The following post was written by Kate Leggett, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, where she contributes to its Customer Service Playbook, Forrester’s programmatic approach to customer service.
There is no single metric against which to benchmark the performance of your customer service organization. It’s like flying a plane—you can’t do it by just looking at your altitude settings. This means that most organizations use a balanced scorecard approach, which includes a set of competing metrics that balance the cost of operations against satisfaction measures. For industries with strict policy regulations, like healthcare, insurance, or financial services, adherence to regulatory compliance is yet another metric that is added to the list.
The set of metrics that you choose also depends on your audience. Customer service managers need real-time, granular operational data. Yet your executive management team needs high-level data about key performance indicators (KPIs) that track outcomes of customer service programs.
So where should you begin when choosing metrics? It’s best to start by understanding the value proposition of your company. For example, do you compete on customer experience, where satisfaction measures are of primary importance, or do you compete on cost, where efficiency and productivity measures are most important?
Once you understand your value proposition, choose the high-level KPIs that support your company’s objectives. These metrics are the ones that you will report to executive management, and include overall cost, revenue, compliance, and satisfaction scores. Next, choose the operational metrics for your organization that link to each of these KPIs and support your brand. For example, if you compete on cost, handle time and speed of answer will become your primary metrics. However, if you are focused on maximizing customer lifetime value, first contact resolution will rise to the top.
Don’t try to track too many metrics, as the volume of data that you gather does not correlate to better performance. Also, don’t just use standard metrics from your vendor solutions, as these are their best guesses and tend not to include any focus on industry, geography, and organizational culture. Do use these metrics as starting points to help guide the definition of metrics that are meaningful to you.
Good KPIs help executive management understand the value of customer service operations, and associated activity metrics help managers make decisions about hiring, scheduling, and operational processes that are ultimately aligned with the company’s business goals. Make sure that your staff understands why you are focused on certain metrics, and explain to them how they are aligned with business outcomes in order to eliminate confusion over conflicting goals and priorities.