Quality customer service is imperative for anyone in business today. Customers not only demand good customer service, but they will actually switch companies if they think they are not getting quality service. Today’s consumers put much less emphasis on the actual product you’re selling and more on how you work with them to make sure they’re happy.
That means that many people are interested in measuring customer service. There are many different methods for measurement, and while people can’t seem to agree on the best method, here are some options.
The Worst Method
Even if there is not agreement about the best metric for measuring customer service, there’s general consensus about the worst metric: average handle time (AHT). It’s also known as talk time: a measure of call length.
Why is AHT such a bad method of measuring service? Quite simply, it does not tell you anything about the quality of service. A customer who spends a long time on the phone may not think they got good service—but the opposite could be true if the call manager was empathetic and spent a lot of time resolving a complicated issue.
A short call might mean the issue was quick and easy to resolve, but it might equally mean that the customer was given the brush off, as the call manager hastily tried to resolve the issue and then moved on to the next customer without actually solving the problem.
What Other Metrics Are There?
Obviously, if your firm is using AHT to measure customer service, it is time to stop. That means you need to put a new metric for measuring customer service in place. But what should that metric be?
There are plenty of options: customer effort scores, net promoter scores, and customer satisfaction are just a few of the measures that people have used to get a measure of how well their customer service is faring.
What Outcomes Do You Want?
What gets measured gets managed, some have said, and they would be right. If you cannot measure something—that is, if you do not know how well you are doing—how can you effectively manage it? You may not even know it exists.
Before you can decide on a metric, however, you need to know what outcomes you want to achieve with your customer service. Obviously, the goal is to provide great customer service. But how do you define that? More importantly, how do your customers define it?
Think long and hard about what outcomes you want to achieve before you pick a metric. If you want to be sure your customers are getting the contact they need, you might count the number of interactions per call. How many times does your rep actually talk to the customer? That is usually a better indicator of customer service than simply measuring the length of the call.
Is Customer Satisfaction the Ultimate Metric?
Probably not. While customer satisfaction is important, if you only measure customer satisfaction, you might end up with an incomplete or false picture of how happy your customers are. Customers who never contact you may not be happy—but you wouldn’t know that because you have never heard from them. Similarly, those customers who do contact you may be reaching out because they have a problem—and they might be more difficult to please.
Instead of relying on just one measure, you should likely measure several aspects of your customer service. Customer satisfaction is just one piece of the puzzle. How long does it take your agents to respond to a contact? How many cases do individual agents resolve? And how many contacts do they make with customers? All of that is also important for your customer service.