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The 33 Essential Customer Service Metrics: The Complete Guide to Measuring Customer Support

Kaan Ersun on 18 January, 2018

Your business is growing and you’re looking to keep up the momentum this year–what’s your next move? Boosting customer experience is one of the surest ways that a business can expand its customer base as well as its revenue in 2018.

But how can you know whether your customers are satisfied? And how can you know whether your customer service efforts are working at maximum capacity to increase revenue?

The answer lies in tracking essential customer service metrics. Customer service KPIs are the tools that you can use to beat out the competition by providing a better customer experience.

The most successful companies track their customer service metrics obsessively, and make plans to increase the ease of customer interaction with the company as well as increase the quality of each interaction.

Knowing where to start down this road can be quite difficult, though: how are high performance companies understanding what makes their customers come back for more?

Once you understand these 33 essential customer service metrics, your business will be in a better position to maximize customer satisfaction and increase your revenue per customer.

Ticket Volume Metrics

These metrics will help you track the number of tickets that you’re generating. You may find these helpful both in planning/forecasting support needs and serving as a secondary measure of customer experience (e.g., a large spike in ticket volumes likely indicates an acute problem or issue).

1. Average Tickets Per Customer

Definition: The number of tickets that each customer generates over a given period of time.

Measurement: Define a period of time, then divide the number of tickets created during that time by the number of customers that were active then.

Goal: Have as few tickets per customer as possible. 

2. Overall Support Volume

Definition: The number of tickets that your support team fielded over a period of time. Typically, one day or one week are good periods to examine.

Measurement: Define a period of time, then count the number of support requests or tickets created during that time.

Goal: Scale processes and the support team to meet demand.

Ticket Generation Metrics

Use these metrics to define and understand the tickets that are being generated within the context of the user’s experience.

3. Support Funnel

Definition: The collection of the customer’s access to knowledge base opportunities for self-assistance, customer support ticket assistance,  escalated support assistance, and issue resolution.

Measurement: CES scores at points of customer self-service and after interactions with customer service.

Goal: Make the customer’s experience as easy as possible; CES should be greater than 6.

4. Service Activities

Definition: The types of services that your support structure addresses for customers.

Measurement: Quantify the different issues that users access customer service to address.

Goal: Minimize the number of different types of issues that your customers are having.

5. Most Common New User Issue

Definition: The type of ticket generated most frequently by newly onboarded users or customers.

Measurement: Compare the types of tickets generated with the age of relationship with the customer; sort by newest customers.

Goal: Improve processes that new customers struggle with.

6. Most Common Experienced User Issue

Definition: The type of ticket generated most frequently by customers who are not new in the context of the expected customer lifetime.

Measurement: Compare the types of tickets generated with the age of relationship with the customer; sort by oldest customers.

Goal: Improve processes that any customer might struggle with.

Timing Metrics

How quickly is your team resolving the issues that do arise? Timing metrics are all about measuring the amount of time spent with each ticket. Wait time should be low, but handling time metrics will depend on the types and complexity of tickets that reach the service team.

7. Average Handle Time

Definition: The period of time that each of your agents spends working with a user to resolve an issue, whether the issue is resolved or escalated.

Measurement: Divide the number of tickets of each type by the amount of time it took your agents to resolve or escalate the issue. Can be measured on a per-agent basis or on a per-issue basis.

Goal: Find how much time it takes for your support system to deliver a good customer experience.

8. Average Wait Time

Definition: The period of time that the customer must wait before the start of the issue resolution process.

Measurement: Divide the total number of tickets by the total waiting time before starting to work with an agent.

Goal: Zero.

9. Average Time To Resolution

Definition: The average period of time that a customer must wait from making a request for support to having that request fulfilled successfully by resolving the issue.

Measurement: Divide the total number of resolved tickets by the total time spent by the customer attempting to resolve that issue.

Goal: As close to zero as possible.

Efficiency Metrics

The crux of any support strategy is to quickly and painlessly resolve issues. Efficiency metrics allow you gauge both how well your operations are working and how smoothly the process is flowing from intake to resolution.

10. Number of Resolutions

Definition: The number of tickets successfully resolved by the support process.

Measurement: Subtract unresolved tickets from the total of all tickets.

Goal: The number of resolutions should equal the number of opened tickets.

11. Resolution Rate

Definition: The percentage of issues which your support team resolves.

Measurement: Divide the number of resolved tickets by the total number of tickets. Can be measured on a per-agent or per-issue basis.

Goal: 100%.

12. First Contact Resolution Rate

Definition: The percentage of customer issues that are solved at the first line of support and do not require any escalation.

Measurement: Subtract the total number of issues that required escalation from the total number of tickets, then divide by the total number of tickets. Can be measured on a per-agent or per-issue basis.

Goal: 100%.

13. Open Case Rate

Definition: The rate of open tickets in your customer support system at any given time.

Measurement: Divide the number of open tickets by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Zero, though consider that every open ticket is an opportunity to provide an excellent customer experience that will set you up for future business.

14. Average Backlog

Definition: The open tickets that aren’t yet being resolved by your support team.

Measurement: The number of open tickets that aren’t being actively addressed divided by the

number of tickets that are presently being resolved at a given moment in time.

Goal: Zero.

15. Conversations Per Agent

Definition: How many different customers each of your agents interacts with over a period of time.

Measurement: Number of tickets handled by a particular agent over a given time.

Goal: Identify your most and least effective agents; more effective agents will resolve more issues and have more conversations.

16. Escalation Percentage

Definition: The percentage of issues which can’t be solved by the first line of support and have to be escalated.

Measurement: Divide the number of issues that are escalated beyond the first line by the total number of issues.

Goal: Zero.

Quality Metrics

17. Average Replies Per Ticket

Definition: The number of replies that your agent provides to the customer during issue resolution.

Measurement: Take the total number of replies per ticket and divide it by the number of tickets. Can be measured per agent or per issue.

Goal: Customers like it when they are replied to more frequently by your agents, but don’t overdo it.

18.  Giveaway Rate

Definition: The rate that one of your agents gives free services or items to a customer as a result of a difficult customer service experience in an attempt to increase customer satisfaction.

Measurement: Divide the number of tickets in which an agent disbursed a giveaway by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Depends; customers tend to have their mood reversed extremely quickly when they get a giveaway after a difficult customer service experience, but it can get expensive to maintain as a policy.

19. Positive Mentions On Social Media

Definition: The number of customers that mention your company in a positive light on a social media platform.

Measurement: Check each of your social media platform and judge the positivity of the comments there.

Goal: 100% positive mentions.

20. Post-Closure Engagement

Definition: How frequently the customer responds to your follow up inquiry after they have had a support experience; implies a more in depth engagement than simply answering a survey.

Measurement: Divide the number of successful post closure engagements by the total number of attempted engagements.

Goal: 100%. Higher post-closure engagement means that your customers are willing to stick around to provide you with more information about their customer experience.

21. CSA Complaints

Definition: The number of complaints to management that customers report regarding agents while attempting to resolve their issue.

Measurement: Count the number of complaints; can be measured per agent, per customer, or per issue.

Goal: Zero.

22. Self Service Rate

Definition: How frequently your customers experience an issue that they are able to address on their own solely by engaging with your knowledge base and other users.

Measurement: Divide the number of hits on your knowledgebase by the number of new tickets generated on topics that are covered in the knowledgebase.

Goal: Depends; having a strong knowledge base that allows for strong customer self-service lightens the load on your support team, but may prevent forging strong relationships and providing excellent customer support experiences.

Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Customer satisfaction measurements give you a big-picture look at how the customer service numbers are rolling up into actual business results. At the end of the day, the role of customer service is to keep customers–and keep them happy.

23. Churn Rate

Definition: The churn rate is the rate at which customers stop buying from or subscribing to your brand relative to the number of new customers gained in the same period of time.

Measurement: Divide the number of lost customers by the remaining total customers, including new customers.

Goal: Zero. Ideally, your customers remain your customers forever.

24. Customer Retention Rate

Definition: The rate of customers that remain your customers over a given period of time.

Measurement: Divide the number of customers that you had at the start of the time period by your total remaining number of customers at the end of the time period–a year is a good starting point.

Goal: 100%.

25. Average Customer Satisfaction Score (Average CSAT Score)

Definition: The satisfaction score reported by your customers after they answer a customer satisfaction survey after receiving support.

Measurement: Divide the total reported satisfaction value by all customers who took the survey by the number of customers who took the survey.

Goal: Higher is better, but the exact numbers will vary depending on how many questions your customer satisfaction survey has.

26. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Definition: The NPS is a question posed to customers after any interaction that they have with customer support or an aspect of your company’s website and is scored from 0-10. The customer rates whether they’d suggest your company to someone they knew from 0 to 10.

Measurement: Customers who register a 9 or 10 on their NPS are likely to be brand evangelists.

Goal: 100% of customers registering a 10.

27. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Definition: The CES is a question posed to customers after any interaction with your customer support or website, and is scored from 1-7. CES indicates how easy a customer found their experience and is correlated with customer loyalty.

Measurement: Higher values indicate that the customer had an easier time resolving their issue or performing their task on your website. Customers that register a 7 on their CES are likely to be brand evangelists, whereas customers that rate a 1 or 2 struggled and are likely displeased.

Goal: 100% of customers registering a 7 or higher.

28. Customer Abort Rate

Definition: The percentage of customers who become so discouraged with a support attempt that they break off communication and resign from their attempt to solve the issue.

Measurement: Divide the number of customers who canceled their ticket before resolution by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Zero. Having a high customer abort rate means that customers are getting too frustrated by the support process to get the help they need.

Support Channel Metrics

These figures help you understand and track where and how customers are interacting with your support team.

29. Contact Volume By Channel

Definition: The number of support requests per support channel (chat, phone, email, social media, etc).

Measurement: Sort the total number of tickets by the support channel they came from.

Goal: Depends. If your company has excellent customer service representatives, you may want to encourage customers into phone support. If your agents are overloaded, promoting email may help to buy time.

30. Rating Response Rate

Definition: How frequently customers opt to answer your CSAT, CES, NPS, or other survey after they interact with your customer support or your website.

Measurement: Divide the total number of responses by the total number of elicited responses.

Goal: 100%.

Finance And Logistics

Tying support to the bottom-line can sometimes be difficult, but these metrics help you understand how customers are spending and what effect support has on the overall value of each individual.

31. Account Summary

Definition: The value of each customer account relative to the number of support requests that the customer requires to continue being in business with you.

Measurement: Compare the customer’s account value with the amount of support time they use and with the amount of revenue that they bring in.

Goal: Varies. Ideally, all of your customers bring in large amounts of revenue while requiring no support. In practice, this metric shows you where support volume of a particular customer is decreasing your profit margin.

32. Customer Lifecycle

Definition: The average length of time that a customer spends in a relationship with your company.

Measurement: Divide the total number of customers by the total amount of time spend with your company by all customers.

Goal: Depends. Many companies prefer to maximize the length of the relationship with their customers.

33. Average Lifetime Customer Value

Definition: The amount of profit that an average customer renders to the company in light of the costs of supporting that customer.

Measurement: Subtract the sum of all customers’ support costs from the sum of all customers revenues, then divide by the total number of customers.

Goal: Higher customer lifetime value is better.

Picking Focus Metrics

There’s no single metric that will give you a comprehensive view of your customer service performance, but there are a few that you should consider with more weight than the others.

NPS is an excellent metric which cuts right to the core of your customer experience overall goal: increasing revenue. NPS scores are tightly linked to customer loyalty, which means that they’re tightly linked to revenue.

Aside from NPS, pay special attention to your:

  • Churn Rate
  • Resolution Rate
  • Most Common New User Issue

Your churn rate is an indicator that lets you know as a percentage how much you can stand to improve your customer experience and retain customers as a result.

Likewise, your resolution rate is critical because your support system needs to be able to address user issues reliably if you’re banking on it to provide a good customer experience.

Finally, the most common new user issue is a metric to track carefully because it can help you make onboarding new users a smoother experience by ironing out the problems.

Remember to adapt your company’s industry and specific situation to these metrics, because they tend to vary from sector to sector. No matter the business, if you keep a tight handle on these metrics, your revenues will grow with your customers’ satisfaction.

Your business is growing and you’re looking to keep up the momentum this year–what’s your next move? Boosting customer experience is one of the surest ways that a business can expand its customer base as well as its revenue in 2018.

But how can you know whether your customers are satisfied? And how can you know whether your customer service efforts are working at maximum capacity to increase revenue?

The answer lies in tracking essential customer service metrics. Customer service KPIs are the tools that you can use to beat out the competition by providing a better customer experience.

The most successful companies track their customer service metrics obsessively, and make plans to increase the ease of customer interaction with the company as well as increase the quality of each interaction.

Knowing where to start down this road can be quite difficult, though: how are high performance companies understanding what makes their customers come back for more?

Once you understand these 33 essential customer service metrics, your business will be in a better position to maximize customer satisfaction and increase your revenue per customer.

Ticket Volume Metrics

These metrics will help you track the number of tickets that you’re generating. You may find these helpful both in planning/forecasting support needs and serving as a secondary measure of customer experience (e.g., a large spike in ticket volumes likely indicates an acute problem or issue).

1. Average Tickets Per Customer

Definition: The number of tickets that each customer generates over a given period of time.

Measurement: Define a period of time, then divide the number of tickets created during that time by the number of customers that were active then.

Goal: Have as few tickets per customer as possible. 

2. Overall Support Volume

Definition: The number of tickets that your support team fielded over a period of time. Typically, one day or one week are good periods to examine.

Measurement: Define a period of time, then count the number of support requests or tickets created during that time.

Goal: Scale processes and the support team to meet demand.

Ticket Generation Metrics

Use these metrics to define and understand the tickets that are being generated within the context of the user’s experience.

3. Support Funnel

Definition: The collection of the customer’s access to knowledge base opportunities for self-assistance, customer support ticket assistance,  escalated support assistance, and issue resolution.

Measurement: CES scores at points of customer self-service and after interactions with customer service.

Goal: Make the customer’s experience as easy as possible; CES should be greater than 6.

4. Service Activities

Definition: The types of services that your support structure addresses for customers.

Measurement: Quantify the different issues that users access customer service to address.

Goal: Minimize the number of different types of issues that your customers are having.

5. Most Common New User Issue

Definition: The type of ticket generated most frequently by newly onboarded users or customers.

Measurement: Compare the types of tickets generated with the age of relationship with the customer; sort by newest customers.

Goal: Improve processes that new customers struggle with.

6. Most Common Experienced User Issue

Definition: The type of ticket generated most frequently by customers who are not new in the context of the expected customer lifetime.

Measurement: Compare the types of tickets generated with the age of relationship with the customer; sort by oldest customers.

Goal: Improve processes that any customer might struggle with.

Timing Metrics

How quickly is your team resolving the issues that do arise? Timing metrics are all about measuring the amount of time spent with each ticket. Wait time should be low, but handling time metrics will depend on the types and complexity of tickets that reach the service team.

7. Average Handle Time

Definition: The period of time that each of your agents spends working with a user to resolve an issue, whether the issue is resolved or escalated.

Measurement: Divide the number of tickets of each type by the amount of time it took your agents to resolve or escalate the issue. Can be measured on a per-agent basis or on a per-issue basis.

Goal: Find how much time it takes for your support system to deliver a good customer experience.

8. Average Wait Time

Definition: The period of time that the customer must wait before the start of the issue resolution process.

Measurement: Divide the total number of tickets by the total waiting time before starting to work with an agent.

Goal: Zero.

9. Average Time To Resolution

Definition: The average period of time that a customer must wait from making a request for support to having that request fulfilled successfully by resolving the issue.

Measurement: Divide the total number of resolved tickets by the total time spent by the customer attempting to resolve that issue.

Goal: As close to zero as possible.

Efficiency Metrics

The crux of any support strategy is to quickly and painlessly resolve issues. Efficiency metrics allow you gauge both how well your operations are working and how smoothly the process is flowing from intake to resolution.

10. Number of Resolutions

Definition: The number of tickets successfully resolved by the support process.

Measurement: Subtract unresolved tickets from the total of all tickets.

Goal: The number of resolutions should equal the number of opened tickets.

11. Resolution Rate

Definition: The percentage of issues which your support team resolves.

Measurement: Divide the number of resolved tickets by the total number of tickets. Can be measured on a per-agent or per-issue basis.

Goal: 100%.

12. First Contact Resolution Rate

Definition: The percentage of customer issues that are solved at the first line of support and do not require any escalation.

Measurement: Subtract the total number of issues that required escalation from the total number of tickets, then divide by the total number of tickets. Can be measured on a per-agent or per-issue basis.

Goal: 100%.

13. Open Case Rate

Definition: The rate of open tickets in your customer support system at any given time.

Measurement: Divide the number of open tickets by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Zero, though consider that every open ticket is an opportunity to provide an excellent customer experience that will set you up for future business.

14. Average Backlog

Definition: The open tickets that aren’t yet being resolved by your support team.

Measurement: The number of open tickets that aren’t being actively addressed divided by the

number of tickets that are presently being resolved at a given moment in time.

Goal: Zero.

15. Conversations Per Agent

Definition: How many different customers each of your agents interacts with over a period of time.

Measurement: Number of tickets handled by a particular agent over a given time.

Goal: Identify your most and least effective agents; more effective agents will resolve more issues and have more conversations.

16. Escalation Percentage

Definition: The percentage of issues which can’t be solved by the first line of support and have to be escalated.

Measurement: Divide the number of issues that are escalated beyond the first line by the total number of issues.

Goal: Zero.

Quality Metrics

17. Average Replies Per Ticket

Definition: The number of replies that your agent provides to the customer during issue resolution.

Measurement: Take the total number of replies per ticket and divide it by the number of tickets. Can be measured per agent or per issue.

Goal: Customers like it when they are replied to more frequently by your agents, but don’t overdo it.

18.  Giveaway Rate

Definition: The rate that one of your agents gives free services or items to a customer as a result of a difficult customer service experience in an attempt to increase customer satisfaction.

Measurement: Divide the number of tickets in which an agent disbursed a giveaway by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Depends; customers tend to have their mood reversed extremely quickly when they get a giveaway after a difficult customer service experience, but it can get expensive to maintain as a policy.

19. Positive Mentions On Social Media

Definition: The number of customers that mention your company in a positive light on a social media platform.

Measurement: Check each of your social media platform and judge the positivity of the comments there.

Goal: 100% positive mentions.

20. Post-Closure Engagement

Definition: How frequently the customer responds to your follow up inquiry after they have had a support experience; implies a more in depth engagement than simply answering a survey.

Measurement: Divide the number of successful post closure engagements by the total number of attempted engagements.

Goal: 100%. Higher post-closure engagement means that your customers are willing to stick around to provide you with more information about their customer experience.

21. CSA Complaints

Definition: The number of complaints to management that customers report regarding agents while attempting to resolve their issue.

Measurement: Count the number of complaints; can be measured per agent, per customer, or per issue.

Goal: Zero.

22. Self Service Rate

Definition: How frequently your customers experience an issue that they are able to address on their own solely by engaging with your knowledge base and other users.

Measurement: Divide the number of hits on your knowledgebase by the number of new tickets generated on topics that are covered in the knowledgebase.

Goal: Depends; having a strong knowledge base that allows for strong customer self-service lightens the load on your support team, but may prevent forging strong relationships and providing excellent customer support experiences.

Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Customer satisfaction measurements give you a big-picture look at how the customer service numbers are rolling up into actual business results. At the end of the day, the role of customer service is to keep customers–and keep them happy.

23. Churn Rate

Definition: The churn rate is the rate at which customers stop buying from or subscribing to your brand relative to the number of new customers gained in the same period of time.

Measurement: Divide the number of lost customers by the remaining total customers, including new customers.

Goal: Zero. Ideally, your customers remain your customers forever.

24. Customer Retention Rate

Definition: The rate of customers that remain your customers over a given period of time.

Measurement: Divide the number of customers that you had at the start of the time period by your total remaining number of customers at the end of the time period–a year is a good starting point.

Goal: 100%.

25. Average Customer Satisfaction Score (Average CSAT Score)

Definition: The satisfaction score reported by your customers after they answer a customer satisfaction survey after receiving support.

Measurement: Divide the total reported satisfaction value by all customers who took the survey by the number of customers who took the survey.

Goal: Higher is better, but the exact numbers will vary depending on how many questions your customer satisfaction survey has.

26. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Definition: The NPS is a question posed to customers after any interaction that they have with customer support or an aspect of your company’s website and is scored from 0-10. The customer rates whether they’d suggest your company to someone they knew from 0 to 10.

Measurement: Customers who register a 9 or 10 on their NPS are likely to be brand evangelists.

Goal: 100% of customers registering a 10.

27. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Definition: The CES is a question posed to customers after any interaction with your customer support or website, and is scored from 1-7. CES indicates how easy a customer found their experience and is correlated with customer loyalty.

Measurement: Higher values indicate that the customer had an easier time resolving their issue or performing their task on your website. Customers that register a 7 on their CES are likely to be brand evangelists, whereas customers that rate a 1 or 2 struggled and are likely displeased.

Goal: 100% of customers registering a 7 or higher.

28. Customer Abort Rate

Definition: The percentage of customers who become so discouraged with a support attempt that they break off communication and resign from their attempt to solve the issue.

Measurement: Divide the number of customers who canceled their ticket before resolution by the total number of tickets.

Goal: Zero. Having a high customer abort rate means that customers are getting too frustrated by the support process to get the help they need.

Support Channel Metrics

These figures help you understand and track where and how customers are interacting with your support team.

29. Contact Volume By Channel

Definition: The number of support requests per support channel (chat, phone, email, social media, etc).

Measurement: Sort the total number of tickets by the support channel they came from.

Goal: Depends. If your company has excellent customer service representatives, you may want to encourage customers into phone support. If your agents are overloaded, promoting email may help to buy time.

30. Rating Response Rate

Definition: How frequently customers opt to answer your CSAT, CES, NPS, or other survey after they interact with your customer support or your website.

Measurement: Divide the total number of responses by the total number of elicited responses.

Goal: 100%.

Finance And Logistics

Tying support to the bottom-line can sometimes be difficult, but these metrics help you understand how customers are spending and what effect support has on the overall value of each individual.

31. Account Summary

Definition: The value of each customer account relative to the number of support requests that the customer requires to continue being in business with you.

Measurement: Compare the customer’s account value with the amount of support time they use and with the amount of revenue that they bring in.

Goal: Varies. Ideally, all of your customers bring in large amounts of revenue while requiring no support. In practice, this metric shows you where support volume of a particular customer is decreasing your profit margin.

32. Customer Lifecycle

Definition: The average length of time that a customer spends in a relationship with your company.

Measurement: Divide the total number of customers by the total amount of time spend with your company by all customers.

Goal: Depends. Many companies prefer to maximize the length of the relationship with their customers.

33. Average Lifetime Customer Value

Definition: The amount of profit that an average customer renders to the company in light of the costs of supporting that customer.

Measurement: Subtract the sum of all customers’ support costs from the sum of all customers revenues, then divide by the total number of customers.

Goal: Higher customer lifetime value is better.

Picking Focus Metrics

There’s no single metric that will give you a comprehensive view of your customer service performance, but there are a few that you should consider with more weight than the others.

NPS is an excellent metric which cuts right to the core of your customer experience overall goal: increasing revenue. NPS scores are tightly linked to customer loyalty, which means that they’re tightly linked to revenue.

Aside from NPS, pay special attention to your:

  • Churn Rate
  • Resolution Rate
  • Most Common New User Issue

Your churn rate is an indicator that lets you know as a percentage how much you can stand to improve your customer experience and retain customers as a result.

Likewise, your resolution rate is critical because your support system needs to be able to address user issues reliably if you’re banking on it to provide a good customer experience.

Finally, the most common new user issue is a metric to track carefully because it can help you make onboarding new users a smoother experience by ironing out the problems.

Remember to adapt your company’s industry and specific situation to these metrics, because they tend to vary from sector to sector. No matter the business, if you keep a tight handle on these metrics, your revenues will grow with your customers’ satisfaction.

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