Hold the Spice! Simplifying the World of Customer Service Metrics

By: on April 20, 2016

Variety may be the spice of life, but too many spices can ruin a dish as easily as they can improve it. The deluge of metrics and KPIs in the world of customer service (CS) is a good case in point: It has plenty of variety already.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the “great spice rack of customer service metrics” and distill it down to only the most important metrics you need—including those that will please even the more discerning ROI-focused palates found in boardrooms and C-suites.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

(Click on a link below to jump to that section.)

The Role of Customer Service Metrics
Shortlist of Customer Service Metrics
Saving Time and Tracking Metrics with Software

The Role of Customer Service Metrics

There is no shortage of metrics in the customer service industry. If it can be measured—and in some cases, even if it can’t— there’s a very good chance someone has proposed a metric to track it. But before diving into how metrics differ, let’s start with what they have in common.

The most effective customer service metrics serve two general purposes:

1. To track the operational performance of individual agents, individual service resources (e.g., online self-service) or the entire service department.

2. To bridge the accountability and governance gaps between operational performance, service department goals and the all-important business outcomes they affect.

The first purpose is already common knowledge: It’s the reason most service departments implement metric tracking in the first place.

The second purpose is less well known—and it happens to be the very reason that many customer service improvement initiatives fail or cannot convincingly demonstrate an ROI.

Processes in the service department affect business outcomes


Modern service departments are full of many moving parts, and even small departments with few employees juggle numerous responsibilities across multiple communication channels.

Unlike departments such as sales, service department processes are often less directly or obviously related to specific business outcomes .

Metrics connect the dots between service process improvements
and better business-wide outcomes


Bridging the accountability and governance gaps between operational performance, service department goals and business outcomes is often overlooked.

When service department process improvements cannot be tied directly to positive business outcomes, they can fail to achieve executive buy-in and be abandoned before they’re given a chance to work.

Shortlist of Customer Service Metrics

Bearing in mind the dual role of metrics, service departments that are looking to improve, refine or grow what they track can begin with the list below.

When choosing what to track, many businesses face a similar challenge: The same metric can have different implications depending on context, so most need a certain degree of contextualization to be used effectively.

In the following table, we indicate how a particular metric might be used to indicate:

  • Performance of individual agents
  • The entire service department
  • And/or the company as a whole

Using CS Metrics to Measure Performance

Saving Time and Tracking Metrics with Software

Metrics can provide insight into individual, departmental and corporate performance over the course of time. They can also indicate performance at any particular point in time, e.g., after an operational process is changed or a new service manager is hired.

On the topic of time, metrics can save it! They provide important information at a glance, and many customer service platforms can display them all in a single dashboard.

Dashboard in Zendesk showing updated metric data

Want to learn more? Check out our range of customer service software solutions, including ratings and reviews, to help you improve your department’s use of metrics and your company’s bottom line.

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