up a triage system, it makes sure that urgent issues get tackled quickly, while less-critical issues are handled afterward.

When prioritizing customer inquiries, it is important to consider the impact that each issue has on your customers. For example, if a customer is experiencing a critical issue that is preventing them from using your product, it may be beneficial to prioritize that issue over less-critical issues.

It is also important to communicate with customers about the status of their inquiries. This can include providing regular updates on the status of their requests, offering estimated response times, and providing clear instructions for escalating issues if necessary.

Empowering Product Managers with the Right Tools

The right tools can empower product managers to be more efficient and effective in their jobs. For example, using customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce or Zoho can help product managers respond more quickly to customer inquiries, track customer data, and solve issues faster.

When choosing the right tools for product managers, it is important to consider the specific needs of your team. For example, if your team is focused on customer support, it may be beneficial to choose a CRM system that integrates with your ticketing system. Similarly, if your team is focused on sales, it may be beneficial to choose a CRM system that integrates with your sales tools.

It is also important to provide training and support to product managers on how to use these tools effectively. This can include offering regular training sessions, providing access to online resources, and offering one-on-one support as needed.

Monitoring and Measuring First Response Time

It's not enough to set FRT goals and make improvements; product managers must monitor and measure their progress continually.

Identifying Key Metrics to Track

Tracking the right metrics is essential to monitor FRT. The most important metrics to track are average response time, ticket volume, team performance, and customer satisfaction levels.

Utilizing Reporting and Analytics Tools

Make use of tools like Google Analytics or Excel to create graphs, track changes in FRT, and make data-driven decisions. By analyzing patterns in data, product managers can gain insights into how to continue to improve FRT.

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting Goals

Regularly reviewing FRT data is essential to maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. By reviewing customer feedback and making adjustments to FRT goals and strategies, product managers can continue to improve their overall performance.


In conclusion, product managers must track and manage numerous KPIs. But one of the most critical metrics is FRT. By understanding why FRT is important, setting FRT goals, and implementing strategies to improve it, product managers can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. By monitoring and measuring FRT continually, product managers can maintain strong customer relationships and drive business growth.