Customer service is an essential part of every business. This department interacts with clients and directly affects the company’s reputation and how the business is perceived by the public. As a result, it is critical for every business to ensure the customer service team is both providing and maintaining excellent customer service at all times. To accomplish this task, it is vital for businesses to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within their customer service department and coach soft skills to maintain high KPI scores.
This article will identify critical KPIs for businesses to monitor and discuss the soft skills necessary to improve and maintain both customer service satisfaction and positive business reputation.
Why measure customer service KPIs?
Customer service KPIs are valuable for all businesses because they provide managers with in-depth insight of the performance of the customer service team and individual team members. KPIs are unbiased metrics used to measure success and performance of the service provided to a business’ clients. When KPIs are analyzed correctly, they reveal the areas within customer service that are performing well and the areas that need improvement. Managers can make data driven decisions on where to add resources to fill improvement gaps, remeasure and achieve success.
What are the key customer service KPIs to monitor?
It is important to consider the entire customer lifecycle, from interest to purchase and retention, when considering the KPIs to monitor and track.
- First Call Resolution (FCR) – measures the success of customer service to resolve issues on the first call. FCR reveals the level of skill the customer service agent has at comprehending and resolving the issue without transferring or performing a callback. To improve the performance of this KPI, focus on improving the communications skills of the customer service agent. Ensure there is a script they follow and there is a process in place. It is also beneficial to construct a customer resolution knowledge base consisting of customer issues. This allows the customer service agent to search for any issues they cannot resolve immediately.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – measures the average score an agent receives directly from the clients served. The CSAT is the most important and most common KPI tracked for all businesses with a customer service team. Data is gathered when the company asks the client to directly rate their satisfaction on the product, service or business. The data may be gathered immediately after each interaction between the customer care agent and the client using email, at the end of the call or any other data collection method. Ratings may be based on a number scale, stars, smiley faces, etc.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) – measures the average client experience and customer loyalty. The question is typically “How likely will you refer us to a friend or family member?” and the score is typically measured on a scale from 1 – 10. The information from the NPS indicates how likely the client is to provide a referral of your business to a friend or family member. The scale can be broken down into three sections:
- Score 9 – 10 (Promoters) – Loyal customers who will refers others to the business via word of mouth.
- Score 7 – 8 (Passive) – Customers who are happy with the product or service, however; may be poached by a competitor and are unlikely to promote the product or business.
- Score 0 – 6 (Detractors) – Unhappy customers that will most likely negatively impact the company reputation.
- Average Resolution Time (ART) – measures the average time for the customer service agent to find a solution for the client. Customer service agents should be focused on resolving issues as quickly as possible. ART directly impacts customer satisfaction because the faster an issue is resolved by customer service, the higher the Customer Satisfaction Score will be on the call. This also improves First Call Resolution which directly affects the bottom line for the company.
- Customer Resolution Rate – measures the number of issues resolved by a customer service agent versus their total number of calls. This KPI is essential because it provides insight on customer service agent productivity. Higher customer resolutions also impact sales volume because if a customer service agent can answer all questions a customer has, it may lead to a sale and increases CSAT and NPS.
It is best practice for any business to minimize the number of detractors they generate.
How to Improve Customer Service KPIs?
To improve Customer Service KPIs and performance, it is important for all businesses to implement a coaching program. Coaching implements a system of call recording or call monitoring. Calls are analyzed by managers and afterwards, if needed, managers implement a series of coaching techniques to improve soft skills in their agents.
How to Implement Call Monitoring?
To monitor calls, businesses may use phone recording software. Versadial Solutions provides a third-party call recording platform to provide businesses with the ability to listen to the recorded interactions between their clients and their customer service staff. Managers can review the calls and provide coaching to improve the performance of their customer service agents.
What are Customer Service Soft Skills?
Customer Service Soft Skills are interpersonal skills that require Psychological training. These skills are based on emotional insights that allow the customer service agent to gauge the client. The objective is for the customer service agent to convey to the client through the interaction that the agent genuinely cares about the client’s issue and wants to resolve the client’s problem. There are some individuals born naturally with these skills and there are some that need to be trained. Developing these soft skills and utilizing them with client calls will improve KPIs and the company’s success.
What soft skills should the company monitor and coach?
The list below are the soft skills all businesses should monitor, coach and actively improve.
- Active Listening – is understanding the client issue correctly and anticipating issues from the client that may arise. The skill involves careful listening to clients to obtain a clear understanding of what they need to determine how to resolve their issue. It is also important to allow the customer to speak, not interrupt them and to respond to all of their questions correctly.
- Attentiveness – is attention to all of the details the customer is conveying. This allows the customer service agent to identify the issue, provide a solution and avoid misunderstandings. Attentiveness also involves becoming mindful of what the client is not saying. For example, customers may never state “Please improve the user interface on your website”, however; customers are more likely to ask “Where is this specific item located on your website?” or “How do I search for this item on your website?”. For a customer service agent to be attentive, they have to interpret what the client is asking for without directly told.
- Clear Communication – is the ability to communicate in detail leaving nothing to ambiguity. Clear communication is a skill that is more complex than it appears. For example, if a customer service agent makes the following statement to a client “Shipping will be included in the order” does this mean shipping is free or will the shipping fee be added to the order? Customer service agents that lack clear communication skills may provide ambiguous information to clients that lead to a misunderstanding. This results in a negative customer service experience.
- Patience and Self-Control – are essential skills for any role in customer service. Clients may be reaching out to the business in search of support and may already be frustrated. Calls may begin friendly and customer attitude can change quickly or the call may come in stressful at the beginning. When a customer service agent demonstrates that they are willing to listen to a client, it helps alleviate the frustration the customer may have. It is important to be mindful of the Average Resolution Time KPI and resolve issues as quickly as possible, however; the customer service agent must take the time to understand and fully resolve the issue.
- Ability to empathize – is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of another individual. This soft skill is important for managers to focus on coaching and improving with their customer service team because there may be a situation where a customer service agent cannot provide what the client wants. Empathy can quickly improve the customer service experience when the customer service agent demonstrates an understanding of the issue, acknowledges the origination of the client’s frustration and can provide a resolution while bearing in mind the client’s emotional state.
- Positive Attitude – is the ability to focus and maintain perspective on the benefits for all situations. Customer service agents with a positive attitude employ minor changes to their speech and conversation patterns to focus on the benefits of a negative situation. For example, consider the following statements:
- Without Positive Attitude – “This item is not in stock. It is backordered and will not be available until next month.”
- With Positive Attitude – “This item is not in stock, however; I can place an order for you now and have it sent to you when it becomes available next month.”
Notice the statements are near identical, however; the first statement is delivered without a positive attitude and the latter contains a positive attitude. What sets the positive attitude statement apart is the tone of the message. The statement focuses on how and when the issue can and will be resolved.
It is important for businesses to acknowledge and reward customer service agents that are receptive to learning and improving their soft skills. When customer service agents see their efforts are recognized and rewarded, it encourages them to be more engaged.
Practice does lead to perfection. Role playing activities and re-enacting common and difficult customer service scenarios prepares customer service agents for real world calls and provides an environment to practice and improve these soft skills.
The customer service team directly interacts with clients so it in the company’s best interest to coach and improve these soft skills in all of their customer service agents. By improving these soft skills, clients will receive a better customer service experience and KPIs will improve. When the KPIs within a company increases, businesses will be rewarded with more positive reviews and a better reputation.
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