How long do you take to respond to customers?

61 replies
Running a small business in SEO/IT services, I always aim to reply to my customers emails within 24hrs. Over weekend maybe 48hrs.

What sort of response times do you offer to your clients?
#customers #long #respond
  • Profile picture of the author sabluuk
    mostly within 24 hours.

    I look at it this way, when I myself need support I really like it fast. That is why I provide support fast and answer question as soon as I get the chance to do it
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    24-48 hours at most. Really isn't any excuse for taking any longer than that.

    I usually try and do it within 12-24 hours.

    As both a customer and a vendor I know how annoying it is when you have a technical question and each back and forth takes 2-3 days. It's a nightmare and it means even simple issues can take days, sometimes weeks, to resolve.

    Your customers are your business and therefore your customer support should be one of (if not THE) most important part of your business. Without good customer service you have no repeat customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author HzCy
    I try to make it under 12 hours, as we are a new startup.
    If you do it faster the customer feels safe to buy something or to make some decisions on that

    He is more secure and safe about what he is doing with your sites or products.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy Fletcher
    Most replies are within 1 business day but if the customer needs more technical input than our frontline can provide it can take up to 3 business days (we notify them to that effect).

    It's far less about "how long" and far more about managing the expectation. 90% of customers are happy to wait the extra time so long as you tell them when it's happening and then follow through on what you've said will happen.
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by Andy Fletcher View Post

      It's far less about "how long" and far more about managing the expectation. 90% of customers are happy to wait the extra time so long as you tell them when it's happening and then follow through on what you've said will happen.
      Very true.

      Over here in Australia we have an insurance company called AAMI. Every other company you call nowadays will put you straight into a loop of recorded messages where you need to press about 5 options just to get in line to talk with someone. It's a nightmare.

      AAMI do things a little differently. Instead of putting you straight into a loop of recorded messages, they have real humans answer your initial phone call and ask you which department you need to speak to. After this they will transfer you and you end up in a queue as normal but the difference speaking to a real human being right away makes it huge. They usually tell you how long the wait will be and they are always very polite. It makes the experience completely different. I am much more forgiving and willing to wait in line after a process like that than I am when just stuck in a pre-recorded sequence of messages.
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      • Profile picture of the author Oliver Williams
        Originally Posted by WillR View Post

        Very true.

        Over here in Australia we have an insurance company called AAMI. Every other company you call nowadays will put you straight into a loop of recorded messages where you need to press about 5 options just to get in line to talk with someone. It's a nightmare.

        AAMI do things a little differently. Instead of putting you straight into a loop of recorded messages, they have real humans answer your initial phone call and ask you which department you need to speak to. After this they will transfer you and you end up in a queue as normal but the difference speaking to a real human being right away makes it huge. They usually tell you how long the wait will be and they are always very polite. It makes the experience completely different. I am much more forgiving and willing to wait in line after a process like that than I am when just stuck in a pre-recorded sequence of messages.

        "Lucky You're With AAMI" :-)

        This is a really good point. I am always thinking of ways to stand out from the crowd and provide something extra or a more efficient way to connect on a more personal level with every individual.

        I also agree that if you are clear on what customers can expect from you right from the beginning and follow through on that (or over deliver) you will have happy customers. Issues usually arise when their expectations (of you) are not met. Inform them of what to expect right from the beginning.

        If you can over deliver on their expectations they will be happy with you even if your service is a little slower then others. Because you over delivered on what you told them to expect in the first place.
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  • Hi there

    I try and give answers to any support questions with in 24hr's depending on what comes up in life the quicker the response i find the clients appreciate it more.

    Craig
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  • Profile picture of the author SeanSupplee
    It's the modern world if people cant get an answer out of you in 24 hours your doing something wrong. In most cases you should be getting back to them with a solid answer in 10 min.
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  • Profile picture of the author seohallmark
    Most of the time I reply immediately or with in 24 hours. I'd like to mention one thing here that how I respond immediately is I set push Email on my mobile phone and when Email receives, it alert me and I can see my E mail subject in to my home screen and when I click it, I can check and reply immediately without much effort, this is common that most of the people easily reply clients.

    According to my experience, my immediate response earned me huge bucks than normal response, because people need immediate responses/solutions.
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  • Profile picture of the author RaySaj
    as an support office it depends on the customer really and the type of customer he or she is.....if there is a project manager then the support needs to be there.....and needs to be much quicker than 48 hours.....for example a customer may have a severe IT problem....even enquiries.....if somebody makes an enquiry you would want to get back to them before your competitor does......
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  • Profile picture of the author sketchaddict
    Originally Posted by LocalSEOGuy View Post

    Running a small business in SEO/IT services, I always aim to reply to my customers emails within 24hrs. Over weekend maybe 48hrs.

    What sort of response times do you offer to your clients?
    I have worked as a Support Staff early in my career and from my experience i would say that, a customer should get an acknowledgement as soon as he raise his query on the support desk or via email.

    A response from the customer service executive should be sent within 24 hours with a solution or an explanation of how they will solve the issue and how long it will take.
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  • Profile picture of the author jachu2
    In my copywriting business, I aim to provide a response within 24 hours! I think any-more than this can show that a business model is quite inefficient.
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  • Profile picture of the author andyjbenson
    I always make a point of replying within 24hrs max. I know if I have a question I want answering that's preventing me from moving my business forward I would start to get a little impatient if it went beyond that point, so I try to treat others as I would want treating.

    Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I must say this thread has me startled.

    Most of the businesses and marketers I deal with these days, I always end up waiting at least 24-48 hours to get a response -- usually longer.

    It seems everyone in this thread is saying they respond less than 24 hours. It's good to hear.

    I guess the others out there who are slack with their response times probably aren't about to speak up in this thread.
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy Fletcher
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      I must say this thread has me startled.

      Most of the businesses and marketers I deal with these days, I always end up waiting at least 24-48 hours to get a response -- usually longer.

      It seems everyone in this thread is saying they respond less than 24 hours. It's good to hear.

      I guess the others out there who are slack with their response times probably aren't about to speak up in this thread.
      Absolutely. Everyone SAYS they aim to respond within 24 hours (or 10 seconds or whatever). It's quite another thing to see how many actually do and also how many do once they reach any kind of scale...

      When I first started I, like everyone else, was determined to "Do thing differently!"

      I ran the support desk myself and my average response time was something like 12 minutes.

      I sold 1000+ copies of some fairly complicated software and nearly killed myself in the process.

      Now I get why 24 hour's is a reasonable time frame. Why first line support is so much better in aggregate (even if not for the individual) and so many other things people who have never sold more than 2 copies of a product just don't "get".
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    • Profile picture of the author keyon
      I think giving prompt replies (less than 8 hours) is by far the easiest and most inexpensive investment an online merchant can make to build customer loyalty. My visitors are shocked when they get a reply from me within a few hours -- and their replies are always flooded with gratitude for the prompt attention I've given them.
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  • Profile picture of the author LocalSEOGuy
    It looks like most everyone agrees how important it is to provide a 24hr or less response. I mean this gives the customer a sense of satisfcation to a large extent. I know from personal experience if I have to email a couple different vendors, usually the one who replies first gets bigger points, all else being relatively equal. Am glad to see many of you also perceive the importance of it. Having an iphone with email ready to go helps heaps when away from the office too.

    Most of those auto responders that say "We got your message" are a bit of a waste time in my opinion. Although when I first see it I think wow that was quick, only to realise 'doh - autoresponder! '
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  • Profile picture of the author USA
    When it comes to support, I always respond within 24 hours or less. This has become one of my standard operating procedures.

    For general correspondence through a standard Contact Page form I enforce the same policy.

    One of the most important ways you can build your brand, reputation, authority, and trust that will lead to repetitive sales from existing or future customers is to offer great customer service.

    Even if it is a complaint or a refund, you should respond promptly and attempt to appease the customer's concerns immediately.

    If your time is so limited that you have trouble achieving this level of service it is time for you to outsource it. Period. It is both cost effective and affordable and will definitely pay dividends (and a positive ROI) in the long run.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stuart Walker
    As soon as I possibly can. Rarely takes longer than 24hrs if I get the message.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      24 hrs is reasonable and if you reply earlier it's a plus. I think some business owners put themselves at risk by trying to provide instant replies. They lead customers to believe it's a norm and they are quickly criticized if they go beyond the norm they set for themselves.

      Whatever time limit you set - TELL the customer when he can expect an answer and deliver within that time frame.
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  • Profile picture of the author carldavies33
    Hey friend,

    Most of the time I respond with in 24-48 hours. Customer focus is my main concern everyday and providing high customer service is a passion and fun for me.

    Carl
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Immediately, or at least within an hour.

    Add 8 hours to that if I'm asleep
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      I must say this thread has me startled.

      Most of the businesses and marketers I deal with these days, I always end up waiting at least 24-48 hours to get a response -- usually longer.

      It seems everyone in this thread is saying they respond less than 24 hours. It's good to hear.

      I guess the others out there who are slack with their response times probably aren't about to speak up in this thread.
      There's a difference between "responding" and "resolving issues". Even very large companies with armies of support people will respond almost immediately, by telling you the real time frame (anywhere from 1-10 business days, quite often).
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    • Profile picture of the author e4job
      Originally Posted by John Romaine View Post

      Immediately, or at least within an hour.

      Add 8 hours to that if I'm asleep

      like he said
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  • Profile picture of the author myob
    During business hours, our acknowledgement response is in real time which includes an array of contact options such as automated help desk, email, telephone, mobile (texting), and even fax. Most inquiries are pre-sell affiliate product questions, which not only drives up conversion rates considerably, but also effectively minimizes refunds to almost zero levels. Excluding Sundays, all issues are resolved well within 24 hours.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

      Almost ZERO refunds? Seriously? Seriously, seriously? Out of all that?

      I'm not even doing a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what your doing and mine is 30%. Approx.
      Under 1% average refund rate is such an insignificant figure which is why I consider it to be "nearly zero". This is accomplished by extensive qualification of prospects/leads for product offers, establishing an ongoing rapport with customers through multi-channel communications, answering questions/concerns in a timely fashion, meeting expectations in providing quality products including full disclosure of application deficiencies, regular after sale followups, etc.

      Originally Posted by Jeffery View Post

      @ MYOB

      Have any job openings?

      Jeffery 100% :-)
      Seriously, we always have job openings in our expanding sales department, Currently I'm looking for experienced sales reps (hourly plus commission) for high end medical equipment, capital industrial machinery, enterprise accounting software solutions, and telecommunications consultants. Qualified warm leads and long-standing house accounts are provided on a daily basis. Send me a PM.
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      • Profile picture of the author myob
        Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

        It just doesn't make sense. NOTHING makes sense.
        DM,

        You have been working much too hard on this. And my most sincere apologies for any consternation or other inconvenience this may be causing you.

        My marketing system is already well documented right here on the WF and free to copy. It really is quite simple and scalable; limited only by you.

        In addition to offering multi-channel communication options and loyalty-based actionable benefits as I referenced, this link may be helpful in reducing your refund rates from that whopping 30%.
        How to Reduce Refunds | Robert Skrob
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        • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
          Banned
          Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

          30% is about right when your doing a fair of amount of sales
          ClickBank is a retailer "doing a fair amount of sales" (and some of them are referred by lunatic affiliates who make the most bizarre and untruthful claims about the products they're promoting) and even their overall refund rate is only about 7%/8% - certainly nowhere near 30% at all.

          There are also many individual vendors and affiliates there making four-figure numbers of sales per month whose proportion of refunds is never as high as 1%.

          This is simply factual.
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          • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
            Banned
            Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

            Clickbank doesn't make that data publicly available.
            Really? You imagine that Harvey Segal makes it up as he goes along, then, or something? That isn't my view at all. I myself have always had an overall refund-rate below 1% at ClickBank, and so have many others I know.

            Any ClickBank member of staff to whom you can speak will confirm that what I said in the post above is simply factual - there's no "big mystery" about it.

            I'm just sorry - as on so many former issues - not to be able to discuss it with you without your tone becoming offensive. It means, effectively, that people can't correct the misinformation you post on the board here without being insulted. Well, I'm willing to risk that, rather than leaving these things uncorrected.
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            • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
              Banned
              Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

              I don't want a Link from Harvey Segal
              I can't help you, then, for now. You may not know who he is and of his familiarity and association with ClickBank, but thousands of others here do.

              The reference in that post, as you can see for yourself, was to information published by ClickBank. There's no big mystery about it. It's public information.

              Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

              I speak to Clickbank a LOT and they wouldn't give that info out to any man and his dog over the phone.
              I didn't suggest that they would. I suggested that they'd give it to you (knowing that if you have a refund-rate of anything like 30%, you'll be rather well-known to them).

              Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

              So? hold on? My OWN information about MY OWN refunds is incorrect is it? er ok.
              Nobody suggested that.

              I don't appreciate discussions with people who edit their previous posts after I've replied, to make it look like they've said something different, so this is my last post here, at least for now. (Perhaps I'll remember to quote your entire posts, in future.) Be my guest - have the last word: knock yourself out.
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              • Profile picture of the author TerranceCharles
                Everyone get's busy, but when it comes to your customers, people that actually paid you for your recommendation or services, less than 24 hours, regardless of how busy you are. That's how you get repeat customers, because they tell others good things about you, and sometimes it's not really about how GOOD your product or service is, it's about having good customer support that will make the difference between another purchase, or a refund
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                • Profile picture of the author lovebeingdaddy
                  24 hours or less, definitely no more, there is to much competition out there, your customer can easily go to their computer,ipad,smartphone, even yellow pages and find someone else that would be glad to help. If your to busy with the amount of customers you have; its time to add on help and increase productivity and hopefully earnings!
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  • Profile picture of the author GailTrahd
    24 hours or less is important - even if I don't resolve the issue or have the answer, I answer the email. Sundays are the only day I don't answer email and that is plastered all over my customer areas. THEN I try to have it resolved within 24-48 hours - unless the problem is out of my hands.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Elss
      Within 24hrs. If I know I am going to be gone for any specific amount of time I set a rule so they at least get a response telling them when they may expect a reply instead of just leaving them frustrated and wondering if will ever hear from me again, THAT is very frustrating as I have been there many times myself.
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  • Profile picture of the author m00d
    People move so fast these days the sooner you respond the better. If I respond to someone in 5 minutes my sales rate is much higher than if I respond to someone in 24 hours.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
    DM,

    There are online businesses that need 'almost' no interaction with customers. I said 'almost' because in my case the customer only needs to provide limited information only once and from that point I almost never need to interact with them for the length of our business agreement.

    It is my staple income and customer service is paramount to my success or failure. Once I showed my target market that they would be more successful in their own business with "My Support Services" and "Almost Zero Need For My Support Services" the business became almost free of support.

    In other words, clients pay a yearly fee and I provide the products and services without almost any need for any interface between us and almost no support is necessary.

    It depends on the business model in my opinion. And 'technical automation' that is almost 100% doable which a lot of people think is not possible or at least other people convinced them is not possible.

    I'm just rambling again, lol.

    Jeffery 100% :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
      Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey View Post

      Jeffrey,

      That is not what I'm disputing.

      I'm disputing the fact (going by what he has said in the past) that he does half a billion in sales and NOW with apparently an almost ZERO refund rate.

      No one does that amount of sheer hard-core volume and ZERO refunds, not even Walmart, Amazon or anyone else.

      That is what I'm disputing.
      DM,

      I understood your point, but I was just saying that there are models that have almost zero need for support, refunds, etc. Me, I would not have said it unless I can backup my own calims and since I can prove it in my own business (see my latest business in my sig). I'll probally get slapped for self-promo or something.

      Not saying your comments about MYOB's comments are right or wrong and I am not saying MYOBs' comments are right or wrong. I am certainly not anywhere near MYOB's business level.

      What I am saying is there is always room for discussion between people who actually are in the business (You, MYOB, and many more here in the WF). I would not have spoken directly to you if I didn't think you are legit and have a legit comment.

      Jeffery 100% :-)
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  • I respond immediately when possible. On a number of occasions I have had people say to me I am shocked you responded so quickly. Many times people never respond or take week to respond when I contact them online. Best way to get and keep customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
    Also, the battery in my mouse is dieing, so I ended up editing my last post a lot.

    @ MYOB

    Have any job openings?

    Jeffery 100% :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Walter Parrish
    Originally Posted by LocalSEOGuy View Post

    Running a small business in SEO/IT services, I always aim to reply to my customers emails within 24hrs. Over weekend maybe 48hrs.

    What sort of response times do you offer to your clients?
    I work towards responding within 1 hour and definitely respond within 12 hrs weekends included.
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  • Profile picture of the author FirstSocialApps
    My partner and I take turns having our support requests go right to our phones. He does one day I do the next. The point is most of our support requests are answered within 20minutes. Even if its just a personal message saying were out of the office and will get back to them as soon as were back at our desk. I have never had a customer wait more than a couple of hours total for full support.
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  • Profile picture of the author tomerep
    As fast as I can. I recommend at least within 24 hours if at all possible. If I cannot respond quickly, I just send a note saying I will respond when I can do so in detail.

    Those considering doing business with you have high expectations about response time with e-mail (due to the perception of instantaneous receipt). Since they assumed you received their e-mail within moments of them clicking the Send button, how long you take to respond will be correlated into how important they are to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author rmolina88
    Usually within 24 hours.

    My old 9-5 had me answering 100+ emails almost every day, so it's 2nd nature to me.
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    I answer almost all emails/questions immediately, within 2 hours on the outside, only exception is if something comes in while I'm asleep, so that's 8-9 hour max response time. Taking a full 24 hours to answer or longer is insane, inexcusably bad service.

    Before buying something from someone I'll often send in a pre-sale question just to see how long the response time is; if it's 24+ hours I won't buy, since that's a symptom of awful customer service.
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  • Profile picture of the author kelvintoro
    As much as possible, within 24 hours. The faster you respond to clients, the better. The customers trust you more. If they think they can trust you, they'll buy from you again. Also, after-sales service is important to me. I'm grateful to my customers for trusting me and buying my products/services, so responding fast is my way of thanking them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Farish
    My business is mainly offline but some of the services are the same that people are offering here. I can tell you personally I try to respond to all requests within an hour. If i am a meeting or in some situation that will tie me up for a while I change my voicemail to indicate my response time. I also turn on an autoresponder doing the same for my emails. With smartphones today it is all possible which is why I love today's tech so much.

    My clients appreciate it also, plus the more important thing it does, is give people confidence to refer me to their friends because I always will respond quickly.

    I can tell you many people have called me after a referral because the other guy has not responded yet.

    In a similar thought think of it this way.

    How likely are you going to go back to a restaurant where it took at least 5 minutes before a server comes by and takes your drink order versus the one that happens as you immediately sit down.

    24-48 hours will piss me off, it may also piss off your clients and lose out on future business that you do not even think of.
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Ideally immediately or under 15 minutes is best.

      Under 2 hours is acceptable.

      Under 8 hours I'm starting to get unhappy.

      12 hours is usually the maximum time someone
      should wait.

      That can be achieved very easily with support
      staff who check email twice a day.


      You should remember that any delay in dealing with a prospect
      or client gives them a chance to go elsewhere.

      I can tell you that one HUGE secret when you help offline
      businesses with their marketing is getting them to answer
      any inquiries in under 15 minutes.

      That massively increases response rates (people stop searching
      and start communicating directly with you).

      If your customer has a problem that they're worried enough
      about to contact you chances are they're still going to continue
      looking for a solution to that problem after they've contacted
      you if you don't get right back to them.

      Rapid support makes it easy to ask for referrals (you can train
      your support staff to ask happy customers for those) so fast
      support can be a profit center.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author clever7
    I always answer the fastest possible. I deal with many email messages. I spend a lot of time answering questions.








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  • Profile picture of the author cbjack
    Target within 24hrs (as soon as possible)
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  • Profile picture of the author sal64
    I'll reply with my answer between 48-72 hours from now.

    Sal
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  • Profile picture of the author nikswf
    Its good to be return in few hours but anything will be good if it is less than 24 hours but depends on B2B.
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