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QotD: Response Time

Question: When you email for tech support from a software company (such as FSS, MacRabbit, etc.), how long do you expect to wait for a reply (auto-replies do not count)?

My Answer: I expect to wait about 8 hours, but I do not begin to get upset for at least 48.

I recently wrote an AppleScript that runs daily on my machine to analyze the length of time between a customer inquiry and our response (we have no auto-responders), and compile the data per day, week, and month. The first month's numbers are in and our average response time was 62 minutes. This includes email that arrives while I'm asleep (thus: at least a seven-hour response time for some of them). I'm fairly pleased. If we can stay under four hours, heck, I think that puts us into a pretty lofty class.

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

4 Responses to "QotD: Response Time"

  1. It's folks like you that make me expect response times around a couple of hours (say, 2-3hrs) 😉

    I can live with 24hrs, though. At that time, I at least expect a "we received your mail and are currently investigating", originating from a human being.

    Unfortunately, real times tend towards infinity if one takes into account that vast majority of big and sluggish software companies that promise a response — but let you in the dark of when that response will arrive.

  2. From personal experience, I can say that you responded to my email surprisingly quickly. Filing bugs or sending emails to big companies, like Apple, is very hit or miss. I've gotten response times from Apple bug reports ranging from a day to several weeks or even months. However, I'm always happy when I at least see that someone has actually taken the time read my report.

    I am curious though if you, personally, give more priority to users who have actually paid for and registered the product they are writing in about? I ask because I did pay for PulpFiction and was happy to see a quick response from you. I have paid for other shareware and have gotten zero response to requests/reports. I find that to be somewhat disingenuous on the developer's part. I know that if I ever decide to release a shareware product, I will incorporate some mechanism whereby paid users can contact me more directly and (hopefully) get a quicker response from me. Not that I would ignore non-paying customers. But I would give a higher priority to paying customers. Unless they're just looney. 🙂

  3. We don't prioritize. It takes just as long to check whether a customer has registered as it does to respond to their email. Besides, if you think about it, it might make more sense to respond to a potential customer instead of an existing customer. One of them has already given you money and one has the potential to do so, right?

    Regardless of which is better: we don't discriminate or even bother to check. The only prioritization we give is by time received - the older emails get attention first. FIFO.

  4. I think 48 hours is fair. This of course depends on the question at hand, how complicated it is, and if you paid for the product in question (from the company in question).

    Free tech support can take upwards of a week, in my mind.