Industry Insights

The Performance Triangle for Customer Support: 3 KPIs You Should Always Focus On

By Kam Rawal / Aug 02, 2018

Performance Triangle Customer Support

In the world of support, we can measure literally everything. We know when people come to work, go home, and take breaks. We can measure how many customers they spoke to, how many they kept waiting, how long customers waited, how long it took for customers to be served, and much more.

With all the data available to us, how do we know which types are the most important ones to focus on when it comes to driving great performance? In my last article, "Four Steps to Creating High-Performing Customer Support Teams," I discussed the four steps for effective performance management. The first step is defining objectives based on business goals. That helps you narrow down the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) to track.

However, those KPIs aren’t the only ones you should be tracking. Every customer support organization needs to measure and track three critical KPIs (I call it the Performance Triangle): customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and first call resolution (FCR). Here’s why:

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Good CSAT is simply table stakes today. Your department can’t afford to let this metric slip, because the effects are felt on the bottom line. Unhappy customers complain to others, stop buying additional products and services, and eventually they churn. And they will take their friends and relatives with them.

This means keeping a watchful eye on CSAT and responding appropriately and quickly to falling scores. CSAT is why you need to maintain the right number of reps available to help customers without making them wait. You can bet that customers who hear “we’re experiencing a high volume of calls, please be patient,” won’t in fact, be patient, nor satisfied. Besides eliminating the wait times, each rep must deliver a great experience, using the appropriate voice, tone, and level of empathy and understanding. Reps need to understand that every call is showtime and they need to be “on.”

Customers who hear “we’re experiencing a high volume of calls, please be patient,” won’t in fact, be patient.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

While this metric has been around for a while, NPS still tends to cause confusion and concern for many folks in customer support. Simply put, NPS is measuring the overall experience, how the customer perceives the journey. Think of this metric as your brand’s overall thumbs up or thumbs down score.

While CSAT surveys are related to specific experiences, teams, and individuals (how satisfied were you with your more recent interaction?), NPS is a measure of how it’s all working together over time. Maybe the customer had three great experiences and then a very poor one. That poor experience becomes the most memorable and creates the negative perception. I once heard a quote that "A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world.”

"A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world.”

First Call Resolution (FCR)

The third part of the performance triangle is FCR. FCR measures the outcome of the interaction, which reflects the competence and effectiveness of your team. While your team may get high marks for friendliness and you’re not keeping customers waiting long in a queue, if customers consistently need to call back on the same issue, then your CSAT and NPS, not to mention your upsell, cross-sell, retention and churn rates, will suffer.

In measuring FCR, you should look at how many tickets get reopened within 30 days. And because FCR means that agents don’t have to transfer or escalate calls, you should look at your transfer rate. Both of these metrics show you how your team is performing when it comes to meeting your customers’ needs.

It’s a Balancing Act

For the performance triangle to work effectively, you have to keep these three KPIs in balance all the time. At the same time, you should be striving to improve each of the three metrics. But you can’t focus on just one at a time or you risk seeing the other two metrics suffer.

You also need to watch out for the cost “gotcha.” If your support center is too focused on only these three KPIs you may not always meet your financial objectives. The goal is always balance, balance, balance. Always keep the customer’s lens on your business and what’s right for the customer, the organization and the employees.

You need to watch out for the cost “gotcha.”

The next time someone in your organization asks what you’re doing to improve your brand’s customer service rankings or your NPS score, tell them about the performance triangle. Because hitting it out of the park with these three KPIs is what will make your brand a top performer.

Kam Rawal is Head of Global Services at AppDirect.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.