Definition of Customer Support: What KPIs You Should Be Tracking for Success? - Best Practices | MPS

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Definition of Customer Support: What KPIs You Should Be Tracking for Success?

definition of customer support

 

A well-developed client-base is fundamental to the ultimate success of any business. Retaining and boosting the loyalty of company partners is a major task for top managers to handle. Thus, your customer support representatives should focus on understanding the main questions and needs of everyone working with your company. A partner should never be left one on one with something they’re having a hard time with.

What is Customer Support?

Customer support organization is quite a complex and challenging task. Two major things you should settle with here to get everything moving include a) general communication-based type of your support – the method of call centers (phone support), email support, desktop support, live chat support, etc.; b) the key performance indicators and qualities of processing customer requests. 

It’s important to understand when and at which circumstances the biggest flow of requests takes place, how to conveniently keep a record of them and how to prioritize them as well as how to most efficiently react to submissions and which top manager can be responsible enough to maintain all that. 

Customer Service vs. Customer support

These are mutually exclusive notions. Customer support implies another particular tier of services that focus on some of the most important aspects including the following:

  • stimulation of feedback – this allows to enhance the overall quality of the service, product, and company operation as a whole;
  • collection of data & information about the most frequent issues for eventual service improvement;
  • business engagement – constant communication allows distinguishing regular customers from one-time buyers.

Getting feedback and analyzing results are global points of difference when it comes to service and support. Thus, we define a couple of key differences between the terms:

CriteriaServiceSupport
TransactionsSales-focusedFocused on defining the connection between the quality of service & client’s product loyalty
ExpensesEfforts of optimizing expenses & finding ways to reduce them via fast requests processing Customers’ loyalty, inflow & bounce rates are additionally assessed
Impact on productInsignificant – service workers perform individually & their work is frequently outsourcedSignificant – support workers cooperate with other company departments & highlight important info during business meetings 
Company developmentInsignificant progress – service employees usually work with readymade templatesSupport experts constantly look for new solutions
ApplicationAny B2B or B2C, niche with an extensive client-baseSaaS, technical system projects, fields of IT

Keep in mind that even though support is positioned as an advanced type of service, your customer support team shouldn’t forget about certain simple rules that help boost the clients’ loyalty towards your business and efficiently lower tension in the case of a conflict situation, including: 

  • highlighting common interests – we trust & sympathize more with those similar to us;
  • minimizing official, dry style of communication and slang;
  • providing expert info properly, without any spelling errors;
  • constantly notifying about the stage of resolving one’s question (received a submission, processing, ready to provide a solution) – prevents customers from feeling forgotten; 

Why Сustomer Support is Important for your Business?

You don’t really sell a product, you sell a certain life enhancement for a customer – this is the business insight that reinforces the need in in-house customer support. Moreover, as good and working as your product/service may be, users still may have difficulties and questions that only you can help them clarify. In such a way, a well-adjusted, efficient support department will bring you advantages, such as:

  • satisfied clients – one satisfied user will bring another potential user; one unsatisfied user will talk ten potential users out of going for your company;
  • brand loyalty – retaining existing clients is much more affordable than attracting new ones;
  • advertising – friend recommendations are the most efficient way to promote a product among real users;
  • income boost – not only due to extending the clientele eventually but also by increasing an average check & regularity of purchases.

What are Customer Support KPIs?

‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’ – P. Drucker ©

KPI or key performance indicators are the key points of your company’s and its structural departments’ ultimate efficiency that show you which productivity directions can and should be enhanced. They can be subdivided based on the level of in-house indications:

  • low-level KPIs help to analyze performance aspects related to a particular employee or department;
  • high-level KPIs indicate the efficiency of the company as a whole. 

Tracking customer support metrics, you should understand that you will have to cover a lot of data and aspects, but the key metrics in pretty much any business niche include:

  • a number of requests;
  • response & request processing time;
  • conversion to successful issue resolution ratio;
  • customer satisfaction score (CSAT).

A systematic analysis of key indicators allows us to timely identify problematic areas and constantly work on the quality of provided services. Forming a full picture of efficiency, one should go by the following rules:

  • the indicators should be of real use to the company & correspond with particular in-house tasks & goals;
  • make only true analysis, without any fake clients or subscribers involved;
  • make the assessment of KPIs regular.

What Customer Support Key Performance Metrics Should You Measure for Success?

There is no single universal list of performance metrics for customer support. Approaches may differ depending on the specifics of your business, its tactical and strategic goals, etc. All in all, we can define the top 10 indicators that a vast majority of companies go by. 

AFRT – average first reply time

This is a factor that measures the time it takes for a specialist to react to a client request on average. 33% of users are ready to recommend a company that is fast at responses without considering the ultimate quality of the help provided. There are also certain niche-based norms regulating the most proper initial response time for different communication channels. 

If your customer support staff is unable to meet those norms, you should understand what causes the issue: not enough employees, insufficient quality of certain employees’ performance or of software performance or something else. 

 

Source

ART – average resolution time

This ultimately indicates how prompt and expert your team is at resolving customer questions. Based on the business niche and overall complexity of tasks in question, this metric can be measured in minutes, hours or days. 

A total number of requests

One of the fundamental metrics of a particular product’s or of the company’s overall success. In most cases, an intensive inflow of customer support requests means that there could be product dysfunctions or some insufficient service moments (in terms of logistics, advertising, etc.).  

Resolution ratio

You should be able to compare the rates of successful issue resolutions with a total number of requests. This will help you define the performance level of individual employees or of the whole team and focus on the major issues with a product or company. 

Performance

This shows how well educated in the matter and competent your staff is in general. Depending on the niche specifics and set goals, a number of processed or resolved questions per unit of time is considered. As such, you can define the leading and lagging specialists. 

NPS – client loyalty

Net Promoter Score is the ratio that can help you define how many customers are more likely to recommend your company’s product. It is calculated in percentage as the difference between positive- and negative-minded users. The bigger this difference is, the better. If there are 70% of loyal customers and 20% of unsatisfied ones, then your NPS is 50%.

 

Source

Client retention ratio

Most successful companies get more than 50% of their total income from regular customers. Acquiring the loyalty of a new user is much more difficult and expensive than retaining existing users, though. Boosting the number of regular customers by 5%, however, can increase company profits by 25% at the least. This metric can be calculated via the following formula:

Coefficient = ((CE-CN)/CS)х100%

where

CE – a number of customers by the end of the period;

CN – new customer acquired during the period;

CS – a number of customers at the beginning of the period.

SERVQUAL

A multifactorial KPI (combines service and quality) that allows assessing the correspondence between customer expectations and the eventual result of support service. It includes five major elements:

  • assessment of providing help at a claimed quality;
  • staff competence;
  • visual looks of the office, website, etc.;
  • the individuality of approach;
  • speed of staff response.

CSAT – customer satisfaction score

A summarizing metric indicating customer loyalty and potential ways to boost the overall income. With the help of an average assessment by all communication channels (using surveys, feedback monitoring, etc.), your business can acquire proper data on the customers’ satisfaction with the product, service, customer support, etc. Sometimes, CSAT can tell you more than statistical data from sales departments because it is intended to measure something that’s almost impossible to measure – human emotions. 

Employee engagement

Long-term work relationships are essential to the overall high performance and motivation of employees. They indicate the prestige of working in the company, allowing to save lots of time and material resources when hiring and educating staff employees. 

Customer Support – Best Practices

American companies lose around $62 billion annually due to mediocre customer support. Because of bad service, 51% of users are ready to cease turning to a particular business at all. 

But here are some pro tips for your B2C, B2B or SaaS customer support can employ to avoid all that. 

Availability

The support team should be available online 24/7, via every dedicated communication channel. And if they are unavailable for some time for some reason, customers should be timely notified about the issue. Don’t let them be ignored. 

Quality standards

Defining the parameters and norms of service (response time, conversation scripts) is crucial to any type of support efforts. This helps to promptly identify and prevent individual issues related to employees, service, product, and company.

Software

Properly selected software will help you automate a good share of request processing, letting live employees focus on more complicated, out-of-the-ordinary issues. FAQs, CRM systems, centralized knowledge databases can help you save a significant amount of time and money while keeping the service at a high quality. 

Team competence

It’s always better to employ experienced, qualified experts and motivate them decently. Searching and educating new workers on a regular basis is quite expensive and time-consuming. 

Employee load

Watch the dynamics and number of requests processed by separate support team experts. An intense load may indicate that you either don’t have enough people in staff to cope with the inflow of work or your team isn’t competent enough or you have recurring issues in the product or company as a whole. 

Service level

Making an SLA or Service-level agreement, you make it clearer for the customer when they should be expecting an answer to their question. Make only honest promises you can handle. It’s always better to exceed the expectations than to fail at delivering something promised.  

Response time

Focus on decreasing the time it takes for your support specialists to take up requests. 77% of users believe that it is the best service quality indicator when they can feel that their personal time is valued. 

Competency of questions

Classifying requests by themes and categories, a company gets an ability to both save the servicing time and provide the best options for solving particular issues. The whole organization should be involved in this classification, not only the support team.

Software CompanyConcerned DepartmentOnline StoreConcerned Department
BugsTestingPre-Sale QuestionSales
Feature RequestDevelopmentOrder QuestionsSupport
Sales QuestionsSalesReturnSupport
Technical IssuesSupportShippingLogistics
Integration IncompatibilitySupportBack OrdersSupport
Configuration IssuesSupportDelivery Logistic

Feedback

Ask your customers to fill out simple feedback forms once the conversation draws to an end. An automated newsletter that will ask customers about any recurring problems would also be a good idea. 

Submission reasons

You should analyze the initial motives of people’s turning to support. Thus, you’ll be able to identify many issues related both to the service and product.

Summary

No matter the end quality of your product, your business won’t look at many chances of success if customers aren’t satisfied enough. Engaged, professional, and understanding support is a reliable business tool that helps to smooth out all the possible service flaws and stimulate customers to reinforce relations further and boost their loyalty. We wouldn’t recommend ever neglecting this business operation aspect, because from our own experience we can judge the importance of quality support. So, contact us and see for yourself.

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