How to Grade Your Customer Support Effectiveness

How to Grade Your Customer Support Effectiveness

You can’t improve if you don’t measure.

For small or single-person businesses, measuring customer support is as simple as paying attention to the response you get from your customers. Once you start hiring on employees to manage your customer relations, however, it is easy to lose track of the effectiveness of your customer service. Meaningful metrics become important in these situations. Without good metrics, you might be killing repeat business and hurting the reputation of your brand without even knowing it.

While undoubtedly you have a few strategic performance indicators for your customer service operation, you might be seeing the forest but missing the trees. Equally important as strategic performance metrics are operational metrics that signal how customer care is handled on the micro level.

Here are 10 metrics you should consider for tracking the effectiveness of your customer support operation.

1. Abandon Rate

Are you frustrating your customers by offering slow customer service? Look at the percentage of interactions where customers abandon the service interaction before interacting with a customer care agent. A high abandon rate screams for more staffing or at least better processes and technology for handling customer care.

2. Agent Training Time

How long must a new employee train before they become proficient with customer care at your firm? Look at how many days or weeks your new customer service employees take before they fully onboard and master customer care. This metric speaks both to the cost-effectiveness of your support operation, as well as the effectiveness of your training and the efficiency of your internal customer care business processes.

3. Agent Turnover

How much value does your company get from each customer service hire? Look at the average employment duration of each agent and how long they are in training before they are fully contributing to the company. If your agent turnover is high, you might be surprised at the actual cost of your customer service operation in practice. This might be a sign to ease workloads or change how you hire and support your customer care employees.

4. Average Handle Time

Are customer issues efficiently resolved? One good way to monitor customer service efficiency is by looking at the average time that agents spend per customer interaction. This includes not only the time spent during a customer interaction, but also the time invested after the interaction.

5. Average Interaction Time

How efficient are your support staff after a customer interaction? In addition to average handle time, you also should be measuring the total interaction time with customers. From this metric you then can calculate the time spent post-interaction by subtracting average interaction time from average handle time.

6. Contact Load

Are your customer care staff overworked or moving customers along too quickly? A good way to check is by looking at the contact load by employee. Look both at contact load forecasts, as well as actual loads.

7. Customer Effort

How much effort are your customers spending before they get the answers they seek? You can calculate customer effort by using internal system data to see how many interactions it takes to revolve an issue on average. A high degree of customer effort indicates both poor agent training and/or a bad knowledgebase for customer care agents.

8. Dead Air Percentage

Are your agents armed with the data that is needed to solve customer issues? You can determine the preparedness of your customer agents by looking at the dead air percentage, which is the time during a customer interaction when there is no back and forth contact. This is the time when an agent is searching for the answer to a customer question, and it shows agent effectiveness, level of training, and how useful your internal knowledgebase is for resolving customer issues.

9. Escalation Percentage

Do your agents have enough knowledge and authority to resolve customer issues? For this metric, look at how often support requests are escalated to a more experienced agent.

10. First Contact Resolution

Finally, is your customer service delivering the goods? One of the best metrics for gauging the overall effectiveness of your customer service operation is by looking at the percentage of support requests that are resolved with the first interaction. This shows if your agents are knowledgeable and delivering useful answers or frustrating customers by giving incomplete or meaningless information.

With your competition only a few clicks away, and in an increasingly competitive global business environment, customer service stands as a key differentiator. You don’t want your customer service operation underperforming—and that means you need the right metrics in place to gauge its effectiveness.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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