With the advent of the relationship-centric business era, Customer service teams need to focus on a single objective: generating high customer satisfaction. The good news is, as your customer’s satisfaction rises, you will reap the rewards.
Through higher conversion rates, stronger customer loyalty, and a much higher average basket, your company will see direct, measurable financial gains; while word-of-mouth, reputation, and brand recognition will be less measurable but long-lasting effects of your efforts.
CSAT and NPS, the gold Standards for measuring customer satisfaction.
CSAT: customer satisfaction Score
Most companies measure their customer’s satisfaction through CSAT. A form of survey analysis, CSAT relies on sending your customers a single question, usually along the line of “How satisfied are you with our service”?
Depending on the answers, calculate your Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score by dividing the positive responses (satisfied customers) by the total number of responses and multiplying by 100, which is then expressed as a percentage. For example, if you have 50 responses total and 45 are positive, your CSAT would be 90%.
You can also ask your customers to rate your service from 1 to 5, and calculate the average score.
NPS: Net Promoter Score
Another metric that most companies use is the NPS, now used by millions of businesses and aimed at finding out whether your clients are satisfied enough that they would recommend you to their friends, family, or colleagues.
Also a form of survey analysis, your Net Promoter Score starts with a question: “How likely are you to recommend (our company) to a friend or colleague?”
Respondents give a rating between 0 (not at all likely) and 10 (extremely likely) and, depending on their response, fall into one of 3 categories to establish an NPS score:
Promoters respond with a score of 9 or 10 and are typically loyal and enthusiastic customers.
Passives respond with a score of 7 or 8. They are satisfied with your service but not happy enough to be considered promoters.
Detractors respond with a score of 0 to 6. These are unhappy customers who are unlikely to buy from you again, and may even discourage others from buying from you.
Then, just subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
But NPS and CSAT, in application, may not be enough.
CSAT as well as NPS can be deemed problematic for several reasons.
First, as short as you might think this CSAT survey is, most clients will never take the time to answer. On average, only 15% of customers answer CSAT surveys across all industries. Therefore, your answers will statistically be irrelevant.
If that wasn’t enough, the 15% who do answer CSAT or NPS surveys are not usually representative of your customers, usually being either extremely happy or extremely angry. As a result, your average note will only reflect whether you have more extremely angry customers or extremely happy ones.
Furthermore, CSAT as well as NPS scores may, in themselves, hinder your customer’s satisfaction by creating yet another friction point. While, as a customer service, you might want to use your CSAT as a means to improve your service or find out if your recent optimizations had a good effect on your customer’s experience, most customers will see your survey as yet another way to gather data or waste their time.
Finally, your CSAT and NPS scores may not be the best ways to monitor your customer’s satisfaction regarding your actual customer service. Many clients will rate their experience with your brand, and not with your customer service. For instance, a client whose delivery came in late might give a poor rating, even though your customer service has fixed their problem perfectly, and a client who loves the smell of their product may give great ratings when their customer service experience may have been not so stellar. For this reason, differentiating product satisfaction and customer experience satisfaction is difficult when using the aforementioned methods.
So, how do you maximize the relevance of your CSAT and NPS scores?
There are several ways to improve your response rates, as well as get more honest answers.
To improve response rates, you might think of adding your survey at the bottom of your customer service emails instead of separate emails. Most CSAT emails are deleted before they are even read.
You might even think of a push notification on your app, designed to pop up at the right time, or even a text message that will take your customer to a simple, one-step survey page.
Make it easy
You won’t ask your customers to rate their experience on a scale from one to 175. Well, a scale from 1 to 10 is not that much easier. Instead, try asking yes/no questions, both on your CSAT: “Are you satisfied with our service”? And your NPS: “Would you recommend our brand”?
Depending on your customers, you may try to experiment with scales, through two-scales (Yes/No), three-scales (Yes/Neutral/No), or more.
Make it precise
As we said before, most customers will rate your customer service as well as their experience with your brand, delivery, product, and/or website experience. To maximize the accuracy of their responses, you might think of using precise, neutral calls to action: “How was the performance of our customer service?” will get you more precise insights than “rate your experience”.
Lastly, if you need insights into your customer satisfaction, be it because you believe that your customer service is so great, you should be able to communicate on it, or because you are worried that it may be a thorn in your side, you might think of incentivizing responses.
If you have a loyalty program, you might offer extra points for every survey answered, and if not, a 5% discount on their next order to all respondents.
But the best way to get real insights into your customer’s satisfaction may rely on comparing your service to industry benchmarks.
We said it before: the new business era will be relationship-centric. As a result, customer expectations are evolving extremely fast; and what may work right now for your company and customers might be overrated in just a few months.
When looking at your customer service’s performance and how it may impact your customer’s satisfaction, the best way to proceed would be to look at the industry’s new basics and see whether you over-or under-perform.
Here are a few KPIs to help you quantify your customer satisfaction by what end-users expect today.
FRT: First Response Time
FRT is the measure of time (be it in seconds, minutes, or days) that elapses between the moment a customer sends a first-time request, and when customer service responds (as opposed to when an automated reply is sent).
Your FRT is typically calculated during business hours, although this practice may change very soon, since more and more customers now expect businesses to provide 24/7 support.
In 2021, expected response times by channel are quickly evolving:
Channel Good Better Best
Email 12 hours or less. 4 hours or less 1 hour or less
Social media 2 hours or less 1 hour or less 15 minutes or less
Live chat 1 hour or less 5 minutes or less 1 minute or less
To improve your FRT, you might think of several tweaks:
Build a robust knowledge base to get answers at the tip of your agent’s fingers and minimize the research time.
Embrace ticketing tools that will enable you to prioritize first-touch messages.
Make sure that your tech team works on optimizing your Back-Office for customer support
Devote more agents to conversational channels: more phone calls or chat conversations will help you minimize your average FRT drastically.
First Contact Resolution rate
FCR is a metric that measures the percentage of customers’ questions and requests solved at first contact. It’s a great metric to measure your customers’ satisfaction, as customers who spend less time solving issues are happier. It’s also a useful way to track efficiency and how well your Customer Care team responds to inquiries.
To calculate, divide the number of issues resolved on the first contact by the total number of issues.
(#) issues resolved on first contact / (#) total no issues X 100 = First contact resolution rate (%)
Across industries many claim that the benchmark for FCR is around 65-75%. To get there, or even higher, you might consider incentivizing your customer service team by implementing OKRs based on FCR, for instance. This will ensure that more time is spent on first-touch tickets, and that any questions that your customer may have been properly mapped by your agents.
Average Resolution Time
The average resolution time (or mean time to repair – MTTR) is the average time taken by customer service to resolve a customer issue after it opens. It is usually measured in hours or days, excluding non-operating working hours, although once again, this will change very soon.
Today, good ART is less than 12 hours, average ART is 12 to 48 hours, while bad ART is more than 48 hours on average.
To improve this metric, you might consider taking a good look at your longest resolution time.
If your company offers live chat and phone-based customer service with a good FCR, your average ART may seem short; however, you might be surprised at what happens with emails and unresolved chat issues, for instance.
From there, try and assess the reasons behind the delay : is it that your ticketing tools settings are leaning too heavily on FRT optimization at the expense of ART? Is it that your knowledge base is not complete and that you need to map more issues? Or is it that you rely too heavily on your logistical partners’ replies?
Call abandon rate
Call Abandon Rate is a percentage measure of how many customers terminate their call before it is answered in the contact centre. This can include calls that happened outside of business hours. The call abandon rate is important when looking at your customer’s overall satisfaction: the higher this is, the more your customers might harbor a grudge against your company.
To calculate, use this simple formula:
(Number of missed or abandoned calls / (Number of inbound calls) x 100
In general, an abandonment rate of between 5% and 8% is considered the industry norm. When the rate reaches 10%, something is really up.
To lower this percentage, you might consider several options.
Longer opening hours: missed calls outside of opening hours, therefore on nights, weekends and holidays, can be numerous.
Look at your rates depending on the hours of the day: are you understaffed in the early morning, or the end of the day? Consider working on your scheduling.
Post-contact conversion rates should also help you grasp your customers’ satisfaction
Post-contact conversion rates following pre-sales tickets
During the pandemic, a whole new demographic of buyers were forced to do their shopping online and leaned more heavily on customer service teams to feel comfortable and confident about their purchases. Just like this demographic would not expect entering a shop and finding not a single salesperson to help them, they need and expect customer service, even in digital shops.
Contact rates pre-transaction and during transactions have therefore bloomed, and now represent more than 73% of reasons for contact for many e-merchants, while only 27% of queries were post-transaction-related. Therefore, a good way to quantify the impact of customer support-based reinsurance would be to look at your conversions following pre-sales contact.
To quantify, there are two methods :
First, take a look at all of your pre-sales interactions. You can now find out how many of them were followed by a purchase and therefore know the percentage of conversions by conversation. For an even more precise metric, find out how much in turnover this generated.
Sadly, few industry-wide studies exist regarding pre-sales interactions’s effects on conversions and therefore, an average percentage may not be accurate at this time. However, a study has found that pre-sales live chat may lead to a 40% increase in conversion rate.
How do you improve your own pre-sales conversion rates?
For this metric, most e-merchants won’t be looking at improving their processes, but mostly implementing new ones to favor pre-sales contact.
Adding a chat to your website and/or app, providing almost-instant email responses, and providing phone-based support and advertising it may help you get your foot in the door.
An excellent knowledge base and great mastery of your products’ characteristics as well as industry will also help your agents convert more.
Train your agents to be the best salespeople by promoting upselling and cross-selling. With many chat tools, you will be able to look at your prospective customer’s navigation on your website, which will also greatly help your agents recommend the right products.
Post-contact retention rate (post-sales)
Another sure way of sizing up your customer’s satisfaction is related to their immediate loyalty: if customers keep ordering after they’ve had contact with your customer support team, it usually means that you have achieved service recovery.
Service recovery is the resolution of a problem that transforms a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one, and it’s both a major achievement and an up-and-coming trend in customer expectations.
To calculate your post-contact retention rate, simply take the amount of customers who kept buying from your company after contacting your customer service post-transaction, and divide it by the number of total customers who contacted your customer care team post-transaction.
For this metric too, few benchmarks exist. However, you might want to simply work on improving this metric over time through several processes aimed at maximizing service recovery, such as working on your apologies. This implies:
Making sure that every slip up from your company is properly and timely addressed.
Either repairing the mistake by offering a solution, or making a commercial gesture if nothing else.
Finally, following-up with your end-user.
Monitoring customer satisfaction is not always a matter of KPIS
Complement your quantitative metrics with qualitative feedback.
So, now, you’ve got a couple insights into how your customers feel, as a whole. But the best way to truly grasp your cohorts’ satisfaction is through qualitative feedback.
Find out why, exactly, your customers are dissatisfied, or satisfied
Speaking to your customers in a non-commercial way but through genuine conversation can help you understand precisely where your customer service can improve.
By calling or emailing dissatisfied customers, you may find out if their dissatisfaction comes from an untimely response, an insufficient commercial gesture, or a service failure. To do this, be as gentle as you can be, and drop the customer service act. You are soliciting time from a dissatisfied customer to understand your own mistakes, and therefore, humility and honesty will be your best allies.
For this endeavor, some companies like to ask their customer service teams to send emails from their professional mailboxes instead of their ticketing tool, to showcase a name and a less formal design.
As per calls, a great practice would be to start with a text: “Dr Mr. X, I am the customer service team manager here at (Brand); after reviewing your history with our company, I realise that our service was not up to your expectations. I was wondering if you had a few minutes to tell us more about how we could improve our processes?”
Find out if silent customers are actually dissatisfied customers
More and more companies are faced with a terrible reality: unhappy customers sometimes stay mum, not contacting their customer service after a sub-par experience. And while they are not giving companies a chance to act towards service recovery, they will be vocal about their bad experience, and will never buy again.
For this reason, contacting random customers who did not respond to your CSAT surveys, for instance, may help you understand your clients even more.
After reaching out to these customers, you might find unmapped reasons why some customers are not so happy, and even work on building a profile of these very customers.
Social media is a powerful tool into grasping your customers’ satisfaction levels
You are very lucky if you’ve never received a fully visible complaint under one of your gorgeous social media posts.
And while this is almost unavoidable, it can also be a powerful tool for measuring your customer care team’s performance.
If your social media is flooded with comments from customers, it can mean two things: one, your customer service contact forms are not visible enough on your website or app. And two: your customer care team is so difficult to reach, customers have resorted to social media to grab your attention. This is always a bad sign for customer service, so think about improving your FRT as soon as possible.
And while we’re talking about social media, let’s remember that it’s also a powerful tool to converse with your customer base. Consider asking your audience to rate your customer service, or simply to give you open feedback, as often as possible. While this may not be the most accurate metric - since your followers may already be advocates - it may help you receive qualitative feedback, and useful quotes.
Referrals and word of mouth are the best proofs that your clients are satisfied
If your clients are talking about you (or writing about you), it’s pretty easy to deduce how they feel about your company. Reviews will let you know how your customers have felt after speaking with your customer service team, even more so if you encourage them to at the end of your customer care emails, for instance.
Referrals, on the other end, might be double-edged: while many customers may use referrals just to get a reward (be it a percentage off their next purchase, or straight-up credit on their account), companies are now finding new ways to use referrals to their advantage, by giving no reward to their existing customers but big prizes for the guests. By turning referrals into gifts from one friend to another, they can therefore see that customers really are appreciative of their service.
Have you considered awards?
Finally, if you really are proud of your customer service team, why not try for an award? Many Customer Care awards are out there, locally or internationally. You may consider the Excellence in Customer Service Award by the Business Intelligence Group, the ICS UK Customer Satisfaction Awards or the The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.