We’re all familiar with traditions of setting goals, resolutions or intentions for the New Year in our personal lives—but what about for our work or businesses? Setting goals at the start of a new year, quarter or season is important to continue to take your business to the next level.
Of course, knowing where you want to go is important, but knowing how to get there is even more essential. In this article, we’ll cover both the what and the how—what customer service goals you should be focusing on in 2023 as well as how you can achieve them.
How To Set Goals To Improve Your Customer Service
Before you can determine which goals are most important for your customer service teams, ensure that you and your team are familiar with effective goal setting techniques. Setting effective goals increases your odds of actually achieving your goals by making it easier to create actionable plans. In addition, effective goals help employees understand clearly what to focus on, what their work is aiming for, and how their work fits into larger company goals, increasing motivation and productivity.
One way to ensure you’re setting effective goals is to use the SMART goal model. A SMART goal is one that is:
- Relevant, and
Let’s break down each of these attributes with regards to your customer service goals.
Ensure your goals are specific by defining your goals clearly. Vague goals make it difficult to tell when or if you’ve achieved them. Specific goals have clear definitions, numbers and objectives that make it clear what you’re going to accomplish and how.
“Improve our customer service”
“Improve our customer satisfaction score by 20% in 2023.”
One way to ensure your goals are clear and specific is to make them measurable. Metrics, numbers and measurements within your goals not only increases clarity, but helps you understand how to achieve them, what tactics to take, what KPIs to measure and—most importantly—helps you see if you’re making progress as you work toward your goals. Measures can take the form of simple numbers, percentage growth rates, or other metrics.
“Increase our inbound sales leads in 2023.”
“Increase our inbound sales leads by 30% in Q1 compared to Q1 of 2022.”
Further, make sure your goals are actually attainable. It’s a good idea to set “reach goals” that are big and would make a sizable impact on your company. However, goals that are unrealistic for your current company, staff, budget or position will not only not be achieved, but they’ll be demotivating for yourself and others on your team.
”Scale our 2-person call center team to a team of 1,000 employees managing every aspect of customer service.”
”Hire 4 new agents in Q1 to reduce time in queue and average wait times by the end of Q2.”
Of course, your goals should also be relevant—not just to yourself, but to your overall company goals and direction, as well as to your employees. In addition, you should ensure that your KPIs or your overall goals measure the actual levers that will be required to pull to achieve success.
For example, if you want to improve customer satisfaction, you can measure that by tracking CSAT metrics. But how are you actually going to improve your CSAT? You should also set goals around specific actions that will impact CSAT, for example, improving FCR rates or reducing average time in queue.
For a company that wants to improve customer service:
“Expand into three new markets this year”
“Implement chatbots to reduce call volume and improve CSAT”
Finally, make your goals time-bound. A time-bound goal has a timeline, which makes it more likely that you’ll take action and implement the steps needed to achieve it. Just including a deadline—even if it’s flexible—makes the goal seem more urgent and actionable. Deadlines help keep your team motivated, and help you keep on track with your goals.
Some key things to keep in mind: make sure that your deadlines are not too short or too long. If they’re too short, you won’t have enough time to make valuable progress; if they’re too long, you will lose momentum or even forget about the project altogether.
”Increase NPS score from 20 to 40 by next month.”
“Increase NPS score from 20 to 40 by the end of Q2.”
Customer Service Goals Examples
With an understanding of how to set effective goals, it’s a good idea to turn to some specific examples of goals that many companies could use to improve customer service. While these goals would be useful across a range of companies, it’s important to consider your specific business goals and which of these would best support that.
In addition, as discussed above, consider your resources and team when deciding what is both attainable and useful for your customer service goals.
Decrease your response time
Setting a goal to improve your response time can make huge impacts on your customer service. Why? Because customers appreciate—and are growing to expect—speedy service. Take a look at the data:
- 80% of customers said they want quicker responses from companies.
- 60% of customers said that resolving their issue quickly was the most important part of good customer service.
- While the majority of customers expect a response on social media within a few hours or less, less than half of companies regularly provide this speed of response.
Of course, decreasing response time isn’t just about speed—it’s also about resolving customer issues efficiently. In fact, 36% of customers say that getting their “issue resolved in a single interaction” was the most important part of good customer service.
As a result, it’s important to place value not just on speed of answer, but also on more quantitative areas like accuracy of responses, empathy and connection. After all, you don’t want to decrease your response time at the expense of the quality of your service.
When setting a goal around response time, you may want to track metrics such as:
- average response time (ART)
- first response time (FRT),
- average handle time (AHT), or
- average time in queue.
Decrease your response time by:
- increasing your live chat or self-service options
- expand agent scheduling/staffing during peak periods
- improve agent training so calls take less time to handle (reduced AHT generally leads to quicker response times)
- analyze metrics on when customers tend to use which channels, and assign agent roles accordingly
Increase your self-service options and automation
One of the biggest trends for 2023 in customer service is self-service and automation—and for good reason! Not only is automation and AI becoming more effective and “intelligent,” but customers are becoming more accustomed to it, and in some cases, even favoring it over live agents. For example:
- 69% of customers say they’ll try to resolve their issue on their own first before contacting the company directly.
- 81% of customers say they want more self-service options available as less than a third of companies offer self-service options.
- 90% of customers say that an “immediate response” is important when they have a customer service question.
Increasing your team’s automation options can help you improve many aspects of customer service, so this is a good goal to focus on that will be a lever for other goals, such as decreasing response time or improving customer satisfaction. As a more tactical goal, make sure that you have an outcome in mind that is measurable and specific.
When setting goals around self-service options or automation, you might want to track metrics like:
- chatbot analytics
- knowledge base pageviews
- customer feedback (especially pop-up “was this page helpful?” surveys and other on-page feedback)
- live chat ticket volume and handle time
- time saved on specific tasks after introducing automation
Increase your self-service options by:
- working with an expert to design and implement AI or chatbot solutions.
- using feedback from web pages or interactions to further improve your self-service options and responses.
- updating web pages to direct customers with simple questions to chatbots instead of live customer service
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Improve customer satisfaction
One of the biggest overall goals for many customer service teams or companies is to improve customer satisfaction. And of course, this makes sense—satisfied customers are more loyal to your brand, making them more profitable for your business.
And, after all, the goal of customer service is to resolve customer issues in a satisfactory way and design customer experiences that will create happy, loyal customers. But how can you make this an effective goal for your company?
Remember the SMART goals discussed above: design a specific, measurable goal to improve a key customer satisfaction metric—for example, CSAT or NPS. Then analyze your current data and/or customer feedback to find the areas where customers are most frequently unsatisfied, and aim to improve those.
For example, you might improve customer satisfaction by:
- improving your First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate
- reducing Average Hold Time or Average Time in Queue
- expanding the number of available channels customers can contact you through
- reducing your Customer Effort Score (CES)
- increasing agent training to improve the quality of your service
Consistently gather customer feedback
Some goals for your customer service team may be more qualitative than quantitative—for example, consistently gathering customer feedback. While this is an essential tactical goal for customer service teams—particularly if you’re not already doing so—it can be a difficult one to measure.
However, you can still measure this goal and growth in this area. For example, you can measure:
- how much feedback you’re receiving
- a certain number of items to action or implement each quarter
- a certain amount of feedback to collect
- a new type of feedback to be gathered
For example, you might set a goal such as, “Collect 120 customer feedback responses and analyze them to find the most common themes. Implement 1 change by the end of Q2 based on the most common theme.”
This goal keeps customer feedback at the forefront of your team’s focus, and also helps ensure you do something actionable with the feedback you’re collecting. The type of feedback you’re collecting can vary greatly based on your customers, goals, resources and business model—you might consider measuring CSAT or NPS, average review ratings (or overall number of reviews), sending specific surveys or feedback requests, analyzing post-call or post-experience surveys and so on.
Implement an omnichannel strategy
According to a 2022 Zendesk study, 73% of customers want to be able to begin a conversation with a customer support agent on one channel and then continue the conversation later on another channel. In addition, 60% of customers use multiple channels to complete their transactions. As a result, omnichannel support is essential. However, omnichannel support requires a lot of resources and a variety of subgoals.
If you’re nowhere close to implementing an omnichannel strategy in 2023, you may want to break this one down into smaller goals. Alternatively, consider partnering with an outsourcing provider to create and run an omnichannel contact center for your business. By outsourcing, you’ll have the option to grow your contact center and achieve goals in a much shorter time frame!
Either way, in 2023, customers want to be connected with your team via multiple channels—and want their experiences to be connected and seamless across those. Whether you outsource this or manage it in-house, you might measure metrics such as:
- available operable channels for your customer service
- incoming ticket volume per channel
- individual channel response time
- customer journey steps (i.e. how many pages or interactions does a customer have before purchasing?)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
Strengthen the consistency of your engagement across all touchpoints
Strengthening your consistency across all touchpoints is a goal that integrates well with a goal to create a more omnichannel experience for your customers. Ultimately, creating a consistent experience for your customers not only strengthens your brand consistency, but strengthens your brand experience overall.
Keep in mind for this goal that your customer service agents and your brand have to work together seamlessly. In order to create consistency, you’ll need to strengthen your agent training across all channels. If you’re outsourcing, you’ll want to ensure that you work with a provider who trains agents to be brand experts rather than providing you with agents who are split across multiple brands.
To measure this goal and your progress on it, you might want to track metrics such as:
- ticket volume per channel
- agent churn and satisfaction
- customer feedback by channel (i.e. do post-call surveys get higher ratings than post live-chat surveys?)
- quality assurance feedback and data by channel
In order to improve on this, you’ll need to both analyze your data across channels and find ways to improve the consistency of your brand and quality of your service on each channel. For example:
- improving your brand guide and training your agents on the brand guide
- focusing on one channel at a time and invest in channel-specific training
- using automation when possible to analyze successful interactions and implement results into future playbooks
Increase customer affinity and loyalty
Finally, increasing customer affinity and loyalty is an important goal for customer service teams, especially in 2023—as customers have increasingly more choices about what to buy and where to buy it, developing affinity and loyalty for your brand is an important part of customer retention. Customer retention has a direct impact on your bottom line—after all, it’s easier (and cheaper!) to retain current customers than to acquire new ones.
Brand loyalty is not just about convincing customers to purchase again, though. It’s also about affinity, that is:
- creating a feeling of goodwill between your brand and your audience—that is, a feeling that ‘this brand really cares about their customers, and me’
- creating customer advocates who will outwardly speak up for and recommend your brand
- developing emotional connections between you and your customers, whether directly or indirectly
While this may seem difficult to measure, there’s actually several metrics that can help you track and measure customer loyalty over time:
- NPS scores
- CRR (customer retention rates)
- customer churn percentages
- customer reviews & feedback
- membership or participation in a customer loyalty program
Improve your customer loyalty and retention by:
- valuing and appreciating your current customers
- “surprise and delight”—create experiences for loyal customers that are unexpected and rewarding
- developing a customer rewards or loyalty program
- strengthening customer nurturing programs
- offering coupons and discounts for loyal customers
- increasing your level of personalization
Achieving Your Customer Service Goals
As you can see from the examples above, there are a wide range of ways to improve your customer service, but they all have a few key areas of overlap:
- improving quality
- reducing friction for the customer
- improving customer experiences and satisfaction
Finding the right goals and following effective goal-setting practices can help you achieve your overall ambitions. In addition, understanding how to make progress on your goals—by increasing agent training, improving QA processes, expanding your service channels or through other tactics—will give you a leg up to improve your customer service.
If you know what your goals are but feel stuck on how you can achieve them, Global Response can help. Our team of expert partners in customer experience can help you set goals, develop metrics to track and implement a plan to make it possible. Whether you want to outsource your customer service to a team of experts who can help achieve your goals or need consulting on how to best achieve your goals with the team you have, Global Response is here to support you in making progress quickly and profitably.