Numbers might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but they’re critical for guiding your team and keeping the rest of the company in the loop.

There are many ways to measure the performance of your customer support team: Response Times, Number of Interactions, Time to Resolution, Customer Satisfaction, and much more.

Metrics like these allow you to understand what level of service you’re providing your customers with – how long they have to wait, if they’re happy with the outcome and so on.

Metrics also help you and your team understand whether the work you’re doing is making a difference. Are you moving the needle?

Finally, metrics help you communicate what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it to the rest of the business.

But exactly what should you measure, how should you present it, and who should you share it with?

Choosing the metrics that matter

In customer support, there are a set of starting metrics (more on these below) that almost every team will track, so they’re an excellent place to start. Just make sure your chosen metrics tie back to the wider company goals.

Only once you’ve got the basics in place should you start looking at metrics that give you more granular insights to fine-tune operations – things like reducing tickets of a specific type or measuring the quality of self service articles.

Many of your metrics are intrinsically linked, so always make sure you’re tracking a spectrum of metrics. This helps prevent a Cobra Effect, which means people game a metric and reach a goal but also create unintended negative consequences.

Metrics to start with

If you’re stuck with where to begin, there are some good grounding metrics every customer support team should be tracking that will help measure how well your team react to, and deal with, customer support requests.

Overall ticket volume

This measures the number of customer support interactions in a given period. It’s not a metric that requires action, but it’s important to track because it gives you an idea of what your ‘normal’ is, so you recognize irregularities when they occur and notice trends once you’ve measured for a while.

A sudden surge might indicate a deeper problem like a bug or an outage. If you notice the metric creeping up over a week or month, you might need to prepare for improving your processes or hiring more staff.

Overall Ticket Volume is also a great way to make everyone else in the company aware of what the workload looks like for your team.

Solved tickets

Naturally related to Overall Ticket Volume, Solved Tickets is the number of tickets your team solve in one day. If you solve all your tickets in the same day they arise, the two metrics should match up, although a backlog is of course not uncommon.

Be sure to keep an eye on Customer Satisfaction alongside this metric to check that agents aren’t just rushing through tickets and leaving customers unhappy.

To give you a rough measure of productivity, you can break this metric down to gain further insights. Depending on the structure of your team, you can measure Solved Tickets by:

  • Support channel – If there are several ways customers can contact you, be it via chat, email, through a web form, phone or even through social networks, it’s important to track how each channel is performing.
  • Team or individual – Measure the number of customer interactions of each support team or individual. It’s a great way of seeing when and where your team is being overworked and needs extra help.
  • Issue region – See which time zones and areas you serve might need more help.
I consider Solved Tickets to be a secondary metric. There’s no set target, but the expectation is that everyone on the team is roughly around the same mark. So if the team average is 300 and someone is doing 200, then I’ll raise it, but if everyone is around the same average then it’s just not mentioned. This allows the team to focus on the quality of their work and takes the stress away from trying to hit a Solved Ticket number in months when the overall volume happens to be really low.

Teri Bayrock, Head of Customer Success at Trussle

First response time

This tracks the average time it took for your team to provide an opening response to a customer.

Expectations on first response time will vary depending on the channel. A response time of under 24 hours might be alright for email but would never cut it in live chat or on social media. However, placing too huge an importance on your team providing that fast initial response can, in some cases, lead to a negative impact on your CSAT, if customers receive poor quality replies that don’t solve their problem. This is a good example of the above mentioned Cobra Effect.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

To balance out metrics like First Response Time and Tickets Solved, it’s also good to measure Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). This indicates customer happiness for a single event or transaction with your team (as opposed to their overall relationship with your brand – Net Promoter Score).

CSAT is usually based on a short survey that customers fill out, typically after a ticket is resolved. This survey can take many different forms, but at its core it asks the customer to rate their experience on a scale ranging from good/great to bad.

Making the questions as lightweight and effortless as possible is key to getting a large number of customers to respond on a regular basis.

Do bear in mind that mildly satisfied or dissatisfied customers are less likely to complete the survey, which might skew your results.

Time to resolution

This measures the average time it takes your team to resolve a customer issue from start to finish. This is one of the main measures of the quality of your service and is likely to affect your CSAT score.

Resolution rate

This measures the number of customer tickets your team actually resolves from the number of total tickets received. If this metric is low or getting lower, it’s an indication for you to investigate why your team is not solving users’ problems.

Benchmarking

Once you’ve picked your metrics, you’ll want to get an idea of how well you’re doing. If you don’t have enough of your own data to see what changes have occurred over time, you can look for publicly available benchmarks. These will give you a sense of what’s average and what’s exceptional. The most useful benchmarks will be of companies similar to your own and even then, you should take these numbers with a pinch of salt.

It’s better to benchmark your performance against your own numbers. Start gathering your data as soon as possible and measure yourself against your own idea of normal, then revisit your benchmarks regularly as your available data grows.

Finally, some metrics don’t need a benchmark. For example, if your first reply time is 48 hours, you can make a decision yourself on whether you think that’s good enough for your business or not.

Zendesk Benchmark says that my CSAT is lower than the benchmark, but I’m dealing with issues that these other individuals might not be dealing with. If it’s a product deficiency, for example, there’s just nothing I can do about it. But I make note of benchmarks and compare numbers from different places, just so I’m in the know. Then, to give me a better picture, I use social networks to connect with support leaders to understand their unique problems as well as where they’re at with their metrics.

Larry Fleischer, Customer Support Director at Pinger

The views expressed are Larry’s own and not those of his employer.

Sharing your metrics

You can go a long way towards fostering an open and collaborative culture in your team by showing them how they’re making an impact, both collectively and individually.

Share the high-level metrics that show what shape the business is in, as well as the metrics your team work on every day that have an impact on the higher level. Seeing these numbers is a powerful motivator and trust builder.

Bringing your team together to talk over individual and team metrics can help make sure everyone understands how they are performing.

We’ll have a weekly, all-hands meeting, where I share some top-level metrics, this is then broken down into individual feedback. And then on a longer-term cycle, we have a monthly meeting with the product team, basically feeding back on how this month’s products have been selling and what our customers have been saying about them. The objective of the meeting is to improve the customer experience and reduce ticket volumes effectively.

Mike Goss, Head of Customer Operations at Spoke

If your team isn’t used to monitoring and reviewing its performance metrics, you might want to try adding a manual step, like a separate spreadsheet.

I have a spreadsheet and once a week each team member will copy their metrics into the spreadsheet, because this is one way that I can make sure they’ve looked at those numbers and there won’t be any surprises. They will know if their numbers are up or down. You just have to remember that there’s also a story behind the hard data and it’s important to find out why something did or didn’t happen.

Valentina Thörner, Happiness Team Lead at Automattic

It‘s also useful to share your metrics beyond your immediate team. It can boost general awareness of what you do and garner insights from other people in the company. It’s also a chance to show off improvements and publicly celebrate wins, which will make you look good in front of everyone, especially your boss!

Ways to share your metrics

The simplest way to start sharing metrics is through regular updates, which will help everyone check in on their progress. Once you’ve found a rhythm, you might want to consider which metrics are better suited to real-time, weekly or monthly updates.

Real-time updates

Live dashboards use data visualization to display a combination of company metrics in real-time. Often displayed prominently on a wall-mounted screen, this constant access enables you and your team to evaluate your performance against key goals. It can also inspire conversations and a greater interest in metrics. Live TV dashboard solutions like Geckoboard help teams prioritize actions to improve key metrics and hit their goals.

Long-term reports

Data reports can range from a weighty printed document, which offers deeper insights and can take time to prepare, to automated spreadsheets, which can offer regular status reporting but without the deep analysis.

Choose wisely and review regularly

Metrics are an incredibly useful tool for informing and engaging your team and the wider company. Carefully consider which metrics will help you focus on your key goals, measure performance and help you identify issues and bottlenecks.

Remember not to overwhelm yourself and your team at the beginning. Get your starting metrics in place before you think about measuring for more specific issues.

Finally, review your metrics regularly since they’re likely to change as priorities and focus shift over time.

Introduction

The Center of Happiness

Stages of a customer support team

Firefighting

You’re swamped, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Carving out time to think beyond the barrage of tickets, and being smart about your priorities, can turn things around.

Levelling up

You can’t firefight forever. It’s time to get some fundamental tools and processes in place, so you can give consistently brilliant support to your customers.

Above and beyond

Your team is firing on all cylinders and your customers are delighted. How do you take things to the next level?

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