The importance of customer service benchmarking
By regularly benchmarking your performance and processes, your support team can better understand areas where they excel as well as where they need some improvement.
Published February 19, 2021
Last updated February 23, 2021
No one needs to tell you that a great customer experience is critical to a company’s success. But the other companies that are courting your customers? They know this too and customers will gladly follow whoever serves them best. As customer preferences evolve, there is more pressure than ever on customer service teams to deliver an exceptional experience and keep up with—and even pioneer—industry best practices.
What is customer service benchmarking?
Customer service benchmarking gives you an overview of how your support team stacks up against competing organizations in your industry. By regularly benchmarking your performance and processes, your support team can better understand areas where they excel as well as where they need some improvement. Ultimately, this helps you set more meaningful goals that can motivate your team to work toward the highest standard.
What are some examples of benchmarks?
Some customer service metrics that companies regular track include:
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): Ususally shown as a percentage, CSAT allows customers to provide positive or negative feedback on the support that they received.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): A metric that measures customer loyalty by determining the willingness of customers to recommend your products or services.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): A measure of how hard it is for a customer to resolve their issue with a company.
- Average first reply time: This tracks how long it takes, on average, for an initial response to reach a customer.
- Average resolution time: This tracks how long it takes, on average, to resolve a customer’s issue.
Other metrics that can help companies track the success of their support organization includes availability of certain channels, the volume of support requests, and the number of articles in their help centers.
Why is customer service benchmarking important?
Here are some ways that customer service benchmarking puts teams on the path to doing their best work:
Discover areas that need improvement
Seeing your metrics or processes side by side with other companies in your industry may open your eyes to weaknesses you didn’t know you had. For example, your time-to-close rate may be getting faster each month, but it could also be where you’re falling farthest behind your peers. Or you might find you’re one of the only organizations of your size that doesn’t offer phone support and if that's affecting customer satisfaction. Once it’s clear where your team has the most opportunity to improve, it’s easier to determine where to focus your time and energy.
Pinpoint opportunities to reduce costs
Bad customer service costs companies billions of dollars worldwide each year. Not to mention that the more efficient your operations, the more time you have for customers. Benchmark metrics around revenue can shine a light on where your team spends above, below, or in line with other companies of your size. These insights can lead you toward better allocating the team’s resources.
Grade performance objectively
Customer surveys and operational metrics can tell you a lot about the health of your customer service organization, but it’s easy to get stuck thinking in a bubble. Benchmarking pushes you to grade yourself relative to other companies like you, instead of past performance. Holding your organization to the industry standard keeps the focus on being the best among many, not the company’s best version of itself.
Gauge the success of your improvement initiatives
We all know that feeling of finishing a multi-month, give-it-your-all project only to be asked, “Can you point to a number that shows this moved the needle?” Benchmarking quantifies the status quo and defines a jumping off point that all improvement initiatives can be measured against. This way, in a few months time, you can see if newly implemented processes or practices are moving the team closer to their goal.
Gain insight into industry and universal best practices
How you define success will be different from companies in other industries or even your competitors. But, it’s helpful to know what other companies are doing, especially those setting the standard, to keep their customers happy. Other companies’ experiences provide opportunities to learn and improve upon and can open people’s minds to new ways of working.