Customer service is one of the most important aspects of business. And yet no matter the size of your company, it’s a struggle to continually do it well. There are many reasons for this, but the key reason is that customers know what they want and will switch companies if a product, service, or business doesn’t meet their expectations.
So how do you know how you’re really doing?
The answer is metrics. There are dozens of data points you can collect, aggregate, and track, and you could spend your whole day analyzing them. But the truth is, you only need a few key performance indicators (KPIs) to guide your department. The rest are nice to have, and will help you improve your customer service, but aren’t quite as important for most companies.
The Right KPIs
If there were an easy answer to which KPIs matter most for customer service, this article would be a lot shorter. The reality is that KPIs change depending on a number of factors. Those factors include:
- Your industry. Customers have different service expectations for different types of businesses.
- Survey Methodology Used. Use your CRM to automatically track metrics across the department. Do you send out customer satisfaction surveys? Are you tracking social media comments?
- Consistency. How often do you track metrics?
- Channel Evaluation. You must know how your customers prefer to contact you when they have issues or questions.
- Brand Promises. Understand the reputation your company has. Is your brand built on going above and beyond? Or do your customers appreciate greater savings than your competition?
There’s no single answer for what you should focus on. Many businesses use a mixture of customer satisfaction, service center statistics, service agent metrics, and others.
These are metrics that are usually obtained through the use of customer surveys and ask questions like, “On a scale from one to 10, with one being least satisfied and 10 being most satisfied…” They include:
- Overall Satisfaction. This is the big number, the ultimate goal. All other metrics tell you how you can improve this one.
- Satisfaction Improvement. Your progress toward a better overall satisfaction score shows management that your efforts are working.
- Customer Retention. Keep an eye out for customers who silently leave your brand and learn what makes some customers loyal.
- Net Promoter Score. Find out if your customers would recommend you.
Service Center Statistics
- Average Resolution Time. Customers expect quick responses to their issues. Solving them faster may also help your bottom line.
- Active Issues. If you solve issues quickly, this number should be low. If it’s not, get to the source of the problem, which may be outside your department.
- Resolved Issues. Do you find your customers are happy after they contact your customer service department with a complaint or issue? Then you’re doing well.
Service Agent Metrics
- Employee Productivity. It’s important to track how effective your agents are. You could have the best service in the industry, but if you’re bankrupting the company to do it, that needs to be addressed. Use caution when measuring productivity, however, as it can affect agent morale.
- Employee Retention. Customer service is one of the highest turnover jobs in business. Poor job satisfaction can significantly affect job performance, so make sure you catch high attrition numbers early.
- Conversion Rate. One of the benefits of a CRM that works with both sales and service is tracking conversions for people who buy after interacting with an agent.
- Competitor Comparison. Keep an eye on your competitors’ customer service. No matter how well your company does, you must know if your competitors are doing anything better. After all, your customers will know.
- Brand Attributes. What kinds of words do people use to describe your brand? Open-ended customer survey questions can get you the answer, but keeping an ear to social media is also key.
- Complaint Escalation Rate. Some complaints are simply part of the job. An unusually high number, especially if the number is increasing, can indicate there’s a problem. Take a look at who works with these customers and what changed in your company around the time the complaints began. Talk to your agents. Get the full story.
- Cash Flow. Because customer service is so important to customers and word gets around, a good (or not-so-good) reputation can have a huge and fairly immediate impact on company cash flow.
Choosing Your Focus
While there’s no easy answer, there are guidelines every company should consider when choosing KPIs. All metrics should be:
- Comparative. Ratios and percentages are ideal because they put otherwise meaningless or convoluted numbers into context.
- Behaviour Changing. How will you act, now that you have analyzed the numbers? With so much data at your fingertips, it’s easy to feel your focus pulled in many directions at once. Most companies can only handle changing a behaviour or two at a time. Track all important metrics, but focus on one at a time for improvement.
- Understandable. If your metrics are hard to remember or difficult to discuss with and explain to other managers, it will be difficult to use those numbers to drive change.
It’s easy to get lost in your customer service analytics when there is so much data. When choosing KPIs, think about how an investment in tracking each metric will help you accomplish company objectives. If you took your metrics to an executive, would they help him or her understand the value of your department? Most importantly, do your efforts help you put the customer first?
Learn how to use metrics to put your customers first with our eBook, “CRM: Put Your Customer at the Heart of Your Business.
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