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Create a Service Metrics Strategy

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Evaluate your current metrics to find opportunities for growth.
  • Translate business goals into metrics.

Get a Baseline

With a better understanding of the service metrics world, Sita turns her attention to her own contact center to apply what she’s learned. She reaches out to Ryan De Lyon, her customer service manager, to see if together they can get better insight into the effectiveness of customer service at Ursa Major.

Turns out, Ryan has also been tossing and turning at night thinking about service metrics. Ursa Major has been focused on a handful of fairly standard metrics for a while now. Check them out in the table below.

Metric Meaning
Average Handle Time (AHT) The amount of time a team or a particular agent takes to solve customer cases.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Usually measured by a post-touch survey, this measures the overall satisfaction of customers after dealing with customer service. This can be measured as a percentage or as a number (usually 1-10).
First Contact Resolution (FCR) Expressed as a percentage, this measures the proportion of cases that are solved on the first touch with customer service.
First Response Time (FRT) This is the average amount of time it takes for customer service to initially respond to customer inquiries.
Total Cases The sum total of cases that come through the contact center over a certain amount of time.

But things have changed for Ursa Major. While the business has evolved and expanded, they haven’t necessarily adopted new service metrics to reflect their new scope. Metrics-wise, things are mostly the same as before the business took off, and Ryan has been up late thinking about whether changes are necessary.

So when Sita reaches out to Ryan to talk about service metrics, Ryan is delighted and can’t wait to talk over his concerns with Sita.

Ursa Major’s Service Evolution

Ryan starts by painting a brief picture of how Ursa Major and its contact center has changed over the years. In the early-mid 2000s, the company was a regional player with a few dozen employees. Customer service consisted of a handful of employees handling a variety of requests via phone, and they used call volume, AHT, CSAT, and FCR as their main metrics.

Sita and Ryan shaking hands and talking about metrics.

But in the late 2000s, business took off as more and more people began to emphasize the importance of clean energy. The company grew, offered more products, expanded its territory, and now has a few hundred employees. With 12 employees, the customer service department is now almost as big as the company was in the early 2000s. They currently handle requests via phone, email, chat, and from the field, but the metrics haven’t changed.

Why the Old Metrics Aren’t Enough

Ryan believes that Ursa Major’s service metrics need an overhaul after not being touched for almost a decade. To illustrate why, Ryan talks to Sita about their new and most profitable product: turn-key solar systems for residential and industrial customers.

Ursa Major got its start selling solar components, but the company has had a lot of success recently selling these complete systems. They’re designed to be installed quickly and left alone by the purchaser: It’s a great product. On the other hand, individual components require more attention from Ursa Major to make sure the purchaser can install the part and have it work properly.

So simply by introducing a popular new product, two of Ursa Major’s major service metrics, AHT and FCR, went down and therefore look better. But not necessarily as a result of improving their customer service—more as a result of the increased sales of complete systems, which are easier for the consumer to install and manage than a single part.

In that moment, Sita understands why Ryan is so concerned with their current metrics strategy, and why she’s been losing sleep, as well. Service reporting should indicate the health of their customer service operations, not be a big reaction to whatever else is going on in the company. She wants customers to be satisfied and loyal, and without robust metrics that can evaluate those characteristics, how can they be sure they’re moving toward that goal?

Clearly Ryan has given this some thought, so Sita asks him to treat this as a special project. Ryan will audit their existing metrics, identify any holes, and report back with possible fixes.

Identify Metrics That Matter

This is exactly the kind of freedom Ryan was looking for. With Sita’s buy-in, Ryan dives in and comes up with some areas for opportunity.

First, he knows from his years of experience in contact centers that metrics can drive behavior. In other words, if you measure average handle time, you’re incentivizing shorter interactions. On the surface, that’s good for customers; they don’t want to spend hours on the phone with service. But it can also mean that agents feel pressured to get off the phone earlier—sometimes before they really solve a customer’s problem—which runs counter to the customer-centric goals Ursa Major has set up.

Second, Ryan takes an assessment of their customers. With the introduction of the complete solar system, the percentage of new retail customers in their consumer base has gone up compared to B2B sales and seasoned solar customers.

Third, Ryan takes into account Ursa Major’s company and customer service goals. Sita has made it clear that the most important thing is the customer and their happiness. A happy customer means a loyal one, and a loyal customer means more solar panels, and more solar panels means a greener planet!

Finally, Ursa Major currently has no internally focused metrics like the ones we discussed in the previous unit. All their metrics are focused on the customer, and none are looking inside the contact center. Ryan wants to change that to get a better view of service as a whole.

Finalize Your Service Metrics Strategy

Ryan takes some time and comes back to Sita with a thorough plan. He identifies a group of core metrics and outlines how those metrics can help Ursa Major reach its customer service goals.

Proposed Metric How It Helps the Business
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) This is a good benchmark for Ursa Major’s customer service: It’s the bottom-line metric. And although CSAT is a great measure of overall effectiveness, Ryan knows it’s affected by other kinds of activities in the contact center and at Ursa Major.
Agent Satisfaction Customers are important to Ursa Major, and so are their employees. Ryan wants to start a quarterly satisfaction survey for his contact center employees so he can assess their overall happiness and feelings toward the company.
Total Cases vs. % Backlogged Keeping track of case volume will help Ryan understand two things: his staff’s workload (total number of cases) and whether his customers are getting their issues solved (the percentage of cases that are backlogged).
Net Promoter Score Along with CSAT, Ryan wants to use NPS as the guiding metrics for his agents. He’ll evaluate them on these statistics rather than things like AHT or FCR so that they focus on the customer first and foremost. If agents show a high NPS, they’ll not only be pleasing customers but enhancing the brand image as well.
Time to Resolution This will be Ryan’s warning sign for many potential issues. If time to resolution goes up, he knows either his agents have too much work or their work is too complex. And if customers’ cases aren’t getting closed quickly enough, that can lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction.
Agent Turnover Ursa Major plans to grow, which means Ryan will be getting more agents. That’s a good thing! But Ryan wants to make sure that he’s hiring for growth, not backfilling a lot of spots that have been vacated. Agent turnover will help him keep this in mind.

Ryan explains to Sita that these will be his primary metrics, but they won’t be his only focus. Sita loves that Ryan included both internal and external metrics in their new strategy, and she agrees they’re the perfect fit for Ursa Major Solar. It’s finally time to take the metrics back to Maria and figure out how to bring them to life.

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