In his book on the importance of working with very little information, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that good decision making is not about knowledge. It is about understanding. “We are swimming in the former,” Gladwell wrote. “We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
Focusing on individual KPIs over your entire customer engagement strategy is putting knowledge over understanding. Instead, a range of different KPIs should build up the understanding you have of your customer experience - and inform your customer engagement strategy as you continually learn and grow.
In this post, we suggest the top ten customer service metrics you should consider for both ticketing and call-based support centers - as well as a handful of additional KPIs to consider as you incorporate live chat, with some overlap. From there, we dive into what makes the transition to self-serve customer support can (and should) look like.
For both the established enterprise and the growing SME, the key to fantastic customer support is bringing all these KPIs together to map out future customer engagement efforts instead of simply validating past customer experience.
The top 10 KPIs for ticketing and help desks
Help desks and ticketing are as much about the quality of service as any other form of customer support. The software-native approach lends itself well to metrics tracking, yes. But that does not mean efficiency replaces engagement as the aim of your brand’s customer service efforts.
That said, increased efficiency often translates into improved customer satisfaction. The faster things are resolved, the better for both the customer experience and the bottom line. These are the top ten KPIs that address both areas.
- Number of Tickets: The foundation for future customer engagement efforts. Knowing how many tickets your team handles on a daily (or hourly) basis will help you be prepared and understand where to put your energy.
- First Contact Resolution Time: Instead of call time, this metric measures how long it takes your team to resolve an issue after a customer first opens a ticket. If this is in hours, you’re off to a good start - and minutes is even better.
- Aggregate Ticket Resolution Time: This tracks the average resolution across all tickets, including updated tickets and new tickets.
- Customer Satisfaction: If the ticket volume is your foundation, customer satisfaction rates are the beams that will keep the entire building from crumbling. Many companies send a follow-up email after a ticket is resolved asking for feedback.
- Response Time: Customers expect a quick response. Get your average time between addressing tickets to determine if you need to scale up your efforts.
- Individual Agent Performance: Help desk solutions should let you monitor how effective each agent is at responding to and resolving tickets to determine if further training is required.
- Agent Utilization: The ratio of time spent on tickets versus other internal tasks. Aim for a higher ratio for a more effective team.
- Ticket Volume by Channel: Determine where customer engagement is happening by looking at where tickets are originating from - social, email, chat, API, etc.
- Resource Utilization: For internal IT desks, it’s about software utilization. For
customer facinghelp desks, it’s about how often agents use existing resources to resolve tickets.
- Cost Per Ticket: As with any business, the bottom line is the bottom line. You may already have your customer support budget, but this metric will give you a granular understanding of how much goes into customer engagement given your current systems.
The top 5 KPIs for call-based support centers
With the personal touch of call-based support centers comes the opportunity for customer engagement - even if those personal interactions can be difficult to track. The most important metrics for call-based support should aim to assess how well support addresses customer needs, from beginning to end.
At the same time, customer support KPIs in this context should evaluate how effective the call-based approach to customer experience is. Looking at metrics like agent turnover and how long issues take to resolve after a call are about more than bare efficiency. These figures can also act as a barometer for how well the channel is working for bringing about the best customer experience. If the KPIs are lagging, it may be time to look for additional channels for your customer engagement strategy, like live chat or self-serve options.
Call volume, first call resolution rate, customer satisfaction, average handle time and cost per ticket all remain similar to the metrics for any customer experience performance indicators. The remainder are more unique to call-based customer support.
- Calls Blocked: The percentage of customers unable to reach support at all due to a busy signal. If this is too high, it’s a good indicator that more support staff are needed - or that your tech needs updating.
- Average Time in Queue: While not as dramatic as a blocked call, too high of a wait time is almost certain to lead to dissatisfied customers. The acceptable number may be surprising; research shows that most customers are not willing to wait more than a minute.
- After Call Work Time: How long does it take to fully resolve an issue, even after the customer gets off the phone? If agents are spending more than half the length of the call wrapping up and reporting, a reexamination of your processes is in order.
- Abandonment Rate: The percentage of abandoned calls out of total inbound calls due to long wait times, getting disconnected or even leaving frustrated. If the percentage is too high, it may be worth exploring other channels for your customer engagement strategy.
- Agent Turnover: Call centers may be notorious for high turnover, but you can mitigate this by providing great resources and clear processes. Addressing the cause of turnover can help.
Which KPIs to consider for live chat support
Live chat is no longer optional for many companies - particularly those in the B2B and SaaS spheres. For the most part, metrics for a customer engagement strategy that focuses largely on live chat are similar to those for a ticketing based support team.
The measurement tool may be different - the number of chats or first chat
resolution rate, for example - but the main idea remains the same: how does customer experience stack up?
Since live chat can supplement help desk platforms (and their KPIs), many metrics like Response Time and First Contact Resolution Time are applicable for tracking performance on both platforms. However, there are a handful of additional KPIs to look at. These include:
- Invitation Acceptance: With live chat, you get the option to be proactive with your customer engagement strategy. If you offer a chat popup on your site, tracking the response can be a good indication of how effective that approach is.
- Sales Conversion: One benefit of live chat - particularly with a chat option on your landing page - is the opportunity to turn it into a sales channel. Tracking how many chats (and which types of chats) convert can help you understand how to grow the strategy for true customer engagement.
- Tags: With live chat, the overlap between customer support, marketing and sales has never been more blurred. Tagging chats by category (sales, customer service, technical help, etc.) will give you an idea of which area to focus in on - and how effective your other customer engagement efforts are.
Making the transition: Metrics for self-serve customer support
Many companies are increasingly employing self-service options for customer support. The approach can actually boost customer engagement by encouraging easy interactions while also cutting down on support tickets or calls. From automated messaging to knowledge bases, self-serve customer support.
But how do you measure performance here - or customer experience for that matter? How do you measure how a self-help article is used or how helpful a chatbot is? Here are a few metrics to get you started.
- Abandon Rate: You’ve already got acceptance rate covered, right? So what about abandon rate? Looking at how often customers opt-out of the automated chatbot feature before resolving their issue (or without responding at all) can tell you how well its received.
- Escalation Rate: The chatbot is not meant to replace live agents, but it should cut down on support staff load significantly. How often is a chatbot-initiated conversation escalated to staff? If it’s very often, responses should be readjusted.
- Channels Used: So you have your chatbot on hand, your live agents ready, and your knowledge base up there for the world to see. But which channels are actually used most? Comparing other metrics (like satisfaction or resolution time) by channel is another good performance indicator.
- Self-help Satisfaction: You don’t need a full survey to get customer feedback. A simple “Was this article helpful?” with a yes/no option at the end of a knowledge base article will tell you where you need to dig deeper.
- Views to Ticket Ratio: If you’re not quite ready for a chatbot, introducing a self-help knowledge center is a good start. Looking at how often articles are viewed compared to how many tickets are opened can tell you how effective the resource is. Looking at which article topics are viewed most often is also a good indicator of where to focus your energy.
Again, none of these customer experience KPIs should be viewed in a silo. If your live chat satisfaction is high but your ratio of knowledge base views to opened tickets is off kilter, your customer engagement strategy may need some tweaking.
Measuring customer satisfaction is important - but that one metric cannot give you the critical insight you need about your customer experience. Only by taking all of these KPIs into account - and building a multichannel approach to support - can you build understanding instead of simply knowledge.
Over to you!
Unlike the support workflows and processes of yesteryear, succeeding in today’s world of on-demand, customer-happiness-at-all-cost support requires any customer experience and support lead to closely track a cohort of KPIs that give insight into agent responsiveness, accountability for the life cycle of a customer interaction, accuracy and empathy of interactions, and whether proper protocols around SLAs and escalations are being adhered to.
The 23 KPIs we highlight across call-based, ticketing-based and chat-based support are only the beginning, and give but a glimpse from the surface into the capabilities of your team to handle both depth and breadth around support volume and different tiers of complexity.
At Acquire, we believe in giving you the ability to track, monitor, train and enable your team to succeed with our performance analytics dashboards and live chat / co-browse session recordings.
We’d love to hear from you - leave a message or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are KPIs you’ve found helpful when managing a support team that are not mentioned above.