Customer service goals help your team understand what they need to do to succeed and move forward. Good goals are motivating because they take effort to accomplish, but not unreachable because they are too ambitious.
However, good goals are hard to find. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that the first few times you set them, you’ll either smash them out of the park, or not come close to meeting them. The good news is that goal setting is a skill - and you can get better at it.
Let’s look into the essentials of customer service goal-setting - what we call the Nifty Nine:
- Why set customer service goals?
- Start from your customer service vision
- Know your company’s goals
- Set SMART goals
- Choose your customer service metrics
- Customer service benchmarking
- Be ambitious with your goal-setting
- Use your goals to excel
Teams work better when they are all on the same page. Setting appropriate goals will allow you to:
- Build team cohesion. When everyone knows what they are trying to accomplish and strive for the same goals, work gets done fast and easy.
- Pivot quickly if something isn’t working. If you monitor your goals and see that things are not going along as they should be, you’ll know the change you need to make in your product, team or company.
- Build company-wide cooperation. Inter-team cohesion eliminates a lot of the uncertainty caused by not understanding company goals. Coherent teams work autonomously and complement each other’s work.
Ultimately, teams that set goals improve faster than teams that don’t. Customer service goals will help you bring your customer service experience to the next level.
Before you dive into setting specific actionable goals, take a step back to figure out what’s your customer service vision. This will help you stay focused on what’s really important to your company.
These questions will help you define your support vision:
- What do we do? Your vision can range from offering close to no support (e.g., have you ever tried to contact Facebook?) to looking at customer service as a revenue driver and creator of customer loyalty.
- Whom do we serve? Some companies help all users equally, including trials and leads, while others focus only on paying or premium users. It’s often a business and branding decision, as your customer-facing activities impact both your company image and financial outcomes.
- How do we serve them? From teams who focus mostly on providing self-help to companies aiming for support-driven growth in omnichannel customer service, decide what’s the best way to serve your customers.
Once you know what you want your customer service to be like, it’s easier to break the journey down to attainable goals. When you’ve finished setting up your support goals, come back to your vision to check how well your goals align with it.
Most people associate goals with hard numbers for the business. However, goals don’t always have to be tied to revenue or fiscal success. Goals can focus on employee retention, customer happiness, or any other important metric.
Although it’s important to set goals for measuring and making progress, there are a number of other ways goals can help your company. They help to build teamwork, strengthen your executive team, and create knowledge around your company’s weaknesses.
When setting goals for your team, always make sure they track up the work that is done at the company level. Goal alignment is important because it allows you to be operationally coordinated with the rest of your company.
In addition, knowing company goals increases individual team members’ morale. Knowing that the work they are doing is making an impact at a company level gives a huge boost to their confidence.
This can improve employee retention, too. That’s killing two birds with one stone.
SMART is a framework created by MindTools that helps people set goals that make the most sense for them and their company. According to the MindTools site, to make sure your goals are clear and reachable, they should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant): create simple, meaningful goals for your team members.
For example, set goals like writing a knowledge base article, or improving email First Response Times.
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating): find a way to measure whether people are actually moving towards the goals you’ve set. We’ll discuss customer service metrics in a bit. Rather than setting vague goals with no actual finish line, use solid numbers and metrics. For example, use goals like writing 25 new blog posts this quarter, or getting email FRT down to 3h 30min by the end of the fiscal year.
- Achievable (agreed, attainable): make sure that your goals are attainable. There is nothing that will kill your team’s momentum more than having a goal that feels out of reach.
Talk with your team and others involved, look at your history and ensure that what you are committing yourselves to makes sense for everyone. Don’t undersell yourself, but also don’t overpromise and force yourself to come up short.
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based): connect your team metrics with your company goals and you will always be aligned with this aspect of the SMART goals.
Create goals that make sense within the context of your company and your team. Goals should be meaningful outside of the individual completing them.
If you allow your team members to select their own metrics, have them do so in specific areas where work needs to be done. Don’t expect them to pull their goals out of thin air.
- Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive): this is similar to the “M” in SMART, meaning that whatever goals you are setting, they should always come with a completion timeline.
You can track goals on a weekly, quarterly or even annual basis. For example, switching help desks could be a biannual or annual goal. If you are working on blog posts or documentation, you can set quarterly or even monthly deadlines, depending on the comfort of your team.
Set SMART goals to make sure you're working towards clear and attainable objectives. These will help you move your team forward.
Goals work best if you have the right tools to measure how you’re progressing towards the target. Customer service metrics give you quantifiable data into how well your team is doing.
Pair each of your goals up with an appropriate KPI:
- Quality metrics express the overall satisfaction of your support: CSAT, NPS, CES are the most popular customer-based quality metrics that tell you how satisfied your customers are with what you do. Internal Quality Score (IQS) tells you how well your team performs against your internal quality standards, as evaluated in conversation reviews.
- Time metrics measure the time it takes to help your customers. Metrics like First Response Time and Average Handle Time can have a huge impact on your quality KPIs. Keep an eye on how your metrics affect each other, too.
- Volume metrics provide insight into the number of tickets you receive, how many of these escalate from first-line support agents to senior agentss, and how many replies does it takes to solve an issue.
- Business metrics look at customer service from the cost/benefit perspective: Retention and churn rates express how many customers stay with your company vs how many of them cancel their subscription or stop buying from you. Cost Per Conversation puts a price tag to your support interactions and helps you find the most efficient support channels.
Take a look at the 15 customer service metrics that are crucial for most support teams and find the KPIs that will help you progress towards your goals.
When you know where your support is heading, which customer service goals will take you there, and which metrics to measure how well you’re advancing towards your goals, then all you need are great customer service benchmarks against which to compare your performance.
How to find benchmarks for your support team’s goals:
- Map your current situation. Look at your support KPIs to understand where you’re at and to find your areas of improvement.
- Put your goals into numbers. Set measurable targets for each of your goals. Without specific numbers in front of you, you’ll never know how far you are from your targets and how far you could actually go.
- Peek into industry averages. Customer service quality can be a decisive factor in people’s buying decisions. See how your goals compare against your potential users’ expectations. Zendesk has outstanding data about customer service benchmarks.
Measurable goals with benchmarks are the best kind of customer service goals to have. With a setup like this, you’ll get a clear understanding of how your team is doing and what are your areas of improvement.
It’s definitely easy to set goals around the things that you’re already slaying, but where’s the growth in that?
Setting goals in places where you know you need to improve serves you and your team twofold:
- It gives you the opportunity to fail harder, thus knowing where your true areas of growth are.
- Without having to push harder to succeed, you don’t know your true potential.
Setting customer service goals allows you to measure the success of your company across a specific metric or target.
When you’ve set a long-term goal for your company, you can break the journey into smaller, quarter-length goals. These help you see how far you are from hitting your targets.
If things aren’t working, you can assess why, as well. If you’re consistently achieving your goals well before the deadline, you need to set more ambitious targets.
Set goals in areas of growth and watch your team excel (or learn something valuable if they don’t).
Let’s say that Klaus the cat runs a hip subscription-based catfood delivery business. Here’s what the company’s support goals would look like.
Customer service vision: Klaus delivers excellent customer service to all existing and potential feline customers quickly via phone and live chat with the aim to upsell yearly cat food subscriptions. Customer service goals:
- Improve the quality of customer service by delivering 85% CSAT and 92% IQS by the end of the year.
- Respond to all tickets and keep First Response Times under 2 hours on a monthly basis.
- Maintain an even level of support via phone and live chat by keeping IQS over 90% across channels at all times.
- Upsell products in every interaction possible, scoring at least 80% in the “Upselling products” rating category in conversation reviews.
These are specific, measurable, (hopefully) achievable but definitely relevant and time-bound customer service goals that will surely help the team forward if taken seriously.
Knowing how to set good goals and how they fit within the context of your company can be difficult. But it’s worth it. If you align your goals and metrics with those of your company, you set your team up for success.
Tracking your goals gives you powerful information about the impact your support team is making. You’re not just a group of people answering emails and solving customer problems.
Empower your customer service by setting goals they can achieve. Help them measure the progress they’re making.
You’ll be amazed how far your team can go.
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