What is Email Response Time Tracking (+ 6 Tools to Use to Track It)

What is Email Response Time Tracking (+ 6 Tools to Use to Track It)

Discover the benefits of tracking email response times and learn what are the best tools to track email response times.

catherine heath

Last updated: March 6, 2024

9 mins read

Today, customers want to get in touch with businesses at any time of the day. They might even need to contact you outside of business hours. Nevertheless, however long it takes you to respond to customers, it may leave them in a frenzy. That’s why businesses are keen to measure this with email response time tracking. This will hopefully ensure they are creating satisfied customers. 

What is the email response time? 

Email response time is a customer service metric that gives insight into the level of service you are providing to customers in real time. 

The metric defines the amount of time it takes between your team receiving an email and sending a response. Usually, your email response time is tracked by your system, such as a help desk. 

However, response time is not typically tracked by traditional email tools such as Gmail. 

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Email response time tracking.

When you track email response time, the system accounts for your business hours. This means your response time will only start being calculated from when your business is officially “open.” The minutes or hours an email spends in the inbox overnight will not be counted towards your email response time. 

It’s easy for customer queries to start building up in your inbox if you don’t respond to them promptly. Improving email response time benefits both customers and customer service teams. 

Who can use email response time?

Any customer-facing teams or stakeholder managers can benefit from tracking email response time. 

As long as you’re using an email inbox, this metric is appropriate to track. If it’s important to you to respond to customers promptly, use email response time in your reporting.

Customer service, marketing, sales, and IT can all use email response time to measure how long it’s taking them to get back to customers. If you’re trying to deliver a service, then email response time is for you. This is the case whether you are a small startup with few customer queries or a large enterprise business with high email volumes. 

Tracking email response time is appropriate for any business that uses email to communicate with customers.  

Why is it important to measure email response time?

Customer service email is ranked as the most popular customer channel. 93% of customers choose email. This means they have high expectations for businesses to respond to them quickly when they send a message. Not only that, but you must deliver a quality response.  

Usually, you would track email response times because you want to monitor the level of service you are providing for customers. You may do this in order to adhere to SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and fulfill the conditions of service for customers. 

Dashboard showing help desk SLA.

All customer service metrics have a role to play in improving your customer service. They keep your team functioning like a well-oiled machine. That’s because metrics like email response time have a big role to play in determining how well you support your customers. 

Metrics like email response time help you improve performance at agent level and on a team level. 

Setting expectations for email response times

Clearly communicating your business hours to customers helps with setting expectations. Average email response time for customer service teams is usually around 12 hours. This is far quicker than sales teams, which typically take two days. 

You can improve your response time through implementing automations and AI. This is why businesses are embracing these technologies for customer service. 43% of companies are evaluating these tools or have already made some investments. If a customer can obtain an instant answer through a knowledge base, this is better than waiting 12 hours for a customer service agent.

You might want to tell customers your average response time so they know how long they can expect to wait for you. Update your autoresponder to let customers know you are experiencing a busy period. Superior customer service means setting appropriate expectations and then exceeding them, rather than disappointing customers with broken promises.

If your email response time is within the average range, you know you’re on the right track.  

Why is email response time important?

Customer service is a key differentiator for customers choosing between businesses. It’s so easy to compete on price and product. That’s why businesses are increasingly turning to good customer service and experience to win loyalty from their customers. 

If you can respond to a customer email the quickest, more than half of customers are likely to pick you over a competitor. Two-thirds of customers claim that speed is more important than price. 

Naturally, you should prioritize customer retention. Providing superior customer service through fast email response times is a big part of retention and loyalty. Even if you have customers locked into your subscription model, you should still strive for their happiness.

Fast email response time means you’re responding to and resolving customer inquiries in good time.  

How to measure email response time

You can manually track email response time with a spreadsheet. This involves logging every customer email you receive and the time it takes you to respond. However, the administrative load this requires probably outweighs the benefits of tracking email response time in this way. 

Instead, you can use dedicated response time tracking tools like Keeping. These tools automatically measure how long it takes you to reply to an email. Among many other features, Keeping takes into account business hours and agent work schedules. This makes calculating response time more accurate. 

Finally, a tool such as Keeping will generate a report. This enables you to analyze how you are doing in terms of important customer service metrics. You won’t be able to track key customer service metrics like email response time with a standard email service provider. You need to upgrade to a system such as Keeping in order to gain visibility into inboxes like Gmail.

Using Gmail for email is a great start but you need to combine it with a tool like Keeping.   

Tools for tracking email response time

You can not only track email response time with the following top tools but also improve your response time dramatically. 

#1. Keeping

If you’re using Gmail for customer service email, then Keeping is the perfect tool for you. Keeping is an extension for Gmail that provides extra help desk features such as email response time tracking as part of analytics and reporting. 


One on level, Keeping tracks email response time which you can view in an analytics report. This report is customizable and also available for download. Depending on your subscription plan, you can access either Classic or Advanced reports. 

Email analytics dashboard showing response time.

In Keeping, we call it the Average First Response Time. This metric aggregates the average time it takes for all your agents to respond to emails in the inbox. If you want to break this metric down by agent, you’ll need the Advanced reports.

Another dashboard showing email response time.

Making response time more accurate

To make your email response times more accurate, you can set the working hours for each individual agent. This means the hours outside of work are not counted towards email response time. In Keeping, we say the clock is only “ticking” when your team is working. 

In the Advanced report, Keeping calculates response time based on the organization’s business hours. As soon as you set your business hours or agent schedule, Keeping begins to track response time. Keeping generates reports that are automatically viewable in the analytics tab. 

Tracking SLAs

In Keeping, you will use an SLA to keep track of email response time in your inbox. This means you set a rule for replying to customer emails within a certain time. If the reply falls outside this, Keeping triggers the ticket to be tagged with an SLA violation. You can have multiple SLA rules operating at the same time. 

Helpdesk SLA settings in an email response time tracking software.

Many businesses use Keeping to track email response time. 

#2. EmailAnalytics

Email analytics dashboard.

EmailAnalytics is another tool that automatically calculates email response time. It integrates with Gmail, Google Workspace, and Outlook, making it compatible with the world’s most popular email platforms. 

One unique feature of EmailAnalytics is being able to compare your average email response times with all other users of the platform. In other words, you can see how you stack up against the competition. 

Break your response time down into categories such as five minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, and so on. This will give you an idea about whether you are improving. 

#3. Timetoreply

Another example of email analytics dashboard showing email response time data.

Timetoreply helps you optimize your email performance through in-depth analytics. This improves your team’s productivity and performance. Aimed at both sales and customer service teams, you can report on average email response times for both your inbox and individual agents. 

Timetoreply integrates with both Gmail and Outlook. This means you can stay within your favorite platform and access all the great features of email software. The focus is on meeting SLAs with real-time alerts and notifications.

Track email response time to improve response times. This boosts customer loyalty and allows Timetoreply to pay for itself. Break the leaderboard down by agent. See who is performing the best and who might need some extra help to meet their targets. 

#4. Zendesk

Zendesk dashboard.

Zendesk offers omnichannel analytics across all your customer support channels. This includes email, and you can view your data in the agent workspace. Even if customers email you but you reply on another channel, Zendesk will record this as a response. 

The great thing about using Zendesk to track email response is you have access to a whole host of features that will help you with your customer service. Zendesk is completely customizable so you can set up your own unique workflows. 

Zendesk apps from the marketplace makes it easier to tailor the platform to how you want it. Customers may contact you using email, but it’s up to your agents to create the most powerful customer experience. 

#5. Freshdesk

Freshdesk email response time dashboard.

Freshdesk is a similar alternative to Zendesk as a help desk and ticketing software for customer support teams. With the support of AI, you can manage emails as tickets. SLA management means you can set deadlines for responding to emails based on categories and business hours. 

Accelerate your average response time with canned responses that you can insert into your emails. Fully integrate AI-powered chatbots and self-service knowledge bases for even faster responses. 

Use integrations for Freshdesk’s whole suite of tools geared towards helping customers. You can extend your capabilities as you require so that you can access the features you need without having to research more solutions.

#6. Email Meter

Emailmeter dashboard with various email performance data.

Email Meter is email analytics software for Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. You can use Email Meter to gain valuable insights including average response time. The dashboard is clear and easy to use. You can connect all of your inboxes to stay on top of every email. 

When you use standard email you lack the analytics that a tool such as Email Meter can provide. Set up custom reports delivered directly to your inbox so you can stay on track of email metrics. 

Email Meter also helps you with SLA management by tracking when you respond to emails out of time. Visual representations of your busiest hours help you improve response time because you can allocate resources more effectively. 

How to improve email response time

72% of customers say they’ll stay loyal to companies providing the fastest customer service. It’s in your interests to improve email response time. Once you’ve adopted one of these tools, take steps to improve this metric and drive greater customer satisfaction.

You don’t have to fully resolve customer queries to improve email response time.  

Automate more workflows

Set up automations that allow you to deal with emails more quickly. Eliminate the manual work involved in responding to emails so you can get through more tickets. You can set rules in the inbox such as assigning to a particular agent or adding a tag to improve inbox organization. 

Set up an autoresponder

Although sending an autoresponder isn’t included when calculating email response time, it can do wonders for setting expectations. You can include information such as links to a knowledge base. These can often help customers help themselves, relieving the support burden on agents. 

Emphasize acknowledgement over solution

You can acknowledge that you are working on a customer request without having to provide an immediate solution. That means you can still get back to customers without having fully resolved the issue, and customers can feel confident you have heard them. 

Use canned responses

Making use of canned responses, also known as email templates, can significantly speed up your email response time when replying to repetitive customer queries. 

Wrapping up

Improve customer satisfaction with faster email response times. When you track average email response time with Keeping, you can take steps towards speeding up your service. Deflecting tickets with a self-service knowledge base means you can take charge of high-priority tickets much faster. 

It’s important not only to track email response time but also do something about improving it. Even if you promise your customers a particular response time, you can improve customer satisfaction by exceeding expectations. 

Email response time is one of several customer service related metrics you should track. You need to ensure you are meeting SLAs and also improve the service you deliver as a team. 

catherine heath

Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She often writes case studies, help documentation and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.

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