KPIs for Effective Customer Service

by Judy Phibin

You’re sailing along, keeping up with priorities and deadlines. Emergencies are relatively few. Employees seem happy with minimal turnover. And customers aren’t complaining too much.
 
So, why all this talk about KPIs? 
 
KPIs, shorthand for ‘Key Performance Indicators’, are basically a measurement tool linked to your strategic goals and objectives. KPIs can be used to measure the performance of individuals, teams, business units, or an entire company. But better than simply giving a grade, well-constructed KPIs offer guidance for correction and improvement.
 
Bernard Marr, author and speaker on topics of business and data, uses the analogy of a sailing boat. Let’s say the purpose of the journey is to take passengers from point A to point B in 10 days. “Once they’ve set sail,” Marr explains, “the captain and crew need navigation data to understand where they are, relative to their planned sailing route. Useful KPIs might include the GPS location data, average speed, fuel levels, weather information, etc. Together, these metrics (or KPIs) allow the team in charge to understand whether they are on track or veering off route. This enables them to make decisions about where to steer next.”
 
Bringing it Home 
 
As with any measurement and assessment tool, implementing a set of KPIs is an investment in time and money. When hiring an outside company, there’s the expense of research time, travel, and database management. There will be a sizeable data set to sort through and implement, adding to an already busy managerial load. On the other hand—going back to our sailing analogy—what’s the cost of arriving in 12 days rather than 10? Of hitting rough weather that could have been avoided, or running out of fuel?
 
Best-in-class customer service teams know where they want to go and have a clear plan for getting there. They’ve established performance objectives that keep them ahead of competitors. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and have an actionable plan for improvement. KPIs and other benchmark tools are highly effective to help motivate and focus the team.
 
Measurable Goals 
 
There are many ways KPIs can provide analysis and benefit the overall performance of your customer service team:
  1. Diagnose performance gaps so you can take measures to address them.

  2. Calibrate the uniformity of agents’ performance so your customers get a consistent experience.

  3. Move your team’s performance from good to great.
  1. Motivate agents to make changes that can dramatically improve the quality of their calls.
To begin the process, however, you’ll want to define measurable outcomes that match your strategic goals. (In our original example those might be: 1. travel by sailboat; 2. move passengers and cargo from point A to point B; 3. arrive within 10 days. 4. use maximum of xx gallons of fuel, etc.). So, take a moment to re-state your strategic goals in measurable language. Here are three customer service goals followed by a measurable KPI, to get you started.
  1. Make a strong and positive connection with customers: Increase customer satisfaction scores by 30% by September 30.

  2. Build customer loyalty: Increase the number of returning customers from 10% to 45% of total customer engagement by end of 2015.

  3. Improve timely call resolution: Increase 1st call resolution rate by 3% every month through 2015.
Train for Success 
 
Happy customers, increased customer loyalty, positive word-of mouth, reduced costs and crisis prevention are key to a successful customer service organization. And while tracking and monitoring results will help your organization stay on track, no amount of measurement will improve results without training. Just like the captain of our sailboat must be a skilled seaman and hire an experienced crew, it is up to you, as management, to lay the groundwork for success.
 
No matter what customer service training has been offered in the past, chances are your employees will benefit by continued training support. There are always new methodologies, tools, processes and trends. By keeping staff up-to-date and effective, they will not only be more adept at satisfying customers, they will be happier on the job and more loyal to your company.
 
The bottom line? Train for success. Measure for success. Recalibrate for success. Repeat as needed. Oh yes, and happy sailing!

Posted on March 17, 2015

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