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Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are performance measurements that show how effectively a company is achieving its goals. Key performance indicators can be used to measure the success of a company’s customer service strategy, the quality and effectiveness of its support, how well its agents are performing, and more.
Measuring KPIs is like taking your car to the mechanic. Sometimes you do it to diagnose a specific problem; other times you do it to make sure that everything is running smoothly and see what could be improved. As a manager, it is your responsibility to assess your company’s KPIs and use your findings to make any appropriate adjustments to your live chat team. But with so many performance indicators to consider, how do you know where to begin?
Read on to learn which must-watch KPIs will be most useful to the development of your live chat team, and how to incorporate them into an ongoing performance plan that will ensure the optimization of your live chat experience.
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Here’s some good news: calculating the number of chats that your department has received is pretty straight forward, and it can tell you a lot. Here are some things to look for when studying this metric:
You can analyze this metric by viewing your chat volume report.
The best measure of how work time is being used is agent utilization rate. This key performance indicator reveals the percentage of time that agents are spending in live chats, wrap-up, and other productive functions, as opposed to in “away” mode or offline.
Agent utilization rate can be measured as follows:
Typically, a 50% to 60% benchmark is good to aim for. A utilization rate that is too low might be indicative of problems like overstaffing and poor agent training. Similarly, a utilization rate that is too high may result in rushed chats, mistakes in documentation during wrap-up, negative customer feedback, and agents who are stressed out.
Consider investigating the following when studying this metric:
You can check out this metric in the agent workload report.
Wait time has a huge impact on customer satisfaction. How long visitors are waiting in the queue is an important metric that is available to managers in the wait time report. The wait time report shows details on visitors’ average and longest wait times within a specific time range. Another valuable report, the queue report, shows the number of visitors who waited in the queue, abandoned the queue, switched to message, or were refused by agents within a specific time range.
You can compare data from the wait time and queue reports to see how wait time affects visitors’ actions when they are waiting in the queue. If the wait is long and abandonment is high, this can be a sign that you need to take on more agents or increase the maximum chat allowance per agent. If the wait time and/or abandonment rate is high during specific times of the day, consider having more agents work during the busiest hours. If the queue time fluctuates heavily with the seasons, consider taking on seasonal agents to help you tackle the holiday website traffic.
Average handle time, or AHT, is a classic measure for evaluating agent performance and refers to how long each agent spends on a chat on average. By measuring your agents’ average handle time, you can help enforce a speedy, concise resolution of customers’ issues.
The average handle time can be measured as follows:
In order to balance customer satisfaction and a speedy resolution, you may want to try aiming for an average handle time of 14 or 15 minutes. Keep in mind however, that average handle time varies greatly by industry and by types of queries handled. We have seen some companies work with an ideal AHT of as low as 4 minutes, and others who aim for 20!
A low average handle time might indicate that an agent has the skill, efficiency, and knowledge needed to help his or her customers fast. At the same time, it might also indicate that an agent is rushing through chats, and is not fully solving his or her customers’ issues. Meanwhile, a high average handle time might indicate that an agent needs additional training to be able to solve issues more effectively. However, it might also show that an agent is taking on complex customer issues and that he or she is dedicated to solving these issues the first time, no matter how long it takes.
Here are some additional things to consider when measuring your average handle time:
You can check this metric in the agent efficiency and the agent performance reports. For more information on how agents can reduce average handle time, check out our blog post: How to Reduce Your Average Handle Time Fast.
First contact resolution, or FCR, indicates whether a customers’ issue has been resolved during their first contact with your company. In other words, this metric measures what percent of the time your agents are solving customer’s issues in a single live chat session.
Increasingly, FCR is being recognized as the number one of the most (if not the most) important metrics to watch in customer service. According to TELUS International, a study conducted by Customer Relationship Metrics found that “CSAT (customer satisfaction) ratings will be 35%-45% lower when a second call is made for the same issue.” This shows just how important first contact resolution is to customer satisfaction.
Making first contact resolution a priority, not an option, can be extremely effective in avoiding repeat contacts and reducing queue wait times. Encouraging agents to prioritize this metric also helps increase customer satisfaction, and reduce the amount of effort that customers have to put forward to find a solution.
First contact resolution can be tricky to calculate. If the issue is resolved as a transfer, does it still count as first contact resolution? The consensus is generally no. What if an agent marks a customer issue as resolved the first time, but the customer disagrees? Again, no; but this discrepancy can make first contact resolution hard to measure precisely.
In the end, the customer is the ultimate expert on him or herself. One way to measure FCR effectively is to ask customers in the post-chat survey if their issue was resolved the first time. If you are relying on the agent checking a box in wrap-up mode that indicates whether the issue was solved the first time, you will need to conduct periodic audits to make sure that agents are marking accurately.
For information on how your agents can maximize their FCR rate, take a look at our blog post: One and Done: How to Optimize Your First Contact Resolution Rate.
If your company uses a proactive live chat strategy, then the invitation acceptance rate metric will show you how well that strategy is working.
You can measure your invitation acceptance rate with two different reports: the auto-invitation report and the manual invitation report. The auto invitation report reveals the number of invitations triggered by predefined rules as well as the invitation acceptance rate within a certain time period. The manual invitation report reveals the number of invitations sent manually by agents as well as the invitation acceptance rate for any given time period.
Consider the following when analyzing this metric:
Are you using live chat as a lead generation tool? If so, it’s good to be able to track whether your company and agents’ efforts are working. This number is very much influenced by your automated and manual invitation acceptance rates.
Every company’s sales rate goal is going to be different, depending on the intensity of their proactive chat strategy. A low sales rate could mean that agents need additional training in good sales and upselling practices. It could also reveal a need to revise and rework your automated and manual proactive chat invitation strategy for maximized sales capacity.
Check out our blog post, Sales Tips and Tactics: How to Up Your Game When Selling to Customers for tips that will help your agents make more sales.
Visitor logs and wrap-up notes are important for categorizing your chats, and for adding any important details to customers’ cases. Agents whose visitor logs and/or wrap-up notes are left incomplete, mismarked, or excluded could cause problems in the future with customers who need to make a repeat contact.
Consider the following when studying visitor logs and wrap-up notes:
You can analyze this information with the wrap-up report.
Customer satisfaction is a metric that is vital to determining the success of your live chat team and the quality of company procedures, policies, and products.
Customer satisfaction can be measured several ways. Some options include the following:
One of the most comprehensive of these measures is the post-chat customer satisfaction survey. By having your agents encourage customers to take the customer satisfaction survey, you will receive a more consistent, accurate spectrum of feedback. This is because if your agents do not encourage customers to take the survey, it is possible that only customers who had an especially great experience or an especially awful experience will fill it out. This results in data that is not quite reflective of the customer service experience as a whole.
You can access the customer satisfaction survey results under the post-chat survey report. To ensure that you maximize the amount of customers who are taking your post-chat survey, try keeping the survey short and sweet. If you aren’t receiving enough customer feedback, click here to learn more about agents can promote the customer satisfaction survey.
In order for your KPIs to work as they should, your agents must first know what is expected of them. As much as you might love all of your metrics equally, don’t try to give them all equal emphasis. Instead, think about what customer service values are most significant to your company and how to go about attaining them. This way you can establish which metrics—such as first contact resolution and customer satisfaction—should be emphasized as your top priorities.
Once you have identified your top priorities, make sure that you are setting expectations that aren’t in direct opposition to one other. For example, telling agents to prioritize both quality and speed might make striking a balance tricky for them—what’s success on one measure is bad performance on another. This can result in role ambiguity, which can be stress-inducing (unreasonable expectations typically are!) and detrimental to staff.
You should also remember to make sure that the information and benchmarks that you give your agents for each measure are as clear and specific as they can be. For example, instead of telling agents to keep their average handle time “low,” tell them to keep it under fifteen minutes or less (or whatever number is your company’s standard). One agent’s definition of “low” may be different from yours, and it’s best to keep things as clear as possible up front if you want your company’s standards to be met.
To truly meet the goals that your company has set for your KPIs, it is important that you assess your key performance indicators throughout the review cycle, and not just at the end. This is because sometimes your agents are not thinking about what metrics they are hitting or missing—they’re just thinking about getting through the day.
Checking your KPIs periodically will help you know where you stand as far as which areas your agents need to work on. With this knowledge, you will be able to remind your team of the goal as appropriate.
By reviewing your KPIs, you will be able to detect and correct performance slips right away. You can best catch performance slips by using the live chat reports and tools that are available for management.
One key auditing feature that managers have access to is live chat transcripts. By appearing offline and reading agent transcripts live (or right after they happen), you can track metrics such as first contact resolution rate, customer satisfaction rate, and whether average handle time is being achieved at a running pace or with quality insurance in mind.
By being attentive, you can notice any slips in the quality of agent performance and address them right away, so that customers are not affected in the future. This helps agents learn and grow by avoiding bad behavior.
Moving forward, it is important to set goals according to your KPI findings. Consider the following questions when deciding on your next steps:
By keeping track of your must-watch key performance indicators and adjusting accordingly, you will be able to provide a live chat experience that is easier, faster, and more satisfying for your customers, as well as more profitable for your business.
Depending on your business goals, different live chat vendors may already have these reports out-of-the-box built into their software and interface. Remember to choose the best one that will help you track the KPIs that are important to you.
What are your team’s favorite KPIs? Share with us in the comments below!
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