Written by Ian Landsman in

How To Measure Customer Service

Plenty of businesses claim they provide quality customer service. They say they do, but how can you know for sure? What’s the proof? Consider what you might hear:

“They tell us they like us!”

“We have a big customer service team.”

“Our clients stick with our product year after year.”

“We don’t get many complaints.”

These talking points don’t offer any proof with regard to the quality of customer service offered. For every one person that says they like you, there could be three that feel rather apathetic toward your brand. Just because you have a big support team does not mean it’s effective. Just sticking with the same products doesn’t alone mean they’re excited by your brand. And we already covered how complaints aren’t the worst thing that can happen.

So… how do you assess your customer service efforts? There’s no perfect science, but we have a few ideas to help evaluate if your service is driving new and repeat business, along with long-term engagement and brand awareness.

Web-Based Data

Your business’ website(s) is a treasure trove of user information. Whether you have a public-facing customer service-based section full of troubleshooting ideas, tips and other content, or you have customer-only private portals (think log-ins, live chat features, etc.), there is real data there to understand the needs of your audiences and gauge if you’re satisfying them.

Consider measuring:

  • Repeat visits from customers (being able to distinguish between a current and potential is critical, whether through capturing the user’s name via log-in or submission form)
  • Engagement with customer-service focused sections of the website, aimed more at “proficient” users looking to get the most out of your service, rather than “beginner” new buyers
  • Use of the search feature, to distinguish if people are finding what they need easily and if you are providing what they are looking for
  • Use of customer engagement tools offered via web, such as online forms, live chat features, survey completions, social media platforms, etc.
  • Purchase patterns and lifetime customer value of individuals who have engaged with your team online - how does it compare to your overall purchase patterns and trends?
  • Frequency of customer contact - This requires qualitative and quantitative review - Are they reengaging you because you were so helpful the first time? Or because you didn’t solve their problem, so they’re still frustrated?

This kind of data and insight won’t tell the whole story about the customer service you offer, but it does provide a pretty good start at understanding if what you’re proactively offering your users, both in terms of information and accessibility, is being accepted by them.

Upsell Opportunities Converted

This is another critical area to measure how well your brand is resonating with the people purchasing your product or service.

It’s really easy to stick with the status quo, even if you’re not all that enthused by what you’re purchasing. It’s the gym membership you barely use, the access to the music library you pay for monthly despite it not having the artists you like. It’s the commodity products that you just purchase repeatedly out of habit, because you need something like them, so why not these (again, and again, and again).

That’s all well and good when your product is toilet paper and paper towels. But when people are investing significant money into a monthly subscription for your service, or a hefty payment to use your product or software, they deserve more thought. You need to show them not only that you’re sticking with what you know, but that you’re also learning and constantly iterating to improve your offerings.

And when you iterate, you can upsell. Measure:

  • How many of your existing customers choose a premium product when it becomes available?
  • How many do they do so for the full price, and how many do so when given a special offer?
  • Which customers are more likely to purchase an upgraded service or product? Are they ones that haven’t had much contact with you, or the ones who you’ve worked closely with to solve previous issues or help by answering questions or offering tips?
  • How long are customers sticking with your product before choosing an upgraded version? Have they invested months or years into their original purchase? Or are they just the type that tends to always choose the latest and greatest?

Keep track of what upsell opportunities are taken advantage of, and who is most likely to take advantage of them.

Customer Referrals

Sure, they like your product or your service. But sometimes, your product or service isn’t that much different from your competitors’ (if you’re being honest with yourself). But that’s okay, because they like you. Because they enjoy your personality. Or the shopping experience you provide online or in-store. Or your content marketing... Or your customer service!

Track referrals. Measure and assess:

  • How frequently are customers referring new buyers to you?
  • Why are they and what sparked the referral - their own initiative, or your prodding?
  • Which types of buyer personas are referring business to you - what do they tend to buy, what are their purchasing habits, and is this the audience segment you intended to grow?
  • What is the quality of the buyers who have been referred to you, and how long do they tend to stay engaged with your brand?

By reviewing customer referral data and trends, you can see what segments of your audience are most engaged, who is most likely to advocate on behalf of your brand, and who they draw into your business. You can then compare that information and match it to your service experiences with them. Do they tend to be chatty? Independent? Engaged or only as little as necessary to continue using what you offer?

Understanding these details can help you identify what customers appreciate - and what you can improve upon.

Applying Observations to Customer Service Protocols

In order to measure the impact and influence of your service, you need to be able to differentiate between customers who have and have not had post-purchase contact with your customer service team. By doing so, you can monitor those with that post-purchase contact against a control group of individuals who have not further engaged.

With this tracking in place, you can analyze the behaviors and inclinations of the two groups. Consider applying many of the metrics we’ve covered in this post to both groups and compare this data, for instance:

  • Is a customer who has contacted your service team more or less likely than a no-contact one to make a repeat purchase? Does this change based on the frequency of customer contact?
  • Do customers who use customer service spend more or less, on average, than those who don’t?
  • For service-based products, do they tend to renew more regularly or stay longer when they have or have not had contact with a customer service rep?
  • If you silo further by mode of customer contact, web-based chat, email or phone are these patterns the same or do they differ?

While the results of these data studies may not be a definitive measurement, or prove causation, they provide us insights to learn from and act upon.

At The Delightenment Blog, we’re not just looking to do better service (and say we’re doing better service). We’re looking to prove we are - and constantly improve. Taking steps such as these to measure how your customer support impacts your business is a great start!

Presented by HelpSpot

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About the author

Ian Landsman of UserScape

Ian is the founder of HelpSpot and also podcasts at Bootstrapped.fm.

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