The 11 best customer service KPIs to measure success

The 11 best customer service KPIs to measure success
By Pedals | On Mar 03, 2022
8 min read
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The ability to measure and track the outcomes of your customer success department is essential to determining your customers’ happiness, as well as the health of your business. 

There are many key performance indicators (KPIs) you can track, which may make it tricky to identify which ones are the best for customer service specifically — some KPIs are more beneficial than others. In this article, we’ll highlight 11 that are absolutely worth tracking within your customer service department. 

Why measuring customer service KPIs is important

Measuring KPIs will help you keep up with the pulse of your business. In today’s world, measuring how well your customer service department is performing is just as important as other business performance metrics because buyers often base their decision to use a product on the customer support they receive.

The data you uncover when tracking important customer service KPIs can give you valuable insights on how your team is performing, and in some cases, can even alert you of potential problems before they get out of hand.   

11 customer service KPIs & metrics your business should consider tracking

Let’s dive into specific customer service KPIs you can start tracking today: 

1) First response time (FRT)

Also referred to as “first reply time,” the first response time (FRT) is the time from when a customer first submits a ticket, to when a customer success team member responds to it. Valuing a customer’s time is one of the most important things a company can do, so FRT is one to watch. 

According to a survey by HubSpot, 82% of customers rate immediate responses from customer service as “important” or “very important” when they have a marketing or sales question. And 90% of customers consider immediate responses to be a priority when they have a customer service question. In this HubSpot survey, “immediate'' was defined to be 10 minutes or less. 

FRT is measured in time. To calculate your business’s FRT, use this formula:

Total FRTs during a particular time period / total number of resolved tickets

For example, if you want to calculate your FRT for a given month (64,000 seconds) and your customer service team resolved 800 tickets during that period, your FRT would be 80 seconds — or one minute and 20 seconds:

64,000 seconds / 800 tickets = 80 seconds FRT

Keep in mind, there are various FRT benchmarks depending on the channel. The best FRT for email is one hour or less; the best FRT for social media is 15 minutes or less; and the best FRT for live chat is 15 seconds or less, according to The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020.

Tools to help track this metric

  • Zendesk
  • Help Scout
  • Klipfolio PowerMetrics

2) Handle time

Knowing how much time that customer service team members are spending on each customer call or ticket can be extremely valuable to any business. The metric used to track this is handle time, or average handle time (AHT). AHT is important to keep an eye on, because if a customer has to spend more time with your customer support than they’d like to, there is a higher chance that they could start seeing your business in a negative light. 

The AHT formula is traditionally used for customer service phone calls, and is as follows:

(Talk time + total hold time + wrap and follow up time) / number of total calls

So, if your team spent 120 minutes talking, 10 minutes on hold, 60 minutes for wrap up and follow up, and made 60 total calls in the process, your AHT would be 3 minutes and 9 seconds:

(120 minutes + 10 minutes + 60 minutes) / 60 total calls = 3 minutes, 9 seconds AHT

If you want to measure your handle time for email and chat, you would add up the total time it took your customer service team to resolve a case plus the total amount of time from when the customer service email was first opened. Then, divide that number by your team’s total number of emails. 

Tools to help track this metric

  • Freshdesk (AHT app)
  • Verint 
  • CallMiner

3) Average resolution time (ART)

How quickly a customer’s issue is actually resolved can be just as important, if not more so, than response time. This metric is important because it goes a layer deeper into the customer service experience. A response from a customer service member is great, but if the issue is never resolved, the customer may become frustrated and not want to use your product again. To monitor this, we suggest tracking your average resolution time (ART).

Average resolution time is the amount of time it takes a customer service team member to resolve open tickets in a set time frame. This KPI is most effective when measured on a per team member basis. Doing this will allow you to see which support agents may need additional training.

Here’s how you calculate ART:

Total resolution time for all tickets solved / number of tickets solved

If your team’s total resolution time for all tickets solved in a given time period is 400 minutes and in that time 50 tickets were solved, then the ART is 8 minutes: 

400 minutes / 50 tickets = 8 minutes ART

Tools to help track this metric

  • Freshdesk
  • HelpScout 

4) Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) 

One of the most popular and straightforward KPIs for customer service is the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), which measures how your customer feels toward your products, service, or a specific interaction. This score can be determined by asking a question like, “On a scale of one to five, how satisfied are you with the product/service you received?” On the scale, one would be “very unsatisfied” and five would be “very satisfied.” 

This metric is an easy way to get a bird's-eye view of how your product offering or service is viewed by customers.

Once all of your customer data is collected on a scale of one to five, add the total number of customers who rated your business four or five, then divide that number by the total number of responses. The CSAT score ranges from zero  to 100. 

For example, if 74 out of 100 respondents rated your business a four or five, your CSAT score would be 74. 

Tools to help track this metric

  • Lumoa
  • Qualtrics
  • BirdEye

5) Customer effort score (CES)

In the customer support world, there’s an ongoing debate about whether to track both customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and customer effort score (CES). We’d recommend choosing only one — CSAT or CES. Trying to track both could lead you to overwhelm customers with feedback requests and also blur insights from the feedback you do receive.

With that said, customer effort score (CES) measures how much effort your customers have to exert during the support process. It’s an important metric to track because minimizing the work a customer has to do is the basis of good customer service. And “96% of customers who had high-effort experiences reported being disloyal [to the company in question], compared to only 9% of customers with low-effort experience,” according to Gartner

To measure your company’s CES, you can use a scaled survey approach and ask customers how easy their interaction with your customer service agent was. You can choose to keep this simple and give customers three options: easy, difficult, or neither. Or, you can create a numbered scale from one to 10, mirroring the CSAT.

The formula for CES is:

Sum of customer effort ratings / total number of survey responses

So, if your sum of customer effort ratings was 350 (on a scale of one to five) and you had 100 customers take the survey, your CES would be 3.5.

350 sum of effort ratings / 100 survey responses = 3.5 CES

Tools to help track this metric

  • Survey Monkey
  • GetFeedback

6) Customer retention rate (CRR)

To further understand why your customers keep coming back, you can look to your customer retention rate (CRR). This KPI is a percentage of existing customers who remain customers after a certain period of time. 

It’s a helpful and ready-to-use metric for CS teams at SaaS businesses. Ecommerce businesses that want to measure CRR will need to define what a retained customer is. For instance, a customer who’s made a purchase in the last 6 months? A customer who’s passed a specific revenue threshold for the year, like $1,000? 

In addition to knowing when your company is doing well, the CRR can also show you when there may be sticking points that are causing customers to leave. Both of these situations point to the ever-important fact: Keeping customers is less expensive than finding new ones. 

To keep an eye on your business’s CRR, you’ll need to collect some information for the calculation. You’ll need the number of existing customers at the start of a period of time (S), the number of total customers at the end of the period (E), and the number of new customers added within that same time period (N).

With those three numbers, you can use this formula:

[(E-N) / S] x 100

The number you get from the formula above is your CRR as a percentage. 

Let’s look at an example. If you have 200 customers at the beginning of the time period (S), 210 at the end (E), and added 20 over the time period (N), then your retention rate would be 95%. 

[(210-20) / 200] x 100 = 95% CRR

Tools to help track this metric

  • Omniconvert
  • HubSpot CRM Platform

7) Customer churn

Also known as customer attrition, customer churn is the number of customers or users that stopped using your company’s product or service during a certain period of time. This KPI matters to customer service teams because the lower your customer churn rate, the higher your company’s profits, and CS efforts can have a huge impact on whether customers stick around. 

If your business has a recurring revenue model, churn could be due to actions like subscription cancellations, downgrades, or non-renewals. As we touched on in the previous section, ecommerce companies often have their own ways of measuring customer retention and churn. 

To calculate gross customer churn rate, you can use this formula:

[(Customers at beginning of month - customers at end of month) / customers at beginning of month] x 100

Using real numbers, the formula would look like this:

[(600 customers - 550 customers) / 600] x 100 = 8.3% customer churn rate

Keep in mind that your CS teams may also want to net customer churn rate. Net churn measures the difference between your gross customer churn rate and customer acquisition rate. This is helpful for when your team is focused on expanding your pool of new customers while retaining current customers. 

Tools to help track this metric

  • ProfitWell
  • Webfx
  • Custify

8) Net promoter score (NPS)

Understanding if your current customers would recommend your business to someone they know is extremely important in today’s world, as so many consumers rely on recommendations from friends, family, or influencers they trust on social media. This is especially important among B2C and ecommerce businesses

To measure customer loyalty and the probability that a customer will recommend your company to others, you can calculate your net promoter score (NPS). This is done with a survey that asks how likely a customer would be to recommend your product or service to a friend on a scale of one to 10.

To effectively calculate your NPS, you will need to gather all data from your survey and identify what percent are detractors, what percent are promoters, and what percent are passives. Then you’ll subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters (the number of passive customers isn't used in the formula):

Percentage of promoters - percentage of detractors

For example, if 20% of respondents are detractors, 10% are passive, and 70% are promoters, your business’s NPS score would be 70 minus 20 to equal 50. 

70% promoters - 20% detractors = 50 NPS

Tools to help track this metric

  • ChurnZero
  • Salesforce (NPS tool)
  • UserCompass

Find out if your team is in need of a customer support platform to track all of your KPIs.

9) First touch resolution (FTR) 

Another important KPI to track within your customer service department is first touch resolution (FTR), or first contact resolution (FCR). This metric is the percentage of incoming calls or requests that are resolved during the first interaction with a customer. This is important because higher FCR is often associated with higher levels of customer satisfaction. On the flip side, lower FCR can indicate your customer service team is spending a lot of time on additional follow up calls or emails.  

To calculate FCR you can divide the number of issues resolved on first contact by the number of total “no issues.” Then take that number and multiply it by 100 to find your first touch resolution rate as a percentage:

(Total number of customers resolved on the first call / total number of customers surveyed) x 100 

Here’s an example:

(115 issues resolved on first contact / 180 total no issues surveyed) x 100 = 63.8%

Tools to help track this metric

  • RingCentral
  • ManageEngine

10) Tickets per customer

Tickets per customer, or tickets per user, is a simple metric, yet an extremely important one. Tickets per customer will help you identify how busy your customer service team is on given days of the week, or during certain times of the year. 

This KPI is also helpful to track and analyze when thinking about expanding your customer success team. If you’re noticing tickets per customer is much higher than usual for several weeks or months, it may be time to address a potential staffing shortage. 

To calculate your tickets per customer, you can use this formula:

Total number of tickets during a given period / number of success team members

So, if your business saw 550 support tickets over a month and during that time period you had 10 team members answering those tickets, your tickets per user would be 55:

550 support tickets / 10 team members = 55 tickets per users 

Tools to help track this metric

  • Freshdesk
  • Zoho Desk
  • LiveAgent

11) Abandoned call rate

If your business has a call center, you should be tracking your abandoned call rate. This metric is the percentage of incoming calls that are ended by the customer before a team member picks up. A common reason customers abandon calls is due to long wait time.  

Abandoned call rate is important to track, because if considered alongside overall customer satisfaction, it could help explain lower customer satisfaction ratings. This could then lead to changes in strategy among your customer service team to decrease call wait times. 

To calculate your business’s abandoned call rate, divide the number of abandoned calls by the total number of calls your customer service team receives. Then, multiply that number by 100: 

Number of abandoned calls / total number of calls team receives

For example, if customer success receives 1,500 calls and 70 are abandoned, your abandon rate would be 4.6%.

70 abandoned calls / 1,500 calls received = 4.6% abandoned call rate

Tools to help track this metric

  • CallRail
  • Babelforce

Improve every quarter with the help of TestBox

Now that you’ve learned about some of the most important customer support KPIs to ensure your business’s success, you’re probably ready for a customer success tool to help you track all of these numbers. As you begin your search for solutions, forget the hundreds of open Google tabs — TestBox lets you test and compare customer support software all in one place. Dive into TestBox today!

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Pedals

Pedals is a beloved member of the TestBox team whose entire goal in life is to author amazingly helpful blog posts and to cameo on every piece of TestBox swag.

TestBox empowers you to have a self-serve, customer-led experience so you can buy new software and feel confident that you made the right choice. Currently focused on Customer Support, TestBox allows you to test out Zendesk, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Dixa, and other products side-by-side. It takes a matter of minutes to sign up and take these products for a test drive. Find out more at TestBox.com or follow on LinkedIn.