I’ve always been a goal-driven person. When hiking, I look for the next mile marker and search for signs that I’m 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 objectives, as well as a number of specific, measurable goals you can put into practice right now to improve your customer experience.
Why you need customer service goals
Taking the time to set goals for your team and for 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.
Goals gradually improve your customer service. By drawing attention to areas of opportunity, you ensure that everyone on your team is thinking about improving the same thing. A boat moves faster when everyone is rowing in the same direction!
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, and Time-bound.
For example, you could say that you want to achieve 100% customer satisfaction on all tickets in 2023. 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.
Unattainable goals usually look really good on paper, but they don’t actually foster better customer service. An achievable goal might instead be that you want a 20% increase in customer satisfaction in 2023.
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. SMART goals for customer service are an easy framework to use to ensure that your goals meet all of the requirements to be most effective.
For each of the examples of customer service goals below, we provide an example of a SMART goal format to help you create your own strategic goals for your customers.
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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 71% of those polled have made a purchase decision based on experience quality.
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 customer satisfaction goals puts your team’s focus on providing a consistently great customer service experience. This feeds back into the customer experience of your product as a whole.
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. Improve net promoter score
While CSAT represents the customer’s reaction to the customer service that your team provides, net promoter score (NPS) reflects their relationship with your brand. While customer service is just a small piece of your brand as a whole, it has an outsized impact.
Like CSAT, when you set a goal to improve NPS, it does the heavy lifting of refocusing your entire team. Not only does NPS light a fire under your customer service team, it also reflects the work of the company as a whole.
Including NPS as part of your customer service strategy is an excellent complement to other work that your team is currently doing, such as lowering response time or implementing a new social media service channel. As you work toward other goals, you are also able to measure the correlative impact that they have. For instance, when you work to improve response time, you notice an increase in NPS. This type of correlation gives you good data for what you might use for future goals, too.
SMART goal example: We will increase our quarterly NPS from 80 to 90 before the end of Q4.
3. 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 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. For social media and chat, two of the quickest possible channels, you could measure by response time as well.
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.
4. 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, you always need to balance your desire to grow the team with your budget restrictions.
Reducing the cost of supporting customers (while keeping quality high!) is an important business goal and something 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. However, if your customers pay you well and you provide crummy support, your customer experience will suffer.
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 and social media are 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.
5. Channel-specific metrics
While the goal of setting up a specific channel doesn’t necessarily fit the SMART goal framework, your team could set up goals around specific channels.
For instance, even if your team doesn’t currently offer social media support, customers certainly reach out for your assistance there. In order to create the best customer experience, your customer service team should be the one responding to inquiries. Getting your customers directly to the best source for help allows your team to lower response rate and boost key metrics like NPS and CSAT.
So, to create a goal for social media, you might focus on something like the number of responses directly from your support team.
SMART goal example: We will staff a social media customer service team and respond to 85% of social media service inquiries within 25 minutes by the end of Q3.
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.
6. 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 (and your customer experience) as well.
SMART goal example: We will increase the average quality score from 3.5 to 4.2 by the end of the year.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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