I’ve always been a goal-driven person. When hiking, I look for the next mile marker and search for signs that we’re nearing the summit. Whoever said that the journey is the destination must never have felt the satisfaction of achieving their goals.

I kid, of course: Even when you don’t achieve 100% of your goals, the process of setting them and working toward them offers tangible benefits.

Customer service goals are no exception. There is no better way to deliver consistently great customer service and challenge your team members to grow than by setting smart goals.

Below, we offer a framework for setting effective customer service goals, as well as a number of specific, measurable goals you can put in practice right now.

Why you need customer service goals

Taking the time to set goals for your team and yourself is like taking the time to check the map: You’ll know where you are heading and you’ll be much more likely to get there.

  • Goals give your team direction and focus. This can lead to more independence; when everyone knows the plan, they can make their own decisions and act more autonomously.
  • Goals help to manage team performance. Stated goals help facilitate feedback opportunities and provide a benchmark for agents to measure themselves against.
  • Goals align everyone’s actions. Everyone from agents to managers to the entire team can work together for the company’s success. By showing how individual actions generate success for the business, goals motivate action.

How to set effective goals

Not all goals are created equally. In order for them to be motivating, they need to follow the SMART philosophy: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

For example, you could say that you want to achieve 100% customer satisfaction on all tickets in 2021. While it’s an ambitious goal, it’s not achievable. As soon as that first bad satisfaction response comes in, your team members will feel like they have failed.

Keeping your goals specific and measurable will help you understand when you’ve met them. Relevant goals align with your organization’s mission. Finally, setting a time limit will help you evaluate your progress and encourage momentum.

For each of the goals below, we provide an example of a SMART goal format to help you create your own goals.

Examples of customer service department goals

Customer service department goals should be directly related to the goals of the wider organization. They should be easily trackable and frequently discussed within the team. Every individual can contribute to these goals, so ensuring that the entire team is on board is crucial to achieving them.

1. Increase customer satisfaction

One of the primary reasons to offer customer service at all is to improve your customers’ happiness.

Most, if not all, customer service teams will use customer satisfaction (CSAT) as one of their key performance indicators (KPIs). After all, if your customers are not satisfied with your service, it’s time to change what you’re doing.

Increasing customer satisfaction is a worthy goal for the company’s growth as well:

  • Salesforce found that 67% of consumers and 74% of business buyers will pay more for a great experience.
  • Qualtrics XM found that customers who’ve had a very good experience are 3.5 times more likely to repurchase and 5 times more likely to recommend the company to friends and relatives.

Setting a goal to improve customer satisfaction puts your team’s focus on providing a consistently great customer service experience.

To measure customer satisfaction, use a simple customer survey to gather feedback on whether customers are happy with their service. Subtract the percentage of customers who respond positively from 100% to get an overall CSAT percentage.

SMART goal example: We will increase our rolling 7-day CSAT score from 82% to 87% in the next three months.

2. Reduce customer wait time

In the mission to provide great customer service, speed is your best friend. Customers consistently rate quick answers as the most important aspect of their customer service experience.

Responding quickly is a full team goal. Not only do agents have to be focused and treat customer conversations with urgency, but they also need to be supported with the right tools and the team needs to be properly staffed.

There are many ways to measure customer wait time, depending on the experience you want to provide over different channels. For phone support, you may measure the amount of time customers spend on hold. For emails, you could measure the time to first reply or total resolution time.

To measure first reply time (FRT), look at the amount of time that passes from when the customer first contacts you until they get their first human response. FRT is calculated as an average across all tickets.

SMART goal example: We will decrease average first reply time for email support from 11 hours to 8 hours by October 31st.

3. Reduce cost per contact

If you had an unlimited budget, reducing customer wait time and increasing customer satisfaction would be straightforward — just hire more people and give all of your customers a puppy! Unfortunately, we always need to balance our desire to grow the team with our budget restrictions.

Reducing the cost of supporting customers (while keeping quality high!) is an important business goal and something that the entire customer service team can contribute to. If it costs more to support your customers than they are paying you, your business will not be profitable.

To measure cost per contact (CPC), divide the total cost of providing support (labor, tools, and other costs) by the number of contacts received. You can segment this calculation by a number of different criteria, including the contact channel and the type of users.

CPC is impacted by a number of things. To reduce CPC, you can try to direct customers to lower effort channels (for example, chat is more cost-effective than phone support), or become more efficient at answering tickets.

SMART goal example: We will reduce cost per contact by 10% for free plan users by the end of Q1.

Examples of customer service manager goals

Customer service managers need to take care of customers and their teams of agents. Their goals reflect the dual nature of their responsibilities — to both the people on their teams and to the people who purchase from their businesses.

4. Increase quality of customer service responses

Customers frequently rank consistency as a primary driver of good customer service. To monitor the quality and consistency of your team’s replies, consider implementing quality assurance or conversation reviews. Providing ongoing feedback through reviews can ensure that your entire team is delivering excellent customer service.

To measure quality, you first need to define what quality means to you. What kind of tone do you use? Do agents need to provide additional resources in their responses? Klaus has a great guide to developing a quality assurance rubric on their blog.

Once the rubric has been developed, you can grade a random selection of conversations to determine your quality score. Taking the time to provide feedback on each review will help your agents know what they can do to improve their own quality, thus boosting the team’s quality as well.

SMART goal example: We will increase the average quality score from 3.5 to 4.2 by the end of the year.

5. Improve agent happiness

Happy employees equal happy customers. Or, at the very least, unhappy employees will make it a lot harder to provide empathetic, thoughtful service to your customers. Improving the experience of your customer service team should be a top priority for all customer service managers.

Measuring agent happiness can take a number of different forms. One of the most direct ways is to just ask your agents how they feel.

Employee NPS uses the same question as Net Promoter Score to ask employees how likely they are to recommend your company as a place to work. This survey can also provide some qualitative feedback on what you’ll need to do to accomplish your goal.

Alternatively, you can measure agent happiness by looking at employee churn and retention rates. If agents are staying around for longer, they are likely happier.

SMART goal example: We will increase employee NPS by 20% between the September and December employee surveys.

Examples of customer service representative goals

Individual goals help agents expand their skill sets and develop their careers. While all agents might share some goals (such as achieving a certain CSAT), setting individual goals that are tailored to each agent’s professional goals will provide more motivation.

6. Improve troubleshooting skills

All customer support agents need to have a strong grasp of how to troubleshoot issues. Fortunately, just like other skills, troubleshooting is a muscle that you can strengthen over time. If you are struggling to quickly and accurately diagnose problems, improving your troubleshooting skills may be a great goal.

Troubleshooting skills can be measured in multiple ways, including as part of quality assurance reviews or as part of another metric. For example, improving troubleshooting may reduce the number of responses it takes for tickets to be resolved. It may also improve time to resolution and the number of tickets the agent is able to resolve.

SMART goal example: I will increase my troubleshooting criteria score on quality assurance reviews from 2.4 to 4 by December 31st.

7. Improve leadership skills

Whether you want to become a people manager or just take on more responsibility in your individual contributor role, leadership skills are a key part of growing as an agent. By including leadership skills as a goal for agents, they stay motivated and challenged with new opportunities.

Leadership skills aren’t necessarily measured by metrics and quantitative results. Instead, leadership goals are often represented as projects and tasks that require new skills to accomplish. Providing feedback on the execution of these tasks will help cement new capabilities.

SMART goal example: I will lead two product training meetings in Q4 and meet with my manager for feedback and review on sessions.

Use customer service goals to keep your team motivated

Setting great goals will keep your team moving forward. Use the examples above to set your own SMART goals to elevate your team’s performance.

Sarah Chambers

Sarah Chambers

Sarah is a customer service consultant and the founder of Supported Content. When she’s not arguing about customer service, she’s usually outdoors rock climbing or snowboarding. Follow her on Twitter to keep up with her adventures.