30 Experts Reveal the Most Important Customer and Field Service Metrics for Companies to Track
How do you evaluate your company’s service delivery? There are a variety of metrics you can track, but each organization may have different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that provide a true measure of how effective your service delivery processes actually are.
Still, some companies may not be measuring service delivery at all – relying on arbitrary measures of customer satisfaction or other ancillary metrics such as the bottom line (which, of course, is important, yet doesn’t serve as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of the service delivery facet of your business).
To uncover how service organizations are measuring the effectiveness of their service delivery functions, we asked a panel of customer service and field services experts to answer the following question:
“What are The Most Important Service Metrics for Companies to Track?”
Find out what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Customer Service and Field Service Experts:
|· Mike Kawula||· Aleksander Peterson
· Joe Davy
· Lisa Chu
|· Heath Suddleson|
Mike Kawula is an entrepreneur, author, and CEO of Social Media startup Social Quant. Social Quant increases the size and quality of businesses Twitter accounts using Data and analytics.
“The most important service metric I believe that businesses should be measuring first is…”
Regardless of how well you’re doing at signing on new customers, if customers are leaving just as fast, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed before worrying about other metrics or growth.
The way to decrease customer churn is through further communication with customers, which can be done through video and email.
You should then measure the open rate and engagement rate of that communication to ensure the message is being heard.
Lastly, if you have a customer dashboard or website, measure activity on that site.
How often are they signing in, where are the navigating to, and where are they dropping off?
Improve that experience and you’ll decrease customer churn.
Alexander Ruggie is the PR Director for 911 Restoration, a home restoration company that specializes in water damage and disaster recovery solutions.
“The most important service metrics companies should be tracking include…”
Track all phone calls. This is imperative. From how the call got to the company (PPC, print ads, coupons etc.), to how it was handled once it was received, to how it was dispatched, to how the technicians on the receiving end of the dispatch handles the lead.
Follow-up is key. This may amount to a customer satisfaction survey, a Yelp review, Angie’s List comments, website comments, social media comments, and even snail mail sent to the headquarters about individual jobs.
How well does the marketing work? Re-marketing, click tracking from inception to purchase, and everything in between.
Revenue tracking. How much was spent on getting each call into the call center? From there, how much was made off of the jobs brought into the call center from each marketing source: PPC, SEO, print, social, etc.?
Lost revenue from calls. Missed opportunities, jobs were too big, jobs were too small, the technicians was busy and missed the lead call, etc.
Staff productivity. How many people are needed to field calls? If the company has minimum staffing, will there be a period when too many calls come in and some jobs are missed because there were not enough operators to answer the flood of them?
Response time is another important tracking metric. How long did it take for the technician to get to the job site? How long did it take to get the jobs started and then finished?
Price point comparison between your company and the major competition in both the regional market and the national market. How does your company’s price point affect sales of your product or service?
Have you learned from any of these metrics, and if so, can you adapt to change by using what you’ve learned in the future, or is every new challenge a setback that needs to be overcome?
As a senior product marketing manager at Aspect, Michael contributes directly to company strategy with a view to market trends and product strategy, focusing on enhanced customer service enabled through unified contact strategies and workforce optimization. Michael has more than 18 years of experience in the customer service and contact center industries.
“To fully understand customer behavior and satisfaction, companies should track…”
Real-time customer experience analytics.
Customer experience can make or break a brand, and yet about two-thirds of U.S. companies rank from just OK to downright bad customer service, according to research from Forrester Research. Fifty-one percent of these leaders indicated that lack of analytical strategy was a big barrier to improving their customer service. In order to enhance the customer experience, companies needs to be able to track and access data from all customer interactions, be it speech, text, or desktop interactions to post-interaction surveys, and this needs to be done in real-time to achieve quality and speed, as well as provide agents with the support and expertise they need to do so. Tracking integrated data reflecting customer behavior, customer history, customer opinion, social activity and agent-customer interactions across platforms can be used for predictive measures and root cause analysis, using this collective data to understand what is driving exceptional performance and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Mynul Khan is the CEO of Field Nation, YOUR centralized workplace enabling you to go beyond just linking. It allows you to make meaningful connections, manage work from start to finish, and grow your business all in the same place.
“Of all customer service metrics, one that is frequently overlooked is…”
Enterprise visibility, accountability, and control into the extended/external workforce. Organizations are using more and more independent contractors to get work done quickly and effectively, without taking their internal teams away from other mission-critical projects. As businesses engage with contractors, how are they monitoring the quality and effectiveness of the work that is completed?
Today’s most innovative platforms are doing much more than just bringing work orders to a marketplace of skilled labor. These platforms are serving up project and program management abilities to a marketplace of managed service providers who are adept at tapping into the non-employee workforce (or even blending it with the traditional W2 / full-time employee workforce for a hybrid model).
But the metrics of accountability, visibility, and control have to be maintained in order to ensure an organization’s customer service isn’t left to chance.
Lance Bettencourt, Ph.D.
Lance A. Bettencourt, PhD, is a founding partner of Service 360 Partners, business speaker, and a customer-focused innovation thought-leader and advocate. Dr. Bettencourt has worked with many of the world’s leading companies to uncover innovation opportunities, including ADP, Microsoft, Colgate-Palmolive, HP, State Farm, and others. He has also led service and innovation workshops with executives from hundreds of companies, including Dunn & Bradstreet, Intel, McDonalds, Ingersoll-Rand, Marriott, and the CIA.
He is a recognized thought-leader in the areas of service and innovation excellence, having published several papers in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, etc. He is also author of Service Innovation: How to Go from Customer Needs to Breakthrough Services (McGraw-Hill 2010).
“When it comes to overall service metrics, research is clear that the value of service metrics like net promoter, customer satisfaction, and customer commitment depend on…”
Industry and on what measure of firm performance is being driven. For example, net promoter may do better for a restaurant at predicting likelihood to return, whereas customer satisfaction may do better for an investment service at predicting number of services used.
No matter what the overall service metric, it is important to understand the specific service metrics that drive it. If net promoter is going down, for example, it is important to understand why this is the case. Across multiple industries, our research has shown that a company should have in place service metrics for their business tied to the following areas:
1. treating customers in a fair manner;
2. providing efficient and reliable service;
3. making it easy for the customer to do business with the company;
4. being informative and helping the customer achieve their goals;
5. making the customer and their needs a priority.
In addition, we find consistently that getting the basics right is just half the battle. If a company wants to truly delight the customer – and they want to measure for this – they should have in place a service metric that captures the extent to which they are perceived as going above and beyond what is expected in providing service.
Shep Hyken is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a keynote speaker and bestselling author, Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.
“In terms of the most important service metrics companies should be tracking, the simple metric is…”
How many times a customer comes back, and how much more do they spend when they do. Still, companies like to get more data and analytics to help decide what’s working, what’s not, and what they might be able to do about it. I love the NPS (Net Promoter Score) because it tells me about our customers’ willingness to recommend us. But, I personally want more info. I want to know why they would recommend us, and ultimately to who. So a little objective and subjective data is what I’m looking for.
Angelique Pivoine lives to write. As the SEO & PR Specialist at 911 Restoration, she crafts rich, authentic content that increases brand awareness and generates revenue while keeping the consumer’s best interest at heart. She’s also healthily obsessed with TED Talks, big data analytics, and DIY projects on a budget.
“I work at a water damage and disaster restoration company called 911 Restoration, and for our service performance, we rely on financial and operational metrics, including…”
1. Response rate. Since we specialize in water damage, weather disasters such as flooding or hurricane dictate the number of calls coming in. We’re there to answer calls coming from panicked people who need help NOW. It’s critical we pick up their call and get right to the point. We’ve never let a customer wait for more than 5 seconds to speak to a representative, and this really helps us with our next metric:
2. Abandonment rate. If a client has to wait for too long to reach an agent, they hang up. This doesn’t happen often, but come hurricane season, when all the boards are lit up and each agent has more than 20 calls to handle at any second, this becomes a real problem. Measuring our abandonment rate helps us to determine seasonal hiring.
3. Resolution rate and gross margin. We measure how many service trucks we dispatch in an hour or a day and compare that against the number of calls we receive to determine how much operational cost we should put into the business. This really helps us to track our ROI and improve our service.
Patrick Delehanty is a Digital Marketing Specialist with Marcel Digital in Chicago. His efforts have been featured in USA Today, Paste Magazine, and Pitchfork. Patrick is also a leading member of Moz, a community of digital and inbound marketers.
“The metrics a company should measure are heavily dependent on…”
Industry, as well as the company goals. For instance, a company that’s new will probably be focusing on growth metrics, while a company that’s been around for years will be looking at metrics surrounding market share as well as revenue.
From the digital standpoint, all companies should be focused on the following:
Organic traffic: This also includes click through rates and visibility. Are you appearing for the right searches? Are you appearing in local searches? How’s your branded search performing? These are prime areas to focus on.
Time on site: Are users moving through the site or leaving as soon as they enter? Knowing this will help you find bottlenecks in your content or funnel; from there, you can prioritize issues and fix them.
Bounce rate: Depending on where they are on the site, this is important – it will help you understand if your site / content is serving its purpose.
Traffic sources: Are your marketing efforts and dollars being well spent? Are you seeing ROI? This will also help you see if you are getting spam traffic, which can help you maintain a clean backlink profile.
Goal completions: This can be anything from micro goals (newsletter signups / downloads / pageviews) to macro goals (purchases / eCommerce).
Aggregate reviews: I can’t stress this enough – users and potential customers aren’t loyal to brands, they are loyal to the people behind the brand. Humanizing your brand and responding to reviews / comments left by users not only speaks volumes to those who left it, but those who are seeing it and looking to make a purchase or choose a company to purchase from.
Jerry Rackley is the chief analyst at Demand Metric, a marketing research & advisory firm. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University, where he teaches Services Marketing. His first book just published: Marketing Analytics Roadmap: Methods, Metrics, and Tools.
“When you’re talking about service as the product you sell, the top metrics are…”
1. Customer Lifetime Value: companies have to know what their customers are worth to them. Often, that worth takes time to realize, as new customers for many services (like banking and insurance) aren’t profitable until they’ve been customers for a while. Service providers need to know their average CLV, because when they do, it helps them understand how much they should spend to acquire and keep their customers.
2. Customer Acquisition Cost: how much, on average, it costs to acquire a new customer. If this is high, your motivation to retain customers should also increase.
3. Customer Retention Rate: how well a services company holds on to its customers. If your retention is poor, it’s going to affect your CLV.
These three metrics are, in my opinion, the pillars of service marketing analytics. Companies have to track them and be affected by what these metrics tell them.
If I were to add to the list, I would put some metrics that measure customer engagement and advocacy, as both are excellent indicators of the health of customer relationships.
Chip R. Bell
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and has served as consultant or speaker to such organizations as Microsoft, Nationwide, Marriott, Lockheed-Martin, Cadillac, Ritz-Carlton, Caterpillar, Verizon, USAA, Harley-Davidson, and Victoria’s Secret.
He is the author of many best sellers, including The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service, Wired and Dangerous (with John Patterson), Take Their Breath Away (with John Patterson), Managers as Mentors (with Marshall Goldsmith), Magnetic Service (with Bilijack Bell), and Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service (with Ron Zemke).
Dr. Bell has appeared on CNBC, CNN, Fox Business, NPR, ABC and his work has been featured in Fortune, Businessweek, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, USA Today,Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, WSJ MarketWatch, and Fast Company.
“The most important service metric is the one that comes from…”
The “voice of the customer.” Customer service is essentially an effort to meet a customer need in a manner and in a form that the customer deems of value, in exchange for something of value from the customer. The utility company provides a customer energy in a form that is reliable in exchange for payment from that customer. That means service encompasses an outcome as well as an experience. While the service organization might be able to measure outcomes (did the plane land in the right city and on time?), only the customer can gauge their evaluation of the experience. While outcomes are crucial since they are the core of the exchange, it is experiences that form memories. A great outcome might bring a customer in, but it is great experiences that bring them back. Customers do not tell others about outcomes (assuming they were satisfactory); they advocate due to great experiences.
Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice — an Inc. 5000 company based in Nashville, Tenn. that connects buyers and sellers of business technology. He covers field service management, marketing automation, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology.
“The Holy Grail of the industry in terms of service metrics is…”
A high first-time fix (FTF) rate. The FTF rate is no doubt a strong reflection of overall performance, but a lot of companies miss the complexity behind it. Workers need to have the right job information, parts, materials, and tools when they arrive on site, which requires a tight communication loop between dispatchers, customers, and technicians, and that’s only scratching the surface. There are dozens of smaller factors that must align to deliver a truly effective first-visit solution. In our study, about 80 percent of customers said their technician delivered complete service in a single visit. The other 20 percent waited on multiple visits or had to contact the service provider again.
Truth be told, FTF rate isn’t something to be proud of in its own merit, because it’s working in service of an even greater metric: customer satisfaction. If your customers aren’t happy, and if they’re not thinking good things about your business, you’re doing something wrong, first-time fix or not. One of the best ways to gauge this metric is through after-visit surveys. Ask customers how likely they would be to recommend your company to a friend, on a scale of 1 to 10 (the result is your Net Promoter Score). Most customers aren’t necessarily displeased with their service, but a surprising number are unimpressed (35 percent), and that represents a huge missed opportunity — to strengthen the relationship by building loyalty, advocacy, and trust.
There are plenty of other metrics FSOs should be keeping track of (some logistical, some asset related, some personnel related), but time and again, these two will be the most powerful indicators of success.
Carl Mazzanti is the founder and CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, a premier IT consulting firm throughout the NYC Metro area and internationally. A frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest, Carl has often contributed at Microsoft-focused events, including the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). His clients have been featured in over 60 Microsoft videos and case studies.
“The most important service metrics for companies to follow are…”
In fact, really simple and what we all value most. To start, above all else, we all value our time. As such, the time to respond is the number one metric. The longer someone waits to be heard, the frustration level increases exponentially. The second metric is time to resolution or return to status. Whatever the issue, we all want out as fast as possible. Knowing someone is working on our needs is great and takes the edge off. Knowing the problem is resolved allows us all to move on mentally and sometimes physically.
The next and overarching metric is customer satisfaction. From here, there are the metrics around the unique type of services we all perform. This one metric is the ultimate end result for which all others hope to influence. Part delivery metrics, waiting on decisions or timing, vacation time, sick days, median time between accidents, machine run time, operational efficiency, etc. In the end, all Key Performance Indicators help management correct the firm’s direction before the organization gets too far off course. Successful firms like eMazzanti Technologies live and die by measuring how well we are delivering service to those we serve. If our near 15 years of success are any indicator, what we have decided to pay attention to has kept those we served loyal and coming back for more.
Lou Altman, CEO of GlobaFone and corporate trainer through his company Next Level, has been Redeeming Customer Service for more than 30 years. Die-hard entrepreneur + psychology/sociology/marketing = Lou Altman, always asking customer-centric questions, always asking ‘Why’ and turning simple questions into profoundly complex action.
Lou has been a front line CSR and managed groups in call centers. He’s led record-breaking sales teams and created/trained/implemented asset retention programs. His current company has a 90% retention rate and a client life cycle 3X the industry average. His depth and knowledge is a result of real world experience, a deep tacit understanding of the psychology of customer service, and the creativity to solve complex problems.
Lou speaks at numerous industry events, most recently at the global Satellite Conference in Washington, DC.
“The only service metric that really matters is…”
Retention rate. Having attended Call Center Week, I was horrified at the conundrum presented: A desire to increase ‘Customer intimacy’ and ‘Customer experience’, yet most of the exhibitors were selling software solutions: those automated systems that cause us to wear out our 0 key just trying to talk to someone live. There was a lot of talk about metrics, such as ‘satisfaction’ (what does that even mean?), average talk time, average hold time, and first call resolution. What a bunch of hooey!
The only metric that matters is client retention rate – how many clients (or customers if you prefer) stay with your company and continue to buy and even expand their purchases. Here’s why this is the only number that matters: When you focus on retention, you will design and build ALL of your processes, operations, policies, and procedures around meeting the goal.
Client retention starts on the first prospecting call, not after someone has bought. Why? Because it is part of the process.
I am a corporate trainer under my other company Next Level, and I help companies (re)design themselves around creating retention. The most fundamental reason to do this is that it boosts profits. We all know it costs far less to keep a client than bring on a new one, yet we seem to forget that we need to build our organizations around the retention goal. By the way, GlobaFone, my SatCom company, has a 90% retention rate. We lose business primarily due to lowest bidders and budget cuts.
Joe Davy is the General Manager at Avalara TrustFile.
“At Avalara, our most important service metric is…”
CPO: “Customers Pissed Off.” It’s an index based on how long support tickets have been open, how many customers have paid but not gone live, past-due bills, and a few other product-specific things. It’s incredibly powerful because it can be segmented by product, customer cohort, and even sales rep. We set a goal to bring CPO down over time. Once we hit our goal, we change the CPO algorithm to make it harder – it forces us to constantly improve service for our customers.
Lisa Chu runs a children’s formal wear clothing brand named Black N Bianco. Her company is dedicated to providing affordable and adorable children’s formal wear.
“As a business owner it’s crucial that I track my service metrics to improve my customer satisfaction. One of my most important metrics that I track is…”
My customer complaints via social media. Feedback through social media gives me an opportunity to address our customer’s complaint and figure out which areas in my business need to be improved. Another service metric every business owner must keep an eye on is response time. Customers expect a response from a company within 24 hours. If your metrics fail to meet those expectations, it will dramatically decrease your customer stratification rate. Lastly, you want to track your overall customer shopping experience. A great way to track those metrics is through transactional surveys. Those metrics gives you an opportunity to see what your customers value most.
When her long-time friend opened Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, Adi, previously the legal advisor to the national commission on business licensing in Israel, immediately connected with his vision for a direct feedback tool to communicate directly with his customers and together, they founded OwnerListens in 2011.
“The most important function of customer service is to convert negative experiences into positive ones, and the best way to predict this turnaround is to track…”
A business’s speed of response to customer feedback.
OwnerListens hosts a database of thousands of messages from customer service interactions, and our analytics have shown that the best way to predict customer recovery is speed of response.
Logically, customers whose complaints are addressed quickly are more likely to be happy with the result and therefore return to a business. As seen in the recent United Airlines server crash, when a business responds to customers days later, it’s often too late to fix the problem and customers are almost always dissatisfied. Tracking response time helps businesses gauge how successful their customer service actually is and where improvements can be made.
Mark Fitzsimmons is the President of 360 Degrees Management Consulting.
“There have been countless articles written over the last few years debating the best way to measure customer service. This being said, the real goal for any organization is to…”
Generate ‘profitable customer loyalty.’
There are numerous studies and cases that correlate loyalty with:
- increased spend
- lower cost to serve
- greater forgiveness if/when something goes wrong
- purchasing a wider variety of your product/service offerings
- greater likelihood to recommend you to friends, family, colleagues
- greater likelihood to provide feedback
The approach I recommend to my clients, and have found to generate the most effective results is a three-part questionnaire that can be conducted via telephony, email, comment card, electronically, QR codes, or however else you interact with your customers. The results provide both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative metric, derived from question one, should be included on a balanced scorecard. That is, a scorecard which includes those metrics deemed critical to understanding the performance of the organization from a holistic perspective. The responses to questions two and three provide qualitative data that is used by the organization to understand how to improve the quantitative metric over time and close the loop on the feedback. In other words, to increase the likelihood a customer would repurchase from that organization (i.e., loyalty).
1. Based on your recent experience on or around date from invoice field, how likely are you to recommend (Acme Ltd.) to your friends and colleagues? Please use a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘Not at All likely to recommend’ and 10 is ‘Extremely likely to recommend’.
2. Please tell us the main reason for your answer.
3. What could (Acme Ltd.) do to improve its service to you or to become easier to do business with?
For question one, those customers who rate their likelihood of recommending an enterprise to a friend or colleague from 0 – 6 are considered ‘detractors’. They are at high risk of defection and probably upset with the business. They’re also the people who are at high risk of complaining via social media (think United Breaks Guitars).
Those customers who rate the enterprise 7 – 8 are ‘passives’. They’re probably satisfied with the business, but may have experienced minor issues. While they’re not necessarily mad at the business, they will defect when a better offer comes along.
Those customers who rate the enterprise a 9 or 10, are ‘promoters’. They’re the people who have an emotional connection to the enterprise and may serve as brand ambassadors. They wear your logo on their clothing, they share things about you with others, and they are more likely to go out of their way to purchase from you. They are ultimately more profitable as customers, because they’re willing to spend more with you for your products, they cost less to serve, they are more forgiving, and they provide you with feedback when asked.
The net difference between the percentage of customers surveyed who are promoters, less the percentage who are detractors, is your net promoter score; the potential range is between -100 and +100. The NPS is a clear metric that tells a story everyone across the enterprise can understand.
Because there is also qualitative feedback captured and used by the organization in questions two and three, it’s really a system rather than a metric (i.e., NPS = Net Promoter System).
Knowing what customers would like the enterprise to improve provides the company with specific information its employees can use to provide a better customer experience. Additionally, there is evidence that ‘ease of doing business’ is a very good predictor of loyalty, perhaps better than ‘likelihood to recommend.’ Because there are only three questions, customers are more likely to provide the feedback (i.e., there is a higher response rate than in traditionally longer surveys). Additionally, because the three questions are based on science, it provides the enterprise with actionable insights into what they need to do to provide a better customer experience. An experience that differentiates it from its competitors.
Bob Shirilla is the owner of Simply Bags, a leading U.S. distributor of personalized and custom tote bags. Our distribution center is located in Canfield, and the company sources globally.
“The most important service metric companies should measure is…”
Repeat buyers, which is a measure of relationships. After clearly defining what “Customer Service” is to Simply Bags, we selected Repeat-Buyers as our strategic indicator of success. Other service metrics such as incident resolution, customer reviews, bounce rate, order processing time, returns, referrals, conversion rate, churn rate, and product reviews are decisive factors influencing Repeat-Buyer metric.
We take a holistic approach to customer service and define it as “Every interaction our company’s personnel and products have with our clients.” Customer service is more than just the support staff resolving issues; it’s the total experience including owning and using the product. We are constantly trying to increase the lifetime value of every customer.
In today’s competitive commerce environment, a small business needs to do more than just sell products. We must build relationships, and Repeat-Buyers is our most important indicator of that goal.
Gary W. Patterson
Gary W. Patterson has successfully guided hundreds of companies in manufacturing, technology, service, construction, and distribution in companies from growth to Inc. 500 and Fortune 500. He was the European coordinator for a global supply chain re-engineering software application for Robertson CECO, a Fortune 500 company. Gary also successfully negotiated over 25 M&A transactions with a market value exceeding $390 million. Gary holds an MBA in Finance and Operations from Stanford, a BBA in Accounting from the University of Mississippi, and is a Big 4 CPA, and NSA speaker.
Gary W. Patterson has been interviewed or presented internationally to over 120 publications and groups including Entrepreneur, Inc., Best Manufacturing (AU), The CEO Magazine, Directors & Boards, Risk Management Magazine, and More Magazine.
“When it comes to tracking service metrics, the most important thing for companies to remember is…”
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Adding one more metric requires dropping something else. What can you stop measuring to make room in employees’ minds for the new metric?
Scott Sachs is President of SJS Solutions, LLC, a specialized consulting organization providing strategic consulting services in the areas of customer service and contact/call centers. Mr. Sachs is a highly accomplished, well-respected senior level executive who consistently and successfully transforms and grows world-class customer service organizations. He thrives on working with organizations that are at an inflection point in their customer service lifecycle; leveraging technology and tools that drive efficient operations, motivating staff to personally connect with customers, and establishing meaningful metrics to yield optimal business results.
“For effective tracking of service metrics…”
First, it is critical to set up metrics with the following attributes:
- Measure meaningful results for all stakeholders customers, company, shareholders
- Motivate employees to do the right thing
- Measured in consistent and meaningful ways
A customer service organization’s data and metrics abound, and there are good and poor points for each metric. The following provides some of the key service metrics that should be measured:
- First Contact Resolution: The value here is that when a customer contacts an organization, their issue should be resolved in a single interaction. The challenges include how it is measured, whether the agents are empowered to resolve the issue, and whether policy/procedure allow for the resolution of the issue.
- Customer Satisfaction: The value here is that a satisfied customer will likely stay with an organization and may even refer the organization (NPS Score) to others. The challenge here is how far the company should go to satisfy a customer, and whether it is possible to understand the long term value of a customer to determine the value of the resolution.
- Speed to Answer (also known as service level, ASA): Probably one of the easiest items to measure. The challenge here is if an organization has a goal of answering 80% of the calls in 20 seconds, what happens to the remaining 20%?
Heath Suddleson, PHP
Heath Suddleson, PHP, is the President of Executive Achievement, LLC. Suddleson teaches metrics and metrics analysis as part of his Project Leadership Academy.
“When determining which metrics we are going to measure, even more important than the metrics themselves are…”
The ground rules we use to choose them. Too many companies have actually lessened performance and worsened the customer experience for trying to chase the wrong metrics. Metrics and reports drive behavior in our staff, and sometimes the behavior driven is counter-productive as our team tries to circumvent the metrics just to keep dashboard indicators green. Metrics are just numbers, and if we want them to show us trends and patterns, then we need to set up the metrics the right way or they will lead us down the wrong path.
So here are my 5 ground rules for choosing metrics for any business:
- Only measure what your team can execute. We have a tendency to measure with a micrometer, what we will mark with chalk, and then cut with an axe. This means that we can technically measure to a low level of detail, but our team cannot execute to those low levels of information.
- Keep the metrics focused on who matters most. Our clients pay us to provide a specific product or service. Are our metrics focused on helping to achieve that goal? If all of our metrics are internally based, then we have lost sight of our real purpose in business.
- Who has control of the input? No metric can be analyzed until the data has been input into the system. Do the team members being measured control their own input? If so, you have increased the chances of your team circumventing your metrics. Try to ensure your data collection is done by people who don’t benefit from cheating. Sometimes your customers are thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute if you make it easy for them to do so.
- Performance and accountability must go hand in hand. Are we measuring and monitoring our team members for that which they control? Too many times teams are held to metrics which are impacted by the performance of others. Once the finger pointing begins it becomes difficult to hold people accountable for poor performance and this undermines the morale of the team. Leaders unite their teams.
- Performance is better when incentivized. If the only goal of your team is to not get yelled at, then that’s the level of performance they will give. If their metrics lead to positive reinforcement such as appreciation lunches, or fun trophies, then the team is much more likely to increase performance. Incentives do not need to be lavish, just fun and meaningful to the workers being measured.
Tristan Averett is an expert tech support professional who has worked in IT doing just about every job imaginable since 1987. She is founder of Virago Solutions LLC, which provides coaching, mentoring, training, and consulting services to help individuals and organizations optimize and humanize the support experience.
“Companies need to be paying attention to…”
Both their clients and their employees, and doing it at a much lower level than the executive suite. While overall data on customer satisfaction at a high level is good to have, collecting data about individual interactions is key. The everyday interactions add up, and can give insight into the underlying causes for what you are seeing.
Most customer service organizations track response times and first call resolution. Those are nice to know, but are easily collected automatically by any service tracking system worth its salt, and really only important if their values are part of an overall customer service problem.
The most important service metrics are:
- Customer Satisfaction (Voice of the Customer)
- Overall level of satisfaction with the encounter (did you get what you needed)
- Satisfaction with service representative (if applicable)
- How does this encounter affect your overall satisfaction with the company?
- Employee Satisfaction (Voice of the Employee)
- Overall level of satisfaction with the encounter (did you resolve the problem or issue)
- Satisfaction with level of service provided
- Did you have the necessary tools/support to resolve the interaction/encounter for the best possible outcome?
Use an even number of options in your scale, as this allows for better breakdown into positive/negative. The exception would be if you needed a, this does not apply option to add.
Have free text to allow for the customer/employee to expand on their answers, and/or have follow up questions that allow the person surveyed to indicate what factors contributed to their rating. Using these values you can go back if need be and look at some of those automated values that your management system allows you to track. Or determine whether there are other things you should be looking at. Those automated metrics should only be used as performance indicators for specific initiatives – i.e., our satisfaction data indicates that clients feel they aren’t getting timely responses, so let’s take a look at whether our service reps are meeting the SLA.
The most important metrics you can gather via automation (to do a deeper dive into root causes of customer satisfaction) are: SLA related statistics (communication and resolution times), whether the problem needed to be bumped up to another level, the final status of the encounter (e.g. problem solved, or case closed without being resolved), and whether existing documentation or knowledgebase information was used to resolve the problem. These are very basic and can be tracked by just about any system designed for tracking service/support encounters.
The most important thing to remember that is these numbers don’t exist or work in a vacuum. These internal metrics are meaningless without the context of the voice of the client and the voice of the employee. And for every encounter where you survey the client, also survey the employee(s) involved in that encounter. It is only by looking at all sides of the interaction that you can get a full view of what is going on with the service organization.
Dmitriy Ivanov is an SEO Specialist at WME Australia.
“While there is no standalone metric that can accurately measure a major enterprise’s customer service, there are three which can provide great insight into your customer relations…”
Measure your customer’s satisfaction through incentivized surveys and rating systems. These can be advertised in employee email signatures, or within any other regular correspondence. The results of these surveys and ratings can be compared and graphed, showing any trends or changes that occurred over time which may need to be looked at.
Customer retention levels – Actions speak louder than words
Find out WHY your customers have decided to move on, and where applicable, implement their feedback into changes within your business. Follow up with an exit call and funnel these suggestions back into the business. Complete 30/60/90 day follow up calls to check in and see how the customer is going. While they may not have been happy a month ago, letting them know their feedback has been incorporated into recent changes may change their mind. Once again, keep track of their feedback to further improve your customer service.
Happy staff = happy clients
Invest in staff happiness which will in turn flow to clients – existing and potential. Even though keeping track of team happiness doesn’t directly measure customer service levels, it can provide insight into other areas which may be affecting staff and client relations.
Keeping these three metrics in mind can help your business measure and maintain exceptional customer service levels.
Jana Barrett is the Customer Support Manager at Bizness Apps, the #1 platform worldwide for DIY, code-free mobile app development. Bizness Apps specializes in small business apps for iOS, Android & HTML5.
“There are a few key metrics companies should be tracking in terms of service, including…”
1. Resolution Time: One common support misconception is that the higher the number of responses—whether emails, live chats, or calls—the better the agent. Sure, big numbers can speak to an agent’s speed and focus, but they alone say little about their efficiency. The key to spotting your most valuable agents is examining their average resolution time, or the typical length of time it takes for them to solve customer issues. This can be the total amount of time spent crafting email or live chat responses before an issue is closed, or the total duration of their calls with one customer. Of course, there are many variables that can affect this stat, like the difficulty of the question, the customer’s cooperation, etc. That’s where the next stat comes into play.
2. Agent Issue Breakdown: We all know the cherry-picker who carefully avoids the questions or customers they don’t want to handle. Whether or not your agents have the efficacy to pick and choose, it’s extremely valuable to monitor the types of cases they’re handling. First, identify categories for the full spread of case topics your team receives. Next, set up a simple way to track those topics through your support channels. Once established, you can see who handles what and identify the agents that tend to pick up and resolve the tougher cases. These are the support warriors you want to keep around. Analyzing topic stats in general also helps your company identify the bigger product or service weaknesses that need attention. At Bizness Apps, we analyze topic stats monthly and share them with the whole team. This feeds into our development and content ideas, so we can gradually chip away at the issues costing us the most.
3. Customer Satisfaction: This is an obvious one. Solving the customer’s needs is the support agent’s ultimate goal, but there are many paths they can take along the way. Pair each agent’s customer satisfaction ratings with their other stats to get the full picture. Who’s a bigger asset: the agent who handles issues with finesse but takes a little longer to resolve them, or the efficient but grating agent who leaves customers with a bad taste in their mouths? If customer success, referrals, and public ratings are important to you—and they certainly should be—you’ll value the agent who spends a bit more time making people happy.
Roy Barker is Director of Special Projects at Moore Diversified Services, a Fort-Worth, Texas-based organization specializing in operations analysis, marketing development, and investment advisory services. Roy is an authority in the field of employee turnover analysis and retention strategies.
“The most important metric a company can track in terms of service effectiveness is the…”
Net Promoter Score, which is a basic question of would you refer a customer to our business.
The premise is that if you do a good job with product or service, your happy customers will refer others, or promote your business. No better advertising then a referral.
You ask the question and then get a response from 1-10, or 0-6 or considered unhappy, 7-8 indecisive, and 9-10 happy. You drop the 7-8s, and subtract the unhappy percent from the happy percent to get your net promoter score.
Edward Shelswell-White is Chief Customer Officer of LexVolo, a consulting practice dedicated to helping airports learn to compete by identifying, attracting and retaining the kinds of target customers airlines covet. Prior to founding LexVolo, Edward was a 22-year Employee of Southwest Airlines, with tours in Marketing and Airport Affairs.
“The most critical service metric every company should be tracking is…”
If existing customers like your product or service enough to recommend it to people most important to them – typically, family, friends and close colleagues – that’s a key indicator that you’re providing a good product or service. The measure we advocate for this (though there are others) is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS.
NPS methodology is simple. Company X sends an email to a sample of customers shortly after a defined interaction, asking one simple question: “Based on your experience with Company X on this date, on a scale from 0 to 10 how likely are you to recommend Company X to your family, friends and valued colleagues?” Customers who answer 9 and 10 are “Promoters.” Those who answer 7 or 8 are “Passives.” Those who answer 6 and below are “Detractors.” The Net Promoter Score is the percentage of respondents who are Promoters, less the percentage who are detractors. Theoretically NPS can range from a high of 100 (all Promoters and no Detractors) to a low of -100 (no Promoters and all Detractors). Typically, an industry-leading score will be somewhere at or above 50, and few categories have more than two players at or above that mark.
We tend to recommend optional, additional questions to allow customers to identify what components of their experience most affected their rating. For instance, an airline we worked with had assumed that NPS would correlate inversely with on-time performance. We asked optional questions after the NPS question to let customers indicate what had gone well, and not gone well, with their experience. We actually found much less correlation with simple onetime performance than we expected. Rather, the better the communication about on-time performance: the better the NPS score, and the worse the communication, the worse the score. We were then able to use those insights to help customer service agents communicate better with customers about flight status, improving NPS and, more importantly, the customers’ experience
Simple, powerful and actionable. NPS has it all.
Brandon Baker is the CEO of Loveletter Cakeshop in New York City. He writes about food, guerrilla marketing, and customer service in the technology age.
“I’ve found that the most insightful and least used metric to track is…”
Company loyalty. While it’s true that some customers will never tell you what’s wrong with your company, it’s more often the case that there isn’t anything wrong with your company – but a competitor offers something just a bit better.
Simply asking your customer, “Are you happy with the service you’ve received thus far?” doesn’t dig deeply enough to retrieve the answers that really matter. Instead, the question can be rephrased as, “Have you purchased a similar product from another company in the last 3 months?”, or, “Have you visited one of our competitors in the last 3 months?” If the client says, “Yes,” the reasons for this lack of loyalty will reveal not only what might be explicitly wrong, but what can be made even better.
Sometimes companies focus on plugging holes when there aren’t any holes to plug; what they should instead focus on is improving their already fantastic product.
Lior Krolewicz is the Founder and CEO of Yael Consulting.
“The most important metric to track comes off as a cliché but my rationale is a bit more involved; the metric is…”
Customer churn or attrition. Whether you are a large or small company, these metrics tell you something. It may mean your service is not good, or that your communication is poor, or you are not delivering results, or that you are servicing the wrong client.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a red light to take a step back and assess what is going on. At the beginning of the relationship, the customer decided he wants to pay you to help them and then they felt you were no longer qualified. Just like in any relationship, like dating, you need to understand what you can do better – especially since it’s typically very expensive to acquire and onboard a new customer.
Minimizing churn allows for a more stable and profitable business.
Angie Stocklin is the co-founder and COO of One Click, a company that owns and operates felix + iris, Readers.com, and SunglassWarehouse.com. She assists with overall company strategy and is directly responsible for Merchandising, Customer Happiness, and Fulfillment.
“The most important customer service metrics we track are…”
The metrics that directly tell a story of the type and level of service that our customers are receiving. We place a high emphasis on wait or hold time for our three main channels (phone, email, and chat), so that our customers don’t spend a lot of time waiting for our answer. In addition to speed, it is important that our customers receive a high quality answer and are satisfied with their experience. Each customer service agent is responsible for maintaining a high QA score and a high CSat score on our main three channels. We feel that quick, thorough, and satisfactory answers to service questions will create lifetime customers.
Michael Maven is an Author, Speaker, Coach, High Level Marketing Strategist and Founder of the CatchAndRetain.com customer acquisition system. His firm, Carter and Kingsley, use proven profit growth strategies to grow sales for Amazon, IBM, eBay, 888 as well as SME’s.
“One of the most important financial metrics which should be measured is…”
Lifetime customer value. This is such an important metric, but still remains overlooked by 97% of our clients. It truly separates small companies from the big players.
Knowing your LCV can let you do advanced things like break even or go negative on your first sale to acquire new customers. This in turn can let you dominate a market and leave your competition in the dust, while they’re left scratching their heads about how you’re doing so well.
As an example, one of our clients gave a commission of $40 for each new client they signed up. But after we asked them to look into it, they discovered that each new client spent around $1,000 a year with them and came back three times, for a total lifetime value of $3,000. We recommended that they now spend $200 for each new client that they signed. Their new client acquisition rates went through the roof.