Are Your Customer Service Metrics Just A Vanity Score?

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This month we’ve been speaking a lot about the benefits of incorporating collaboration into customer support, and it reminded me of a post I wrote last year. Collaboration can be the key to finding the best solutions for customers, so it’s important to not penalize customer support agents for doing so. Metrics like “time to resolve” and “first contact resolution rate” may dissuade collaboration because it might have the appearance of taking longer, so it’s important to find the right combination of metrics to incentivitize agents to provide the best service. Read the full article below:

In one of the more hilarious portions of Dan Lyons’ satire of Silicon Valley, Disrupted, he recalls attempting to decipher this phrase, “So I can be the DRI on this, or Jan and I can be DRIs together, and we’ll coordinate with Courtney to work up some potential KPIs, and then we can all meet again in like a week or two and we’ll present some ideas and then we can develop an SLA.” But if he thought marketing was ripe with acronyms, he would have absolutely drowned in them were he to enter customer support. CSAT, NPS, FCR, AWP, SLA, AHT, and CES – yes, these are all real- are just a few of the acronyms that customer service teams use to measure their success. And each of these metrics can be measured in hundreds of different ways: on a 1-10 scale, a 1-100 scale, a percentage, a smiley face vs neutral face vs. sad face, etc. The reason that all of these acronyms are so ripe for satire, though, is that many of them mean absolutely nothing. These are what we call vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are used by companies to brag in the media, for the most part. As TJ Stein, Director of Customer Experience at MeUndies, and previously Senior Director of Customer Experience at Media Temple said in his talk at this year’s SupConf SF, “The key thing for us to really think about is are these metrics really giving you insight, are these metrics helping you make informed decisions about your company, your team, your brand, your customer experience. The fact is, if they’re not, then they’re just vanity metrics. ‘We have world-class customer support’ Everybody likes to say that.”The problem is, many companies are operating on vanity metrics without even knowing it.

The Tell-Tale Signs That Your Team Is Using Vanity Metrics

1. One of your products has a lower CSAT or NPS score than the others

Oftentimes a company will find that they have relatively high CSAT scores, and leave it at that. But it’s important that you parse CSAT by demographic and product, and then target the lowest CSAT in each category for improvement.For instance, Stein found that he had a slightly lower CSAT for one of his company’s products. Upon examining his data, he discovered that he was getting a low NPS score (the likelihood that a user would recommend your product) from users in South America, who were dealing with crashes and slow load times. From there, he was able to communicate this information to his product team, while also targeting this demographic to improve their experience.Even if all of your products have relatively high customer satisfaction and NPS scores, it’s crucial to dig into the lowest of these, to discover if there are recurring problems in your customer service.

2. No actionable data comes from your metrics

“In my opinion, and from what I’ve seen, support teams often function in a vacuum,” said Stein. “We often lack visibility into what’s happening in sales and marketing and product, and changes just happen, and we have to accept what’s happened to the product. The inverse of that is that a lot of things happen in customer experience that don’t get funneled back up to your product team to help make really smart decisions.”High CSAT is not an actionable metric. While it’s laudable that you have it, it’s not a metric that can inform and improve your product and service. To act on data, you must go several layers deeper, looking at where and why customers are having good and bad experiences. This can mean going as deep as individual comments, or only looking which product gets the fewest tickets.

3. You’re using product feedback as a reflection on customer service

A common mistake that is made by customer service managers is to measure NPS and use it as evidence that support is doing their job. The problem, though, is that a customer could love a product and hate its service. NPS only reflects the customer’s satisfaction with the actual product, not with Help.

4. Low feedback completion

Only a very small percentage of people complete surveys for most companies. This means that you’re only getting feedback from a dedicated group of users- those who either really love or really hate their experience. It’s hard to have accurate data with such a select sample of users, which is why it’s important to drive feedback.One of the biggest support pain points that we discovered at our monthly Customer Support Superheroes meetup in July, though, was that support agents are wary of over-emailing their customers to badger them for feedback. To mitigate this problem, many support agents have chosen products that allow for in-app feedback, end-of-purchase feedback, and one click surveys (for instance a smiley face or frowny face).

5. You’re presenting objectives based on anecdotal evidence

Feelings should hardly be discounted, but if you’re trying to improve your customer experience based only on the feelings of your agents, you will run into two problems: feelings are not always accurate (in fact, they’re often not), and if you’re wrong, other departments will be completely justified in blaming you.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who Has The Greatest Customer Service Of Them All?

We all know that 95% of statistics are made up. If we wanted to present ourselves well at a board meeting, we could certainly show high NPS and CSAT, but when it comes to actually measuring your customers’ happiness to improve your business, it’s crucial that your metrics reflect more than your own ego.

Published June 27, 2017
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