According to a Gartner survey, 64% of customer support leaders consider business growth “their most critical priority in 2022.” Gartner found that leaders plan to achieve this growth by orienting their customer service experience around delivering customer value.
To provide a better experience, it’s important to identify opportunities for improvement in your customer support team. That’s where key performance indicators (KPIs) come in.
If you haven’t worked with these metrics at your startup, this article will help you understand what customer service KPIs are, why they matter, which ones to track, and how to interpret the results.
KPI stands for key performance indicator. KPIs are measurable targets any team, including customer service teams, can use to track progress in certain categories. KPIs are designed to tell you how your team is performing in relation to goals and assess the overall health of your customer support program.
You can collect data for customer support KPIs with tools like customer satisfaction surveys, customer journey mapping (PDF), and social media feedback.
Key performance indicators offer helpful data about your customer interactions. These customer support metrics can help you flag potential issues and understand your team’s greatest strengths. That way, you can unlock opportunities to create more satisfied customers, maintain customer loyalty, and attract new customers.
These customer service metrics each measure one aspect of customer service or support. Each of these KPI can go a long way toward creating excellent support experiences.
The CSAT score relates to overall customer satisfaction with a customer support interaction, your product, company, or other aspect of your business, usually on a scale of one to five. To calculate your CSAT score, you take your total number of satisfied customers, divide by the total number of responses, and multiply by 100. What qualifies as positive depends on the scale being used, but on a one to five scale, you’d usually count up the fours and fives.
When you get low scores in a particular area, follow up to gain more in-depth customer feedback. Then, you can decide how you’ll make improvements, whether it’s offering more tailored training, clarifying how to talk about a certain policy, or showing your team how to better use support tools.
Part of a customer experience is how easy it is to work with your company — from browsing your website to making a purchase to reaching out for help. Your goal is to make the customer journey convenient and effortless.
This customer service KPI tracks the perceived effort customers felt they had to make, including how much time it takes to resolve issues and the total number of interactions involved.
To track CES, send a post-resolution survey to customers asking them to rate how easy it was for them to resolve their issue (usually on a one to seven scale). Most CES surveys also ask for open-ended feedback about why the customer chose the rating they did. Unlike CSAT, which is a more broad measure of your relationship with a customer, CES is a great way to gather feedback on individual support interactions and find areas for improvement (or templates for success).
Depending on the situation, you may need to focus on improvements in how your service team responds, such as how quickly they pick up a call, how engaged they are during customer conversations, and how quickly they can find a solution as well as which processes and technology can make interactions easier for your customers.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an important metric for your business because it measures loyalty. Loyalty is a great leading indicator of repeat business and referrals. Low NPS scores are also likely to presage increased churn. This KPI works by asking your current customers to rate how willing they are to recommend your product or service to other people on a scale of one to 10.
NPS ratings can be divided into three categories:
NPS is a 10,000 foot view metric that measures overall satisfaction with your brand or product over the entire customer journey. Whereas CSAT and CES are more granular and transactional (especially CES), NPS is strictly about measuring your full relationship with the customer.
Resolution time (which is closely related to handle time) is the amount of time it takes for a customer service associate to solve a customer’s issue, from the time they submit a ticket to when it is marked as solved. You can measure this KPI for an individual associate or for the entire team.
A fast average handle time for resolving customer issues can increase your customer satisfaction level, which can then raise your brand loyalty. Your team needs to regularly monitor your Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) to ensure the customers are satisfied. For your team to have a quick average resolution time, you need efficient and effective processes, excellent training, support, and guidance for your associates.
(Handle time is similar, but is usually measured from the start of the start of an interaction to the end, but doesn’t include wait or “in queue” time. This metric is very commonly measured in phone support settings.)
When you observe overall trends for time to resolution, you can start to correlate them with company changes, like a new policy for your reps to follow when answering calls, a high staff turnover, or new shipping policies. From there, you can initiate changes and give associates guidance that will hopefully shorten resolution times.
Customer service agents are on the front lines in terms of representing your brand and establishing a relationship with customers. Customer retention rate is a critical KPI to help you better understand how to encourage customer loyalty. You can find this rate by tracking the number of customers who make repeat purchases (or for SaaS or subscription models, the number of customers who renew).
While retention is not strictly due to customer service – things like product quality, cost, speed, and brand image can also play a big role, it is still a vital metric for CX teams to track. They are often the last line of defense when a customer is about to cancel or churn, and can provide valuable data to other teams to help improve retention rates. You can also use this data to adjust your training practices and help set up your team for success.
Here’s how to understand the results of your customer service KPIs and use them to improve your overall customer service strategy:
The best KPIs are the ones that align to specific benchmarks. That means the ones detailed above might not always be the best for your team to track! Make sure your KPIs measure progress toward the goals you’ve set for your team. Whether you want to offer better issue resolution, or connect more authentically with customers, KPIs that relate to these goals can help give you accurate data that shows how well your team is progressing.
The intention with these KPIs is to help identify ways to improve customer service performance over the long term. Metrics are only useful when you are measuring them frequently and looking for trends over time.
So, look at your KPIs regularly, including the weeks and months after you implement a new policy or hold training sessions. This way, you can see whether your customer service strategy is improving the customer experience in the ways you hoped or whether you might need to make more changes.
The ultimate goal of tracking KPIs is to help you make changes that’ll actually make a difference to your customer support strategy. Regularly discuss your metrics with your entire team so everyone understands what they mean. Watch out for trends and then work together to devise and implement improvements to get your metrics moving in the right direction.
Thoughtfully selecting and tracking customer service KPIs can help you gain key insights into how to get (and keep) more satisfied customers. Important customer service KPIs like customer satisfaction score, customer effort score, net promoter score, resolution time, and customer retention rate can help you understand how to better meet your customers’ needs.
When you can identify potential improvement areas, you can create strategies that minimize churn, and deliver a more positive customer experience. The result? A higher total number of customers, a stronger brand reputation, and a better bottom line.
To learn more about how to improve your customer support, check out the PartnerHero blog.