6 Metrics You Need to Grow Your Customer Service Team

If you're the manager of a support team, you have a billion things to think about every day. You need to make sure your team feels supported, then deliver metrics and information to the executive team, and, every now and then, answer a few escalated tickets yourself. It's a lot.

How, with all of that, are you supposed to find out what metrics are the right ones to report? And, how can you know if they'll help you grow?

There are metrics that influence the entire company. However, to get insight into your customer service, focus on those that have an impact at the team-level and allow you to grow your support offering as quickly as possible.

Here is a list of the top six customer service metrics to focus on. Learn how to scale them as your team and company start to get bigger and your needs shift.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT is short for Customer Satisfaction. It’s a metric often used to measure how satisfied your customers are with your support, or the service or product that your company provides.

According to Qualtrics, CSAT is usually measured by using variations of the question:

“How would you rate the support you received?”

The question comes with a response scale, usually provided by the survey system provider. Respondents give an answer that is something between “Good, I’m satisfied” and “Bad, I’m unsatisfied”.

The results can be averaged out to give a Composite Customer Satisfaction Score. However, CSAT scores are usually expressed as a percentage: 100% being total customer satisfaction, 0% total customer dissatisfaction.

If you’re curious about average CSATs in your industry and region, Zendesk has some great benchmark studies that may be beneficial.

How does it scale?

Giving users the possibility to rate conversations right in the middle of the interaction allows us to capitalize on an excellent response time. It will also quickly punish us, if we are not fast enough.

Ratings asked and given at the end of the interaction are likely to include a more global appreciation of the service provided as a whole.

Think about this: are you interested in your enterprise’s loyal customers, or are you focusing on the people who have just started to use your service or product? Then, figure out the best place to target them.

For example, GetFeedback changed their CSAT survey strategy so that the form was embedded directly into their message, once a case was closed. While they saw a drop in CSAT score, the qualitative insights that they gained from this shift were super useful for their support strategy as they grew.

Internal Quality Score

Internal quality score is the KPI of conversation reviews. Support conversation review is a process by which an organization systematically evaluates the communication between its support team and customers. This can be done as self-reviews, manager-reviews or peer-reviews.

Think of it like CSAT, but instead of customers it’s your team providing internal feedback on the support efforts. Conversation reviews are among the most simple, yet most powerful ways of improving the quality of your conversations.

To complete a peer review cycle, each customer support team member (even the newest ones!) will review a set of conversations from other agents and rate them based on the scorecard you’ve designed.

The values that are important to your support organization and the qualities of a successful support interaction should be defined in your rating categories. These make up the aggregate internal quality score.

Here's an example of a simple scoring system:

  1. Set up 3-5 categories for review. These should be areas that are important for your team in terms of quality (e.g. “tone”, “technical knowledge”, “use of help materials”).
  2. Calculate an internal review score per ticket, using a binary scoring system. The reviewer gives a “positive” or a “negative” rating. Each category then counts for ⅓ - ⅕ of the score, depending on the number of categories you have.
  3. Calculate the total internal review score. If you have 4 rating categories and the ticket receives 3 positive and 1 negative ratings, the total score would be 75%.

The quality of your support interactions affects almost all relevant KPIs and metrics. By analyzing your interactions, you find gaps in your knowledge. This serves as the basis for improvement in all areas.

How does it scale?

As you grow, keeping track of every single support conversation will quickly become impossible. This means that you should define a percentage of the total ticket volume that you review every month.

The percentage of reviewed conversations can eventually become rather small. For example, if you have 50 000 customer conversations per month, it may be very difficult to review more than 5% of the total volume.

The most important thing, especially when scaling your team, is consistency. Make sure you are reviewing a sample that represents the total mass of conversations fairly and that reviews are distributed as equally as possible among the agents.

Larger companies often hire dedicated training/QA specialists for this job. If you don’t have designated resources for doing conversation reviews, then doing reviews manually in a spreadsheet can become very cumbersome.

This is where Qualitista can help - it is a tool that allows you to ditch the spreadsheets, do reviews seamlessly and assess the results of your efforts.

Conversation Volume

This is the main metric when it comes to knowing the pulse of a support team. For some teams, this may just mean the number of conversations in the inbox. For others, it may combine everything coming in from social media, phone, and chat support.

Tracking conversation volume over a long period of time, e.g. years, can give you incredible insight into your support team trends. You’ll find your busiest periods and understand when you need to hire more staff.

How does it scale?

When you’re able to view everything that has happened in the past few years, you’ll understand when and how you need to hire. Knowing how much volume you get outside your business hours will help you decide when to start offering real-time support.

For example, if your volume spikes every Christmas, you should think about hiring seasonal support people or using a service provider like FCR. If the general trend is going upwards, it may be time to start hiring.

If you have a handle on how your volume normally trends, you can even start the hiring process in a low point of volume. This way you’ll have someone ready for when you really need them.

Cost Per Conversation

Cost Per Conversation (CPC) is the total cost of operating your team, divided by the total number of conversations that you have across your support platforms. Costs include salaries, health insurances and other benefits, equipment, and everything else that you need to have the support team running.

CPC = total team operating costs / total number of conversations

You can calculate CPC across the span of a year, a month, or any other period. Count for only the time that your agents are dedicated to customer interactions. That’s an important aspect if your team members spend some of their time on responsibilities other than support.

How does it scale?

As you get larger, you may need to find ways to automate some of the tickets and run a larger-scale support team easier. Knowing your CPC can be a helpful way to determine if a new tool will be good cost savings or make a huge impact on your bottom line.

CPC is especially useful when it comes to comparing different channels. For example, if email is cheaper than chat, it may indicate that it’s more efficient and should be scaled up in your offering.

Similarly, if you notice that your CPC is steadily rising, it may be time to see if there is something about your strategy that you can shift.

However, those “costly" conversations might have some other positive impact, so pay attention to other metrics that align with it.

For example, maybe the customers who get phone support convert to paid accounts at a significantly higher rate? Don’t look at the cost strictly within the context of support, but the whole business.

Calculating your CPC can also help you understand if your improved documentation or ticket deflection have paid off. For example, Lance from Raven Tools noticed a clear shift after spending 6 weeks with his team updating and improving their documentation’s searchability.

First Contact Resolution rate

Across all forms of contact, First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate means solving the customer’s issue in full with your first response. They do not have to ask anymore questions. Customers love getting their questions solved quickly.

Not all tickets are FCR-eligible. For example, sometimes customers make mistakes in their inquiries and it just isn’t possible for you to fix their problems on the first go. Non-FCR-eligible tickets can be tagged manually or with a service like Idiomatic.

But, with FCR-eligible tickets you can use the following formula from Groove to calculate your FCR rate:

FCR Rate = number of cases resolved on first contact / total number of FCR-eligible cases

How does it scale?

FCR should continue to remain the same as your company grows. If you start to get bigger, and your FCR is getting worse, it may be a sign that your customer support representatives are rushing through a first response.

If your team is growing but your FCR is going down, there are a few things this might tell you about how your team is scaling:

  • Your new employee onboarding and training might not be as effective as it once was;
  • You have more tickets than your team can effectively support, so the quality of their responses is starting to diminish;
  • You’ve automated the easier tickets so that what remains is difficult to resolve in a single response - well done!

Consider which of these might be the case for your team and go tackle it!

Time to First Response

First Response Time (FRT), also known as Time to First Response, is the metric that indicates how long your customers have to wait before they get a response to their inquiry.

Even if the resolution takes more time, you want to know that help is on the way. Just like you would when calling 911.

Some leaders believe that customer reps should not reply to a ticket before they have an answer to their client's problem. But that is often not the case.

"... it’s indisputable — a speedy first reply results in higher customer satisfaction.” Anton de Young, Zendesk blog

If you’re looking to set some benchmarks or goals for your own team, here's an infographic with some good stats about FRT.

How does it scale?

Zendesk has done a number of studies on customer satisfaction, and all of them come to the same conclusion: people love fast reply times. This is the easiest way to underpromise and overdeliver to your customers.

If you allocate more resources towards your first response, CSAT goes up.

It is not about finding a direct answer right away, it’s about reassuring that a human has looked over what they’ve said.

To maintain a fast response time:

  • Assign specific team members to individual platforms. So, for example, one person could be responsible for Twitter, while another manages the first response in your inbox.
  • Utilize the round-robin ticket assignment: distribute cases to team members evenly as they come in. This prevents cherry picking and lowers your FRT.

Eventually, when your AI becomes smart enough, it can take on the responsibility of triaging the tickets and handling first responses.

Or, alternatively, a categorization machine like Idiomatic’s can help you categorize cases more accurately. It will also identify problem areas that can be fixed to free up resources for quicker first responses.

Measure what’s most important to you

Don’t let the mire of available metrics get your team bogged down in the details. Take advantage of your customer service tools and the metrics that you already use. Then scale it.

Recognize that, when measuring team performance, quantitative data is not always king and sometimes qualitative data - in the shape of peer review or internal quality score - can be just as important for scaling your customer service.

Your metrics will grow with you as long as you know how to best track them and scale them for the needs of your team and company.

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