“Numbers shouldn’t matter.”

“Focusing on KPIs makes customer service interactions transactional and less personal.”

“It’s the type of experience you provide to customers that matters, not the ‘agent score card.’”

Depending on the context, these sentiments may all be partially true. And, as with many things in life, if taken to the extreme, intended benefits may be overshadowed by potentially negative

What I am proposing is that numbers should matter, focusing on KPIs can create more personal interactions with customers, and the type of experience you provide to customers does matter – and can be improved because of the “agent score card.”

Tracking numbers for the sake of tracking numbers is futile and can lead to an array of reactions from your team, varying from eye-rolls to eyes-glazed-over and every other sort of ocular response in between. If your starting point, however, is the customer experience, and you reverse-engineer data points that would positively influence that experience, you just may be on to something.

What, exactly, does it mean to reverse-engineer a data point with the customer experience in mind?

Here is an example:

  • Scientific evidence is available that indicates when people hear their name said out loud, hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, are released.
  • You meet with your team and share this information, and everyone agrees that being intentional about saying the customer’s name throughout the course of an interaction will produce a better experience.
  • You start tracking how frequently the customer’s name is stated during Quality Assurance (QA) checks and report it as a positive metric manifested on score cards and/or dashboards.
  • You watch Customer Satisfaction scores and seek validation that the focus on saying the customer’s name has produced more positive sentiments from customers.

The above is a simple example of how creating and tracking meaningful metrics can make a positive impact on your team and your customers. You don’t have to come up with brand-new metrics to keep the customer experience as your focal point. The traditional, “boring,” Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can be given new life by simply tying them back to a critical part of the customer experience. Here is what that might look like:

  • Feedback from surveys indicates that a pain point for customers is the ability to follow up on the status of their outstanding cases or tickets.
  • After discussing further with the team, it’s uncovered that customers would not be so concerned with following up on their open issues if the issues themselves could be resolved more quickly.
  • One metric that is already being calculated and reported is Time to Resolution (TTR) for tickets. It’s hypothesized that if TTR can be reduced by 30% then the high amount of customers requiring follow up would decrease significantly.
  • The team can now brainstorm and implement strategies which will contribute to the goal of reducing TTR.

Starting with the customer experience in mind makes all the difference and sets the context for how KPIs, metrics, and score cards are perceived. Another critical factor is to be efficient with which KPIs you are sharing with your teams. Start sharing too many and it starts to feel transactional. This will vary by team and there is no magic number – the key is to find balance.

Sharing too few KPIs with your team can also be detrimental if the metrics presented don’t tell the whole story. This can cause undue frustration for your top performers. For example, if Utilization percentage [(On Call Time + Available Time)/Total Time Logged in x 100] is a focal point and you reward individuals for high utilization in it of itself, the whole story is not being presented.

You may very well be rewarding someone for having higher than average talk time or for bad habits like moving into a not ready state and quickly moving back into available, to delay the delivery of a call. However, if you bring in other metrics that shine a light on the big picture, such as average handle time, number of calls taken, and available time, then you will be identifying your true top performers. And you will have uncovered potential coaching opportunities to improve the performance of the entire team.

Whatever your path to delighting your customers, remember that KPIs are your friend, and if you can tie them back to specific objectives that augment the customer experience, they can become powerful tools from which your team and your customers will greatly benefit.

Clancey Dollard is passionate about customer success. His 18+ years of experience includes a proven ability to maximize the efforts of the teams that support customers. He also brings an intense focus on KPIs that increase customer satisfaction, lean initiatives and process improvements. As a Certified HDI Support Center Director, Clancey has the understanding and tools to provide meaningful customer experiences.