Measuring customer experience: 6 metrics to do it right
Improve CX by regularly measuring customer experience metrics and leveraging key insights effectively.
Published October 21, 2020
Last updated September 6, 2022
Customer experience (CX) has recently emerged as a top priority for companies and customers alike.
The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report found that 75 percent of consumers will spend more money to buy from businesses that provide them with a good experience. In turn, over 60 percent of CX managers say their company now prioritizes customer experience more than it did a year ago.
75% of consumers will spend more money to buy from businesses that provide them with a good experience.
With all eyes on CX, measuring customer experience and identifying areas of improvement are more important than ever before. Set yourself up for success by learning which customer experience metrics provide the most insight into CX and how to leverage that data to continually enhance the customer experience.
Top metrics to measure customer experience
- Net Promoter Score®
- Customer satisfaction scores
- Customer Effort Score
- First response time
- Average resolution time
- First contact resolution
There are two primary ways to evaluate CX:
- Directly ask customers about their experiences by sending them surveys after they’ve interacted with your business
- Track first-party customer support data to understand the type of customer experience your team is providing (in terms of speed, efficiency, and quality)
It’s best to use a combination of the two methods when measuring customer experience. Customer service KPIs help you set benchmarks and goals for performance, while surveys give your customers a chance to tell you how well you’re doing.
There are literally hundreds of different customer experience metrics you can track—some more important than others depending on the type of business you operate. But the metrics below are table-stakes across all industries.
1. Net Promoter Score®
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple metric that reveals what percentage of customers would recommend a business to other people. Companies can collect NPS data by sending customers one-question surveys that ask, “How likely are you to recommend us to someone you know?” Customers rate their likelihood on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Customers who leave a rating between 0 and 6 are considered detractors, indicating a bad customer experience
- Customers who leave a rating of 7 or 8 are considered passives, indicating a passable customer experience with room for improvement
- Customers who leave a rating of 9 or 10 are considered promoters, indicating a good customer experience
To calculate Net Promoter Score, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
If you use Zendesk to send your NPS survey, there’s also a space where customers can explain the reason for their rating. You can present an optional open-ended question such as, “How can we improve your experience?” Over half of respondents provide additional feedback, which helps reveal what businesses can do to turn detractors and passives into promoters.
2. Customer satisfaction scores
Like NPS, customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are gathered through simple, one-question surveys.
A CSAT survey typically asks, “How would you rate the customer service you just received?” Customers can select “Good, I’m satisfied” or “Bad, I’m dissatisfied.” If a comment box is included, they can elaborate on their response.
CSAT surveys are often sent via email shortly after a support interaction. But they can also be used to measure other parts of the customer experience. For example, a CSAT survey might ask a customer if they’re satisfied with their order fulfillment or whether their self-guided online shopping experience was easy.
By collecting CSAT scores for multiple touchpoints, businesses can analyze and improve many different aspects of the customer experience.
3. Customer Effort Score
Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer service metric that measures the amount of effort a customer must expend to resolve an issue, get an answer, or complete a task.
To determine your CES rating, send a survey asking customers to rate the ease of their support interaction on a scale of “very easy” to “very difficult.” (Include a comment section, too, so customers can describe what made their experience either a challenge or a breeze.) Then, calculate the average number based on all your survey responses.
Sending out CES surveys for various customer interactions helps companies identify which processes need simplifying or streamlining. Customer Effort Scores might reveal how hard it is for buyers to return an item, update their payment information, or troubleshoot a software issue.
4. First response time
First response time (FRT) measures how long it takes for a customer support agent to reply to a request (not counting automated responses).
Speed is obviously a big factor that impacts customer experience—no one enjoys being put on hold or waiting forever for a response. The more a company can reduce FRT, the more it can improve a critical component of CX.
FRT is a customer experience metric that can vary quite a bit from one customer support channel to another. For example, if someone sends an email to customer service, they might not get a response for an hour or longer. But a customer who uses live chat and messaging to contact support may expect a reply in a matter of minutes.
5. Average resolution time
While FRT measures how long it takes for a support agent to respond to a customer, average resolution time (ART) encompasses the total time it takes for an agent to completely resolve an issue. The clock starts running when the customer first contacts the support team and stops when the ticket is closed.
ART varies for different types of customer support requests. But if a group of similar tickets has a noticeably high ART, your support team should look for ways to speed up the resolution process.
For example, say a commonly asked support question is taking a long time to answer in-depth. The support team might create a macro, or pre-written response, that can be issued as a standard reply. Macros save agents from having to take the time to manually respond to loads of customers with the same issues. This, in turn, also improves ART.
Like FRT, ART evaluates the speed and convenience of your support experience—you don’t want to disappoint here. In our Customer Experience Trends Report, respondents said a fast resolution is the most important element of a good customer service experience.
6. First contact resolution
First contact resolution (FCR) measures the percentage of customer tickets resolved on the first attempt. To calculate FCR, take the number of requests resolved at first contact and divide it by the total number of requests.
Businesses often have their own criteria for deciding which support requests should count as requests. For example, a company may or may not add abandoned calls to the total number of requests.
Regardless, first contact resolution is one of the best metrics for measuring customer experience. A high FCR indicates that your customer support department is operating efficiently and providing quick, satisfactory solutions.
Measuring customer experience: 3 best practices
- Learn from every customer interaction with omnichannel analytics
- Track metrics with customizable dashboards
- Use charts and reporting
With the right customer experience software, your business can automatically capture customer data and track key customer experience metrics. A comprehensive CX solution can send out CSAT and NPS surveys and record FRT, ART, FCR, and countless other customer experience KPIs.
Most importantly, though, support software can help you make sense of all that information. Tools like Zendesk provide companies with a variety of ways to glean actionable insights from live data.
1. Learn from every customer interaction with omnichannel analytics
Customer support interactions can happen anywhere, from a call center to a social media post. It’s important to track data across every communication channel to gain a comprehensive understanding of the customer experience.
Comparing omnichannel analytics makes it easier to determine your customers’ preferred contact methods. For example, tracking ticket volume by channel and day of the week lets you know which channels are used most frequently and when they are most active. You can then prioritize and optimize those channels accordingly.
Similarly, tracking CSAT ratings, first reply times, and average resolution times gives you a good idea of each channel’s effectiveness. The channels with the highest satisfaction rates and fastest resolution times are the ones you’ll want to invest in and promote to users.
The health and fitness brand Spartan Race uses Zendesk to continually optimize its AI-powered chatbots, which suggest articles to customers based on their chat queries.
“They are tracking the resolution rate of suggested articles to see if they’re adequately deflecting a customer request,” explains Andrew Forbes, Zendesk’s director of product marketing. “And then they’re looking through all their articles to see how folks are voting on them.”
If an article has a low satisfaction score, the Spartan Race team works to adjust it or creates new knowledge base content that will better answer customer questions.
2. Track customer experience metrics with customizable dashboards
Support solutions like Zendesk come with both pre-built and customizable dashboards that display the most critical data points.
The design and complexity of your dashboard should reflect the needs and size of your organization. Startups tend to have simpler dashboards than enterprises, just like people who drive Honda Pilots have smaller instrument panels than people who pilot passenger jets.
“Customers get pre-built dashboards right out of the box with Zendesk,” Forbes says. “They’re great for teams that are just starting to provide service to their customers for the first time.”
For startups and SMBs, the fresh-out-of-the-box dashboards come complete with hundreds and hundreds of table-stakes metrics. These numbers give instant insight into the most important customer experience trends you should be following.
“Etsy’s core use case is measuring team performance and understanding how their agents are doing,” Forbes explains. “So, they’re digging in on things like first response times, CSAT scores by different agents and teams, and how quickly agents can resolve different issue types.”
With that information at their fingertips, Etsy has been able to surface problem areas, quickly fix routing rules, and identify training opportunities for their agents.
For organizations that require tailored solutions, Zendesk also allows users to build custom dashboards from scratch. “For example, a retailer is probably loading in some loyalty program information, so they might segment their customers by high value, medium value, and low value,” Forbes offers.
In that case, high-level information (such as CSAT scores) can be broken down by more targeted metrics (like customer types or demographics).
Many companies—including Zendesk—will even build new dashboards for big events, such as product launches and updates.
“When we launch a new product, our support team has a dashboard tracking how many tickets we get about it and how we’re handling those tickets,” Forbes says. “We want to make sure that we’re keeping up with customer requests and that support isn’t getting in the way of the sales cycle.”
3. Measure customer experience with charts and reporting
It’s not enough to just measure everything. You have to display that data in an intuitive, digestible format that makes it easier to chart trends and forecast future results.
Your support software should allow you to visualize data in numerous different ways. Zendesk, for example, offers over 20 types of charts. Our solution also boasts a chart recommendation feature that helps match your specific data to the best possible visualization.
Say you’re trying to see how data results trend over time. In that case, Zendesk will suggest charts with a left-to-right progression, such as a line, column, area, or sparkline chart. On the other hand, imagine you’re directly comparing two or more categories. For those head-to-heads, Zendesk will recommend a bar, dot, treemap, bubble pack, or picto chart.
Why so many choices? Because the right data visualizations will make trends and patterns easier to identify. For example, you can gain a much clearer picture of your customer base with charts showing how they break down demographically or why they’re most likely to contact your company.
With Zendesk, you can keep everyone updated on particularly vital metrics. CX and support leaders can create a variety of charts, add them to a dashboard, and then share them with other colleagues in automated reports.
Beyond visualizing customer analytics, your software’s reporting functions can also be used to gain greater insight into your own customer service department’s success rate. Team and agent reporting showcases whether your support reps are meeting certain benchmarks and how many tickets they’re fielding on a regular basis.
Sébastien Faure, head of customer service and support at Devialet, uses Zendesk’s reporting functions and customizable charts on a daily basis to continually improve his team’s performance.
The company receives as many as 8,000 support tickets a month around the holidays. They rely on Zendesk to streamline their customer service in the face of overwhelming demand and to continually monitor performance.
“It is easy to create tables via templates and to customize them,” Faure says. “The data is easily manipulated, and we can create attributes on the fly, which allows me to create exactly the reports I need—all with a very fluid experience.”
How to measure customer experience in a way that produces actionable insights
Businesses that are serious about CX need a support tool that can track and measure every aspect of the customer experience. A solution that can chart customer satisfaction and effort while also keeping tabs on the customer service team and agent KPIs. A software that gives every user access to an array of customer experience metrics, dashboards, and data visualizations that help identify areas of improvement.
How can your business enhance CX? Optimize communication channels? Boost the efficiency of your support agents? Gain greater insight into your customer base? Find out today with a free trial of Zendesk.