Defining Common Customer Service KPIs And Why You Should Be Analyzing Yours

By Deon Nicholas

Keeping customers satisfied and meeting their needs means finding out where they’re  struggling and strategizing ways to meet them where they’re at. In short, you need to set goals. Your customer support metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are valuable metrics for your organization and working to analyze them and build strategies and goals off the data should be at the top of your to-do list. 

These days, customers want the best that a company can offer them, especially when they feel loyalty to a brand – whether it’s the best product, the best service, or the best customer support experience and response. Just one bad experience sends more than 50% of your customers to a competitor, while more bad experiences increases that to 80%. 

Many of your customers’ pain points usually stem from dissatisfaction with your customer support process. This means you have an entire audience looking for you to improve what you’re currently doing. They want a process they can easily maneuver through and you want something that will result in strong metrics that tell you your team is doing something right. 

KPIs give your org statistics on where your support teams are succeeding at delighting your customers and where they might be struggling. There’s always room for improvement when looking to meet specific metrics and sometimes you might not even know what exact Key Performance Indicators you should be measuring or what it means for that metric to be “good.” 

Today we want to discuss what KPIs your organization should be focused on, why they matter to your overall business performance, and how you can go about improving them. 

You might be wondering… 

Why Should KPIs Be Measured?

Key Performance Indicators can tell us a few things. They’re the critical indicators of progression toward whatever intended goal you have set and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how your organization interacts with your customers. 

KPIs help us do one of three things: 

  • Focus on strategic and operational improvement
  • Create an analytical basis for decision making
  • Help bring attention to what matters most

Working to focus on strategic improvement based on your analytics can help you resolve customer pain points and improve performance and customer satisfaction. 

We mentioned before that customers seek the best from whatever company or organization they’re doing business with. The goals your team sets can help improve your customers’ experience and help you actually meet their needs. 

KPIs should be measured because they help set goals that are strategically aligned with everyone involved. They’re your way of knowing your team can accomplish whatever objective is in place. 

You should be tracking KPIs because they can help with… 

  • Measuring progress and performance 
  • Monitoring company growth/health
  • Analyzing patterns over time 
  • Setting more informed goals 
  • Tackling new opportunities
  • Informing teams of progression or areas of improvement 
  • Improving customer satisfaction
  • & improving the customer and agent experience 

Key Performance Indicators are more than just statistics to be viewed on a screen, they’re critical to your organization’s growth and success. Knowing and measuring the right KPIs will help you achieve results faster, so let’s go over what KPIs you should be tracking and what it means for them to be “good.” 

What KPIs Should Be Measured? 

The Key Performance Indicators you measure demonstrate how well your organization is performing against its key business objectives. They provide unbiased information for you to measure customer service. Without these metrics, you wouldn’t know where there’s room to improve and how you can go about it strategically. 

Here are some of the KPIs your organization may already be tracking. 

First Response Time (FRT) 

Your customers don’t want to wait when it comes to looking for customer support answers. First response time is likely the most critical metric for providing quality service to your customers. 

Your average first response time (FRT) tells you the average amount of time between customer contact and agent responses. Whether you use email, chat, or phone for customer support, you should measure FRT for each. Having a lower FRT usually means happier customers who are being served in a timely manner.

Here’s a chart of what good first response time should look like across various channels. The information has been pulled from Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends Report and their Multichannel Customer Care report from 2017

When asked what matters most when looking for customer support, 72.5% of customers care about getting their issues resolved quickly. Your customers want speedy answers to their questions right when they come up. 

Think of the last customer support request you had to send in. How long did you have to wait for a response? If it was too long, then you understand how frustrating the process can be. 

Better FCR for your organization means you’re letting your customers know that you are there and ready to aid them whenever they need it. 

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

Going hand in hand with your FRT is First Contact Resolution (FCR). While you want to be as quick as you can to respond to your customers, you also want to do so accurately. 

There’s no worse scenario for your customers than them reaching out for help only to be rerouted and asked the same questions over and over. This decreases response time and leaves no room for a first time resolution. 

First Contact Resolution is a measurement for helpfulness. FCR tells you how often your team is resolving customers’ issues the first time they contact them for help. Resolving issues the first time means your team is accurate in their answers, which can sometimes be a challenge.

Improving FCR can be difficult because the ability to provide quality, speedy, and accurate support when someone contacts you is reliant on a few things. Agents need to be able to understand the complexity behind a support ticket, have the necessary knowledge and experience to resolve it, and make sure they have the tools they need to resolve the problem. 

You want to aim for a high First Contact Resolution rate which is usually associated with high levels of customer satisfaction and overall shows your customers are having a good customer experience when seeking help.

But, what is a good FCR? 

That’s a little tricky. 

Industry standard First Contact Resolution for support teams is approximately 74%. But this will vary depending on the nature of the request, the platform, and the organization that a request went to. Generally, you’re working on a scale of 1-100 where it’s better to be around or above the standard.  

You’ll need to keep in mind that companies that have effective help centers and knowledge bases accessible to customers will also see different numbers. This is usually because if a customer can find their own solution to their problem, the tickets coming in to agents tend to be more complicated, require escalation, or take longer to resolve – all things that can lower FCR rates. 

High FCR is a good rule of thumb, but you’ll need to consider all aspects. 

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

When customers are satisfied with your product, service, and support you can expect to see a high CSAT score. Your Customer Satisfaction Score helps evaluate how satisfied customers are with your organization. 

Organizations should be measuring CSAT to find out what their customers think about them and to see how happy they are with the organization. This metric is a little straight forward since 100% CSAT means your customers absolutely love you while 0% means no one does. 

This KPI allows you to seek out more ways to satisfy your customers since you can survey them to find out what is missing from their experience that could make it a better one. 

When it comes to measuring this metric, organizations tend to do so by directly asking customers to rate their satisfaction after communicating with a team member via email, phone, or chat. 

You’ve likely seen those, “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you X company’s service today?” post-communication surveys. You’ve probably even skipped over them.

That’s where organizations can measure CSAT. Asking about satisfaction at the end of a process can help you understand if the process is working for your customers.

Average Response Time (ART)

The Average Response Time KPI tells your team the average time it takes an agent to respond to a support ticket during a specified duration of time. ART is slightly different from other metrics because it is calculated for every agent response instead of for every incoming ticket. So you’re calculating the average time for all responses sent during a selected period of time for one agent and measuring metrics that way. 

You want your agents to aim for lower ART because that tells you that your customers are being served quickly, which is what they want. Average Response Time takes into account how long a customer is waiting in queue for an agent to respond to them. If you’re also using email and phone channels, you’ll be measuring wait times as well. 

Setting goals for Average Response Time can also be a strategy to meet Service Level Agreements for your support team. We know how difficult it cna be to set goals whn you’re overwhelmed with support tickets. But with the right tools, meeting those SLAs is easily achievable

There are a few ways you can try to improve agents’ ART. Namely improving the process to train your agents and increasing their ability to focus on resolving support issues which we’ll discuss a little more of later. 

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

KPIs tell you where your customers are being delighted by your organization and tell you where you need to put more effort into improving. The next Key Performance Indicator you want to review is your NPS. 

Your Net Promoter Score is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement you can find by asking customers how likely they are to recommend you, your product, or your service to others. 

You know those surveys you’ll see that literally ask you, “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend X Company to your friends and family?” That’s how NPS is measured. 

NPS is important to your organization because it can help you predict business growth. Your aim should be a high Net Promoter Score because it shows you have a healthy relationship with your customers. They’re helping you grow your brand and are fueling you by word of mouth. If your customers aren’t talking about you to your friends, then there’s likely room to improve somewhere. 

This score isn’t enough to tell you what you need to do to improve or where, which is why you measure it in conjunction with many of the other KPIs we’ve reviewed so far. Combining this metric with other Key Performance Indicators can help you strategize and strengthen your org. 

Customer Retention Rate (CRR) 

Do your customers keep coming back to you? Are you tracking that? 

Your Customer Retention Rate tells your team the rate at which you’re retaining your customers. 

Organizations tend to spend more time and effort in prospecting new customers when they should really be working to retain them. In the customer support world, retaining customers has everything to do with the support they are receiving. 

Good support and a good customer experience of quick, accurate responses or the ability to find them, shows your customers they can trust you and that keeps people coming back. Build loyalty by building trust. 

CRR is unique because as a stand alone metric it just tells you the rate at which you’re keeping customers, not necessarily why or what is affecting their return or lack of. This KPI along with the others we’ve mentioned can help your team figure out how you can improve the support aspect of a customer’s experience and strategize ways to keep Customer Retention Rate high. 

Customer Effort Score (CES) 

The last metric we want to talk about is your Customer Effort Score which measures how easy it is for a customer to do business with you. Tracking CES and figuring out what affects it the most allows you and your team to make changes and continue to strategize ways to improve. 

Research shows that customer loyalty is directly related to the amount of effort customers need to put in to interact with your organization. Whether it’s effort in trying to communicate with you for support or the effort required to obtain your product or service, the amount needed to put in affects how often someone wants to come back to you. 

Reducing the amount of effort needed in service interactions can help increase your CES. If your customers are struggling to find information on your website and need to speak to an agent or email you about their concern, you likely have a high effort score. 

To continue to win customers and keep them loyal, you want to make things as easy as possible for them. Finding ways to ease your customers’ pain points is what will drive your ability to improve your metrics and set new goals using KPIs. 

To measure CES, most organizations offer a CES survey where they ask customers to rate them on a scale of 1-5 based on how much effort it took for them to complete a transaction, resolve a support issue, or interact with their company, product, or service. 

Creating this survey is simple but your metrics will depend on whether your wording is seeking 1-star rating or a 5-star rating as good. 

Improving Key Performance Indicators 

NPS, CSAT, FRT, FCR, CES, CRR – that’s a lot of acronyms to memorize. It’s a lot of data for your organization too, data that you need to use to make strides toward improvement wherever you may require it. 

Working to improve your Key Performance Indicators means you’re using the data you’ve collected to strategically create new goals that can help improve your processes and, in turn, your metrics. 

For customer support teams, figuring out the root of the cause for poor metrics is the key to coming up with new strategies that can help them. Most of the time, a lack of proper tools is what causes support teams to fail their customers. Poor KPI metrics may also indicate that you’re not measuring the right metrics for your teams and customers. 

Consider these three tips to being improving your KPIs

  1. Track the correct metrics 
  2. Be transparent about goals 
  3. Implement the necessary tools

Tracking the correct metrics can be tricky. It may be industry standard to track everything we’ve mentioned above, but just because you’re tracking it doesn’t mean you’re interpreting the data in a meaningful way. If you’re hanging on to data that doesn’t affect anything, consider measuring a different KPI and shifting gears. 

Being transparent about goals will help your team understand how well they’re helping customers. When everyone is on the same page about goals, you’re able to create a KPI-driven culture where people are working hard to meet overall goals. 

Implement the necessary tools to help agents meet new goals and delight customers without sacrificing workload. If you’ve tried hiring more agents, increasing workload, or using keyword-based chatbots, you’ve just been putting a bandaid on the issue. You need a tool that will grow with your support team and benefit your customers through the cycle of a support ticket.

Our suggestion? Consider using customer support AI. 

Improving KPIs With AI for Customer Support

With the right tools, improvement is possible anywhere. Many customer support teams struggle to find and implement the necessary tools. This is usually due to team leaders only having a few options when it comes to trying to solve the root of the problem. 

Seeing an increase in support tickets? You could hire more agents to help offload some of the work, but then you have too many agents when things settle. Or you could increase the amount of work on your agents, but that usually creates churn. 

Looking to balance agents’ tasks? You could maybe outsource some of the work, but you’re working with people you don’t get to talk to and communication can be lost. 

Hoping to increase efficiency? You could put in new training protocols but that’ll take weeks, maybe even months, to make any effect. 

Wanting to automate some of your more repetitive support tickets? You could try a chatbot, but those take months to put into place and require you to do the heavy lifting. 

Hiring more people, outsourcing work, creating new training programs, or even implementing chatbots just don’t cut it when you’re trying to scale your organization and improve your customer satisfaction metrics. 

What you need is a solution that uses your historical data from support tickets, can take in all your content in your internal and external knowledge bases, and continues to learn from incoming tickets.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not! 

At Forethought, our goal is to enable everyone to be a genius at their jobs. We’re first starting by supporting customer support teams with customer support AI tailored to their organization. 

With AI for your customer support teams, you’ll be able to automate repetitive tasks, create better processes for your customers, and focus on strategizing ways to improve your current Key Performance Indicators. 

Our AI agent Agatha, uses Natural Language Processing to understand the intent of your customers when they’re seeking support answers. She learns by taking your knowledge bases and past support tickets to learn about your customers and what they come to you for the most. 

Customer support AI helps teams serve up the best information to customers in the best possible way and helps you meet SLAs for customers despite the volume you face. You’ll be able to catch important, high-priority issues quickly and route tickets to the right people. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what our AI agent Agatha can do for you, let’s chat. 

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Interested in generative AI for customer support? Check out this guide to learn about the 3 key pillars you need to get started.

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