No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. The same goes for customer service metrics. There is no stand-alone metric by which a customer service organization’s success should be judged. Each is a piece of the main that contributes to an organization’s foundation and breadth. The only thing you have to watch out for is trying to bring together too many metrics; a barrage of warring data can actually detract from organizing, acting upon and achieving any forward momentum.
So how do you choose which metrics to measure? In a 2012 blog, Gartner analyst Kate Leggett advises “It’s best to start by understanding the value proposition of your company. For example, do you compete on customer experience, where satisfaction measures are of primary importance, or do you compete on cost, where efficiency and productivity measures are most important?
“Once you understand your value proposition, choose the high-level KPIs that support your company’s objectives,” says Leggett.
Looking for some suggestions for reporting? In his new book Lessons Unlearned: 25 Years in Customer Service, TSIA Vice President of Technology Research, John Ragsdale, provides suggestions on 15 key metrics that span quality, financial and operational benchmarks:
1. Post-incident surveys by channel. Following an interaction, asking customers about the agent’s customer service skills, technical knowledge, completeness of solution provided, time to respond and resolve and satisfaction to measure both effectiveness and consistency across channels.
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2. Self-service and/or community experience. Asking customers if they found the answers they needed and if they have suggestions to make the site or its content more useful.
3. Relationship surveys. Quarterly or annual surveys that ask about overall support experience, satisfaction with products and value received.
4. Customer loyalty. Questions that should put your customer retention team into action if answered negatively include: Do you intend to continue purchasing products from this vendor? Would you recommend the brand to your peers?
5. Gross margin. The percent of total services revenue that the service organization retains after direct costs associated with service operations.
6. Hourly labor burden rate. Salary or wages + overtime + cost of employee benefits + cost of applicable taxes using 2,080 hours per year as the standard number of available works hours to get the hourly rate.
7. Fully burdened cost per incident. Total costs divided by number of incidents resolved in a specific period.
8. Training days per year. Agent skills and training have a strong connection to productivity and customer satisfaction.
9. Incident volume by channel. Critical for staffing plans during peak times, as well as for quality control and future investments.
10. Hold time and abandonment rates. The abandonment rate is the percentage of customers who hang up the phone or leave a queue before reaching a customer service agent.
11. Incident handling time and average talk time. These should be monitored to see if individual agents require additional training or coaching.
12. Response and resolution rates. Measuring the amount of time it takes for customers to be acknowledged by a service or support agent, and then the time it takes for the interaction to be resolved.
13. First contact resolution. How many interactions are resolved upon initial engagement.
14. Escalation rates. Identifying both issues that are being escalated, on which channels and why.
15. Incidents resolved within 24 hours. Now more than ever prompt resolution is expected and appreciated.
With these 15 suggested metrics, Ragsdale notes that it’s incredibly important to begin measuring before you begin improvement efforts or implement a technology solution. Without knowing exactly where you came from, you may not realize how far you’ve come.
In Lessons Unlearned: 25 Years in Customer Service, Ragsdale elaborates on the 15 customer service metrics above and also covers employee management and motivation, knowledge management, selecting and implementing a customer service technology solution, working with analysts, advice to start-ups and the future of customer service. The book is a fantastic new customer-centric resource highlighted by Ragsdale’s personal stories and perspectives following a quarter-century of work in the customer service industry. Find out more here.