Successful software companies understand that their e-commerce customers keep their business afloat and also provide opportunities to improve many aspects of their offering – from marketing efforts to checkout process to post-purchase support. If you don’t provide your customers with world-class service they leave you for a business that does. In fact, 86 percent of consumers will stop doing business with a company after a bad customer service experience.
SMART Customer Service KPIs
So how do you know if you are providing that gold standard service to your customers? It all starts with establishing SMART KPIs. Remember, SMART KPIs are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Using SMART KPIs lets you understand what is helping your performance and what is hindering it, and how you can improve.
“Customer loyalty [impacts] willingness to consider another purchase, likelihood to switch business to a competitor, and likelihood to recommend to a friend or colleague.” - via Forrester Research: Transform The Contact Center For Customer Service Excellence
Among the many different KPIs you can measure (and we will discuss more KPIs later) to achieve customer service excellence this post focuses on response times. We will explore different expectations of this metric for phone calls and emails, and show you how to drill down into this metric in order to really see how your team is performing.
One of the most frustrating aspects of customer service is waiting for a response. Whether it means a customer sent an email and is waiting a few days to hear back from your company or they are waiting on hold in a phone queue, the more you can reduce customer wait times, the more satisfied your customers will be.
Phone Calls – Average Speed Of Answer
Depending on your support staff and your call volume, establish an achievable average speed for answering the phone. For example, you could determine a goal that every phone call must be answered within 30 seconds on average. But if you really want to see how well you’re doing, take that average speed of answer time and try to keep it under 30 seconds for 90 percent of your calls.
These two measurements are not the same. Imagine if two customers call your contact center. The first customer’s call gets picked up in less than one second. Customer number two’s call is picked up in 50 seconds. The average speed of answer for these two calls is 25 seconds. You have met the first objective, but you have not met the second objective. Magnify that over the course of months and years and the amount of delayed customers adds up.
When it comes to customer service KPIs, it’s not just the average speed you are measuring – you are also hunting for outliers and trying to improve every single customer interaction. The second metric is much more difficult to achieve and so it indicates superior performance.
Phone Calls – Longest Wait Time
To add another layer of complexity, start measuring the longest time it took to answer the phone. If you see a customer waited for 10 minutes before they spoke with a representative, you know there is an opportunity to improve your service.
If your goal for average speed of answer is 30 seconds and if your service level agreement is to have 90 percent of calls under that limit, first rate customer service teams might shoot for less than one percent of calls to wait over 60 seconds.
Let’s say your customer service team responds to 100 calls over the course of a single day. If 98 calls were answered within 30 seconds, but even two calls waited over 60 seconds, you have failed to achieve your premium service level.
This performance indicator is extremely difficult to achieve and requires the right number of highly trained reps scheduled in the most efficient manner. Accomplishing this reduction in customer wait times however, goes a long way in creating more loyal customers.
Email Response Times
Email response times do not carry the same expectation for customers as phone calls do. Phone calls are more urgent than emails. You can delay answering an email for at most a day but a phone call must be picked up immediately. Still, you need to establish a reasonable KPI achievement that you expect to see reach 100 percent of the time. If that goal is 24 hours or 48 hours, the important thing is to manage customer expectations. On the contact information page of your site, explain to visitors that urgent matters will be resolved more quickly by phone. Less urgent matters can be handled by email, which also helps customers keep track of correspondence with your company.
Managing customer expectations and measuring how long you keep customers waiting will help you better understand how well you are delivering your customer service. Use those metrics to benchmark your performance and improve the customer experience.