Nobody would argue that customer service and support isn’t vitally important. Customers will not repeatedly purchase products or services from a business that has failed them in some way. Customer loyalty, these days, is greatly influenced by all of the interactions that customers have with a company, before and beyond the initial purchase.
Excellent Customer Service
The service provided to customers, at every touchpoint, must be excellent in order to foster their loyalty. Their needs must be met with minimal effort required from them. Customer service should always go the extra mile to ensure customer happiness and satisfaction. Customer interactions need to be pleasant experiences, their problems must be resolved quickly and they need to be totally confident in the services provided.
Having a broad understanding of what ‘excellent customer service’ looks like is a good step toward defining specific goals along with a plan that will lead to their attainment.
Why You Need Customer Service Goals?
It is generally accepted that, in business, goals are a good thing. Well planned and carefully considered, achievable goals provide direction and a sense of accomplishment when attained.
Goals focus attention on desired outcomes and provide motivation. Employees know exactly what they are expected to achieve, encouraging them to determine the best way to deliver what’s required.
Businesses and organisations all have business objectives and goals. Sales teams will have their own collections of sales targets and goals that support the overall business objectives. Similarly, customer service departments, teams and agents need realistic goals which support defined business objectives.
Setting SMART Goals
The SMART mnemonic is well known and widely used in business. It provides a very simple framework that is very effective for defining and evaluating goals. When composing goals for any purpose it’s always worthwhile examining them from the SMART perspective. Here’s a reminder of what these letters stand for.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable or achievable
R = Relevant
T = Timebound.
Being specific is very important. A lack of specificity is likely to result in confusion, possibly frustration and ultimately failure. Specific goals consider who is responsible, resources required, the goal value, obstacles that need to be overcome and the goal deadline.
In order to determine whether a goal has been achieved or not it needs to be measurable. It’s also important to assess progress toward goal attainment.
Goals need to be realistic in order to be attainable. Setting goals which are unrealistic or even impossible is a motivation killer. Customer service representatives will be far more motivated if they can see that the goals they are aiming for are achievable.
As noted, the goals established for customer service should be related to the overall business goals and objectives. Customer service goals which do not make a positive contribution to the primary business objectives would not be relevant.
Defining the desired timing for goal delivery is important. This provides clarity and helps in the planning process when the paths toward achieving specific goals are scoped and the time required for each step is evaluated.
How to Set Measurable Customer Service Goals
We know that goal-setting is important and we know that our customer service goals should be related to our business objectives – so how do we define some realistic goals that will motivate our service representatives and contribute to our business success?
It’s a good idea to start by examining and identifying the challenges faced by your service agents and the impact that these challenges are having on your business.
Common challenges in customer service include:
- Customers having to re-explain their issues. For example, after being passed from one agent to another.
- Callers asking questions which agents cannot answer.
- Customer calls being put on hold. People generally hate being put on hold while waiting to connect to an agent.
- Customers required to expend too much effort in order to resolve an issue.
- Agents not accurately understanding customer issues. Customers are not always able to clearly convey the technical details of their issues leading to repetition, confusion and frustration.
- Angry and demanding customers. Pacifying and pleasing angry customers can be particularly challenging.
- Recognising and understanding customer expectations. Service agents need to be highly aware of what customer expect from their purchased products or services along with what they expect from customer service.
Having identified the challenges and issues faced by your service agents and knowing your business objectives you should now be able to sketch some realistic goals for your customer service team.
Customer Service Metric Levels
An important point that is worth noting is that there should not simply be just one overarching goal that applies to the whole customer service team and all team members. Goals should be appropriately specified for respective roles.
Another key related point is that metrics can be applied at the team level, at the agent level and at the case or ticket level. Here are some examples from each.
- Team level metrics:
- Average time to first response
- Average number of interactions per resolution
- Customer satisfaction score
- Average call handling time
- Customer request volume
- Overall resolution rate.
- Agent level metrics:
- Resolved cases per agent – over a given time period.
- Customer interactions per agent.
- Customer satisfaction levels per agent.
- Average handling time per agent.
- Case / ticket level metrics:
- Number of new cases / tickets over given time period.
- Number of cases / tickets related to specific topics (e.g. user-manual, installation, upgrade etc.)
- Number of cases from various geographic regions.
Measurable Customer Service Goals
As noted, our goals need to be measurable. The metrics used to measure progress and attainment of customer service goals vary depending upon the goal. For example, some goals might simply be measured by whether or not they were achieved within a defined timeframe. For example:
By [date] do [something].
If the ‘something’ has been successfully achieved within the defined time period this goal will have been achieved.
But for many customer service goals there are various useful customer service metrics which can be beneficially used to monitor change and progress. For example:
- CSAT Score (Customer Satisfaction Score). A valuable indication of customer happiness.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS). Another valuable indicator of customer happiness.
- Customer Effort Score (CES). A useful indication of how much effort is required from customers.
- First response time (FRT). How long it took before customers received initial responses.
- First contact resolution rate (FCR). The percentage of issues resolved within the first contact.
- Average handling time (AHT). The average amount of time taken to resolve a customer’s issue.
- Resolution rate. This indicates the percentage of issues resolved in a given time period in relation to the number of issues received in that time period.
CSAT, NPS and CES are assessed based on customer surveys. Other metrics are provided directly from the best customer service helpdesk platforms.
Examples of Customer Service Goals
Here are some practical examples of customer service goals which can be tailored to fit your specific needs. These are primarily team-level goals which can be modified for specific customer service agents.
- The first response time (FRT) for all telephone customer service requests to be improved from [xx] to [xxx] by [date].
- All customer service requests via all channels will be resolved within 24 hours of receipt.
- The number of repeat customer service calls (within one month) to be reduced by 10% by [date].
- Surveyed customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) to be improved by 10% by [date].
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) to be improved by 5% by [date].
- All new service agents will be scoring at least 80% in their post-training evaluation tests within the next 6 months.
- The average handling time (AHT) for resolving customer issues to be reduced from [xx minutes] to [xxx minutes] by [date].
- The service call resolution rate to be improved from [xx] to [xxx] by [date].
- The first contact resolution (FCR) rate to be improved by 10% by [date].
- Customer effort score (CES) for service calls to be improved from [xx] to [xxx] by [date].
- The minimum number of customer interactions per agent, per day to increase from [xx] to [xxx] by [date].
- By [date] establish procedures to promptly deal with customer service requests from other timezones [USA, Japan, Australia].
- Every customer who has contacted customer service to have received a follow-up email, subsequent to their issue resolution, summarising their problem, how it was fixed, who their service agent was along with upgrade / upsell opportunities (as defined by Sales dept.) To be implemented within 3 months (by [date]).
By examining the challenges encountered by your customer service personnel and defining attainable goals, aligned with your business objectives, your staff will be more motivated and the quality of your customer service will improve.
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