What do customer satisfaction, net promoter scores, and average handle time have in common? They’re all examples of customer service metrics. Not all of them are equal—some metrics are better than others—but there are plenty of them around.
With so many measurements available, and seemingly everyone promoting one metric or another, it can be difficult to know what to take stock of. You may even question why you need to measure anything at all! Businesses that do measure their customer service, however, have a distinct advantage over their competition.
Common wisdom suggests it’s better to measure twice and cut once than to get the wrong measurement and make an error. While this advice is usually applied to fields like carpentry, it’s equally applicable to your firm’s customer service.
Customer service metrics are valuable because they provide a look behind the scenes at how you interact with your customers. You might think the service you’re delivering is the best of the best, but your customers might perceive things differently. And while you want your customers’ feedback, you can also imagine they’re a bit biased too.
Metrics provide unbiased numbers for you to measure against. With them, you can see how your business is stacking up in the service department: Are you right where you should be or are you falling short of your goals?
Why You Need Them
Some people think customer service metrics are frills—they’re nice to know, but you don’t absolutely have to take a yardstick and measure your performance. Those people are wrong, however; it’s like saying you don’t need to time a sprinter to declare he’s broken a world record.
Without a measurement, it’s impossible to know what you’re doing well and what needs improvement. When you introduce customer service metrics into the mix, you suddenly have concrete, objective data to inform your decisions. What could be better?
Business owners who don’t measure customer service are taking a stab in the dark when they try to improve: They don’t know what’s wrong, so they’re just guessing.
Which Metrics to Use?
Remember, not all customer service metrics are equal. There are a ton of them available; if you wanted, you could probably spend a lot of time and money measuring just about every conceivable aspect of customer service. It’s not really worth it, however. You need to be sure the metrics you choose give you valuable insights. You need data you can act on, not data that looks pretty on a chart for your next meeting.
Some metrics, such as average handle time and attrition, are essentially useless to you. They tell you almost nothing about your customer service. On the other hand, measures such as customer satisfaction and net promoter scores can tell you a lot more about the service you’re delivering.
Why is that? Quality of information. It’s nice to know how long, on average, your customer service representatives spend on the phone with customers, but those numbers don’t tell you anything about the quality of service they provided. A customer satisfaction survey, on the other hand, can get answers to the all-important question: “Why?”
How to Implement Metrics
By now, implementing customer service metrics should feel like a no-brainer. The question now is how you can start using them in your business.
If you have an in-house call center, your managers are likely collecting some of the information you may want to know. Outsourced call centers are also collecting this data—and more. In fact, if you’re working with a third-party provider, it should already be using customer service metrics! Ask your provider which ones they use and which ones they can help you implement.