The Importance Of A Support Team And Why They Are The Engine To Every Company’s Car
If you are reading this, you are in a position to oversee the implementation, continued growth and refinement, or overhaul of a support team. Whether it be the support team of a SaaS company, retail, hospitality, etc. let’s get one thing straight - a support team provides support to an end user - and is the engine to your car whether you realize it or not.
How can I make such a claim you ask? Well it’s simple… data! According to CustomerThink, the customer experience is more important than ever to consumers. Post-COVID19, 59% of consumers care MORE about customer experience when they decide what company to support or buy from. 38% care the same as they did pre-COVID (which was a lot).
To summarize, the drastic increase of online shopping and web to door delivery is making it easier on the consumer to do their research on product quality and pricing, but harder on companies to maintain a loyal customer base. The customer experience has and will continue to be the main differentiating factor between you and your competition selling the same product at the same price. If your business does not care about the customer experience, you will lose your customers when you need them most.
Setting Up For Support Team Success:
For many of you reading this, you may find what I am writing to be just a refresher of something you already know. If that is the case, fantastic! You are two steps ahead. However, for anyone reading who is new to the Customer Experience industry or role, I want to make sure I touch on some of the basics.
The Difference Between A Key Performance Indicator & A Service Level Agreement
When thinking about KPIs to set for your team, it is important to think about what support channels your team utilizes. If you are omnichannel (phone, chat, email), then on a high level, some KPIs do make sense to implement for each channel, but the Service Level Agreement (SLA) will in most cases be different.
First response time, average handle time and customer satisfaction are KPIs. On the other hand, the service level agreement is the specific number, or target, that you want your team to reach underneath each KPI. For example, a common SLA for first response time when handling customer emails is 30 minutes. Average handle time for emails, depending on the level of complexity, may be 4-6 minutes. Think of the SLA as your promise to your customer. You promise them you are available to respond to their email within a 30 minute time frame, etc.
The Importance Of KPIs. Yes, They’re Really Important.
So first things first, what is a KPI? A KPI is a key performance indicator. A key performance indicator can be defined as a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, etc. in meeting objectives for performance. KPIs are what will allow you to clearly guide your support team’s performance with black and white (attainable) goals, so that if they are not meeting your expectations, you are able to focus objectively on what they need to improve and what you can do to help them improve.
Think about it like this. If you asked your significant other to put gas in your car because you were low and they brought your car back to you only half full, can you really hold them accountable for not filling your tank all the way? Your first thought would probably be something like, “it was implied”, or “they should have known I meant a full tank.” The truth is that unless you explicitly stated at the beginning of your relationship or specifically for this request that you wanted the gas tank to be completely filled, you may get your car back with the gas tank only half full. Without setting clear expectations, you set up your significant other, or in a more relevant case your support team for failure. That is why KPIs are crucial to establish early and specificity.
Now, here is the tricky part (or fun, depending on who you are) with KPIs. KPIs can be a one size fits all, but only in some cases, and depending on the support channel. Before we get into the cases that are not a one size fits all, I want to review the most common KPIs for a support team.
First Response Time (FRT) - the time elapsed between a customer raising a ticket and an agent first responding to it. For this KPI it is important to note that unless your support coverage is 24/7, your Average First Response Time is best measured in business hours, so your average isn't affected by requests received on nights or weekends when no support agents are available to handle a new inquiry.
Average Handle Time (AHT) - represents the average length of contact for a customer on a call and is commonly used to assess the efficiency of an agent and the customer service organization as a whole. For this KPI it is important to understand there is a balance between agent efficiency (lower AHT) and the quality of the customer interaction with that agent (higher AHT).
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) - helps to evaluate the client's service satisfaction with your business, products, or services. For this KPI it is important to know that as a metric, it is capable to provide multiple layers of value for your company, not only as it relates to the quality of a customer’s interaction with your agents, but also whether or not a correct resolution was reached, a resolution was reached in a timely manner, and if at the end of the interaction if the customer was not satisfied, was it due to a product or policy issue?
What KPIs Make The Most Sense For Your Team?
When implementing or fine tuning a support team, the two most important questions you can ask yourself are:
1. “What experience do I want my customers to have?”
2. “What KPIs will measure the success of my support team in delivering that experience?”.
If you aren’t in a position to be told by an executive team what experience they want to provide to your customers, try asking if they can define the brand they want for your company’s product or service. Is it quick and informal, getting a resolution to the customer as quickly as possible, because your product or service is one that customers simply don’t need a lot of personalization in the interactions with a support team? Or is the product or service your company provides something more personal or with a higher price point? In these cases it is likely the brand accompanying this type of product or service should be very personalized, fun and possibly white glove level support.
Unless you are running a standard run of the mill call center, I cannot stress enough to understand what it is your company wants to accomplish for your customers. Without this understanding, your KPIs may fit the bill, but are very unlikely to be the best ones to drive performance exactly where your executive team wants it to go.