Ask five people what defines “good customer service” and you’ll likely get five different answers.
To one person, it might be the company’s ability to resolve their problem quickly.
To another, it might mean getting personalized communications through their preferred contact channel.
With so many touchpoints along the customer journey – from initial sale to monthly invoices to product support – evaluating how your business is doing with respect to customer service can be daunting. That’s why it’s critical to proactively define the customer metrics that are most important to your business and measure progress on them over time.
Read on to learn about the most crucial customer service metrics that businesses across industries use to evaluate their success.
Overall Customer Satisfaction
Customer perception is formed by a wide range of interactions with your business, both subjective and objective. What was the tone of the person answering the phone? How eager were they to solve my problem? Are my monthly invoices accurate and understandable? How easy is it for me to change my account or policy information?
With such a diverse array of experiences, how do you identify the one thing to measure so that you know how to improve service?
Many businesses use a Net Promoter Score or similar customer metric as a way to understand customers’ overall perception of their brand. Using a 10-point scale, customers are asked one simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend (our brand) to a friend or colleague?
The goal is to have responses of nine or 10, which correlates to loyal customers who are likely to recommend the business to others. Low-scoring responses are flagged for immediate follow-up.
The data is usually gathered through short surveys, both at regular intervals (e.g., annually) and immediately after a service experience or ticket is resolved.
Gathering baseline data from customer responses helps businesses establish realistic performance goals for individuals, teams, and the company as a whole.
In an era of smartphones, texts, direct message, email, and social media, you can be sure that everyone has a preference on how they want to be contacted.
While more than half of Millennials aged 18 – 24 report checking their email in bed in the morning, according to Forbes, another 34 percent say they are most annoyed by brand emails when they send products or services that are irrelevant to them.
Personalization is key to customer experience management. Tracking how your customers want to be contacted by you and then optimizing those channels is an important part of the enhancing customer ROI.
The whole reason businesses focus on customer service is to keep the current customers they worked so hard to gain and attract new ones. Measuring churn – the number of customers who stopped using your product or service – is key to understanding what’s working and what isn’t.
One good strategy is to prompt the customer to give the reason why they are canceling their account. By tracking the primary reasons for cancellation, you will better understand operational deficiencies in your business and make course corrections.
Contact Center KPIs
The issue of service metrics for customer call centers is an entire topic unto itself. If your business manages a robust contact center, there are multiple key performance indicators (KPIs) of customer service to consider.
A “support ticket” is simply a term to describe a documented interaction between a customer and a service representative. Most large companies use a ticketing system to track inquiries into their call center, in part, so they can measure their ability to resolve the issues of end-users. Ticket topics range from complaints to product troubleshooting to billing questions.
Handling tickets efficiently and effectively is a top priority for any call center. To do that, they measure the following KPIs:
Ticket volume. Increasing ticket volume can be a sign of positive growth of the company, yet most companies strive to decrease ticket volume. Their goal is to eliminate the need for the call, in part, by having self-service documentation or information available on the company website so customers can answer resolve their own issues.
Ticket resolution rate. How many tickets are we actually resolving over time?
Ticket backlog. How many issues are going unanswered and for how long?
Average reply time. Are we timely in our response to the customer?
Average handle time. How long does it take, on average, to resolve an issue from start to finish? Is that time frame different depending on the category of the issue?
First contact resolution rate. How many tickets are we resolving on the very first try? Can we improve that through call center agent training or other means?
Replies per ticket. How many back-and-forths does it take to resolve a ticket? How can we decrease that figure?
Call Center Agents & Team
The metrics for evaluating the performance of call center agents, and the larger team, mirror many of the measurements for tracking ticket resolution overall.
You want to know that your agents are handling a sufficient number of tickets, that they are engaging positively with customers, and that they are actually resolving the issues before them in a timely manner. As such, metrics include those above in addition to the following:
Tickets per agent (volume, resolution rate, reply time, backlog, etc.). What are our baseline expectations for these metrics per agent or team?
Customer rating per agent. Why do some agents get higher ratings than others? What implications might this have for staff training?
Frequency of upsells and cross-sells, if applicable. Which agents are successful at upselling customers to our other products during their calls? What can we do to encourage more of this?
A huge component of most contact centers is an online document repository, or knowledge base (KB), that customers can access directly to answer their own questions.
Building the knowledge base, keeping it up-to-date, and making it user-friendly is key to keeping customer service expenses in line. For these reasons, the tracking metrics usually include:
The number of new KB items. Are we regularly contributing to the KB or is it stagnant?
Percentage of KB items updated. Do we have a schedule to constantly update KB items, checking for old links, outdated product specs, changed contact info, etc.?
KB use per service category (i.e., which KB resources are actually being used). Are customers making use of all our KB topics across product- or service-lines? If not, why?
KB topic ratings. Which are our most popular or helpful KB items? What can we glean from this knowledge?
Percentage of issues resolved by KB items. Did the document actually solve the customer’s issue?
“If done right, self-service education and self-service automation layers can not only help you deflect volume into your contact center, but they can also empower the next generation of customers with tools to self-serve,” says Aarde Cosseboom, author of Enable Better Service.
Customer Service Metrics: Start Small, But Start Somewhere
The old standby saying, “What gets measured, gets done” continues to hold true.
If you’re a small-to-medium sized business and haven’t yet created customer service metrics for your organization, it’s okay to start small, but do start!
And if you’d like help, please give us a shout! We’d love to assist.
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