3 Key Performance Indicators for Customer Service You Should Be Tracking

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There’s at least one thing Pinterest fails and customer service fails have in common: Someone usually didn’t get the measurements right.

For example, Comcast can easily measure the extra revenue they bring in from a deceptive pricing model. What’s harder to measure—but equally important—is the impact these practices have on customer loyalty and PR.

Key Performance Indicators for Customer Service

These days, you can track many more KPIs than in years past, thanks to advances in help desk software’s granular reporting capabilities.

This is both good and bad. Customer service teams have more options when deciding what to pay attention to, making the decision that much harder.

Tracking the wrong metrics wastes time, and sets you up to optimize areas that don’t yield the highest ROI.

Tracking the right KPIs, however, means you know which areas need improvement quickly, leading to faster, more effective changes in the way you do business.

Three customer service KPIs to keep a close eye on

Below, we’ll detail three KPIs for customer service, why you should absolutely track them, and just how to measure them.

Let’s start with ART.

1. Average resolution time

Average resolution time (ART) is—as the name suggests—how long it takes, on average, for agents to resolve an issue. Why is this KPI helpful? Because, all else equal, customers prefer a faster resolution to a slower one. Resolving issues faster also saves on labor costs.

But ART is even more powerful when combined with other statistics.

Comparing ART to retention rates, for example, can help you quantify your ROI on efforts to speed up issue resolution. Let’s say you find that reducing ART by 10% is associated with a 20% higher retention rate. Since a higher retention rate means more revenue, you could then justify hiring more agents to your bosses.

How to measure it

Most help desk software solutions offer a way to pull an average resolution time report. The top ten most popular help desk software options in Capterra’s Top 20 report all include this functionality. However, not all software is created equal. Some vendors don’t offer this reporting at all price levels. Others require coding expertise to pull this kind of report.

The level of granularity also varies. Some software systems can give you an ART for each agent, while others only provide your team average. For the best user experience, you want software that breaks down your ART by agent and displays it on the system’s dashboard.

2. Tickets by medium/channel/source

Just as all software isn’t created equal, not all tickets are created equal.

ROI is the best way to prioritize incoming tickets. To put this another way, you should resolve the tickets that will make you the most money first. This may require a shift in mentality and workflow for your agents, who are generally motivated to choose the simplest requests to address first to maintain a low ART.

But how do you know which tickets are most profitable? One way to find out is to break down your tickets by incoming channel, and then look at the average loyalty of customers who choose each channel.

This way, you can figure out whether customers who create tickets over Twitter tend to stay loyal longer than customers who, say, create them via email.

How to measure it

Not every help desk software vendor offers a way to report on the channels customers use to contact your business. Some let you break ticket volume down by the assigned agent and the channel used to submit the ticket, while others show which channels tend to bring in tickets that take the longest to resolve.

When shopping for software, ask vendors what channel data their reporting offers and how to create those reports. Don’t take, “Yes, it can do that” for an answer. That doesn’t tell you how difficult it is to create and read the reports. Ask vendors to show you how to use the software to connect medium of contact to customer loyalty.

3. Top agents

If you want to offer great customer service, you’ve got to reward your top performing agents. But what makes for “top” performance? If you’re ranking your agents based on resolution time or number of completed tickets, your agents will be incentivized to choose the simplest requests to address first.

Resolution speed definitely matters, but it shouldn’t be your main measure of agent performance. Why? Because research suggests that quality matters more than speed.

One Gallup Group study, for example, found that customers who evaluated a brand’s service as “courteous, willing, and helpful” were nine times more likely to engage with that brand. However, when customers evaluated the service they received as “speedy,” they were only six times more likely to engage.

How to measure it

The first thing you need to decide is what “top” means within your business. Ideally, it should incorporate courteousness and helpfulness as subjectively measured by your customers.

How do you measure how courteous and helpful your customers find your reps to be? There are several ways, including Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer satisfaction software is designed to measure this, and there are also custom measures built into some help desk software options.

Go forth and measure wisely

Whether you’re baking a cake or running a customer service team, you need to know what to measure and how to measure it correctly in order to achieve success.

Sure, there are tons of KPIs you could be measuring. But ART, tickets by medium/channel/source, and top agents by customer happiness are three KPIs that directly tie into customer retention and customer happiness, which closely correlate with revenue.

If you need help desk software with the capability to report on these metrics without much programming or digging through CSV files, start with Capterra’s directory where you can narrow software options by feature and read user reviews of their customer service, usability, and reporting.

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author

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Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a former Capterra analyst.

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