Build a Solid Foundation With Key Performance Indicators, Part 3: Customer Service

It’s important the analytics data you focus on is directly related to your overall business and site goals. No matter what type of site you have, you can apply the four-step methodology outlined below to maximize the value of the analytics data you gather.

Establish Key Performance Indicators

  1. Define key site goals and metrics.

  2. Configure the tracking tool.
  3. Analyze the data.
  4. Optimize the site based on the findings.

This ongoing process is most effective when periodically repeated to continually fine-tune a site. The overall process fails if key site goals and KPIs aren’t established early on and a method to measure the metrics tied to these KPIs isn’t related to information your team can act on to improve your site.

In the first two installments of this four-part series, I focused on the most important metrics for lead generation and e-commerce sites. Today, I’ll focus on customer service/care sites.

Customer Service Sites

Customer service/care sites tend to focus on reducing expenses and improving customer experiences rather than on increasing revenue. The cost of successfully serving a customer online is often much less than using a call center. Even shifting a small percentage of customer service communications to a Web site can save millions of dollars per month. Many organizations underestimate the financial value of their sites as customer service tools. They dedicate few resources to improving sites in this capacity.

Customer Service KPIs

A customer service site’s key objectives are to quickly and successfully answer customer questions and to address customer problems online.

For each of the following customer service KPIs, there are a number of important metrics to track. Most offline call center metrics can be adjusted to measure online customer support effectiveness. Common customer service KPIs include:

  • Average cost-per-service option. It’s important to understand the different costs associated with the different methods of providing service to customers. The following is a sample based on a few recent client calculations for different support methods:

    • Call center. Costs can range from $3.50 to well over $10.00.

    • E-mail. Costs range from $1.50 to $3.50 or more. (This is considered a very conservative estimate.)
    • Online chat. Costs range from $1.00 to $3.50 or more.
    • Online self-service. The cost of a site-based service transaction is often calculated from $0.25 to $1.00, frequently less.

    Moving customers from the more expensive service methods to the less expensive options is desirable, so long as the questions can successfully be addressed and the experience is positive.

  • Percent of support touches served online. Typically we assign percentages to each method and calculate the total weekly or monthly costs for each. The average cost per touch is a good way to track the effect of changes over time. Driving the average cost per touch down by a few cents per month can have a significant impact on total customer service costs.
  • Drivers to other support methods. To measure the effectiveness of the site’s help section, first understand how many people look for answers and then turn to other methods for support. Use unique toll-free numbers so calls originating from the site can be tracked separately from other calls to the call center. The same can be done for email by using a form on the site or a unique email address.

  • Onsite search effectiveness. A well-tuned customer support search tool can help reduce the number of people who turn to offline support options from the site. It also improves the chances visitors will return to the site for support. Metrics within the support search may include:
    • Searches per search visit. How many times does someone use search during a particular visit? If the average search visitor needs to search three or four times, it’s a good indication she’s having trouble finding what she’s looking for.

    • Exits from the search return page. A search return page contains search result listings. If visitors exit the site or jump to “contact us” from the search return page, it’s a good indication they didn’t find what they were looking for.

  • Survey results. Surveys are a good way to determine if visitors found what they were looking for during their online support experience. Two common methods include:

    • Exit surveys. Use a simple survey to ask visitors about their online support experience as they exit the site.
    • Page ratings/surveys. As solutions are provided, ask people to rate the experience or helpfulness of presented content. Use this information to optimize the way content is presented in the support search tool, FAQs, and navigation.

Improving the ways you address support issues can have a significant effect on the bottom line. Even a small change can lead to very significant service and support savings.

Next: Looking at the KPIs for content sites.

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