When you think about great customer support, what are the first things that come to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think about patience, positivity, knowledge, and a willingness to help, among others. What you probably don’t think about right away is metrics. But, if you’re the CEO of a business or manage a customer support department, you probably should be thinking about your metrics. While all those items listed above are crucial to a strong customer support team, metrics are really what we use as businesses to measure our performance and make improvements to our processes. This should be no different in the customer support department. No need to leave the metrics to the financial and marketing team! Let’s take a look at the 5 customer support metrics that you should be tracking and how they can help inform your customer support strategy.
1. Response Time
It’s no secret that customers expect that companies will respond to and resolve their issues in a timely manner. No one wants to continue dealing with an issue for days or weeks waiting for customer service to help them resolve it! So how can a business ensure that their customers are being serviced in a timely manner? By tracking response times.
There are a few different metrics to consider here:
- First response:
First response refers to the number of minutes, hours, or days between when a customer submits a support ticket and when a customer service representative provides their first response. Also sometimes referred to as “first reply time” this metric shows how long a customer waits before being helped. The first customer service response is an indicator of how seriously the company takes a customer’s issue issue. By providing a quick response, the company is acknowledging to the customer that they value their issue and they are dealing with it. From a customer’s perspective, the more quickly you respond to a customer service inquiry, the more serious it appears that you are taking their issue.
- Time between replies:
This metric only comes into play if the customer’s issue isn’t resolved in the first interaction with customer service. If your customer service team has to contact a customer numerous times, then it’s time to start tracking the time between replies. For complicated issues with longer resolution times, customers need to know that their requests are still being handled and that you haven’t simply forgotten about them.
- Resolution time:
Here we’re talking about the time it takes from first contact to final issue resolution. Depending on the complexity of the issue, this number will vary but the most important thing for any business is to decrease this time as much as possible. With longer, more complicated issues, it’s incredibly important to set realistic deadlines for your customers and follow up with regular check-ins so they still feel as though their issue is being looked into.
- Number of replies per ticket:
This is another area where your time will differ based on the complexity of the issue. Think of this in tandem with resolution time and aim for as few replies as possible.
We know what you might be thinking, “Ok, this is great but what are good benchmark metrics for me to start with?” While it’s important to take into consideration that response times might differ based on business, industry, etc. but we do have some first response numbers you can start with based on other research. Consider the following:
- 53% of customers find 3 minutes to be a reasonable time while waiting for a support agent on the phone. (eHow)
- In terms of email, the expectations are shifting nearly daily as customers expectations increase and technology allows customer service departments to be more efficient. By today’s standards, replying in less than 24-48 hours is best. (Win the Customer)
- Finally, for social media customer service, 42% of consumers expect a response in one hour and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes. (Buffer)
2. Ticket Volume
On the one hand, having lots of support tickets is a good thing because it means that all of your channels of customer support (email, phone, chat, etc.) are functioning properly. But, on the other hand, it also means that you are getting more direct feedback for issues with your product or service. So ticket volume can be a bit of a two edged sword! Either way you look at ticket volume, there’s no denying it’s an important metric to track. Tracking ticket volume over time gives you a full vision of support trends and the success of your customer service department.
Overall, you want to attempt to minimize the number of support tickets because less support tickets mean that your team has more time to deal with larger issues and improving front-end communications (like emails, user manuals, etc.) that will help customers deal with initial issues on their own. A fewer number of support tickets also means that you’re seeing less recurring tickets.
3. Contact Volume By Channel
The next item to consider is where each contact is coming from. For this metric, you’re taking a page out of the marketing team’s handbook and thinking in terms of attribution. Let’s say, for example, that you have 50 support tickets in the last week. Understanding the total number of tickets is important but there is also value in breaking down where each inquiry came from. For example, you might find that 30 tickets came from the live chat on your site, 10 came from an email form and 10 came via a direct phone call. Once you’ve broken up inquiries by channel, you might start to notice some similarities in the types of inquiries you are getting on each channel. For example, maybe inquires that come form a direct phone call are more complicated and technical but those that come via your live chat widget are simple onboarding questions. Understanding these similarities will help you put the correct employees on each channel and help ensure your customers get the right information at the right time.
4. Conversations Per Teammate
Now that you have a pretty good overview of the total picture of customer support in your organization, it might be time to break down these numbers by teammate. To track the conversations per teammate, you want to track the number of customer interactions every team member has over a specific period of time (most often daily). You can further break this down to determine response time, ticket volume, etc. per teammate. Understanding the performance of each individual will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your team and understand whether additional training is needed in any specific areas. It can also help you identify struggling employees and put together a plan to help them become more successful.
5. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Up to this point, we’ve talked a lot about the technicalities of how your customer service department responds to inquiries. While those numbers might relate to how happy customers are with their service, it’s not a direct correlation between the two. Customer satisfaction metrics, by contrast, are a direct indication of customer happiness. This is usually based on a short survey that customers fill out once a conversation is over or their ticket is resolved. How many times have you called a customer service number and been asked at the beginning of the call if you would be willing to take a short survey at the end of the call? These surveys can take many different forms but is essentially asking the customer to rate their experience. Understanding how customers feel about their interaction will help you understand how successful your team is in ensuring customer happiness.
While tracking straight numbers is a great starting place, we always recommend diving a little deeper into your metrics to not just look at the numbers but actually identify what the numbers mean for your overall business. If you have an incredibly high number of live chat requests but a really small number of phone call service requests, what does that mean? It might mean that the issues your customers are dealing with are pretty simple in nature and can be dealt with without a phone call. It might mean that your customer base skews toward a younger demographic that increasingly prefer using technology to the more traditional contact forms. Using these metrics to gain insights will not only help you improve your customer support strategy, it might also inform areas of the other business. Just think about it, if you learn that the majority of your customers prefer technological forms of communication, you might be able to bring that insight to your marketing team who can use it to increase their online marketing presence and decrease more traditional forms of advertising. Being data-driven but still open to insights will allow you to gain new perspectives and improve your entire business!
Looking for a great way to start tracking and measuring some of these metrics? Check out our FREE software trial and start building a customer support dashboard today!