14 Customer Service Metrics to Track and What They Mean

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Customer service metrics enable companies to track their support efforts in an on-demand, multi-platform world.

While call centers aren’t yet a relic of the past, the days when customer service was only offered by phone or over a counter are long behind us. Customers expect to receive support wherever they look for it, from a company’s website to its Twitter account. And they expect it fast.

To keep up, it’s crucial to track the customer service metrics that matter. Learn how to spot pain points, provide support where is needed, and keep customers and support teams more than satisfied.

What are customer service metrics?

Customer service metrics measure the performance, quality, and efficiency of a business’s customer support operations.

Tracking common metrics for customer service allows a business to allocate necessary resources, understand which channels customers use, and identify recurring issues or bottlenecks in the support process.

Customer service metrics are also used to measure client satisfaction. This includes direct feedback from customer surveys or polls, and also reports that calculate how long it takes for tickets to be resolved.

14 customer service metrics to track

Here’s a breakdown of the top customer service metrics that matter.

Net promoter score (NPS)

net promoter score

Net promoter scores measure the likelihood of customers to recommend your products or services. Scores are calculated based on the results of a survey question, which usually asks customers to rate how likely they are to recommend your company to someone on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most likely).

Depending on the rating, customers are classified as detractors (score of 0-6), passive (7-8), and promoters (9-10).

Here’s the formula to calculate your NPS:

NPS: Percentage of promoters — Percentage of detractors

For example, if you have 80% promoters and 15% detractors, your NPS would be 65.

Aim to send out NPS surveys after customers have had a chance to experience your product or service.

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

customer satisfaction score

Like an NPS, customer satisfaction scores are based on the results of client surveys that ask customers about their service experience.

Examples of customer satisfaction survey questions include:

  • How satisfied were you with [product/service/company]?
  • How satisfied were you with the support you received.
  • How happy are you with [product name]?
  • How likely are you to do business with us again?

Customers typically rate responses on a scale of 1-5 (and sometimes 1-3 or 1-7), with the highest number representing the best score. Some companies replace numbers with stars or a spectrum of unhappy to happy faces.

Those who answer 4-5 are considered satisfied customers. Once enough responses have been collected, CSATs can be calculated with this formula:

CSAT: (Number of satisfied customers / number of survey responses) * 100

CSAT surveys also provide an opportunity to ask for qualitative feedback. Consider also asking fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice questions like “What can we do better?” or “What was the most positive aspect of the experience?”

Aim to send out support-related CSAT surveys shortly after customer service has been provided. Leave a little more time before sending out experience-focused surveys.

Customer effort score (CES)

customer effort score

As its name suggests, customer effort scores measure how much work a customer needed to find what they were looking for or resolving an issue.

These scores rely on hyper-focused surveys, which allow a business to pinpoint pain points or bottlenecks in the service they provide. Typical surveys ask customers to rate their level of effort on a scale of 1-5.

Examples of CES survey prompts include:

  • [Company or support agent’s name] made it easy for me to handle my issue. Scale: “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
  • [Company or support agent’s name] made it easy for me to complete my purchase. Scale: “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
  • [Guide / instructions] made it easy for me to use/assemble the product. Scale: “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
  • How much effort did you have to make to resolve your issue? Scale: “very high effort” to “very low effort.”

A good CES survey will include follow-up questions that try to identify where customers may have encountered issues or where things went well. Like the CSAT, a CES is the percentage of people who select 4-5 ratings. Here’s the formula:

CES: (Number of customers who select 4-5 / number of survey responses) * 100

Because customer effort scores are based on service interactions, send surveys immediately following these experiences.

Support ticket categories

For companies that organize their support tickets by type of issue, it’s important to keep tabs on which problems arise most often. If your CES is high, analyzing which categories receive the most volume can help you identify where customers exert the most effort.

Support ticket categories may include:

  • Sales question
  • Technical issues
  • Cancellations
  • Returns
  • Shipping
  • Product availability

Traffic, page views, Frequently Asked Questions pages, and help articles offer another way to measure where customers require the most assistance.

Ticket volume

In addition to tracking which issues come up most often, it’s just as important to keep an eye on the volume of tickets you receive over time.

Suppose the number of tickets you receive is on the rise—especially in a specific area. In that case, it may be necessary to revisit communications strategies, help articles, or even policies and operations. It’s also crucial for managers to be aware of how much pressure their support teams are under, so they can provide necessary assistance before burnout becomes a problem.

How do you calculate ticket volume? Record how many tickets you receive at regular intervals: day by day, week by week, or month by month. For visual analysis, plot these results on a line graph.

If you notice spikes, try to pinpoint what may have caused them, such as product releases, global events, or even a social media crisis. That way you can devise plans and better allocate resources in the future.

Customer retention rate (CRR)

customer retention rate

A customer retention rate measures the number of clients a company retains over a select period.

This metric is vital for companies that provide a regular or subscription-based service. Depending on the industry, companies may record retention rates weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

To calculate customer retention rate, you’ll need to record:

S = Number of customers at the start of the period

E = Number of customers at the end of the period

N = Number of customers added during the period

With that information, calculate customer retention rate with the following formula:

[(E-N)/S] *100 = CRR

For example, say you have 100 customers at the start of your timeframe (S), 90 customers at the end of the period (E), and you added 15 customers (N). Your customer retention rate would be 75%.

Customer churn

customer service metrics: customer churn

Also known as customer attrition, customer churn measures how many customers you may have lost over a given period. In other words, it’s the opposite of a customer retention rate.

Churned customers represent the remainder of a customer retention rate. For example, if your retention rate is 75%, then your churn rate is 25%. If you want to calculate churn rate separately, use the following formula:

(Customers lost over a given period / Customers at the start of the period) * 100

A high customer churn rate indicates that there are problems with the product or service. To troubleshoot what may be causing a low churn rate, consider sending out CSAT and CES surveys.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

customer service metrics: customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost tracks the average amount of money spent on sales and marketing to obtain each new customer.

This metric provides a partial way to track the ROI of social media, marketing, and sales teams. In an ideal situation, as teams scale their efforts, CAC should go down, and ROI should go up.

The formula for CAC is straightforward: The amount spent on sales and marketing over a given period divided by the number of customers acquired in the same timeframe:

CAC = Sales and marketing spend / customers acquired

For example, if you spent $10,000 on sales and marketing and acquired 20,000 customers, your cost per acquisition is 50 cents.

A lower amount is a better result—but it could also mean you have a low sales and marketing budget. That’s why it’s essential to view this figure in tandem with customer service satisfaction metrics and growth and performance results.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value estimates the average amount a client spends with the company over the course of their patronage.

To calculate a CLV, you first need to measure customer acquisition cost (CAC). You’ll also need to know your average annual revenue per customer, which you can calculate by dividing revenue by the number of customers.

There are multiple ways to calculate CLV, including predictive models. To keep things simple, here’s the basic formula, which uses historical data:

CLV = (Annual revenue per customer * Customer relationship in years) – CAC

For obvious reasons, take this result with a grain of salt. Most businesses service a variety of buyer personas, which vary in the amount they spend and how long they stick around. If that’s the case for your company, consider breaking CLV down by persona to compare and contrast.

Average response time

average response time

Average response time tracks how long it takes for customers to first hear from a support agent.

A short response time is a mark of good customer service, especially online, where customers pretty much expect service on-demand. For this reason, many companies rely on bots to handle initial queries.

There are plenty of automation tools, such as Hootsuite Inbox or Sparkcentral, that provide average response time reports.

If you’d like to calculate it manually, use the following formula:

Average response time = Total time taken for first response to customer queries / Number of queries

Average resolution time

customer service metrics: average resolution time

Average resolution time measures how long it takes for customer tickets to be resolved. For a customer and an organization, the sooner support issues can be resolved, the better.

If you receive a high volume of customer queries, the more necessary it is to use tools to calculate resolution times accurately. Here’s how to calculate it manually:

Average resolution time = Total time spent on resolved cases / number of resolved cases

First contact resolution rate

Customer service metrics: first contact resolution rate

Another key customer service performance metric is first contact resolution rate. Customers don’t like to be passed from one agent to another. Not only does this reflect poorly on the organization, it also often leads to longer resolution times.

If you have a low first contact resolution rate, chances are you’ll also have a high customer effort score (CES). Especially if the customer is asked to explain their issue more than once.

Like average response and resolution time, many platforms automatically calculate this for you. Here’s the manual formula, just in case:

First contact resolution rate = Number of cases resolved with one agent / number of resolved cases

Overall resolution rate

Customer service metrics: overall resolution rate

Not all cases end with a happy resolution. That’s normal. But a good resolution rate should always be the goal.

Here’s how to calculate your overall resolution rate:

​​Overall resolution rate = Number of resolved cases / number of unresolved cases

If your resolution rate is low, it’s necessary to do a little more digging—especially if your customer retention rate (CRR) is low as well. Get more granular by looking to see if there’s a specific ticket category that’s bringing your overall resolution rate down and develop relevant solutions.

Preferred communication channels

In order to deliver top-rate customer service, it’s necessary to know where customers expect to receive support.

Keep track of the methods and platforms customers use to contact your businesses so you can allocate resources accordingly. For example, if you receive a high volume of support requests on Twitter, it may be time to open a customer service Twitter account.

Use Sparkcentral by Hootsuite to engage with your customers and respond to messages across SMS, email, live chat and social media — all from one dashboard. Deliver a seamless cross-platform customer service experience with chatbot and CRM integrations.

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