5 Customer Service Metrics that Matter (and our little secret)


Why are customer service metrics important? Silly question? Maybe, but stick with me.

When we think of customer service metrics, we automatically consider these a set of numbers designed to spit out information that lets us know how we’re doing. While this may be true, it’s also much more. Imagine that each customer service metric is telling a story, each one spinning a tale filled with information needed with the intent of helping us improve our customer service.

Take this one step further and imagine a manager reading each story, while also trying to ensure it ends well. The manager is an editor who works to adjust each metrics storyline in order to weave the tale in the direction they want it to go. To do this, the manager is going to have to know about each metric and how they affect the outcome of the overall storyline.

“Metrics, the story” consists of five chapters:

  1. First Response Time, or the amount of time it takes for a customer to receive a response.
  2. First Resolution Timewhich measures how many times a customer has to contact afc company to gain a resolution.
  3. Escalation Rate, which looks at how many times a customer escalated or a customer service agent escalated the concern.
  4. Net Promoter Score, also known as NPS, which considers the likelihood that a customer will recommend a company to family and friends.
  5. Customer Satisfaction, which can also be called CSAT, or how satisfied are customers with the level of service they receive.

Not to worry, we’re going to dive a little deeper to better understand why customer success managers want to not only know but also understand these five customer service metrics.

1. First Response Time (FRT)

Let’s consider the first chapter titled First Response Time. This particular metric is crucial because it deals with how quickly a customer receives a response to their question or concern.

In a day and age where anything can be acquired almost immediately, having a long first response time can be detrimental. Consider a customer who makes contact via email, they may expect a response within 24 hours or less. What about those customers who make contact via chat or phone? They choose this contact on the assumption that they’ll gain a response much quicker, usually within 30 seconds or less. If these expectations aren’t met customers can become upset.

In fact 33% of customers would prefer a quick but ineffective response. Breaking this down even further, for every 100 customers, 33 of them value a fast response time over accuracy. Such a percentage could relay to a manager that they would want to verify they have sufficient volume to handle all of their customer interactions.

In order to meet this ever evolving need, a manager needs to maintain focus at the number of customer contacts compared to the number of agents to ensure their needs are being met. If FRT isn’t being met and customers are having to wait longer than desired, management may need to consider increasing the number of agents. After all, there is power in numbers.

2. First Contact Resolution (FCR)

First Contact Resolution is the second chapter of the Metrics story. This part factors in the total number of contacts a customer has to make in order to gain a resolution.

Managers want their FCR as low as possible because they know that 46% of customers consider first contact resolution to be the highest priority. Customers want to send one email, they want to make one phone call, or gain a resolution in a single chat session. They don’t want to engage in a never-ending exchange. If the quick resolution is not happening, then managers will need to evaluate the available resources and verify that the agents are using them.

Consider a customer who purchased something from an online retailer and finds they received the incorrect item. To the customer, this should be a simple resolution and should only require one email correspondence. If the representative who handles the customer’s contact uses their available resources and tools and is able to resolve the customer’s issue in a single reply the customer will leave the interaction satisfied.

If the opposite is true and it takes more than the expected number of contacts then the customer will leave the interaction unsatisfied. If this happens then the manager will want to check in with the representative and verify they are, not only utilizing all available resources, but that they know how to correctly leverage the resources.

3. Escalation Rate

Escalation Rate can tell a whole different piece of the story in two parts. First, how many customers are escalating because they feel they aren’t getting the service they expect or the answer they want? If there’s a trend in esculations, then a re-examination of the tools and resources available may need to occur. If it is found that there was sufficient information to assist the customer the manager may need to address whether the agent is utilizing those resources.

How many times the agent escalates the customer’s concern is the second consideration to examine. There will be times that an agent just doesn’t have the answer and has to escalate. However, how many times they are escalating will need to be factored into their escalation rate.

If an agent takes ten tickets and escalates four of them, this calculates to a 40% escalation rate. The manager may have a team expectation of only 10%. If this is the case then he will want to check in with the agent to find out why they’re escalating so many tickets. This circles back around to verifying that they have the resources needed to address their customer’s concerns and if they are using the available resources. 

4. Net Promoter System (NPS)

Net Promoter System (NPS) looks at the likelihood of a customer referring a business to those around them. Consider NPS as a global wholistic measure that focuses on whether or not a customer will recommend your product to company to their friends and family.

With so many social media outlets available, customer’s voices are heard on a broader scale. With this in mind, businesses must ensure their customers are satisfied in order to maintain current business and gain new growth.

95% of respondents said they usually tell at least one other person about a bad customer experiences with a company, while 54% said they share it with at least 5 other people. This is why it is vitally important for a manager to consider the customers as valuable assets instead of just piggy banks.

If a company’s NPS rating is based on a 1-5 scale and a customer service agent receives just one 1-star review, it will require twenty 5-star customer reviews to bounce back. The manager will then want to review the customer’s feedback in order to ascertain the reason for the poor evaluation.

A lot of companies are taking their customer satisfaction one step further. For example, Apple took on a “Net Promoter of People” approach which focuses on their employees. This allows their employees to bring their authentic selves to work which in turn creates a positive work environment. This approach was one defining factor that helped improve their overall NPS. They found that employees who felt valued and appreciated were more likely to provide better service to their customers.

5. Customer Satisfaction

The metric story isn’t complete without considering Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). This one is a bit unique. It provides an overall picture of how satisfied a customer really is in regards to a specific interaction

Take the metrics mentioned previously and consider the following questions. How long did it take the customer to receive an initial response and was their issue resolved in a single contact? Did their issue have to be escalated and would they recommend your company to their friends and family?

If these questions can be answered with a resounding yes, then great customer service was achieved and if they were exceeded then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back because great customer service has been achieved.

On the flip side of this, if the answer is no to one or more of these questions then great customer service was not achieved. The good news is that the questions that received a no response provide valuable feedback that can produce education and growth.

Today, customers expect much higher service than they ever have and are willing to pay for it. 86% of customers will pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience and only 1% of consumers feel that their expectations for good customer service are always met. Everywhere you look there are companies boasting excellent customer satisfaction and are starting to realize that it’s more cost effective to maintain current customers than it is to obtain new ones.

Letting your customer’s voice be heard and obtaining their viewpoint doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact learning how satisfied your customers are is as easy as stars, smileys, and thumbs.

Every good story ultimately has a valuable lesson to teach us. Here we see that every good manager understands the importance of metrics and the significance they hold. They know that each one will help keep the customers they have while drawing in new ones. By using the “metric” system they establish a strong foundation specifically designed for their company.

Simplr also understands the value of metrics, so much so our entire system is based on helping businesses improve their customer satisfaction. We are built on improving a company’s first contact resolution and providing better response times. Our customers are so important to us that we would have nothing less than only the best customer satisfaction ratings and highest Net Promoter Scores. 

In the words of Warren Buffett “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It’s time to rethink customer service to build better reputations.