10 key customer service metrics and how to master them

Tracking key customer service metrics can help you understand how your team can be more helpful and efficient. However, there are so many customer service metrics you could track that knowing which ones to focus on can become overwhelming. 

Below, we outline 10 essential customer service metrics to monitor, what benchmarks to aim for, and the changes you can make to improve these scores and, as you do so, more effectively serve your customers.

1. Total Tickets or Calls

The total tickets or calls metric measures how many calls or support tickets a customer support agent takes during a specific period. This metric is critical — not only is it the basis for many other customer service metrics, but it also provides a very rough gauge of the productivity of each associate and your team as a whole.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Your NPS is a key way to measure customer satisfaction. This customer service metric asks the customer to complete a survey about their willingness to recommend friends and family to your business. Customers answer on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least favorable score for your company and 10 being the best. The final score is a tally of all the responses.

Based on their numerical rating of each question, the customers are placed in three categories:

  1. Promoters: These customers rate you a 9 or 10 and are your brand champions. They value your company and will happily refer friends and family to you.
  2. Passives: These customers rate you a 7 or 8. They are satisfied overall and may remain loyal to the brand. However, they can be swayed to other brands and won’t go out of their way to promote your brand or product.
  3. Detractors: These customers rate you from 0 to 6 and are actively dissatisfied with the service they receive. They are also the most likely to write poor reviews on social media and via word of mouth.

How to Calculate Your NPS

Let’s look at how to calculate this metric. Suppose you received 31 survey responses: Based on the ratings, 10 respondents were detractors, one was passive, and 20 were promoters. You would divide the number of promoters by the total number of surveys (20/31 = 0.645). Your promoter percentage would be 64.5%.

Now, you can determine your detractors percentage by dividing the number of detractors by the total number of surveys (10/31 = 0.322). Your detractor percentage would be 32.2%.

Finally, subtract the detractor percentage from the promoter percentage to get your final NPS of 32.3 (64.5-32.2 = 32.3).

Determining the definition of a good NPS depends on the industry and many other variables. However, according to global NPS standards, a score over 50 is good and over 70 is excellent.

How to Improve Your NPS

You can improve your NPS by following these tips: 

  • Follow up with detractors to learn why they gave you a low score (some NPS survey tools will automatically ask respondents why they gave you the rating they did).
  • Ensure everyone on your team understands how customer support helps build promoters.
  • Retrain staff using feedback from NPS responses.
  • Explore the root cause of your low NPS by searching for scoring trends.
  • For example, if your NPS score falls dramatically after you launch a website redesign, the redesign may indicate why. 
  • Make structural changes, then re-evaluate your NPS.

3. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Support agent reviewing customer service metrics

Your CES measures how much effort a customer has put in interacting with your business and using your products. There’s a wide range of ways to measure this customer service metric, such as how difficult a product was to use or how many times they needed to contact your team to resolve an issue. You can figure out your CES by surveying your customers.

You should send CES surveys to customers in three instances:

  1. After an interaction resulted in a purchase
  2. After an interaction with a customer service associate
  3. While performing user-experience (UX) and user interface (UI) testing

Likert Scale vs. Emoticons

There are two common CES surveys. In the Likert Scale, the survey asks customers to rate the simplicity of their experience on a 5-7-point scale, with 1 being the easiest and the highest number being the most difficult.

There’s also a simpler emoticon rating system. Instead of choosing a number, customers choose a frowning face, an expressionless face, or a smiling face to represent how easy their experience was. The frowning face indicates a difficult experience, the expressionless face shows moderate difficulty, and the smiling face means an easy experience.

How to Calculate Your CES

Calculating CES is simple. Divide the sum of the effort rating scores by the total number of survey responses. So, if you performed 100 surveys and the scores on your scales totaled 750, your CES is a 7.5. If you’re using the emoticon responses, simply choose a number to correlate with each emoticon and use those numbers for scoring. For example, a frowning face is a 1, an expressionless face is a 5, and a smiling face is a 10.

There are no standardized good or bad CES results. Set a benchmark based on averages within your industry and your company’s average CES over time, and compare your customer service team’s results to that.

How to Improve Your CES

Here are a few ways to simplify your customer experience:

  • Make it easy to find a contact phone number, email, or chat interface.
  • Offer a live chat system.
  • Direct customers to an FAQ page and other help sections to fix simple issues.
  • Reduce the number of options a customer must select before getting to a customer service agent.

4. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Support agents happy after reviewing their customer service metrics

A CSAT score measures a customer’s overall satisfaction with an interaction, a business, or a product. 

You can find this customer service metric by sending a simple customer satisfaction survey that asks a customer to rate their overall experience on a set scale. CSAT uses a scale of 1-6, where 1-3 is considered a negative score, 4 is neutral, and 5-6 is a positive score.

How to Calculate Your CSAT Score

Calculating a CSAT score is easy. You simply divide the total number of positive responses by the total number of survey responses and multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. So, if you received 75 positive responses out of 100 total responses, you’d have a 75% CSAT score.

CSAT score benchmarks vary by industry, but the standard mark for a good CSAT score is 75% to 80%. A CSAT score in this range means you generally have happy customers.

How to Improve Your CSAT Score

Following a few best practices can help you gain more positive CSAT scores:

  • Understand your primary customers and common customer pain points so you can solve common issues early.
  • Offer self-service FAQs and help desk articles. 
  • Act quickly on customer feedback.
  • Encourage your team to show empathy by imagining themselves in the customer’s position.
  • Request feedback and ensure a customer is fully satisfied before ending a call or closing a ticket.
  • Give customers multiple channels in which to contact your company and offer an omnichannel support approach.

Bonus Tip: The Difference Between NPS, CES, and CSAT

The three metrics described above are all similar in that they each ask customers to rate their experiences with your brand, product, or people. How are they alike and different? Let’s take a look:

  • NPS: This metric is purely relational. It takes a big-picture view of how your customers feel about your brand of product.
  • CES: This metric is purely transactional. It asks customers to rate their specific experience with your product or team.
  • CSAT: This metric is a little of both, depending on when and how you ask for the rating, though it is usually transactional.

The bottom line is that NPS offers a wide view that asks customers to consider all of their interactions and experiences with your company, while CES and CSAT are more narrow, asking customers to consider a specific interaction or experience.

It’s important to selectively deploy each of these survey-based metrics where they make the most sense to give you the relevant data you need to measure your progress toward your goals. Also, make sure you don’t bombard your customers with multiple surveys every time they talk to you!

5. First Response Time (FRT)

FRT is the amount of time between when a customer presents an issue to customer service and the first time they hear back from the support team about that issue. 

How to Calculate Your Average FRT

You can calculate this useful key performance indicator (KPI) by dividing the total first response times in a given period by the total number of tickets in that period.

For example, if your total FRT for today was 60 minutes and you had 10 total tickets, you’d have a six-minute average FRT that day.

A good FRT varies by the channel the customer is using. Here are some typically accepted “good” FRTs for common channels:

  • Social media: Less than 60 minutes
  • Email: 24 hours or less
  • Telephone: 3 minutes or less
  • Live chat: 1 minute and 36 seconds or less

If you offer support during specific hours, you can further segment this metric by looking at your overall average FRT (including all tickets in a given time period) and your production average FRT, which measure your average only when your team is actively working.

How to Improve Your FRT

To help your team improve their FRT, you can:

  • Refine your customer support associate training to help associates more efficiently resolve issues.
  • Prompt (or assign) associates to focus on one customer interaction on a single channel at a time instead of multitasking.
  • Build an internal knowledge base, such as answers to common issues and known issues with a particular product or service, and constantly updating it.
  • Show your associates gratitude and support to help reduce burnout and job dissatisfaction.

6. First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) 

FCR measures the percentage of customer support issues your customer support associates solve on the first phone call, email, or other interaction, eliminating the need for the customer to call back or reply for additional support. An email lookup tool improves first contact resolution by ensuring accurate communication.

A great FCR score shows your associates are adept at understanding and resolving customer issues. Reducing the number of issues that require more than one call or email to resolve reduces frustrating interactions, which can increase trust in your organization and lead to repeat business and referrals. It also lowers the resources needed to resolve each issue, which helps you manage your overall costs.

How to Calculate Your FCR

To calculate FCR, divide the total number of tickets solved on the first associate interaction during a select period by the number of total tickets in that period. Then, multiply the result by 100 to get the FCR percentage. 

For example, if you had 100 tickets in a week and 75 of them were resolved on first contact, you’d have a 75% FCR rate ([100 / 75] x 100 = 75).

While many variables impact FCR rates, the industry benchmark is 75%. Be careful: A great FCR can also potentially indicate that your associates are spending too much time on easy-to-resolve tickets that could be eliminated with better self-serve options or automation.

How to Improve Your FCR

If your company is struggling to maintain at least a 75% FCR, these tips can help you resolve customer concerns the first time they bring them to your team: 

  • Create and constantly update your internal knowledge base for addressing common customer issues.
  • Retrain customer service associates on active listening so they can fully understand the customer’s issue during the first interaction.
  • Implement better support queue management or ticket triage systems so complex questions are routed to the appropriate members of your support team.
  • Always deliver precise answers to customers.
  • Never offer more information than customers need, as this can overwhelm and confuse them, causing them to reach out again.
  • Offer quick solutions in an online FAQ or through a chatbot.
  • Ensure you’re answering all the customer’s questions, not just the main issue.
  • Frequently review calls and chats with associates, identifying ways they could have achieved FCR.

7. Cost Per Ticket (CPT)

Support agent explaining the customer service metrics to analyze

Cost per ticket (CPT) is a fairly simple but critical customer service metric, as it tells you just how much it costs your support team to manage each ticket it receives. Understanding this metric can help you determine if your team is spending too much time on tickets or not enough. Comparing this to your CSAT score can help you see where you can make improvements

For example, if you have high CSAT scores and a high average CPT, you may want to work toward being more efficient and lowering that CPT. If the opposite is true, it could indicate your team is rushing through tickets, which means they handle more and it costs less, but at the expense of a good customer experience.

How to Calculate Your CPT

To calculate CPT, divide your customer support team’s total operating expenses during a period by the number of tickets during the same period. For example, if your team costs $50,000 per month to operate and handled 5,000 tickets, they would have a $10 CPT.

How to Improve Your CPT

If your team struggles with keeping your CPT manageable, these tips can help: 

  • Reduce ticket handling time by streamlining processes, creating internal knowledge bases, and ongoing training.
  • Focus on associate retention by improving working conditions and job satisfaction to reduce turnover, lowering your onboarding expenses.

8. Average Resolution Time (ART)

Average resolution time (ART) is the average time it takes a customer support associate to resolve customer issues. 

The faster your team can resolve customer issues, the more satisfied the customer is, the more likely they are to return and refer others. Plus, the faster your associates can resolve issues, the fewer resources you spend per issue.

How to Calculate Your ART

You can calculate this customer support metric by dividing the total time needed to resolve all tickets in a specific period by the number of tickets during that period.

For example, if you had 100 tickets in a week, and it took 600 minutes to resolve all customer problems during that period, your average resolution time was six minutes.

The benchmark ART across all industries for phone support is 6.46 to 6.73 minutes, but the exact time varies by industry and company size. Channel will also play a big role, with more immediate or real-time channels having faster ARTs than more asynchronous ones.

How to Improve Your ART

If your company struggles to maintain a good ART, the following tips may help improve it:

  • Improve your internal knowledge base for customer service associates so they can more quickly locate solutions to common problems.
  • Have associates with high ARTs shadow those with low ARTs and share their expertise.
  • Record and review calls with associates regularly, identifying ways to decrease ART.
  • Use automation, such as a chatbot with answers to simple questions, to reduce ART.
  • Train associates to de-escalate situations so they can resolve issues themselves without the need to escalate to a manager.

9. Churn Rate

Churn rate, the rate customers stop doing business with a company, is one of the most important customer service metrics. A low customer churn rate shows your customers are generally satisfied, but a high churn rate shows an issue along the customer journey causing them to cancel or leave after their contract expires. However, it will not show why they are leaving, so you’ll need to explore other customer service metrics to find where the issue lies.

How to Calculate Your Churn Rate

The formula for calculating churn rate percentage is the number of customers lost during a time frame divided by the total number of customers you had at the start of the time frame, multiplied by 100. So, if you had 100 customers at the beginning of the month and 10 cancel, you had a 10% churn rate ([10 / 100 = 0.10 x 100 = 10%).

A good churn rate varies by industry and other variables, but the accepted rate across all industries is 2% to 8%.

How to Improve Your Churn Rate

You can improve your churn rate through various strategies, including:

  • Offer incentives for customers to stay.
  • Retrain customer service associates to deliver better service.
  • Ensure your product is targeting the right audience.
  • Review complaints to determine where the pain points are (and then address those with product or customer experience improvements).
  • Train your best associates to handle customer retention.
  • Properly manage customer expectations.

Note: Depending on your product and how your business is structured, churn might not be the sole responsibility of the support team. In some companies, churn might not be a support metric at all. For some businesses, monitoring and reducing churn rate is often assigned to the customer success and/or product teams. Even so, the customer support team can always offer valuable insight into reasons for churn.

10. Reopen Rate (RR)

The reopen rate (RR) is the percentage of closed or solved tickets reopened by a customer. This means the customer support associate and customer thought they had resolved an issue, but the customer continued having problems.

This rate shows how often customer issues weren’t solved the first time around. This can lead to additional frustration for your customer and reduced satisfaction, which can negatively affect repeat business, churn rate, and referrals. Also, a high RR shows your customer support team is having issues properly identifying the root of customers’ issues and may need additional training.

How to Calculate Your RR

The RR formula is the number of reopened tickets in a period divided by the total number of tickets solved during the same period. Then, you multiply that result by 100 to get the RR percentage. So, if your team had five reopened tickets and 100 solved tickets in a week, your weekly RR is 5% (5 / 100 = 0.05 x 100 = 5%).

A 10 to 20% reopen rate is typically acceptable, depending on your organization’s size. You’ll likely never get to a 0% reopen rate, because some customers will reopen tickets to say, “Thank you” or tickets get erroneously reopened by vacation autoresponders, etc. (You can attempt to control for that by only counting reopens that occur 12 to 24 hours after the ticket was resolved.)

How to Improve Your RR

You can improve your reopen rate by retraining customer service agents on proper protocol for resolving customer issues and ensuring your customer service associates ask the customer if they’ve resolved all their issues before they close a ticket.

Improve Your Customer Service Metrics and Boost Customer Satisfaction

Support agents happy after reviewing customer service metrics

Customer service metrics are more than just numbers and analytics. They show how quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly you resolve issues, and provide insights into how your support team can improve the general customer experience.

You can use these customer service metrics to determine where your customer support associates are succeeding and how you can support them through additional training, improving your internal knowledge base, or making other adjustments to your tooling and processes. 

With the right tools and support, your team can master these key metrics, deliver outstanding service, and gain satisfied customers. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, a better customer retention rate, and more referral business.

For more customer support tips and advice, check out the PartnerHero blog.