How to Offer Excellent Customer Service

The secret to great service is measuring your team’s performance

iStock_000036190928SmallExcellent customer service comes from having an awesome team. Your team is the first point of contact for your customers, so it’s crucial you have the best people on the job. But how do you know if your customer service team has got the right stuff?

To develop a good customer service strategy, you should continually measure your team’s performance to find ways to improve–and make sure the efforts are worthwhile. Start by choosing customer service metrics that will yield useful, practical information. You should look at three aspects of your overall performance: quality of service, value to your organization, and operational efficiency. Here are some suggestions for how to measure your team’s performance.

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How happy are your customers?

Keeping your customers happy is the primary role of your customer service team. How do you measure the quality of your service? Just ask your customers.

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Getting your NPS is a good way to set a baseline for how you’re going with customers. Learn more about NPS or check out our NPS template.
  • Post-Incident Surveys. After every interaction with your customer service, offer your customers a survey where they can provide their feedback. Ask about the service agent’s skills and technical knowledge, the time it took to respond and fix the problem and the customer’s overall satisfaction with the interaction.
  • Self-Service Surveys. Don’t forget about the automated service your company provides. For example the Help and FAQ sections of your website are great places to allow customers the opportunity to provide feedback. You may also want to ask whether they thought the information they got was useful and easy to find.
  • Relationship Surveys. A customer service relationship is more than just the sum of its parts. Offer quarterly or annual surveys to customers to inquire about their overall feelings toward your company and products. Ask about their general loyalty too. How likely are they to continue as your customer or to recommend you to peers?

What are the best way to administer these surveys? Add them to transactional emails, or set up follow-up emails to be sent whenever customer service is contacted. You can also make them available on your social media pages, contact us pages, and in your help center or FAQs. If your business has a physical presence, link a survey questionnaire through a QR code at the point of sale, or offer a suggestion box.

Are you providing good service at a good value?

Of course quality customer service comes at a price. It’s important for the bottom-line to ask: is it worth it? Are you earning enough to justify the amount you spend on customer service? This cost-benefit analysis can be difficult to measure, but here are some factors and to consider:

  • Gross margin. Look at is your total revenue less the cost of service operations.
  • Hourly labor cost. Consider salary as well as overtime, benefits, taxes and any other personnel expenses.
  • Cost per incident. Divide your total costs by the number of resolved incidents within a specified time period.
  • Lifetime value of a customer. Divide your gross margin by the number of customers to see how much each customer is worth. Look to make sure the cost of resolving customer service issues isn’t too high. If it is, you’ll want to identify ways to get more efficient–and make some tough decisions about when it makes more sense to let customers go.
  • Training days. The amount of training your team members undergo directly correlates to their productivity and customer satisfaction.

How do you measure up?

The final metrics to consider are key performance indicators for your teams’ operations. These measure the volume and efficiency of your customer support efforts.

  • Timing. How long do your customers wait to speak with a person? How many give up before they get ahold of someone? How long do interactions with your team take? How much time does it take to achieve a resolution?
  • Solutions. How many issues are resolved upon the first engagement with your team? How many and what type of issues are escalated? How many incidents are resolved within 24 hours?
  • Impact. Do resolving issues increase the lifetime value of customers?

A focus on operational efficiency, of course, is the key to cutting costs and making sure that the excellent customer service you offer doesn’t come at too great a cost.

Setting benchmarks

Once you establish baseline numbers for customer satisfaction, the value of your efforts, and operational efficiency, you should make sure to review them over time. Setting performance benchmarks, then measuring performance over time is a great way to make sure your focus on customer service has an impact.

Make an ongoing commitment to improving your team’s skills

An good customer service team can be a lot of things: empathetic, responsive, informed, and engaged to name a few. Improving your team’s skills requires a commitment to proactively identifying issues, making sure the reps are engaged, and identifying issues at every touchpoint. The landscape of things impacting your customers’ experience is constantly changing, so an ongoing commitment is essential. Here are a few more ways to stay proactive and offer excellent service:

Good luck making sure you have a great team!