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We’re in a hugely exciting new era of customer service – but for many companies, customer service metrics have failed to move with the times. Many contact centres and service organisations still use traditional efficiency measures, like call answer times, to monitor how they’re doing. But customers are the ultimate arbiter, and customers would rather hang on for a little longer to be answered by the right expert who can give them the right answer or resolution.

(And if they don’t get the right answer, with Google and Twitter at their disposal 24/7, it’s not hard for them to find another organisation that can help.)

That’s why there’s a whole new generation of customer service metrics emerging that are focused on outcomes rather than operations. For the first time, KPIs can align the service centre directly with the organisation’s strategic goals. That’s an exciting prospect for customer service directors and contact centre managers who want to prove their team is having a tangible impact on the organisation’s success.

So what are these new customer service measurements? Here are five that we think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in the next 18-24 months:

1. Net Promoter Score

One of the first of the ‘new’ metrics, Net Promoter Score is now fairly well embedded in many organisations. For those unfamiliar with it, NPS hinges on a single question, ranked from 0-10: How likely are you to recommend this organisation to family and friends? Anyone who answers with a 9 or a 10 is a promoter. Anyone who answers from 0 to 6 is a detractor. Subtracting detractors from promoters provides the score.

Once you start measuring NPS, the critical next step is knowing what to do with the results. If you’re scoring low (many organisations have a negative NPS!), you need to understand why, and take steps to address the problem. Measuring NPS over time also helps you measure whether any changes to customer service are having the desired effect. If they are the NPS score should be moving upwards.

Some forward-thinking organisations are introducing NPS at a more granular level, to measure the quality of departments, teams or even individual service agents. This can be a powerful metric for understanding who’s delivering the best service. As a manager you can then seek to replicate that team or person’s behaviour across the wider organisation. And if you can display the results on a shared leaderboard, it can also be a great motivator.

2. Employee experience

The link between employee happiness and customer satisfaction has long been known in theory, but surprisingly few service leaders use it as a lever for improvement. For example, absenteeism is a crucial indicator of employee satisfaction that many service organisations measure, but few look at the underlying causes and seek to address them. Analysing the reasons for absenteeism can reveal some very actionable areas for improvement – such as a need for more training so that staff feel confident and empowered in handling enquiries, or better customer service CRM systems so agents can find the information they need more easily.

3. Complaints

Social media has brought customer dissatisfaction into public view like never before. Yet few organisations have a formal method in place for gathering and analysing complaints – and most importantly, acting upon them. This is partly due to the siloed nature of many organisations, where online criticism is as likely to be handled by a PR team or dedicated social media team as it is by the service organisation. But organisations that have a process for analysing and acting on complaints have seen incredible results. Bausch & Lomb, for example, reduced complaints by 90% over five years by analysing root causes and creating action plans to address them.

4. Customer effort

Still in its infancy, customer effort is measured by less than 20% of service organisations today, if a poll taken on a recent Call Centre Helper webinar is any guide. This one is all about ensuring the customer has the easiest possible experience when dealing with the organisation. First call resolution is part of it, but that doesn’t take into account newer channels like web self-service, online chat, or social media. It also doesn’t take into account the effort the customer might have made to talk to an agent in the first place, with labyrinthine IVR options being one of customers’ top bugbears.

As the internet makes it increasingly easy to find an alternative option, customer effort will become a vital metric to ensure satisfaction and loyalty. Taken to the extreme, this is best summed up by Bill Price and David Jaffe’s mantra: The Best Service is no Service.

5. Customer empathy

Some highly customer-focused organisations are doing pioneering work around understanding individual customers’ personalities, likes and dislikes, and matching them to the agent they are most likely to have empathy with. In addition to the customer’s interactions with the organisation, their social media activity can also provide clues in these areas, and savvy organisations are already taking social media activity into account when dealing with customers. This is also about using voice analytics in smart ways, to understand how customers react to different approaches taken by agents, and train agents in the approaches and techniques that resonate best with customers.

Lots of organisations are aware of these new customer service metrics and keen to introduce them, but are put off by the perceived technical effort and cultural change required to get them up and running. (Others may be wary of moving away from the operational metrics on which they’re measured and bonused!) But in a world where competitors are a click away, complaints are public and customer and employee happiness is demonstrably critical to the organisation’s success, can you afford not to?

Find out more

Check out how you can improve customer service with technology or if you’d like to learn more about introducing new customer service measurements (and making better use of your existing metrics), download a free copy of Redefining Service Metrics for the Customer Powered Age eBook

Redefining Service Metrics for the Customer-Powered Age eBook