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10 Important KPIs and Metrics your Customer Support Team Should Be Using

Freshdesk: No. 1 In Customer Support

USER SATISFACTION 100%
OUR SCORE 9.8

It is crucial that you measure your business performance, especially on your three customer-facing units – sales, marketing, and customer support. Fortunately, all three are highly measurable and there are several methods to give you the numbers that matter and what they mean.

Done properly, the three units will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. Yet, how do you know if you’re doing it right? Just like sales and marketing, with customer support you look at the metrics and key performance indicators (KPI) and, if you’re not reaching goals and targets, make adjustments to your efforts and strategies.

We’ll focus on understanding customer service metrics, customer support KPIs, and how to measure customer satisfaction. Are your customers satisfied, happy and likely to recommend your business? You also need to assess the qualitative aside from the quantitative aspects of your operation. We’ll go over those too, as well as some of the important yardstick that will guide you and your customer support team.

10 important KPIs and metrics

Why should you measure your customer support performance? “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it,” said Scottish scientist William Thomson. Business is a constant process of improvement and innovation particularly in today’s cutthroat environment, changing consumer tastes, and demanding customers. You need to know if your operation is at its optimal, your business is meeting its goals, and your customers are being served well and getting the best experience when engaging with your business. The KPI framework involves processes that eventually lead you to take action, as you can see below:

Credits: flock-associates.com

Metrics and KPIs give you the facts and figures to work with and continually improve on. The 2018 Consumer Intelligence Series: Experience is Everything survey found that customers will spend up to 16% more on companies that offer good customer service. In a similar light, more than 63% of customers will gladly share information with companies that offer hands-on, personalized support. Businesses are responding by investing in customer support platforms that has tools for predictive analytics, sensors in products and operations, and customer experience personalization.

With the potential for more profits that come with great customer service, you need to know if you’re quickly resolving customers’ issues, and promptly attending to their complaints. It’s a no brainer that you have to gauge your performance in this area. Good thing there are lots of customer service KPIs and corresponding tools and means you can use, which typically are offered by customer support and help desk solutions as part of their built-in reporting and analytics features. If you want to learn more of these solutions, you may want to check out our database of customer support software and help desk platforms. But first, let’s get to know what KPI is all about.

What is a KPI?

In business, key performance indicator is a measurable value that determines how effectively a company is achieving its key objectives. KPIs are used at different levels to gauge the success of an organization in hitting its targets. There can be high-level KPIs that cover the overall performance of a company, and there are low-level KPIs that hone in on employees or processes in departments or units such as sales, marketing, and customer support.

KPI is linked to a target value or goal which provides actionable data so you, or any other stakeholders, can make informed decisions. A KPI gives you insight into how well your team or unit is performing in pursuit of clearly defined team goals and in line with management-defined objectives.

In customer support, KPIs offer measurable values based on metrics gathered from response time, ticket volume, active and resolved issues, escalation rates in complaints, customer feedback, conversion rate, etc. What make KPIs quite effective are the resulting actions they trigger.

For instance, when you gather metrics on your response speed and find it slower by a few precious seconds as compared to the previous month and which affects your goal of resolving a certain number of issues per month, you set in place a new routing system where inquiries are automatically assigned to the right agent. You acted on the KPI, measuring its effectivity, and made adjustments to improve the process and hit your target.

KPI’s relevance is often evaluated through the SMART criteria used for achieving goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. For example, it should give you answers to the following:

  1. Do you have a specific objective? Reduce response time
  2. Is your progress in reaching your goal measurable? Yes, through average resolution time
  3. Is your goal realistic and attainable? Yes, through smart automatic routing
  4. Is your goal relevant to your organization? Yes, it improves efficiency and productivity, and boosts customer satisfaction
  5. What is the time-frame you set for reaching this goal? After the regular evaluation period of one month. 

KPI vs. Metric

You may wonder – what’s the difference between a KPI and a metric? They are often used interchangeably but they are distinct. KPI is strategic, while metric is tactical. In other words, metric is just part of your KPI, but not vice-versa. For example, we can say our KPI for our website is to increase our Google ranking, say, every quarter. To achieve this goal, one metric we improve on month over month is the number of visits to our site. There are other metrics to consider, of course, to increase our ranking.

KPI is used to measure performance and success, while metrics are simply numbers within a KPI that help track performance and progress. KPIs are usually initiated by high-level decision makers in the organization based on metrics extracted and organized by activity or process. Also, metrics apply only to past performance and not future action which is best handled by forecasting or predictive analysis.

For different companies with different goals and targets, there may be some KPIs more important than others and metrics may have varying meaning and applications, depending on the organization. But whatever metrics you decide to pursue and take stock of, they should be:

  • Actionable – measure things that have a real impact, value, and which you and your team can act on. Our earlier example of response time fits with this.
  • True – reports based on your metrics serve no purpose if they don’t tell you the real score. You don’t have to pad and twist numbers. If metrics show poor numbers, accept the painful reality, assess with the corresponding KPI, and work your way to making improvements.
  • Consistent – trends over a period of time often give you more important insights than specific on-the-spot data, allowing you a comparative evaluation to see the ups and down of your performance. Remember, metrics are produced from past performance data. 

10 Important KPIs and Metrics You Should Measure

Take note that there is no one approach for evaluating all your different KPIs. You’ll be using various metrics and assessment methods specific to the KPI and the goals you set. The operative word is “key” which means you’ll be concentrating on indicators that impact your customer service performance and which help you reach your goals.

Below are examples of customer support KPIs. We’ll highlight what these KPIs from your customer service processes and operations tell you, how to appraise them, what you can do, and goals to aspire for (this really depends on the goals you set for your unit in line with the overall goals of your company).

1. Average First Response Time (AFRT)

This refers to how long a customer has to wait before getting an initial reply to their support request. Studies have shown that customers prefer good, quality support over fast reply and are even willing to wait it out. Nevertheless, AFRT ensures your customers receive responses within an acceptable time. Things to consider:

  • Measure: The shorter time it takes to respond, the better.
  • Time frame: There are industry norms, for example, in social channels, customers expect a response within an hour; for email, response time should be within 24 hours.
  • Goal: Hit reply time targets.
  • Action: If numbers show you’re not achieving goals, identify root causes and find solutions such as hiring more agents.

AFRT data collected and analyzed by customer support software Freshdesk.

2. Average Reply Time (ART)

As differentiated from AFRT, ART shows whether your customers’ issues, requests or queries get followed up promptly. Basically, it tells you on average how responsive and quick you are in getting back to your customers.

  • Measure: Same as AFRT – better done in shorter time.
  • Goal: Achieve follow up targets, or other objectives along that line.
  • Action: If you get negative results, find what’s causing them and apply remedies such as adding more reps or streamlining your response processes.

3. Number of Support Tickets

Having a large volume of tickets may look good on the surface, but underneath it may be indicative of a problem. You may be having issues with your products or services; hence, many customers are complaining and reaching out to you.

  • Measure: The less number of support tickets, the better.
  • Goal: Lower the volume of support tickets.
  • Time frame: Set this one with an allowable window to observe if ticket volume increases over time or during particular periods.
  • Action: Have enough reps to handle ticket volume; determine what factors are behind the increasing number of tickets.

4. Number of Ticket Backlog

This pertains to customer support requests that stay unresolved during a particular period or beyond the usual response time you set. This is crucial – studies revealed that customers don’t mind waiting as long as their issues are resolved. You have to maintain a healthy balance between fast response and fast resolution. But then not all issues are the same and some are resolved quicker than others.

  • Measure: Less number of backlogs, the better.
  • Goal: Reduce ticket backlog volume.
  • Action: Similar to KPI #3, you may need to have more customer support staff to be able to not only respond promptly but also to resolve faster.

5. First Contact Resolution Rate

FCCR involves resolving customer’s issue in one interaction such as in a single chat session, a single phone call, or a single email or social media response. In other words, a customer need not contact you again since the issue was resolved at the first instance. Note that FCCR has a direct correlation to true customer satisfaction and can give your customer support a fresh approach and much needed boost, so you need to know how effective you are in this area. There’s a simple formula to help you.

  • Measure: Divide the number of support issues resolved at first contact by the total number of FCR-eligible support issues (cases that can be resolved by first contact) and you get your FCR Rate.
  • Goal: Get higher percentage FCR Rate.
  • Action: This prompts you to determine which areas of your product are having issues and can be resolved easily. It also lets you assess the efficiency (or inefficiency) of your support team as well as find out who are first contact resolvers.

6. Resolution Rate

This shows the percentage of issues actually resolved by your agents from the number of total tickets received. It gives you an idea of individual and team efficiency and productivity.

  • Measure: The higher percentage, the better.
  • Goal: Resolve as many issues and reduce backlogs.
  • Action: It prods you to find out if there are problems in your product or business that are burdening your agents or taking a considerable amount of their time. You may also consider hiring more agents to improve resolution rates.

7. Average Handle Time

It allows you to quantify the efficiency of your day-to-day operation across your support team and ensures your customers’ issues are being dealt with expeditiously.

  • Measure: Shorter time period is better.
  • Goal: Resolve tickets faster over time or certain periods.
  • Action: Determine what prolongs or shortens handling times and employ additional reps if needed, or make tweaks in your ticket management processes.

8. Top Agents

Knowing who your top performers enables you to build a strong and responsive customer service unit. Benchmarking agents or reps creates healthy competition and, conversely, lets you identify those that may need additional nurturing.

  • Measure: You got several ways to do this based on tickets resolved, FCCR, AFRT, ART, customer satisfaction feedback, and more.
  • Goal: Find out who your top performing agents are.
  • Action: Determine which ones are ahead of the pack (for future supervisory roles), and those that may need further skills training or closer supervision.

9. Net Promoter Score

NPS is designed to measure the likelihood of your customers to recommend your brand, product or service to others. It can be a pop-up form on your website or part of a survey distributed during certain periods. It generally consists of two questions – how likely the customer is to recommend or promote (scored from 0 to 10), and why. By NPS yardstick, 0 to 6 are detractors, 7 to 8 passives, and 9 to 10 promoters;

  • Measure: This involves another simple computation: % of promoters minus % of detractors equals NPS score. Ex. if 60% of NPS survey respondents were promoters and 10% were detractors, then your net promoter score is 50. The higher the score, the better.
  • Goal: Find out the pulse of customers with regard to your business or product.
  • Action: If you have more detractors than promoters, you risk customer churn or customers already have turned to other brands; thus, you need to find out why, assess what’s wrong, and apply remedies or solutions.

NPS is one of the tools you can use to determine customer loyalty. Credits: netigate.net

10. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

This can be the most important KPIs of all since it has been found out to directly impact your revenue growth. CSAT is as simple as asking your customers (via surveys or feedbacks on various channels) to rate your service after each customer service interaction – was the service good, bad, or improving or whatever criteria you set to gauge if they’re satisfied or not (or in between, ex. not so much, not really)

  • Measure: The equation is simple: Divide number of happy customers by number of customers asked and you get the satisfaction score; the higher the score, the better.
  • Goal: Find out if most of your customers are satisfied with your service/product/brand.
  • Action: If you get low scores, you need to discover why and check where you fell short – is there something wrong with the product they bought? Were agents friendly and helpful when customers called in their issues or submitted their requests? CSAT tells you if it’s probably time to review your processes, people, and products (which you should be doing anyway on a regular basis).

There are other KPIs which you can measure and give you an idea of your customer service performance such as Customer Retention Rate, SERVQUAL (service + quality), Cost per Contact, Call Abandonment Rate, and Employee Engagement (to see if your employees/team members are satisfied with their job), among others.

You need not assess all available KPIs and report on outcomes, only the right ones – those that have a critical bearing on your customer service performance and are actionable, true, and consistent. Now let’s get to know some of the tools you can use to evaluate your KPIs and important metrics.

Examples of Customer Support Solutions to help you with KPIs

1. Freshdesk

Our Freshdesk reviews gave the award-winning help desk software high marks on the strength of its ease of use and robust features. It offers standard features such as help desk ticketing, knowledge base, and community platform, plus multichannel capability, integrated game mechanics to increase agent productivity, multiple SLA policies, smart automations, and self-service portals. Among its many standout offerings is its reporting feature to help you monitor helpdesk productivity, customer experience, and agent workload so you can make data-driven decisions to improve your team’s performance.

Freshdesk’s reports are designed to direct you towards action. A quick overview of the reports page enables you to understand how your helpdesk and support teams are performing. Every metric like agent response time, resolution SLA, or ticket created can be analyzed based on ticket variables like status, agent group, type and more. It lets you streamline your support by identifying bottlenecks and examining problematic tickets right from the report.

You can check the solution closely when you sign up for a Freshdesk free trial here.

This award is given to the best product in our Help Desk Software category. It highlights its superior quality and underlines the fact that it's a leader on the market.
USER SATISFACTION 100%
OUR SCORE 9.8
Freshdesk won our Best Help Desk Software Award for 2017

What Freshdesk does:

  • Insights at a glance. With Team Dashboards, you get to keep track of metrics that are relevant to how you measure performance so you can focus on the metrics that matter.
  • Visual data. You can use plain words to ask Freshdesk what you want to know such as “how many tickets were reopened last month” or “which customer has the most number of unresolved tickets today” the software will pull up the metrics along with a trend graph.
  • Plan your workflow. Analyze the weekly or daily workload of your agents and spot trends like the busiest day of the week or the busiest hour of the day, letting you manage shifts effectively.
  • Understand every ticket’s lifecycle. Using ticket lifecycle reports you can identify which team takes the longest to resolve tickets or which group spends the most time waiting on other teams. Freshdesk can even break down the lifecycle of a ticket by the time it has spent with each group or agent, and by various ticket properties.

2. Salesforce Essentials

In our Salesforce Essentials overview, this CRM plus customer support solution emerged as a most useful tool for small business. It’s a two-in-one platform designed to help sales teams sell smarter, and for support teams to deliver consistent customer service experience. The software boasts of an AI built into the system to pull and process customer data and guide agents in making the next best steps as well as an automation engine to streamline inquiry routing, case management, and workflows. The software offers full visibility over each of your customers and your entire business.

The customer support side of the software provides a help desk solution that categorizes and sorts every customer inquiry and forwards it to the right agent for faster resolution. The system provides systematic allocation and assignment of cases vis-a-vis agent availability and expertise to ensure that cases are efficiently managed and efficiently addresses. Salesforce Essentials is backed up by the robust Salesforce ecosystem of applications that integrate and offers extensive integration with third-party solutions and services such as G Suite, MailChimp, Dropbox, and Facebook. You can take the software for a test drive by simply signing for a Salesforce Essentials free trial here.

What Salesforce Essentials does:

  1. Leverage AI. Salesforce’s machine learning engine lets you automatically capture and track activities – calls, email, meetings, etc. – and collect as well as sync important information directly from your dashboard or inbox.
  2. Gather information from all channels. The software gives you multi-channel support capabilities, allowing you to gather and organize customer data from all customer contact points for easy service/support delivery.
  3. Reports and dashboards. Dig deep into your customers’ needs through dashboards and reports to give you metrics on your customer support performance. You’ll be able to transform customers’ service cases into insights to guide your actions and decisions.
  4. Robust case management. It keeps your support teams efficient and proactive by improving reporting data, reducing ticket volume, and preempting issues before they escalate.

3. LiveAgent

Going through the LiveAgent details, we found it to be a powerful help desk platform suitable for every type of business. It’s billed as the all-in-one customer support solution that comes with live chat, email support, social media integration (Facebook and Twitter), POP3 accounts, statuses, gamification, contact forms, and file sharing. It is built to give you and your agents a tight grip on feedback and feed forward messages to fast track resolution times. It also boasts of scalability, letting you manage a customer-oriented team whether it is composed of a couple of agents or dozens.

Its analytics capability provides you an overview of your customer support, enabling you to see customers who are interacting with your company, and monitor the service they’re receiving. It lets you see usage statistics, evaluate performance reports, and learn from customer satisfaction ratings. Its extensive reporting possibilities enable you to keep tab of support agent performance.

You can easily sign up for a LiveAgent free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.

What LiveAgent does:

  • Analyze granular details. You can see in the analytics overview every incoming/outgoing messages, chats, and calls; performance by time, department, agent, tag, and channel; and a dozen time periods (today, yesterday, this week, this month, last year, etc).
  • Visualized reports. You can view detailed graphs and charts with gross numbers of opened chats, solved e-mails, received Facebook messages, and other metrics viewed per day, week or month.
  • Measure quality & quantity. You can measure and see who is the most productive, who prefers e-mails over live chats, and who delivers consistent results over time. Individual entries can be sorted by time range, department, channel, tags and agent, and all performance report can be exported to a CSV file.
  • Several performance metrics. You can analyze and report on 20 performance metrics including new answer average time, open answer average time, chat pickup average time, calls, outgoing calls, missed calls, call minutes, cats, missed chats, finished chats, and many more.

4. Vision Helpdesk

Among the many Vision Helpdesk benefits that you can gain are PinkVERIFY-certified ITSM features, streamlined workflow, multi-channel support, unified customer service platform, and improved staff collaboration. It offers intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface as well as comprehensive toolset capable of meeting the needs of both small and large companies.

Aside from basic help desk features, it has a robust incident and problem management capability that can automate responses and organize service tickets. The customer support solution also provides a self-help community feature that allows you to set up forums and knowledge bases for your customers. Vision Helpdesk also provides a powerful help desk reporting tool that can measure and analyze the metrics of your organization, ticketing reports, staff performance, customer reports and more.

If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for a Vision Helpdesk free trial here.

What Vision Helpdesk does:

  • Integrated reporting module. It offers several in built data reports metrics and graphical reports to help you make informed decisions and data-driven actions when it comes to adjustments and improvements in your processes.
  • Custom reports and schedule reports. The help desk reports module offers over 100 pre-defined reports that let you define custom reports for MSP or schedule reports in advance.
  • Measure & monitor essentials. Assess and track whatever you need to boost performance – ticket response, ticket rating, time tracking per staff, time tracking per ticket, top performer, tickets by client organization, and tickets stats comparison department wise, among others.

5. TeamSupport

Our TeamSupport pros and cons came up with so much more of the former than the latter. This is because the customer support platform offers a complete suite that enables you to communicate and collaborate more effectively, streamline relationships between all departments, and manage resources and clients towards a more accurate and faster customer support response. It provides an extensive array of advanced functionalities that lets you simplify collaboration between agents and departments, turn data into operable intelligence, enable customer self-service, and integrate with all necessary systems and applications.

In addition, it gives you the means to evaluate ticket engagement, and captures both positive and negative trends in agents’ performance. You can follow how your agents are doing in real time, and gauge engagement with different tickets and contacts to extract smart practices, and serve your customers more effectively.

An appealing test drive of all software features is available to you when you sign up for a TeamSupport free trial here.

What TeamSupport does:

  • Best-in-class reporting and analytics. Your customer service team can benefit from best-in-class, built-in reporting system that features powerful business intelligence capabilities right at your team’s fingertips.
  • Customer Distress Index. The CDI lets your customer service team monitor customer satisfaction and get a gauge on overall customer health. It assesses when a customer might be getting frustrated, so your support team gets a heads up. CDI assigns a number to every customer based on 5 custom variables like how many tickets they have, and the average ticket resolution time. Higher customer distress means lower customer health or an at-risk customer.
  • Customer sentiment. Powered by IBM Watson technology, the software offers real-time sentiment analysis within tickets so you can instantly determine the tone of a customer response to help your team prioritize ticket workflow and create proactive customer support opportunities.
  • Agent ratings. This feature invites customers to rate their support experience so you get real-time insights into customer satisfaction levels, get quick feedback, spot trends and service issues, identify areas for training or product development, and get real-time metrics to improve the customer experience.

Conclusion

Customer service metrics and KPIs are important because they form part of the information you require to find out and report on how your unit will progress forward to meet your organization’s objectives. Numbers are communicated and KPIs are set so you can measure and analyze them, and explain why you need to take a certain course of action that will result in concrete benefits and achieve company goals. Those resulting actions on your part, tied to your targets and goals, are what matters most, thanks to KPIs.

Category: B2B News

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