KPIs as Easy as (NOT) Folding Laundry
Here’s an analogy for you. The act of tracking stats and KPIs is like doing laundry. I’ve been trying for a really, really long time to find a way to fit laundry into a blog post and I think I’ve finally got it. Bear with me for a few moments.
Airing out the dirty laundry
I do most of the laundry in our house. My wife and I both possess a variety of homemaking strengths and weaknesses— one of mine just happens to be the laundry. Considering the fact that she tends to clean the bathrooms, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal.
Where was I? Oh right, laundry. So early on in my career as the laundry guy, I made sure all of the clothes got separated into different loads — typically darks, whites, jeans, gentles, and towels. On the other side, I would fold all of the laundry, including the underwear, and put it neatly in the drawers. Even before kids came a long, this process took a long time to complete each week.
Enter three kids and I find myself having to do laundry at least twice a week and barely keeping up. We finally got a high efficiency washer and dryer, capable of handling mass amounts of clothing and that helped a little. Maybe it’s the hour it takes to fold and put clothes away or perhaps the time(s) where the baby “undid” all of the folding, but at some point I began to question why in the world I was spending all of this time doing the laundry perfectly and what I was really getting out of it.
Laundry and KPIs?
For those of you leading customer service teams, how many different stats do you track on a regular basis? How many stats do you track for your individual agents on a regular basis? 10? 50? 100? More?
I’m no stranger to a behemoth Excel spreadsheet that must be maintained monthly. How many hours, days, weeks would you say you devote to calculating and inputting your stats? It can be mind numbing work. Is it worth it?
Think about your finished spreadsheet. Does anyone besides you look at it? Do you have clear actions that you regularly take on the different metrics where you’ve actually seen them go up or down? Is the fact that you track those metrics making you more efficient and improving your customer experience?
Take a step back
Before you start thinking I’m going to tell you to delete your Excel spreadsheet and manage your team “by faith,” let’s get out of the weeds, take a step back, and think about this for a minute. Whether you are like me and already have this massive bank of stats or are looking to establish KPIs for your team, let’s talk about a few of the usual suspects and think about the value they provide.
Perhaps you track customer satisfaction or a similar metric. Are you simply tracking a number and hoping it will go up? Stop! Instead do this:
- Read verbatim feedback from customers and reach out to those customers to recover from service failures and restore their trust in your company.
- Categorize the dissatisfied surveys into key drivers. Find out which of them are costing significant amounts of money in both support time and lost revenue from canceled accounts. Share these insights with the rest of the business and work to fix the top issues.
- Identify issues where your agents could be trained, coached, or empowered to handle them better. This includes evaluating your quality process to ensure you are looking at these key behaviors.
Now customer satisfaction is an indicator of how well your efforts to transform your customer experience are working.
Average Handle Time (AHT)
AHT is a popular metric regardless of the support channel. Perhaps you share this one with your agents regularly, and say “You gotta get faster!” Cut that out! Instead do this:
- As part of your quality process, review some of the longer interactions and identify reasons why they are long. You may find that agents are placing callers on hold because they don’t know answers or they have difficulty handling upset customers. This will reveal areas where you can empower and train your agents to be more efficient.
- Also look at the short interactions and make sure the quality of the customer service being provided is where you expect it to be.
- Don’t forget to evaluate your customer service tools. How many different programs are you requiring your agents to use during the typical support interaction? You may find that there’s additional technology or equipment that can help improve this.
Now AHT has become a metric that drives quality and efficiency and improves your customer and agent experience.
First Contact Resolution (FCR)
FCR is a fun one to look at as well. Let’s first start with the fact that this one can be difficult to both define and track. You may log a lot of time tracking FCR and if you’re anything like me, you frequently forget how you arrived at that calculation each month. If that’s you, take a break! Instead do this:
- Review cases that weren’t first contact resolved on a regular basis. On phone calls, you may find that agents could have provided more information, or as I say, “answered the questions customers didn’t know to ask.”
- When you review email, you realize that you actually don’t want the case resolved in a single email response to the customer. While you value really complete responses to customers, you also value a bit of rapport building dialog with them. This may drive you to adjust your FCR calculation for a particular channel.
Now FCR is a metric where you are driving your agents to offer the best, most complete solution to customers on every interaction, saving customers the need to contact you multiple times.
Back to laundry
After evaluating my laundry practice a bit, I realized I could change my process and save a whole lot of time and aggravation. I now wash my whites and darks together and only separate out towels and gentles. Folding laundry has turned into more of a sorting into piles— one for each person. We then loosely place clothing in drawers, much of it without folding. In general, wrinkles aren’t a problem and there’s a whole lot more time for more important KPIs— like quality time spent with family.
As you think about the myriad of stats you’re tracking and calling KPIs, I encourage you to take a moment to step back and critically think about each one. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there clear actions I can take to improve this metric?
- Does my team understand their role in driving this metric?
- Does this metric align with and drive us toward our customer service vision?
If the answer to any of those is no, you might want to hit the pause button on that KPI and evaluate whether or not it’s a KPI worth tracking. You may find that some of your stats are like my pile of laundry— no amount of perfect folding is going to make your customer or agent experience any better.
Head of Quality
Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.