What is the goal of your support (or helpdesk) team? Support can be the interface between product users and its development team in more technical cases, or offer quick solutions through the information available, for example. The service team will be the bridge between your product or service and the customer, managing the incident handling process with the main goal of providing a satisfactory experience with your company.
Keeping in mind your purpose before implementing any metrics will help you understand the kind of results you are looking for, the types of customers needs you will defend within the company and, on the other hand, the types of standards you can position the company in front of the market.
In the management “professionalization” phase (where the key metrics are analyzed – see article), the team profile, its tools, service procedures and knowledge center must already be at least established.
It’s good to remember that data availability and visibility are not enough without leadership with an analytical vision and knowledge of the business plan. Monitoring metrics that do not represent the team’s goal will hinder the adoption of adequate action plans, as well as not having a clear vision of the process will make it difficult to identify operational problems and bottlenecks.
We can measure the performance of a process by defining one of its attributes and how it will be measured. In principle, a process indicator must be appropriate to the current situation of the team, and different action plans will require more specific indicators. For example: if the company is going through a situation when one of the process’ stages needs more attention, we can monitor the flow of tickets at this stage, thus observing whether the measures taken are being effective or comparing the agents’ productivity.
However, a metric applicable to a specific scenario is unlikely to reflect a result directly oriented to the team’s objectives. In the example above, measuring the flow at an intermediate stage of your process will not necessarily represent delivering the solution to the customer. In fact, it is possible that significant improvements in intermediate stages do not even reflect a small improvement noticeable to the customer. For this reason, it is important to understand: where is the value of your delivery?
In the case of highly relevant and strategic indicators or more related to your company’s growth model, they can be called KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These must be directly related to the delivery of value or to the development of the business.
Some examples of key indicators will be shown below.
According to Zendesk’s sense for 2020, the most important aspect of a good customer service experience is to be able to solve problems quickly (about 60% of respondents mentioned this point).
The “average service time” is nothing more than the average between the total duration of the calls received in a given period, from the initial contact to the delivery of the solution and closing. Good knowledge management, well-established procedures (playbook) and an effective prioritization system can make a difference in metrics of this type.
As with the other metrics presented below, the average time can be analyzed by categories of calls or by agents, better addressing the understanding of the situation.
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) defines a company’s commitment to its customers, clarifying the product (or service) requirements and responsibilities of each party involved.
For helpdesk teams, SLA generally represents a contractual time limit for resolving open calls, a way of measuring the quality of service. This makes SLA metrics extremely important, especially if there is a fine for non-compliance.
The SLA as the time to resolve a call can be subdivided, for example: first response time, agent work, agent wait and total resolution time. We can also measure the time spent at each process’ stage and identify which calls are closest to an SLA due date. This helps us to identify any inefficiencies and occasionally the need for resources redirecting.
More mature service teams are usually subdivided into specialized roles at levels (N1, N2, N3…). For your customer, however, it matters little. Measuring SLAs and stocks makes it possible to manage your team dynamically and optimize value delivery, generating satisfaction.
There is also the concept of SLO (Service Level Objective), which can also be used in conjunction with the SLA. The SLO is used in conjunction with the SLA bringing a more restricted working parameter, making the process work in a tighter pattern. For example, if your first response SLA is 4 hours, your SLO can be 2 hours, and the process can be defined according to this most difficult parameter. In case there is no SLA policy in the contract, the team can define an internal SLO to guide their definitions and process standards.
The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a general estimate of satisfaction with a buying or service experience, usually measured through surveys after the event.
The CSAT, unlike the NPS (Net Promoter Score), should not indicate satisfaction with your company, as a whole, but with specific experience.
Correlations between CSAT and other metrics can be calculated. It is a compass for measures to improve customer service that, in the end, should have no impact on the customer’s perceived value in dealing with their contact.
However, much attention is needed in using CSAT in your tactical analysis. We need to understand who the respondents are and their possible motivations. Are they representative within the niche you are analyzing? Are they decision makers? Are there factors external to the service (such as product use) that may be affecting the applicant’s response?
Throughput is a rate that can be related to the stock level of unresolved items. Basically, it will be the ratio between the number of calls closed over open in a period of time. If the result of this division (throughput) is greater than 1, you have reduced the stock of tickets.
Throughput = number of resolved calls/number of created calls
An important note about rates: the throughput logic is slightly different from the conversion between the phases of a sales funnel. In the first case, the numbers of open and closed calls are simply analyzed, possibly divided into subcategories (bug throughput, for example), while in the second, conversion rates should consider calls with common characteristics, such as the date of service enrollment (groups that are called cohorts).
Basically, throughput wants to analyze whether the customer is receiving the solution, or accumulating open calls in the support of your company, without worrying so much about the internal details of the process.
Here, the metric is obtained in a very similar way to the CSAT, as it is a survey of your customer’s explicit opinion. However, the Customer Effort Score (CES) seeks to measure how easy (or difficult) it was to get in touch and resolve the issue of a buying or service experience.
A very desirable requirement for support is to be accessible so that the journey of dealing with the call is as smooth as possible (remembering that the reason for contact is often already an unpleasant experience with the service or product that the company offers).
Again, what matters here is to understand what your customer values in customer service: which channels they prefer to use, how many times have they answered the same questions, or do they feel that the company communicates seamlessly across all of its touchpoints.
Anyway, here are some metrics that can be used in a service process, to better understand the health status of the operation and, mainly, what are the possible points for improvement. After all, what is not measured cannot be managed, and the service leader must always keep an eye on the metrics to ensure that his client is being served in the established quality and standard!