We all know how vital a great customer service team is to your company’s success. A great customer support team can drive sales, generate word-of-mouth marketing, and keep your existing customers signing up for more.
It’s no exaggeration to say that customer support is the backbone of any good business. So you don’t want to skimp on providing excellent service—but you also want to make sure your customer service team is maximizing its productivity and efficiency. How can you ensure you’re getting good value for the money you’re investing in customer support?
Here’s an in-depth examination of some of the core tools you can use to maximize your customer support team’s productivity, improve efficiency, and in doing so, increase your company’s overall profitability.
Table of Contents:
Tracking Key Performance Indicators
You can’t assess the performance of your team without hard data. There are plenty of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be used to measure your customer service team’s success. Here are three of the KPIs that are most important to improving the productivity of your customer support team and the profitability of your company - across all customer service channels.
Speed is of the essence, especially when it comes to customer service. In a world where almost 60% of people get so frustrated with customer service that they hang up the phone before their problem is resolved, it’s vital to make sure that your agents consistently respond to customers in a timely manner.
What is a good response time? It depends on your business, and on the channel. In general:
- For email, First Response Time should be under 24 hours. Under 12 hours is better, and under 6 hours is best in class.
- For phone, most companies aim for 80-90% of calls to be answered in under a minute.
- For live chat, the best-in-class target is to keep wait time under 20 seconds. If the wait time is over a minute, your customers are likely to switch to another browser - and maybe to one of your competitors.
If you’re not meeting these standards now, how can you improve? The good news is that with the right team members, the right training programs, and the right resources, you can often improve your customer service response time without hiring more agents. For example, by optimizing your team’s schedules to match customer demand, you can make sure that your customers receive the fastest service possible, regardless of channel.
Full Resolution Time
Responding quickly is one thing. But the initial response time may not measure how efficiently your agents are solving customer problems. To understand that, you need to look at Full Resolution Time. In other words, how long does it take for the customer’s issue to be completely resolved?
It’s also important to pay attention to First Contact Resolution, as this will tell you what percentage of tickets are resolved at first touch with your customer support team. With only 11% of companies capable of first reply resolutions, you can give your company a powerful competitive advantage by buckling down on fully resolving customer issues with a single phone call, email, or chat interaction.
What’s a good target? It depends on the complexity of your business. Less-complex businesses should aim for a Full Resolution Time of 24 hours, while companies dealing with more-complex queries might reasonably stretch it to 48 hours.
Again, achieving good Full Resolution Time isn’t just about adding more agents. It’s about recruiting and training smart and adaptable agents who can tackle complex problems and providing them with the right kinds of reference materials that will help them succeed. And it’s about ensuring your agents feel comfortable asking questions if they need help or don’t have all the answers.
This will improve the efficiency of your customer support team, streamline their customer interactions, create a better overall customer experience and help your company maximize its profit margins.
You can’t focus on productivity without putting equal emphasis on quality. If you only emphasize speed, your agents will maximize efficiency at the expense of actually solving customers’ problems.
And remember, customer satisfaction drives profitability. According to Gartner, over 60% of consumers say that their customer experience is more important than the price they’re paying for a given product or service.
What’s a good Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score? Aim for a minimum of 80%. But 85% is better, and 90% or higher is best in class.
How can you improve customer satisfaction? One of our clients regularly achieves close to 100% customer satisfaction scores, by focusing on a few key areas:
- Show customers that you care.
- Review bad ratings and fix them when possible.
- Define the differences between “actionable” and “unactionable” comments.
- Empower your agents to customize their responses and services.
- Make policy changes in response to legitimate feedback
Maximize Your Budget and Resources
No matter how many resources you have, you’re going to want to have a plan that will put them to good use. Even a substantial budget won’t be of much help to your company’s customer support team if it’s not used appropriately and strategically.
If you’re looking for ways to maximize your budget and get the most value out of the resources you have, then here are a couple of the critical factors you’ll want to keep in mind.
Companies who are committed to offering the highest quality customer service are almost always going to be faced with the decision between an in-house team or an outsourced customer support team. While there are pros and cons to both options, when it comes to maximizing your budget, you won’t find many routes better than outsourcing.
When you take on an internal customer service team, you’ll not only have to consider salary and benefit costs, but also a wealth of hidden expenses that you may not have anticipated. These costs stem from recruiting, training, infrastructure management, and inefficient scheduling. As just one example, office space for just one customer service agent can run $7,000 a year. Without a plan in place, your company could end up investing a lot of money and resources in a function that may not be necessary to keep in-house.
Ultimately, all of the costs you would spend on finding, hiring, training, and managing an internal team of customer support agents could be put to better use if you invested in an outsourcing firm. By partnering with an outsourcing company, you’ll be able to cut back on expenses, guarantee consistently top-notch support for your customers, and maximize the productivity and profitability of your company’s internal infrastructure.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Your customer service strategy should vary depending on your Customer Lifetime Value. Your CLV should influence multiple factors about your customer support team, including:
- Team structure
- Channels covered (e.g., email, chat, phone, social media)
- Open hours for your customer support team
- Target response time
- Customer service agent location
- Customer service agent pay
- Use of automation
While there are a lot of complicated formulas for calculating CLV, the simplest—and best—way to do it is to calculate the average profit earned from a sale and multiply it by the number of sales per customer. If you rely on one-off sales, for example, then you can use the following formula:
[Gross profit from one sale] x [average number of repeat purchases]
However, if you use a recurring revenue model, then you can use a slightly different formula:
[Gross profit from one customer, per month] x [total average contract length, in months]
Companies with more advanced customer service programs can even tailor their service to each customer, depending on that customer’s projected CLV. For example, your customer service team can be trained to offer more flexible return policies or more discounts to customers with a higher CLV. When it comes down to it, the better you understand each unique customer’s value to your business, the better able you’ll be to create a customizable and profitable service experience for your customers.
And since the odds of selling a product or service to an existing customer tends to be ten times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer, focusing your customer support team’s efforts on existing customers is an easy way to maximize productivity and overall profitability.
Outsourcing Customer Support
In the end, one of the most universally effective ways to increase customer support productivity and profitability is to work with a customer service outsourcing company. Outsourcers can help your team scale more quickly, and in most cases, less expensively, than if you were tasked with growing your internal team on your own. Like Entrepreneur says, “If you take the time to think strategically about what you aren’t good at, what you don’t have time for and what you need help with, outsourcing might benefit your business.”
If your company is looking for cost-effective ways to improve its customer support, then it might be time to reach out to a customer service business processing outsourcer (BPO). BPOs are companies that specialize in the management of customer queries that come in via email, chat, phone, social media, and other channels.
- Get the very best customer service agents
- Eliminate unnecessary HR headaches
- Reduce expenses
- Save time
- Gain flexibility so you’re always equipped for any problem you might face
Conclusion: Better Productivity = Better Profits
When your company follows the three steps above, you’ll be well on your way toward building a solid foundation for sustainable and profitable success. This means better productivity, happier customers, healthier profit margins, and ultimately, a more qualified customer support team.
If you’re noticing discrepancies in your customer service, then start by looking into the areas that seem to need improvement. Investigate your customer service calls, track KPIs, define your customer’s lifetime value, and use the data you collect to pinpoint what you can do to streamline your processes and more effectively handle your customer service tickets.
Handling all of this on your own can be a daunting task. So if you find yourself in need of assistance, then Peak Support can help! Our success hinges on our team members, which means we’re continually ensuring that everyone on our team comes into work feeling great about their jobs and the work they do for our clients.
If you’re interested in seeing how Peak Support can help your company improve its productivity and profitability, then contact us today! We can’t wait to work with you.