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HOW TO MEASURE THE EFFICIENCY OF THE CUSTOMER SUPPORT TEAM.
PART 1: BASIC PRINCIPLES

Katerina Vinokhodova
UseDesk Co-Owner
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," Peter Drucker, the father of American management philosophy. Customer service is measured in multiple ways, considering the volume of received and missed calls, the duration of conversation, amount of e-mails, the quality of feedback, and many other numbers that can be recorded and counted. UseDesk also helps to collect the statistical data.

However, the helpdesk does not specify which characteristic matters to your company. The customer support managers generate various reports volume of which is nearly the same as the total amount of the printed copies of the newspaper Pravda but not all of them are useful. To ensure that your charts and diagrams do not turn into waste, we will help you to identify what needs to be measured, and how to produce a report using this data.
What are Customer Support metrics?
To evaluate the work of an employee or appraise team performance, you need to know how quickly they respond to the requests, or how many letters they process per day. To identify the questions that the customers ask more often, you should count the number of the requests related to each "subject". Overall, you review the metrics at different levels depending on what you want to measure.
You, as a support team manager, have access to all the data as well as to thousands of other sources. The challenge is to select only the relevant ones, and identify whom and how to present the data. Let's see what are the principles used by the best support teams in the world.
1. Why do you run the reports?
The purpose of the customer service is not in generating the pretty reports and building colorful charts but in providing amazing customer service. Reports are needed to prove the amazingness of the service and demonstrate it in numbers. Depending on what your company considers an indicator of service quality, you apply relevant metrics.

Basecamp offers good customer service and quick response time as the features of the product. Cristina Aardsma, the head of customer support, believes that the most significant numbers are the first reply time and the rate of customer satisfaction.

Bill Bonds, Mailchimp, admits that during the period of rapid service expansion, his only headache was hiring enough support personnel to maintain quality of service. "Everyone was focused on the growth but I was repeating "Hey, we are not done with hiring yet!" At that time, Bonds devoted all his time and efforts distributing the volume of the tickets among the agents and keeping a high level of customer satisfaction.
Before you start counting something, ask yourself why are you doing this, and what do you want to see in the report?
2. Who are the Readers of the Report?
Most likely CEO will not be interested in reviewing the individual results of the first line of the support. Obviously, the content of the report depends on the intended audience.

Campaign Monitor enables running the customer service reports on three levels, and the content of each reports is slightly different.

  • Agents send daily reports to the customer support manager via e-mail.
  • The team manager places the monthly report on Wiki, where every employee of the company can view it. These reports do not show the individual results of the agents but report the team's results in total.
  • The support team manager provides CEO with high-level summary of statistics grouped in a couple of slides with the brief comments on the current trends.
SurveyGizmo uses an alternative approach. During the weekly meetings with the top managers, Taylor Morgan gives presentation of the support team report. Having an open discussion helps the team to learn more about a context and go into details that matter to every participant.
When drafting a report, think about the issues that concern the intended audience the most.
3. What is the Purpose of Report?
After the presentation is given, people listening to you are yawning and asking – 'So what?' This is a fiasco. Ideally, it should be clear what needs to be done just from looking at your charts. You have a more favorable position here as you see the opportunities that your manager does not note.

Bounds from MailChimp focused on collecting the numbers showing that the team needs more people, and the report he presented clearly contained the relevant indicators.

If your report is for the product manager to view, then point out the information on the feedback: the ways the customers use the products, the new product features proposed by the customers, and the issues with the product as reported by users. It allows looking at product from different angle, and facilitates the changes for better.
Use your report as a tool to bring attention of the decision-makers to the problems you are looking to solve.
What is a Good Metric?
  • Valuable. Tie the metrics to something that your company wants to achieve. If your goal is building a fast-responding support team, then the first reply time is an ideal metric to use, while the time to resolution is not that much important.
  • Modifiable. Measure only the things you can change. Taylor Morgan recommends disregarding everything that does not change no matter what.
  • Genuine. Reports should not mislead you. Be honest, even if it hurts.
  • Contextual. Standalone numbers are meaningless, provide the context for them.
  • Consistent. In a long-term perspective, the trends are more important than current data. 80% of happy customers - is it good or bad? Hard to say. However, if you see an increase from 70% to 80% over the month, that is definitely – wow, a great news!
Present useful reports
Here is our monthly report. We received 20% less questions about setting up the triggers. By further development of the application, we have saved 12 hours of working time of the customer support team. This can be represented in dollars amounts as X dollars!
Look for correlations and links among the metrics. This may help to uncover deeper problems.
When the time of the first reply to e-mail reaches 4 hours, we see a corresponding drop in the level of customer satisfaction.

We spend on billing questions about three times as much time as compared to other questions.
Do not spend time generating the reports that do not provoke any questions or induce any actions. Choose the right metrics and use them to tell the story of how the customer support team contributes to the company's overall results. Next time, we will go into more details about the metrics, and we will think about whether the perfect numbers should be your goal.
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