Customer service metrics

4 Metrics to Predict Your Future Customer Support Needs

If there is one superpower I would pick if given the opportunity, it would be to be able to tell the future.

As a manager of a support team, seeing even four months ahead would help me predict my team's hiring needs. We'd go from having a saturation of tickets with nobody to handle them to having everything solved smoothly.

Though we don’t have any magic way to uncover the future for you, we have collected four customer service metrics that can help you predict your future support needs both in hiring and tooling:

  • contact ratio;
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS);
  • customer effort score;
  • churn (and its partner, retention).

These are the four metrics that you can use to take a glimpse into what your team’s future might hold. Let us bring you closer to the crystal ball.

Contact ratio

Contact ratio is the number of conversations that you receive divided by the number of active/paid users that you have at that time.

Contact ratio = number of conversations / number of active users

It’s a great indicator of whether your product is growing in complexity, and, thus, prompting more tickets, or becoming easier and more straightforward to use. It’s also a great indicator of the effectiveness of your self-service, and your team's proactive support.

This is a whole company metric because the product, product marketing, and support teams all have an impact on it.

How does it help predict the future?

As you grow larger, your contact ratio should get lower or remain the same. If your contact ratio starts to increase, it shows that your support conversations are growing faster than your user base. This is not good for a company’s growth.

Pay attention to your contact ratio, and use it as a guiding light across teams to see what could be changed. For example, solving a simple issue in the product could decrease the number of tickets in your inbox.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS, or Net Promoter Score, asks the question: “On a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being highest, what’s the likelihood that you would recommend us (our company) to a friend or colleague?

  • 9 or 10 point customers are considered Promoters and are your best brand advocates;
  • 6 and lower are Detractors and are likely to churn.

While Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a transactional metric asked after a specific interaction, NPS is a more holistic metric designed to measure the customer’s overall experience with your company.

Though NPS is traditionally used as a metric for Product or Marketing teams, support has an impact on this number, as well. It’s a great way to align teams towards a common goal: the customer.

However, NPS only tells half of the story. Keep in mind that customers see things from their perspective. They don't have inside information on what the expected or designed experience is from the company’s perspective.

How does it help predict the future?

As your company grows, you will find various ways how to target your NPS and experiment with different audiences. Pay attention to how your NPS reacts when you make product changes, introduce new features, or change the way you handle support.

As you find patterns in customer behavior, you can predict what you should (or shouldn’t) do with your support team and product.

For example, if you notice that people really love it when you improve your product or add new features, then your product team could put additional efforts there.

If your NPS sky-rocketed when you enabled chat support for paying customers, you should think about introducing it to all customers.

Customer effort score

Your company’s customer effort score indicates how much work your customers have to put in to get a resolution to their support inquiry.

Much like CSAT, customer effort is measured by sending a survey after a conversation has finished.

Just like everything else with your product, support should come effortlessly. A customer should not have to feel like they’re pulling teeth to get their problems resolved. If they do, it probably indicates a larger issue with your product, tooling, or the way you do support.

How does it help predict the future?

You can use your indicators of high or low effort as a means to predict customer behavior, loyalty, and churn. Start by segmenting your customer base or questions to see which parts of your product or user experience are consistently ranked as high effort.

Once you’ve identified the bottlenecks, shift your focus to those areas. Provide a better user experience to increase customer loyalty, and decrease the amount of tickets that you get as you grow.

Churn & retention

Customer churn rate is the percentage of your customers or subscribers who cancel or don't renew their subscriptions during any given time period.

According to Hubspot, the best way to calculate churn is to designate a time period and tally up the total number of customers you acquired and the number of customers who churned during that time period. Then, divide the number of customers who churned by the total number of customers acquired, and multiply that decimal by 100%.

Churn Rate = churned customers/acquired customers X 100%

You can also calculate retention: the number of customers who have remained due to the actions that were specifically taken by your company over a specific period. It can be calculated as:

Retention Rate = ((customers at the end of the period - new customers)/customers at the beginning)) X 100

How do they help predict the future?

As you grow larger, both churn and retention become key indicators of the activities that had an impact on your customer base and, subsequently, on support.

For example, if you remove a feature, or change pricing, you might notice an increase in churn. More unhappy customers means more tickets in the inbox.

Just like with NPS, you can use churn and retention patterns to understand when your volume may spike or dip. This way you'll know to organize staffing accordingly.

If you make a product change or build something that people have been asking for, this will boost retention. You’ll have more customers to support and you should forecast future staffing base on that growth.

Go forth and prosper!

Once you’ve calculated these metrics for your team, keep an eye on them as you move forward. This data serves as the heartbeat for your growth.

When your numbers start to change, you will know how to scale your team or snag new tooling. Not every support team is built the same way, and growth will look different for everyone. Pay attention to the metrics that make the most sense for your team.

This way, your team will be scaled and ready for whatever comes at it, even without a crystal ball.


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