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Article 6 min read

Do you benchmark your customer service? You should. Here’s why.

Last updated November 9, 2010

[Update: Since we wrote this blog post, we’ve launched the Zendesk Benchmark. Check it out to learn how your support stacks up against your peers].

Compare Your Performance

Benchmarking is an opportunity to measure how your performance compares to that of your peers and competitors. It’s also a way to see whether your organization is reaching its goals and how its current performance compares to past performance. It’s a really great way to see just how well you’re doing and who has the competitive edge. From there, you can create a plan that will help you keep your leading edge on the competition, or if you’re lagging, help see what you can do to push ahead. Many of you have told us you’re interested in benchmarking your support metrics against other, similar organizations. As a result of that feedback, we’re preparing to integrate benchmarking features into Zendesk, and we want our customers to be a part of it from the very beginning. As a first step, we have collected a top view of data across our entire customer base, which produced great data, but as you’d expect, isn’t as relevant as if we, say, displayed it per industry. That’s why we’d like to collect a few profile characteristics about your organization so we can produce data sets that are more meaningful, relevant, and geared toward your organization. To get started, account owners should go to Account and select the Benchmarking menu in your Zendesk. All you have to do is tell us a few simple details about your organization, we’ll have a look at the information you’ve provided, and begin preparing an appropriate peer group for you to benchmark against.

4 Basic Tips to Benchmarking Customer Service

Benchmarking anything, including your customer support teams, requires that you collect data on it. You might already be collecting data on your support process, or you might just be starting to think about it; either way, it’s easy to drown in all the data available to us. Anyone who has opened Google Analytics knows you need a way to slice through what’s out there. Numbers can make more sense when they are connected to a story, and that’s where the art of data visualization–revealing relationships between numbers, people, and actions–comes into play.

Tip 1: Compress Data Knowledge Into Numbers

We want to inspire you to begin a benchmarking program for your organization’s customer support team, by providing you with insight into two of your customer support must-watch benchmarks: Ticket Throughput: The raw number of new tickets being generated in a period. Agent Efficiency: The time it takes an agent to close a ticket. We performed an anonymized analysis of our 5,000+ customer’s aggregated data and found that the highest density of tickets are created in the 4 hours before noon (see featured graphic at the beginning of article). In addition, 37% of all tickets are resolved within 4 hours while 43% of tickets take longer than 24 hours to solve. These data points reveal that timing and scheduling your support team’s “on duty” hours can have a profound cost-savings effect on average agent productivity.

Tip 2: Apply Your Numbers to Ideas and Concepts

Both ticket throughput and agent efficiency show: morning hours matter most! Looking at the incoming latent demand for customer support, two distinct measures that matter in ticket creation are day of the week and time of day. Daily distribution is fairly consistent across the work week. Roughly half of the relative demand occurs on the weekend. As shown above, demand across the day skews heavily towards the first few hours of the morning from 9 to 11 a.m.

Larger Ticket Volumes Inspire a 400% Increase in Per-Agent Productivity

We noticed stark differences in support agent throughput across Zendesk’s different plans (Starter, Regular, Plus+). Our interpretation of this trend is that organizations with high volumes of data to process tend to choose Plus+ for its advanced features that enable managing high volumes of data. These same organizations also tend to have agents dedicated on a more full-time basis to manage customer support, therefore leading to efficiency gains. In fact, a well-resourced support team with a dedicated support staff can expect, on average, a 400% increase in agent productivity when compared with an organization that utilizes part-time or single-operator support agents as shown below.

Tickets Are Either Easy or Not:  Looking at Resolution Time

Resolution time is one of the key metrics we see our customers measuring and making promises about to their users. For example, support teams may have a goal to resolve a certain percentage of tickets within 24 hours. In the chart below, you can see that 43% of tickets take more than 24 hours to resolve.

Tip 3: Lead With Simple, Visual Storytelling

We worked with our designers to create these graphics, but you don’t have to start off being super fancy, data visualization can be as simple as a pie chart! Here’s a snapshot of how the Zendesk support team metrics average out: Assignment time: 30 minutes Agent productivity: 103 tickets per agent per month Resolution time: 3 hours % of tickets solved within 4 hours: 56% If you think your organization is similar to ours, a 60+ employee, online web-application based company in a phase of high growth, you might find our metrics a better measure to benchmark against.

Tip 4: Use Zendesk to Improve Your Key Metrics

Of course, drawing conclusions from your benchmarks is only as good as the action you take based on those conclusions. In addition to scheduling your support team appropriately, you can also use your Zendesk to address ticket volume and help improve your agent throughput. Zendesk macros, for instance — automatically generated responses to common questions — can help your team handle the large volume of tickets that come in during your busiest moments of the day. Learn more about macros. Additionally, if you find that the bulk of your tickets take longer to resolve than the average, it might be that new tickets aren’t being opened and assigned quickly enough. If that’s the case, you can use Zendesk triggers to alert the appropriate agent that a new ticket has come in (using email, SMS, or other methods). With automations, you can notify that agent, or a supervisor, if a new ticket hasn’t been opened after a certain period of time. Learn more about triggers and automations.

Join the Movement for More Data!

We hope you become as addicted as we are to both benchmarking and analytics when it comes to your support team. Integrating benchmarking features into Zendesk is something we are very excited about, but in order for it to reach its maximum potential, we need our customers to be a part of this process from the very beginning. Benchmarking your support metrics against other similar organizations is a powerful and easy step toward your long-term growth and success.  All it takes are a few profile characteristics that will guarantee meaningful data sets for your organization. Ready? Set. Go!  Account owners: By simply going to Account and selecting the Benchmarking menu in your Zendesk, you can share with us a few details about your organization that will enable us to prepare your peer group.

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