Every day, your customer support team is triaging customer queries and complaints; troubleshooting issues in your website, app, or product; answering questions big and small; and representing your brand. In short, they’re tasked with a lot of business-critical stuff and when they thrive, business thrives.
It follows then that setting your customer support team up for success is setting your business up for success. To do this, you need to identify a set of clear, measurable, and achievable goals. Only then can you achieve team alignment and focus, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate success.
Quantifying customer experience can be difficult, but it is possible. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to set and track customer support goals in 2024 and beyond.
Best practices for setting support goals
Before you start setting quantifiable goals for your support team, consider these best practices.
1. Tie team goals to company-wide objectives
Most businesses have a few specific goals they’ve identified for the year ahead. These macro objectives should be your starting place — you want to consider how your support team can contribute to the wider company initiatives and the role they will play in the success story you tell at the end of the year.
2. Ensure your goals are SMART
It’s the stickiest goal-setting methodology for a reason — SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals are clear and motivating.
3. Get cross-functional and leadership buy-in
If you follow the first best practice we’ve outlined, each individual team’s goals should naturally ladder up to the greater goal. In any case, it is still worth checking in cross-functionally to ensure that goals are aligned, especially in the case of a support team who tend to work very closely with teams like Sales, Product, and Marketing.
4. Keep your team involved
Involving your support team in the process of goal setting will help them connect to their goals and better understand the ‘why’ behind them. Plus, the process will often help you better understand their career objectives, knowledge gaps, or skills.
5. Consider a range for expansion-related goals
In an article published by Harvard Business Review on sales team goals, they recommend “Rather than setting goals that focus attention on a single number, define performance ranges.” The same can be said for support teams who have customer expansion-related goals. Like sales, a more flexible goal recognizes that much of their success is outside their control and you’ll often find once they reach the lower end of their goal, they’re even more motivated to push past and reach the top end.
6. Focus your efforts
Less is more when it comes to goal setting. If you start with a long list, challenge which of them will actually help you achieve the company-wide objective and run them through the SMART acronym. Any that don’t meet the criteria should fall off.
Examples of customer support metrics to track
Not all of these metrics should become KPIs. This is a semi-exhaustive list of metrics that you can explore to help you identify which should become KPIs. Not sure about the difference between the metrics and KPIS? Read this blog.
Your CSAT score is a simple and effective way of measuring how satisfied your customers are with the service you offer. It is generally represented as a percentage or a score out of five, and is based on customer’s responses to a CSAT survey that appears after an interaction with your team. The advantage of a CSAT score is that it is a direct representation of your customer support team’s interactions with customers.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey
A net promoter score (NPS) works similarly to the CSAT, but the survey is delivered as a pop up on site or sent via email and relates to your brand as a whole, rather than a specific interaction with your team. While it is not as directly attributable to customer service as the CSAT score, your support team is the voice of your brand and has a huge impact on the perception of your brand on the whole.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey
This is another score based on customer’s response to a survey. With the CES, a customer is asked to score (on a scale of one to 5) how much effort they had to put forth for their request or query to be resolved. It is a relatively new metric that was originally outlined in an article in a Harvard Business Review research report which argued that “When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.”
In the report, HBR found that “of the customers who reported low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, and 88% said they would increase their spending. Only 1% said they would speak negatively about the company. Conversely, 81% of the customers who had a hard time solving their problems reported an intention to spread negative word of mouth.”
The FRT is simply the amount of time that passes between a customer submitting their query, and a support agent responding to it. There are some problems with this as a success metric: Firstly, customers expectations around this vary depending on the platform, so you may need different KPIs for email vs. live chat or social. Secondly, a quick response is not always a good response. Taking time to get some context on the customer, what they were looking at when they started their chat or email, and their query history can go a long way to helping an agent respond more personally and resolve the query more quickly.
This is the percentage of customer tickets that are resolved by your customer support team on the first contact. In other words, it’s the number of tickets that are resolved without a follow-up or escalation. A faster FCR indicates that your team has a deep understanding of your products or services and delivers on customer’s expectations for queries to be resolved efficiently.
Measuring the number of tickets handled per hour alone won’t tell you much, but when you can view this alongside the number of tickets solved per hour, you’ll start to get a good sense of the volume each individual agent and your team as a whole can handle. Increasing this number means more customers are being serviced properly.
Support agents play an outsized role in customer retention and expansion. In fact, in a survey conducted by Statista, 60% of customers in the United States did more business with a company because of good customer service.
Often your support team will be answering questions from prospective customers before routing the lead over to the sales team. The importance of that initial interaction cannot be overstated — it’s the first point of (human) contact with your brand and a quick, friendly resolution could go a long way to turning that lead into a customer.
Being able to quantify the role your support team plays in growing the business can help teams make the case for new hires or resources — it’s an invaluable metric, but it can be difficult to track.
Ortto’s Global Head of Customer Support, Emily McLaren, is able to measure how many leads are sent to sales, and how many of those go on to sign up using our live chat feature Talk, and our intuitive reports, “This is one of my favorite things about Talk. We can run reports on things that I’ve never been able to run reports on before, especially when it comes to those support-to-sales processes, like how many new leads did we send to sales this week and how many of those went on to sign up?”
Another metric that is important to business growth is the cancellation save rate. Support agents are often the first place a customer goes when they want to cancel their account, and there is a small window of time where a support agent could resolve their problem and save them. Calculating this is simple - look at how many cancellation requests there were and what percentage of those were saved.
With a huge number of different support channels, higher customer expectations, and more complex customer queries, support agents have a lot of responsibility in their day-to-day roles. Setting meaningful, measurable, and realistic goals helps set them up for success, and allows the wider team to celebrate and reward all they do to keep customers happy and business growing.