Ana Khlystova
Mar 24, 2021 | 10 min read

Customer relationships sound like too an intangible notion to measure. It operates in the world of emotions, moods, undertones, and spur-of-the-moment decisions. And building customer relations is exactly what customer service teams do. That’s why it may be difficult sometimes to put your finger on why some interactions click right away while others fail even if you do everything by the book. 

Still, there are some ground rules you can calibrate your support performance by.

In this piece, we want to discuss the 8 most common customer service metrics. It won’t give you a ready-made recipe for an all-encompassing strategy (because frankly, nothing will). But it’s a great foundation to get a better understanding of the processes, their strengths, and weaknesses.

What are customer service metrics?

Customer support metrics are measurable criteria that define the effectiveness of your support processes as well as customer experience and perception.

Basically, you can’t measure the emotions your customers experience while interacting with your brand. But you can come as close to it as possible by knowing how fast your team answers when customers face difficulties or how satisfied they feel with the provided solution.

These are just some of the customer service metrics examples that businesses should track. The more data you have on your hands, the deeper this rabbit hole goes.

As opposed to customer service KPIs that measure business goals, the customer service metrics definition is more wide-ranging. If some process takes place, you can measure it and apply a corresponding metric. Even if it’s not directly related to your key objectives.

Why are customer service metrics important?

As the old saying goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. As cheesy and hackneyed as it sounds, no truer words were ever spoken about business metrics.

According to the recent research by Deloitte, 49% of companies have incorporated analytics into their business strategy to make better decisions. Moreover, 16% of businesses rely on it for shaping key strategic initiatives.

Why are customer service metrics important?

But, do metrics work in customer service? And what are the key benefits of measuring and rating customer service?

The answer can’t be more obvious.

Service metrics help you understand whether you do a good job helping your customers, improving their experience, and retaining them for a long time. 

Put simply, customer support metrics help you answer the following questions:

  • Is your support team fast enough? Do you need more stuff?
  • Do you resolve customers’ issues on time?
  • Did you build effective team communication?
  • Is your product/website/service intuitive and easy to use?
  • Do you provide your customers with everything they need to find answers immediately?
  • And even, whether or not your business will flourish and bring profit?

So, what are the most important metrics for customer service? For your convenience, we’ve divided them into two categories: team performance metrics and customer experience metrics. Let’s give them a look now.

Customer service performance metrics

This group of customer care metrics is the easiest to measure and define as they operate in the area of time and quantity. How fast is your customer support team? How many requests do they get every day/week/month?

Many customer service tools like HelpCrunch allow you to gather this information on the go and access it in your dashboard. You can sign up for a free trial and start tracking relevant criteria right away.

1. Average first response time

First response time is a basic customer service metric that shows how quickly your support team answers the first message they receive from a customer.

This first reaction is kind of the most life-changing. It’s hardly surprising the customers are more frustrated the moment they’ve faced some issue. That’s why it’s important to assure people that the proper actions have been taken while the anger is at its peak. You’d be surprised how easy it is to deescalate the situation by simply acknowledging it.

Another example is when people are browsing your website in hesitation. Chances are, they will want to contact your support team to clarify something that prevents them from buying the product right away. And if your team doesn’t get back fast enough, it won’t take them long to switch to your more attentive competitors.

All in all, you can’t underestimate the importance of this metric for measuring customer service. In fact, 33% of customers would still recommend a brand that offered a quick but ineffective response.

How to measure: average first response time = total first response time for a certain period / total number of first responses for a certain period

Benchmarks: email — 24 hours, live chat — 1,5-2 minutes, call centers — 3 minutes, social media — under 1h.

How to improve first response time:

  • Prepare canned responses for common questions
  • Incorporate chatbots into your live chat and create basic scenarios for them
  • Offer extensive self-service and put it in plain sight
  • Enable basic customer service automation like ticket routing or department selectors
First response time KPI
HelpCrunch performance report

2. Average resolution time

Average resolution time is a metric measuring the time from the first message from a customer until the ticket is resolved and closed.

It’s important to remember that this customer service metric can’t be interpreted literally. Some cases take longer to resolve than others. Moreover, technical glitches and bugs are completely out of reach for support reps and can only be resolved by technical departments.

Short ticket resolution time doesn’t necessarily mean that issues are resolved correctly. This is why this metric goes hand in hand with the customer satisfaction score that is measured right after a ticket is closed.

I think we can all agree that the ultimate goal is not just to answer quickly but to follow through.

How to measure: Total Resolution Time for all tickets solved / No. tickets solved = Average Resolution Time

Benchmarks: from 1 to 82 hours

How to improve your average resolution time:

  • Create a detailed knowledge base and integrate it into your team inbox (this will allow support reps to share a relevant article in a few clicks)
  • Give your support reps access to real-time customer data and internal notes
  • Offer proactive support in your most problematic areas
Customer service metric: average resolution time
JitBit

3. Total amount of requests per certain period

The total amount of requests shows the exact number of unique conversations your support team has in an inbox over a certain time (day/week/month).

The total number of requests can’t be really informative or telling if not measured in correlation with their quality and content. In some cases, too many tickets mean that something is wrong with your product or service. Hence, people come to complain and vent out.

In other instances, the same amount of conversations may come from new leads and website visitors who are eager to finish their purchase. And this is definitely a good thing.

Choose a period for which you would like to track the total number of conversations, and just compare the metric over time. Unusual spikes are what’s definitely worth further analysis.

How to measure: count the amount of requests over a certain period or track it in your support software 

Benchmarks: depends on your website traffic and user base

How to improve the total amount of requests:

  • Offer extensive knowledge base and proactive support to eliminate repetitive questions
  • Double down on your marketing campaigns and organize effective collaboration between support, marketing, and sales.

4. Quality of requests

The quality of requests is a subjective customer service metric that defines relevancy and intent of each incoming request.

I must admit that this isn’t one of the typical metrics for customer service. It’s far more difficult to determine and measure. But I’m convinced that none of the performance metrics will tell you much without the thorough analysis of requests’ content.

We at HelpCrunch have come up with our unique system of tags rating conversations of a scale from 1 to 5 — 1 being irrelevant spam and 5 belonging to high-intent leads. We also have additional tags like ‘bugs’, ‘feature requests’, ‘follow-ups’ to better prioritize messages that come from our active customers.

While collecting customer service and performance metrics at the end of each month, we also access all conversations marked with the corresponding tags in the ‘Contact’ section. You can either review them on the go or download them as a CSV file for more scrupulous analysis.

How to measure: Rate new conversations with corresponding tags and analyze tag reports over time.

Benchmarks: more than 70% of relevant requests

How to improve the quality of incoming requests:

First of all, this data will give you a better idea about your marketing performance. Too much spam from new leads clearly means that people end up on your website by mistake. So it makes sense to review your campaigns and arrange it so that it targets your buyer persona more precisely.

Experience customer service metrics

While measuring your team’s productivity and efficiency is important, we’ve finally come to the customer support metrics that matter the most. If we agree that the ultimate goal of customer service is to satisfy clients’ needs, then measuring customer experience is the most natural thing.

In this regard, customer satisfaction is better measured right after a conversation while it’s still fresh in memory. Ask people to rate customer service or your product, and you’ll get a clear picture of how your business is perceived in general.

5. Customer satisfaction rate (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) shows how satisfied customers are with your customer service or product.

It is a key service metric for any customer-oriented company. When everything is said and done, it actually shows whether all those efforts you’ve put in your business are worthwhile.

Send your customers a short survey asking them to rate their experience. We at HelpCrunch use a system of emojis, where people choose from three options — poor, average, and great. They pick one option at the end of their conversation with support, and you can access a satisfaction report in your customer service metrics dashboard.

How to measure: 

  • Based on post-conversation or email surveys
  • (Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5)/ Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

Benchmarks: for live chat – 82%, for email – 61%, for call centers – 44%.

How to improve:

  • The surefire way to achieving perfect satisfaction scores is tightly related to the customer support performance metrics we’ve discussed above. Shorten your first response time and resolution time to give customers what they want instantly — and those positive satisfaction rates won’t take long to appear.
  • It can also be quite informative to measure customer satisfaction with your knowledge base. This way, you can be sure that your self-service hub is actionable and helpful. Just add a small survey at the end of each article.
Customer satisfaction KPI
HelpCrunch satisfaction report

6. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of customer satisfaction and loyalty based on their willingness to recommend your business to other people.

The NPS survey only asks one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our organization to a friend or colleague?” Based on people’s answers, you can break your user base down into three groups:

  • 0–6 range (Detractors)
  • 7–8 range (Passives)
  • 9–10 range (Promoters)

Sounds simple, but it’s an evergreen classic that can tell you more about your customers than you think. For one thing, people who are willing to recommend your brand to their friends and colleagues are one step closer to becoming your brand advocates and ambassadors.

On the other hand, dissatisfied customers can churn any minute, so your customer care strategy should be reviewed and adjusted asap.

How to measure: 

  • Based on an NPS survey results
  • (Number of Promoters — Number of Detractors) / (Number of Respondents) x 100 

Benchmarks: 

  • above 0 – good,
  • above 20 – favorable
  • above 50 – excellent
  • above 80 – world-class

How to improve:

Various discounts and loyalty programs are a proven way to retain people who stick with your brand for a long time. Without a doubt, customer service plays a crucial role in building trusting relationships. However, it’s virtually impossible to build an effective loyalty and retention strategy without a solid, reliable, and viable product or service.

Retently

7. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score is one of the best customer service metrics to measure how easy it is for a customer to achieve the desired outcome (e.g. resolve their issue, make a purchase, upgrade).

To evaluate the amount of effort people need to apply to contact your support, just send them a post-conversation survey with one question: “On a scale of 1-7, how easy was it to get your question answered?” The votes of 5 and higher mean that your support is fairly helpful and easy to contact. 1 means that finding it was next to impossible. Basically, the higher your CES score, the better.

The answers will give you a clear understanding of whether you should improve your UX and reevaluate your design decisions. 

If a customer needs to search for your ‘Contact us’ button even for a minute, you’ve failed your mission. Key actions like signing up or contacting support should take zero thought and effort. The other negative example is when a person is being transferred from one support department to another. And no one can give them at least some sort of a definitive answer.

How to measure: based on a CES survey

Benchmarks: the higher the better

How to improve:

  • Place your live chat button or “Contact us” form in an obvious and visible place and enhance it with various eye-catchers and proactive auto messages.
  • Set up seamless communication between different departments as well as inside your customer support team with the help of private notes, team collaboration tools, etc.
Experience customer service metrics pyramid
GroHawk

8. Number of upsells and cross-sells

The number of upsells and cross-sells shows how many upgrades or additional purchases were made after an interaction with customer support. 

Even though it’s not customer support’s main goal to sell, they’re still in the best position to do that. Being able to offer relevant offers on the go is an important customer service skill. There are situations when an issue can actually be remedied with a small upgrade or an additional purchase.

In these situations, a support rep can upsell or cross-sell while also genuinely giving a helping hand.

How to measure: keep a record of all upsells and cross-sells made after a conversation and mark them with relevant tags.

Benchmarks: depends on the number of incoming requests

How to improve:

  • Empower your customer support with necessary tools, discounts, and loyalty programs
  • Compose a few canned responses that push towards an upgrade in a genuine and non-intrusive way

Bottom line:

Tracking customer service metrics may sound like an overwhelming task. You need to keep track of various numbers and compare them against each other constantly.

However, modern customer support tools offer detailed reports on most of the important metrics. For instance, HelpCrunch collects data on the number of conversations, their average duration, and first response time. If you turn on the chat rating feature, the tool will automatically collect customer feedback based on their rates and present it in the Satisfaction report.

All in all, the process of collecting customer service reporting metrics is way easier than you may think, and it will pay off in the long run. Just sign up for HelpCrunch, and you’ll be able to access all relevant real-time metrics any moment.

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