Everyone knows data is important, but which data matters most?
Far too many companies blindly track dozens of customer service metrics or KPIs without having a clear pathway to actioning them or understanding which metrics can truly move the needle for their customer satisfaction and bottom line.
As a result, it’s essential to understand not only which metrics to track, but also how to track them and how to use the data collected to improve your customer experience. In this article, we’ll show you how to ensure you’re tracking the right metrics and how to use that data to improve your customer service.
The Importance of Tracking Customer Service KPIs
Tracking KPIs may seem unnecessary in customer service, but it’s actually an essential step to determining what matters and understanding how to improve. After all, without accurate metrics, you’re essentially flying blind and can only guess at how to improve or what isn’t working.
When it comes to tracking KPIs for customer service, there’s two important elements to keep in mind:
- many metrics needs to be tracked in tandem for clear data
- KPIs must focus both internally and externally
Too many companies make the mistake of tracking one or two data points and then think they’re understanding the full story. Data can’t be tracked in a vacuum—you need to track relevant KPIs in tandem. Otherwise, your data can become muddied and will present a lopsided story. For example, a great FCR rate might be a sign that things are going well—or it could be an indication that agents are marking issues as resolved before they are, just to hit their targets.
Similarly, average handle time is another metric that can easily become skewed if tracked individually. While agents might be handling calls quickly, is that a sign that they’ve grown in expertise and are resolving issues more efficiently? Or is it a sign that they’re giving customers a quick fix without truly resolving the problem?
This leads us to the second point: KPIs must focus on both internal and external metrics. Your contact center should track both operational metrics and experiential metrics.
Operational metrics measure internal data and performance—ticket volume, average handle time, average ticket resolution time and so on. These are things that your agents and internal team are responsible for and can improve on.
Experiential metrics measure the customer’s experience of your brand and customer service. How do they feel about your brand or their experience, and why? While these are things that your customer service agents have a hand in impacting, they’re really company-wide metrics. In addition, they provide valuable insights into what your operational metrics mean.
Without tracking both types of metrics, you won’t have the full story on your customer service and experiences. For example, in the situation above with FCR or AHT, a team that was concurrently tracking CSAT and NPS scores would be able to understand interactions from the customer point of view as well—giving them insight into if reduced AHT was truly benefiting customers, or if pointed to another area needing improvement.
So which KPIs matter most, and which should you be tracking in tandem? Here are 8 key KPIs to track for your customer service team, and which metrics to track alongside them.
One of the most foundational customer service metrics to measure is ticket count, or overall volume. This should be tracked daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly. It’s also one of the easiest metrics to track, as whatever software or platform you’re using for your customer communications should provide these numbers for you.
Understanding the total incoming communication volume over time, and throughout different time periods, will give you insight into:
- your busiest and slowest seasons
- how to plan and staff your team accordingly
- core business changes that impact customers (i.e. if a new product launch or major feature change drove a major increase in ticket volume)
It will also give you a helpful perspective on other metrics. For example, if you’ve been working on reducing your average time in queue and then notice it’s been spiking the first week of every month, it may not be due to any fault of your team—perhaps ticket volume is spiking then as well. As a result, you’ll be better able to staff accordingly to continue to reduce time in queue and serve the customer more effectively.
First Response Time (FRT)
First Response Time (FRT) measures the amount of time elapsed between when the customer first reaches out and when an agent provides an initial response. A “good” FRT depends on the channel—for example, over email, customers may not expect an initial response for 6 hours. However, on social media or via phone, the expected response time is much faster.
You can measure FRT by calculating the total length of time until a first response for queries in a given time period, divided by the total number of cases. This will give you an average of the first response time. If you’re using a software or cloud-based platform to manage customer communications, your platform may calculate this for you automatically.
Either way, measuring FRT is an essential way to understand how quickly and efficiently you’re getting back to customers—and it’s also a key measure (in many cases) of Customer Effort Score (CES). The faster a customer can get a response, the less effort they have to exert to get their problem solved. And since customers now expect faster and faster response times, reducing your FRT should be a key priority for companies.
If you find your FRT is continually lagging or even increasing, consider partnering with an outsourced customer service team to get the support you need for your customers. An expert outsourcing partner, like Global Response, can help ensure you have the number of agents you need to improve response times, as well as the software and expertise necessary to easily track KPIs and provide quality service.
Average Time in Queue
Similarly, average time in queue is a key customer service metric that you should be tracking. As the name suggests, this measures the average time a caller spends in the queue before being connected with a live agent. This metric can also be used for live chat or web chat scenarios.
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To find your average time in queue, divide the total time spent in the queue for answered calls by the total number of calls. This provides an average that you can calculate for each agent, as well as your call center on the whole. Since at least 33% of customers say that “waiting on hold” is the single most frustrating aspect of customer service, it’s essential to reduce the average time in queue as much as possible.
Two primary ways to reduce this number include:
- reducing overall ticket volume
- increasing the number of agents, or efficiency of agents
Working with an outsourcing provider can help you scale your call center effectively so you can reduce wait times and improve customer service, while still working within your current budget. However, you can also reduce average time in queue by improving the number and quality of self-service options. Allowing customers to find answers or take care of simple concerns on their own, such as finding open stores or starting a return, can help reduce overall call volume.
Average Abandonment Rate
The Average Abandonment Rate refers to the number of callers who hung up or otherwise were dropped from the queue before their call was answered. Of course, a higher abandonment rate typically indicates lower customer satisfaction. If callers are getting too frustrated waiting in line for their call to be answered, they will give up—and will leave with a bad taste in their mouth from your brand.
As a result, abandonment rate is an important metric to keep an eye on. You can calculate it easily, by using this formula:
([number of calls received] – [number of calls opened]) / [total number of calls]
Once you understand your average abandonment rate, you can watch it carefully to understand trends, keep ahead of customer satisfaction and watch for when you might need to scale up your staffing. If you’re experiencing rising abandonment rates within your call center, working with a customer experience partner like Global Response can help. At Global Response, our experts can help you analyze, track and understand what your key metrics mean, and create actionable plans to improve them.
First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate
First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate is a measure of how many times a customer inquiry is resolved by the first agent who responds to the concern. The rate can be calculated simply by dividing the number of tickets resolved by the first contact by the total number of cases.
This is one of the most important customer service KPIs to measure because it can give you an understanding of:
- how efficient your agents are
- how complex your customer’s questions are
- how effective your training is
- how well your IVR or other call queueing systems are operating
If agents need to frequently transfer customers to resolve issues, it can point to a number of problems. Perhaps your agents need more training, or need more effective knowledge bases and information from which to handle customer concerns. You may also need more effective automation systems to direct callers to the appropriate agent or department in the first place, rather than having to transfer them manually after.
As mentioned above, FCR shouldn’t be measured in isolation—it’s easy for this number to become a vanity metric if not considered alongside experiential metrics, which we’ll discuss next.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score is an essential customer service metric. As one of the key experiential KPIs, it’s a good way to get an idea of how your customers are experiencing your service (and not just what it looks like from the inside).
With NPS, you get a measure of the percentage of customers who are promoters, or advocates, of your brand. Typically, this data is gathered by sending customers a 1-question survey asking them to rate “How likely are you to recommend [your brand] to a friend or family member?” with 1 being not at all likely and 10 being extremely likely.
Of the results, anyone who responds between 1-5 is typically considered a detractor, 6-7s are passives and 8-10s are promoters. Then, subtract the total percentage of detractors from the total percentage of promoters to understand your net promoter score. If you have more detractors than promoters, your score will be negative—which will clearly signal a need to improve.
By measuring NPS alongside operational metrics like AHT and FCR, you’ll gain a better understanding on whether or not improvements on operational metrics are translating into better experiences for customers. If they are, you’ll see improvements on your NPS as well.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT is another foundational and essential customer service KPI. It measures, as the name suggests, customer satisfaction. It’s calculated similarly to NPS. However, whereas NPS measures brand sentiment more generally, CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a particular interaction, experience, product or aspect of your service, whether that’s a live chat experience or your shipping process.
To gather the data, you’ll survey customers with a 1-question survey such as, “How satisfied are you with [particular experience or interaction]?” with 1 being “not at all satisfied” and 5 being “extremely satisfied.” Then, you’ll divide the number of satisfied customers (those who responded 4 or 5) by the total number of customers who responded.
CSAT is an excellent KPI to track in tandem with operational metrics, as it can reassure you that your efforts are working, or advise you on how to change course. In addition, since CSAT is such a complicated metric, with many variables factoring into its final result, it’s important to have a holistic approach as you work to track and improve this metric.
If measuring and tracking CSAT feels complicated—or you’re not sure how or where to get data or make improvements—we’re here to help. Our team of experts at Global Response can help you implement advanced customer satisfaction analytics to unlock powerful customer data, draw holistic insights and boost your business results.
Customer Retention Rate (CRR)
CRR measures the rate at which customers stick with your company over a given time period. Depending on your service or product, you may want to measure this in monthly, quarterly or annual intervals. You can calculate your CRR with the following formula:
[(E-N) / S] x 100 = CRR
E = the number of customers at the end of a given time period.
N = the number of new customers acquired during that time period.
S = the initial number of customers at the start of that period.
CRR is an especially important customer service metric to track because retaining existing customers is much more valuable than acquiring new ones (although both are necessary!). Not only is it much cheaper to retain existing customers (6-7x cheaper than acquisition, according to some research), but loyal customers are also more likely to make purchases, try new products and recommend your brand to others.
Using Customer Service KPIs To Improve The Customer Experience
Ultimately, customer service metrics are not useful unless you action them! However, using your customer service KPIs to improve the customer experience is easier said than done.
One of the best ways to use data to consistently improve the customer experience is to implement a quality assurance (QA) process.
A good QA process typically involves at least four steps:
- recording calls or other customer communications
- analyzing customer interactions based on a standard rubric for quality
- providing feedback to agents based on analysis
- implementing changes to the QA process or customer interactions based on data
Tracking and measuring some of the key metrics and KPIs discussed above will help you develop a QA process. In the beginning, it may be useful to focus on a few specific metrics at first, rather than trying to improve everything at once.
Still struggling to maintain or improve your customer experiences? Partner with an expert like Global Response to get support for your customer service through:
- advanced data tracking and analytics
- omnichannel support services
- loyalty programs
- access to best-in-class technology
- quality assurance processes and support
- and more!
From analyzing your existing metrics to creating a quality assurance plan that boosts your customer satisfaction—and your bottom line—Global Response’s team of experts provide consultation or outsourcing for all of your customer service needs.
Connect with an expert from Global Response today, and find the metrics that matter for your team.