measure through feedback

Customers are wishy-washy. One minute they’re thanking you for your help and the next they’re rating their experience a 2 out of 10. So how can you accurately measure success when you work in customer service? Sounds kinda like an oxymoron.

First things first. You can’t analyze one, or even five, customer ratings and measure your success from those.

You also can’t look at your website’s ratings and apply them to the whole company. That would be like analyzing one patch of grass and then assuming the whole yard is green. You have to study a variety of metrics over time to snap an accurate picture of your success.

Collecting Feedback: Just Ask

Sometimes companies spend hours concocting elaborate business strategies and writing detailed data reports on their success. I’m not saying these plans are bad or unnecessary, but don’t overlook the easy. Can’t we just ask for customers’ opinions?

Actually, I think asking should be your first step. Since, you know, customers play an important part in customer service. For small companies, this metric may be the only one worth your time.

Give Surveys, Not Interrogations

Okay, you don’t want to annoy your customers here. Customers are tiring of the swarms of lengthy surveys they receive from companies. According to SurveyGizmo, only 10-15% of customers will actually respond to surveys.

But surveys are sometimes the best way to get inside the customer’s head. You can ask for information that customers might not otherwise tell you, like “how do you use our product the most in your home?” Just make sure you don’t cackle at their answers to their face.

Zendesk describes a few ways to deliver a good survey. They suggest keeping it short and offering a reward for customers. I’ve taken several surveys in order to get a discount or coupon for a product I buy often.

Quality Customer Product Ratings

How many times have you bought one product over another because it had higher ratings? I do it all the time. Just recently, I was scrolling through phone cases for my iPhone and pointing out the ones I liked to my husband.

“That one concerns me because it only has two stars,” he said.

We moved on to the next phone case. The rating saved us from unnecessary disappointment. Sometimes, I’ll even look up a product’s ratings and reviews before I buy it in the store.

I’m not alone. One study found that 88% of customers use online reviews to find out a business’s quality. And almost all of those who look at reviews say high ratings help them trust a business.

Since customers put that much stock in ratings and reviews, then you should provide ways for them to review you. A quick star rating at the end of a customer chat session is all you need. Add a comment box to that, and you’re gold if the customer decides to use it.

Ask Simple Yes or No Questions

Many people shrug off surveys or reviews because they take up too much of their time. They’re the ones that mention how much time they spent trying to figure out your software, and they’re probably glancing at their watch while they’re talking to you.

Surely even Ticking Tommy has time for one yes/no question. But you’ll only get one; so make it count!

Try asking if a blog post or tutorial was helpful and use customers’ responses to shape your future web content. Or ask if a customer contact actually solved the problem. It takes two seconds to click yes or no, and you can gain so much value in a well–crafted question.

How Did Your Customers Find You?

If your customers like your product, they’ll get the word out about you faster than a hill of ants can sink their teeth into an oblivious intruder. Probably not so dramatically though.

Knowing when customers come to you because of a referral gives a ton of insight. If no one recommends your service, you might need to rethink your customer service plans. On the other hand, if you get lots of business from referrals, you’re probably doing something right.

At the end of an online purchase or first–time service, pose this question with a few quick choices: “How did you find our product/ company?” If you ask them for just the letter or number of the right answer, you’ll likely get more responses.

Dig Into the Data

Some of you are itching to get to the data. You were already donning your high–waters and pushing your wide–brimmed glasses up your nose when you saw the word metrics. Well, then, let’s talk numbers!

Does your Preaching Produce Converts?

One of the more obvious measurements of your customer service success is your conversion rates. In other words, how often do customers buy into all your preaching? With online advertising, conversion rates compare how often someone purchases your product when they click on your ads.

Conversion rates have immense importance to a company. Kissmetrics gives a few ways conversion data can help you. When monitored well, these rates can tell you how much time it takes to convert someone into a buyer, how often you had to reach out to them to convert them, what factors influenced the conversion, and what group of people convert the fastest.

All of these qualities can and should influence how you serve your customers. You won’t know how your customers like your preaching if you don’t monitor your conversions.

Are Sales Dipping and Diving?

Another obvious metric should involve your sales. If you’re making a couple thousand dollars less this month than in previous months, you might want to consider your customer service. Is your team promoting your product and solving problems quickly enough?

You don’t want reputation to be the reason for a sales drop. A 2011 survey by American Express showed the reason 78% of customers decided not to make an intended purchase. They received bad customer service. You don’t want this to be you.

Project Management Professional Tara Duggan suggests analyzing sales data in several different ways. She says you should find your sales break–even point and calculate your growth based on last year’s income.

Calculating sales data over a long period of time will give you a pretty accurate picture of how your company is doing. It’ll account for some of the rolling punches that different seasons might throw your way. And finding your sales above your break–even point, or your profit, is important too. Your sales may have increased by 50%, but if you’re spending 75% more, your numbers won’t look so hot.

Are You Churning? (No, I Don’t Mean your Tummy)

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it costs you 6 or 7 times more money to find a new customer than to keep a current one. So you should probably pay attention when customers leave.

When you calculate how many customers stop using your products, this data is called your churn rate. The best thing you could do in customer service is prevent your customers from churning.

InsightSquared, a sales analytics company, recommends summarizing a customer’s account activity. Your data should show how many times a customer has contacted you about a problem within a set time period. If you’re always opening new cases for a customer, that customer is at high risk of churning. With this monitoring, you can reach out to customers who are high risk and (hopefully) prevent them from leaving.

Did You Make New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for those dieting and habit–breaking. Companies should certainly make some too. You should resolve to resolve cases! Okay, a little cheesy, but I couldn’t help it.

You could monitor your company’s resolutions by analyzing the number of open cases, the number resolved, and the number of total incoming cases. These metrics will help you not only see if your products are up to par but also monitor how quickly your customer service team is handling problems.

Also, if the cases vary in topic but are high in volume, you might question if your agents are actually giving helpful answers. A truly resolved case leaves no questions in the customer’s mind.

Measuring Individuals in a Team Effort

Measuring the success of individual service agents can be tricky. But it’s so necessary. You’ll never be a stellar company without a dazzling customer service team.

Employee Performance Ratings They Can Move

I know we already talked about feedback. But with employee performance, feedback is one of the best ways to find out how they’re doing. You just have to find a way to quantify it.

At my previous customer service job, my managers would give each employee a six–month review. My boss would rate certain qualities on a scale of 1-5 and then average the scores together. The total was my employee rating.

If you already ask your customers for feedback on individual customer contacts, you could keep track of who they’re talking to. Then, you could calculate the number of positive responses and divide that by an employee’s total contacts for an overall rating.

James Kerr of N2Growth, a leadership development company, suggests making your performance metric live. If your employees can see their rates rising and dropping with each customer contact, they may work a bit harder at getting positive feedback every time.

Analyze Employee’s Effort to Improvement

Matt Straz, CEO of Namely, suggests keeping tabs on project revisions. If you ask Average Joe to complete a project, count how many times you have to return it before you’re satisfied. Especially if the project is a regular one, you’ll see the quality of work he does.

For some companies, this suggestion might apply to the cases an employee is assigned. You can see how many contacts it takes for him to resolve a case, showing how well the agent researched it and how clearly he explained the solution.

You might want to start this one a few months after new employee training, though. It might stress out your newbies too much.

Find their Need for Speed

While speed or number of cases solved in a day shouldn’t be your only measurement for customer service success, it should definitely be factored in.

Straz says, “An efficient employee is able to maximize their productivity with minimum effort or expense. . . . Simply put, they get the job done.”

Remember, customers like a quick response from a knowledgeable agent. They won’t be satisfied if most of their requests take three days to resolve and lots of haggling on their end. Keep track of how long an agent typically spends on a chat or call, and address any low–performing patterns you find.

I probably only touched on the myriads of ways you can measure success in customer service. The point is to use several metrics and measure often. Now, where did I put my yardstick?

Sarah GeorgeSarah George is a flower–sniffing, homemade–cooking  wordsmith who loves pounding out breathless stories until they fill with life. In her spare time, she loves designing her home with thrilling thrift finds and challenging herself with a good workout.

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