How Latency Increases Customer Support Costs

Jul 26, 2021By Mo Nezarati

A few seconds of delay here or there may not seem like much of a big deal, but the aggregate impact of latency is cutting into your bottom line. Whether your customers are calling in to report problems due to latency or it’s reducing your call center’s productivity, delays are costly.

Lost Productivity

“Just give me one moment to pull up your account…”

OR

“Hold on one moment while I go back to the billing page…”

No one likes to wait while on a call; little moments of wasted time make each second seem much longer than it really is.

In a call center, time spent waiting adds up very quickly. Over the course of a day, the seconds spent waiting for virtual desktops and VPNs to ping information back and forth slowly can become expensive. If each call takes just a few extra seconds, that means fewer calls per shift for each customer service representative.

The average handling time (AHT) for a customer support call is about 6 minutes or 10 calls per hour. Look at the math:

  • 10 calls per hour x 8 hour shift = 80 calls handled
  • 50 employees x 80 calls = 4000 calls

If each call could be shortened by just 30 seconds:

  • 10.9 calls per hour x 8 hour shift = 87 calls handled
  • 50 employees x 87 calls = 4350 calls handled

In the above example, the 10% or so time savings means you won't have to hire 5 more staff to manage the current call volume.

Further, if you could eliminate 1 minute of time waiting for systems to respond:

12 calls per hour X 8 hour shift = 96 calls handled 50 employees x 96 calls = 4800 calls

This 20% time savings means you won't have to hire 10 more employees to manage your call center efficiently!

When latency is affecting your call quality, AHT is bound to creep up as well. When quality of experience begins to drop and connection quality is poor, agents and customers begin to hear overlapping sounds or delays in responses. Overall satisfaction falls and frustration grows. Rather than getting quick responses to questions, people are left repeating themselves and driving up the call time.

But, AHT doesn’t even take into account the wait times for call connections or routing, and those seconds add up just as quickly. The time it takes for each call to connect pushes up the time your customer service representatives spend on each call considerably, and that time can be affected by latency in your system.

Airlines provide a strong example. Currently, airlines report an average wait time of 2-3 hours for customer calls. When your customer support team is facing that kind of backlog, there’s literally not a second to lose to latency!

By making sure your call centers are set up for success, you can avoid wasting resources by hiring more staff members than you actually need or having your current staff work longer hours than necessary.

Latency in Your Product

Latency isn’t just a problem for call centers. If your product is designed to work in real-time, latency can be an enormous and costly issue.

Lagging video and audio, pixelation, waiting to connect, and other problems caused by latency in your product can be as expensive as latency in a call center. For example, if your customers are experiencing lag time in your product, they may call to complain. Those calls require your team to provide customer support, taking up valuable time. The more often complaints about latency come in, the more time your team spends handling them.

Unfortunately, customers who experience frequent latency issues are likely to simply stop using your product.

A lag of one second causes customers to lose focus on their task, and a lag of 10 seconds causes frustration and abandonment. To some degree, tolerance for latency depends on the task, but applications that are designed to work in real-time present a frustrating user experience when latency gets in the way.

Along with calls to complain and the risk that customers will simply abandon your product, latency also puts your organization in danger of receiving negative reviews. In most industries, negative reviews have negative impact potential on a business' bottom line.

Lost Business Due to Latency

There are choices when it comes to how your team responds to customer complaints. You can provide options to call, use live chat, or offer both. Both options have benefits and drawbacks for your organization and your customers, but either way, your customers expect speed. They simply aren’t going to wait around.

Nearly 60% of consumers believe that just ONE MINUTE is too long to be on hold, and less than 10% are willing to wait more than 5 minutes. About 90% of survey respondents say they expect an immediate response to service questions, and nearly two-thirds expect a response to any marketing, sales, or service inquiry within 10 minutes.

Another frustration for most consumers is the need to repeat themselves when they use live chat or call about a problem. And in addition to frustrating the customer, they also take time, increasing average hold time.

But, one interaction is just one interaction. It’s brand loyalty that can boost your success, and 90% of customers say that customer service is vital for brand loyalty. Long wait times, unsatisfactory customer support, and latency can lead to the loss of long-term customers and future sales.

Compounding Costs Of Latency

If your digital solutions are also plagued by latency, all of the problems above only get worse. When your live chat support isn’t responsive enough or your website isn't loading fast enough, consumers are likely to abandon the process. Industry averages suggest a less than 20-second response on live chat is ideal.

If your customers don’t receive a speedy response via live chat, they may go with a phone call or give up entirely and seek another provider. That means lost business or additional strain on your already stretched call centers.

What Should You Do About It?

The problem isn’t going anywhere. In fact, we will likely see growing demand and higher expectations from consumers. There’s been a 67% increase in preference for video as a method for customer services, which demands even more speed and is even more impacted by latency.

You want to avoid and reduce latency at ALMOST all costs, whether in your product or in your call center. You also want to keep your operations secure. Firewalls introduce latency, but not having firewall protection makes you vulnerable to attack. VoIP and video systems are particularly vulnerable, especially if they aren’t built with WebRTC.

You can optimize voice and video applications with real-time network acceleration. Subspace built a parallel internet that accelerates real-time applications, lowering latency, reducing jitter, and providing a better overall experience. The improvements that Subspace provides can create a latency reduction of as much as 80%. Your customer service team can access Subspace via SIPTeleport, a Global SIP Proxy, for the lowest latency voice and video calls. Or remove the need to manage TURN servers with performant GlobalTURN as a service.


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