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Article 4 min read

Aligning operational metrics with your customer service goals

Last updated September 21, 2021

Keeping an eye on your day-to-day customer service operations means measuring the right metrics—that is, knowing which ones are setting your business up for both immediate and long-term success.

Whether your company’s customer service is used as a means to drive overall revenue or is focused on helping customers fully understand your products or services, the tracked metrics should pertain to specific strategies designed to achieve your company’s overall goals.

Here are three goals that companies commonly strive for, along with the operational metrics that pertain to their success:

Goal #1: Becoming more efficient in specific resolution areas

Metrics to track:

  • Tickets solved

  • Issues by resolution area

  • First response times

  • Ticket reopens

  • Requester wait times

It’s easy to gauge support efficiency by looking at the number of solved tickets, but a more complete view of support efficiency should include awareness into the problematic areas where customers need the most help. That helps agents learn what needs to be done to best accommodate those issues—such as providing better resource materials or adjusting their approach towards educating their customers.

“Issues by resolution area” points out where customers commonly struggle with a product or service. Examples of where customers commonly struggle are user education, user errors, operations fixes, and third party issues. By looking at support efficiency with “resolution areas” as a baseline, admins can measure operational metrics like reply times, wait times, and the number of reopened tickets to gauge agent efficiency in those problem areas.

Generally speaking, time-related metrics are the KPIs that support strategies for greater efficiency. Taking a deeper dive into what can be affecting them, like unproductive routing or help resources that aren’t readily available, can lead to overall improved support efficiency.

Goal #2: Lowering operational costs

Metrics to track:

  • Cost per contact

  • First contact resolution

  • Ticket deflection (via help articles and successful Answer Bot recommendations)

It can be tricky to connect customer service metrics to real dollar values. One approach is to use “cost per contact” (CPC), which is the measurement of an agent’s effort into resolving a customer’s issue. To measure CPC, divide your organization’s annual budget by the total number of customer requests across all products and channels that are supported.

To further track metrics that can help lower operational costs, consider time-related metrics like “first contact resolution” (FCR). This is when an agent resolves an inquiry during the initial contact with the customer and has been tied to reduced operational costs. When agents regularly resolve tickets on the very first touch, it tends to result in overall lower cost per contact.

Self-service is another proven method for lowering support costs. Ticket deflection, which commonly means “tickets solved by a help article rather than an agent”, can be measured by dividing the total number of users of a help center by the total number of submitted tickets. A high ticket deflection rate means agents have less tickets to manage, which helps to mitigate support staffing needs. Answer Bot, our AI-powered virtual customer assistant, works similarly: when it successfully recommends a helpful article to a customer that leads to a resolution, there’s no longer a need to submit a ticket to an agent.

Goal #3: Scaling your customer service alongside the company’s growth

Metrics to track:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

  • Net promoter score (NPS)

  • Operational baselines (tickets solved per day, CSAT ratings, first reply times, first-contact resolution, agent touches per tickets)

  • Key metrics by channel

Lots of different things can happen as a company scales— it may offer new products and services, improve its overall standards in regards to the brand, or take on a wider and more diverse array of customers.

No matter what scaling entails, you’ll want your customers to stay happy. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys can provide baselines for how well new initiatives are being received. Likewise, Net Promoter Score (NPS) is indicative of how likely customers will stay with the business. NPS and CSAT should be measured alongside each other to paint a high-level story on the health of your customer relationships.

During scaling, support leaders will need to adjust their operational baselines to both push their teams towards new goals and acquaint them to how the organization is evolving. Metrics like tickets solved per day, CSAT, first reply times, FCR, and agent touches per tickets will likely fluctuate depending on how customers are adjusting. It’s necessary to be ambitious, but also to be reasonable. If customers are struggling with new products or your agents have difficulty accommodating an influx of new customers, devise new protocols that realign everyone with the baselines they’re striving for.

When it comes to scaling, many companies invest in omnichannel to give their customers more options for reaching out. That requires an entire strategy on its own, but the good news is that all of your operational metrics by can be broken down by specific channels. By tracking metrics related to how each channel is evolving, you can provide customer service that’s tailored to your customer preferences (read more about measuring omnichannel analytics here).

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