The old adage of “what gets measured gets managed” still rings true today, maybe even more so. 

With the advent of Big Data this should be an easier task for many organisations to grasp and keep a watching brief on.  However, from my experience as a Customer Success Manager (CSM) within the finance sector over the last few years, many organisations still find this a tricky nut to crack.   I believe there are a couple of reasons for this. 

Firstly, I see a lack of clarity disseminated from senior stakeholders within Customer Service departments and HR Administration teams of their strategic objectives.   Managers and Team Leaders within these departments are unsure of their departmental charter.  Thus when you start talking to some of these key personnel about what success looks like they are unclear. 

Equally, when looking to exploit investment in technologies to reduce customer contact volumes to drive a better customer experience or improve efficiencies within the organisation, managers and team leaders naturally become wary of their positions and think this means potential cuts in headcounts.  This is rarely the driver here.  Instead it’s usually about doing more with what you have, a case of sweating your assets (in this case your people), to service more customers without increasing headcount.  This messaging from VPs to their managers and team leaders often seems to be overlooked.

Secondly, there is a lack of certainty about what should be measured.  What are the key metrics that, when combined together, indicate a highly successful team?  I know, as a CSM, I’m measured on three key areas – customer advocacy, retention and radiation.  That helps ensure I concentrate my activities that drive positive results in these three key areas.  Often customers ask “but how are we doing compared to some of your other customers?” and they request benchmark data.  This I believe is the wrong focus.  Rather than only looking externally I recommend organisations start to look at measuring their current results and define what success would look like internally.  This focuses the mind on where to make improvements.  The trouble with using an industry benchmark is there are so many differences in what organisations (and even teams within organisations) do, the nature of the enquiries they handle and their complexity.  Having a customer reach out about resetting a password is obviously a much quicker contact to resolve when compared to a lengthy customer complaint email that might take several hours to fix and requires the input from other teams across the organisation.

I try and understand up front with my customers, with the VP for Customer Experience or the VP for HR, what their purpose is and what metrics are critical to them.  Usually these are the metrics that are being passed up the chain of command in monthly reports within the organisation.  Examples might be around the following;-

Contact Volumes (across email, chat and telephone, social etc.)

Customer Feedback - CSAT, NPS or Customer Effort scores, be that end customers or internal colleagues using an HR Service desk.  This usually has two forms – feedback from people consuming content (FAQs generally) and those people who have actually gone on to reach out to a member of staff and had an interaction (via a chat, call or email)

First Contract Resolution or ‘One and Done’ percentages

FAQs/Knowledge articles consumed within the digital customer journey (to aid content curation and signposting within the journey)

Upsell/cross-sell conversion rates – to drive customer value

Time to resolution – how long did the customer have to wait from raising their request to getting it resolved

The list is long.  These metrics can then be categorised into one of three possible “buckets” – Acquisition, Retention or Efficiencies

Acquisition Metrics – mostly based around converting a prospect to a customer. The focus here is around driving conversions, increasing checkout rates and checkout values.

Retention Metrics – keeping hold of your customers and focus on resolution rates, time to resolution, contact rates, volumes of active customers having to reach out to you for service (it’s surprising to see how few organisations look at this metric)

Efficiencies – your “back office” metrics, indicating how many cases your agents are handling, their % utilisation rates, the volume of responses per case, first contact resolution rate, how long does it take your agents to resolve a phone call compared to an email or a chat etc.

Making Improvements

When looking at where to make improvements it is critical to understand your costs.  When I ask the question “How much does it cost you per minute to service a customer?” people look at me as if I’m mad.  Nobody has ever had this number to hand.  Yet it is a critical metric if you are looking to enhance your customer’s digital experience and drive efficiencies across the organisation.  I provide a simple excel calculator to my customers that allows them to input a few of their costs (agents x salaries + overheads etc.) and then easily calculate this.  Then I can work with them to identify the cost per contact of a phone call compared to an email or a social response on Twitter.  Finally, we can see where to make improvements - what an x% reduction in contact rates would mean to the organisation (by enabling customers to self-serve rather than calling into the contact centre) or by offering a chat to convert a further y% from prospects to customers.  Once armed with this information it is clear which improvement would deliver the most “bang for buck” and enable the customer to calculate “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

So I urge those of you in the higher echelons of Customer Experience delivery to (a) make it clear to your managers what is their raison d’etre and (b) define and measure the key 4 or 5 metrics to improve and deliver that extra for your organisation – be that an increase in revenue or a reduction in costs (or ideally a combination of both).