Five leaders join me to talk about the evolution of metrics in Support – which I’m whimsically calling Metrics 2.0. Welcome to Antonio King, who joins me for the first time. Watch out for him later in the series.
I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!
Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello and welcome to Episode 107 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. Today we have a special panel talking about metrics 2.0.vI’d like to welcome to the podcast panel today. Sandy Bandy. Craig stauss, Matt Dale, Greg’s curving and for the first time, Antonio King, thank you so much for joining me today. My dear panellists as we convened to talk about the future of metrics in a topic which I have also somewhat whimsically called metrics 2.0 Now the first thing is I would like to talk about is the horror stories that we have with metrics. We’ve all been there. What What have you seen historically in your careers? That has just been the worst way you’ve ever seen metrics used?
Matt Dale 1:17
So Oh, go ahead Greg.
Greg Skirving 1:21
Thanks. Thanks, man. I want to get in first this time
Matt Dale 1:23
you get in first.
Greg Skirving 1:25
Thanks. Um, yeah, I think. I think I think the good place to start with metrics is is the questions not the answers. And I think that, that it’s, it’s so easy for people to, to look at the list and, you know, Matt’s at the top, so he’s good then and Craig’s at the bottom, so he’s bad and, and that’s it. That’s, that’s all we need to know. And I think that that obviously, you know, sends a message to your team in a bad weigh in certainly drives drives different behaviour. I think, I think setting group targets for people. So for instance, if you capacity plan for five cases. And you say, well, everybody’s close five cases a day, you get yourself into a situation where, you know, people are going to be in and around there, but you’ll have some people that can close seven, and, you know, they’ll mail in a five and a half, and then you’ve got those people that work their tails off, studying all the time, you know, upgrading their skills, and they do four and a half cases a day against a target of five. And, and, and, and they feel like they failed. So, you know, metrics are really indicators, I think. And I think that, that if we, if we, if we treat them like the answers, it just absolutely sends the wrong message. And, you know, I mean, there’s horror stories around you know, drive the behaviour. You know that way? So
Charlotte Ward 3:01
yeah, yeah, I think I think you hit on two key points there. One is when metrics are treated as an absolute, and when they’re treated as a competition, right into really bad ways to use metrics.
Matt Dale 3:16
I think if you kind of take that and add to it, one of the other ways you can use metrics poorly is when you take them out of context. And this is something I’ve seen in my career quite a lot, where it’s like, oh, we have this one statistic that we’re looking at one metric that we’re looking at, and it seems to indicate this or that, but if you don’t have some historical context on what happened last week, last month, last year, or how does this compare to its peer group, like we’re looking at one particular squad, how are they comparing it to other people? Like if you just take one thing on its own, it doesn’t really tell much. And so I I was trying when I’m preparing metrics for whoever I’m talking to, it’s like, hey, let’s let’s look at let’s look at some context here. Let’s make sure we’re understanding what’s going on outside the metric. The other thing that I try to think about is what what’s the what’s the kind of target audience that we’re talking to. And I think that’s been something I’ve been working on in my career. If I’m talking to the CFO, I have different way different metrics I will look at, and I’m gonna try to put things in terms of he’s going to understand that he’s going to be thinking about, I’m talking to my team leads or frontline agents. I’m trying to talk about performance or what we’re expecting, I want to make sure that I’m presenting in a way that they can understand. So both context and kind of the language that you use, I think is really important. And when you don’t, then then you have these these tough stories as well.
Antonio King 4:34
I think I think some of the interesting things that Greg really just kind of touched on, that I think we as support leaders sometimes miss are what I like to call sleeper metrics. And these are metrics that are seemingly innocent, but when you are measured against them at the team level, they tend to promote the wrong behaviours. And there’s absolutely value to those metrics, right? a really common one is probably your average handle time. It’s good for us to see from our lens, but maybe not the best for agents to be able to report on themselves, especially as you look across the entire team. And I can tell you a horror story from from a company a long time ago, I joined, that actually ended up adding the average handle time to all of our own metrics to be able to self report, I was very new, this was a long time ago, and the average handle time we had targets, of course associated with it. And what we ended up seeing was like this, this natural competition kind of emerge, and really, it was more of an line of jest of like, Hey, you know, like I run, one of my teammates would hang up the call ago, four seconds or five seconds and it was more of like ingest, but that quickly identified that that is a challenge. And that that’s behaviour that of course, we don’t want to promote, obviously, for reasons that pertain to shorten the customer on on information or just trying to get off the call quickly as we maintain our number. So yeah, you know, we really want to make sure we’re cognizant about what measures We want to look at from our lens, but also be very careful about having our own agents report and see on those things because it does tend to stir behaviours that are a little more counterintuitive or counterproductive.
Zeni Bandy 6:13
I also have a horror story on ticket handling time. And it was specifically with email, which I thought was not as risky with tracking versus phone where you can cut conversations short. So that was not a metric for phone support, but just for email support, identify if there are issues to understand what we can improve what to focus on. And I don’t know how long actually it was going on. But one of my team leads who had gotten let go. And at that point, she had already gotten let go. But she had trained the team to refresh their browser to reset the ticket handling time. And I didn’t know it. And so I was using this metric as an indicator if there were something thing wrong. And so when I was trying to understand what was going on with the full picture, I thought our ticket handling times were great. But that wasn’t the case. So I think that’s another reason why you don’t you don’t want to make that metric a big deal, because there are ways that agents just because they want to perform. They’ll trick the system. Even even without bad intent.
Matt Dale 7:27
When I think I mean, you have to be aware of the bad intent to like, we generally want to have teams with really great people, but anything that you’re measuring, especially if you’re just looking at one particular metric kind of on its own outside of context, there’s ways to game the system. I mean, I’ve had folks that have done stuff with our phone system so that they know, hey, if I if I wait in, my status is available, and I can see all the other people and they have their status as they’re on a call. And if I switch my status off to offline in the background, then I’m not going to be next to the phone call thing. And so if all I’m looking at is, you know this or if all I’m looking at is hey, you know what’s With an all time high, it refreshed, like, you’re gonna have folks that can be squirrely and do that stuff. So if you’re just looking at one thing that’s going to drive that behaviour, like whatever particular metric you’re holding up as the value, whether that’s the handle time or whatever, that’s what they’re going to be trying to dial their, their their processing so that they look really good have ceased, that’s really important. And I’m gonna make sure that I’m do whatever I can to only get really good cset if I can suppress some of the tickets that I don’t think are good by doing something like that, then I’m not going to I’m not going to send those out. And so really being able to say, hey, how do we how do we make sure that this is a fair and balanced approach so that people don’t feel the need to try to game things but also being aware that every time you put a target or anything like that, then that’s gonna drive some behaviour and that may drive some behaviour that you’re not intending and and it’s really isn’t healthy. It was good for your team, but is it good for your customers?
Craig Stoss 8:50
I have an incredible horror story to that effect. We did a global analysis of our teams at a previous company in mind and on paper. There was one particular country that was almost triple the output of the other countries which were on average that roughly the same. And, and we dug deeper into this and as far as the sorry, the far as the number of tickets being handled, I should say. And we dug deeper into it. And what had happened was the leader of that country team has created this incentivization sheet about ticket handling. And so if a client called in and was asking for questions, the the reps were creating for individual tickets and taking all that extra time to create and put all the metadata in and copy all the fields and and so they’re their numbers were literally three times everyone else. And if you look at it purely on paper, you think they were covering three times as many calls when really they they weren’t, they were just expanding the workload out. But what I was gonna say is, is kind of in the context frame that that Matt brought up was, was relativity is also important. So I had a situation where we were we had a fairly large knowledge base and one of my leaders came to me and said, Hey, we have this issue where we know there’s about 2000 articles that are have incorrect information in them. And what I want to do is I want to take a set of people that are fairly technical and I want to have them spend so many hours reviewing articles and trying to find these these technical errors and fix them. And it sounded really, you know, good and you know, knowing the rough number of articles that were there and knowing the time would take to review all these articles and, um, but when you start doing some napkin math, you know, the chances in a huge knowledge base like these were thousands and thousands of articles, the chances of finding those wrong ones randomly was you know, less than a percent. And then you know, even if you assume they could do this within, you know, one, you know, one article per minute or something, it was going to take weeks, if not months of effort to do this of our most technical people. And so the cost very much outweighed the benefit of doing this, this effort in the end and and so relativity is also really important in metrics. And I think people forget that. And that changes by industry, for example, retail industry of throughput of return processing probably goes up during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday season. Right. But that doesn’t that’s not an indication of a problem. But it’s because there’s a cyclical nature of this. There’s a relative nature.
Charlotte Ward 11:33
I’ve, I’ve experienced that. I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. I one story that I frequently tell is the first support. Frontline role I had when I got out of uni was at Oracle sat in a call centre in a cubicle on frontline doing 20 tickets a day. 20 phone calls a day. The very next job I went into I did one a day. And the line I always use is that we’re both full time jobs. That’s my simple unit of comparison. And I think, particularly when it comes to looking at things like average handle time, you have to as the person who may be surfacing that data, be prepared to give it all the context, in every situation that you’re going to talk about in and be prepared to defend it as well and talk about that relativity. You know, I mean, there are situations where you might want to adjust the average handle time usually bring it down, but that shouldn’t be the sole target your that single metric shouldn’t operate in isolation, and neither should it be neither should it operate in any context within your organisation where people don’t understand what it means. Exactly. And just, I think just as a final point, before we move on, in that in that vein, final point before we move on is just to give you an example of the role I’m in now, I have surface for the first time they’ve never had any exposure in leadership to average out Time, and we’re measuring it now I have an average handle time. And I have to explain what that means. The first thing as soon as it appears on a slide, the first question I receive is, oh, how can we bring that down? You have to be prepared to defend it. I said, we’re not aiming to bring that died down. That is just how long it takes. In this context of this organisation with this custom basis group of people, all of the other variables. That’s how long a ticket takes, where there are other things we need to concentrate on. But that is a metric that we need to know. It just isn’t a target. When I think
Matt Dale 13:42
I’m going to real quick Charlotte before we move on, because I want to derail the conversation as always, I think it’s important to not just talk about that context with in our particular organisation because like illuminate we have like 11 different product lines that are all suddenly different. I have average handle times anywhere from 18 and a half minutes to four 48 minutes. And as I look at each of my products, I have different agents that have different responsibilities to and I have one, one guy who does a lot of our single sign on setup, he’s doing stuff on the database, doing a lot of back end type stuff, his tickets are much, much, much longer and and should be, you know, he might spend three hours on a ticket. And that’s actually faster than anyone else that company could ever do. And he does a great job for customers now have another no frontline tier one agent, and they might be spending five minutes on a ticket. And that one is taking way too long. Because it’s a two minute password reset with a macro and you don’t need to spend that much time on it. So I think being able to take that information and really understand what it is sort of organizationally so you can do big picture planning, but then also realising that you’re looking at something and sort of an aggregate and being able to look at the individuals and say, you know, not all these tickets are the same, not all of these support interactions are equal. And and we need to actually understand is it important for us to, you know, reduce the handle time or is it really important for us to take care of the customer and give a proper response so that they can feel good about it and have a good relationship with company. I think that’s what kind of what you were saying was management needs to understand, not just Hey, we’re trying to reduce numbers. But no, we’re this is what we’re aiming at. This is the important Northstar for our, for our team. This is what we’re driving at. And we’re looking at it through the context of these different these different metrics. And we’re trying to drive that not just reduce everything across the board.
Charlotte Ward 15:20
Yeah, exactly. The the average handle time isn’t the Northstar. It’s just the binoculars you look through. Right. I think that’s a great analogy. I’m going to use that again. Definitely. So let’s move on then. We’ve had some horror stories, let’s think about the best use of metrics we’ve seen. And in our experience so far.
Zeni Bandy 15:42
One of the best metrics I found that actually ended up being very motivating for the team was with phone support, specifically, measuring profit profitability, for the, for the for the calls that weren’t specifically about cancellations or something that, you know have nothing to do with it. And that actually really got buy in from the team, I can see how that also could be gamified or in a negative way or done in a very negative way. But it actually really created buy in and commitment and passion for this employee. And so I found that was we tested it and that worked really well. And we saw it continuously going up.
Greg Skirving 16:33
Every, every company I’ve been in, I’ve never liked the reporting that we’ve had, you know, I think you you look at the ticketing system, you get to KCS and, you know, maybe see sad and it’s it’s maybe incomplete doesn’t show the whole, the whole product group or region doesn’t show historical information. So what I end up doing is pulling all of that sticking in, in a big XML spreadsheet with a bunch of tables and create virtually every every metric that the team has an individual has. And that allows me to sit down with my team and start off with you do great here. You’re doing excellent over here. I know you’ve been working on this and see how that’s starting to rise over here looks like you’re struggling, how can I help? Everybody does something well, and it’s a great opportunity to to, you know, look at the whole thing. And, and, and start out with that.
Matt Dale 17:42
I think that’s a good point, Greg, making the data actionable is really important for what we’re doing. So to kind of go back to like, how are we be using this and you need to provide the context and all that stuff. We talked about the being able to say cool, here’s how this affects you in your life. Here’s how this affects your day to day your work product. Here’s how this fits into how we’re going to evaluate you. But really what the goal is saying how do we help? How do we help that individual agent or that team lead? Or the team in general? How do we help drive toward a specific goal? And if that if that if that metric, or that data that you’re presenting and sharing is actionable, then that’s awesome. If it’s not, then what’s the point? Why are we even collecting this? This isn’t this isn’t really helpful, you know, so So providing it in the right context, making it actionable,
Greg Skirving 18:24
really. And, and I’ll go back just a second that Greg, I’ll go back to, you know, these numbers are the questions are not the answers. It’s always easy to say, hey, how come you’re at the bottom? How will you know? Or you’re not trying to you’re not, you know, your whatever. That obviously provides the opportunity to say, How can I help, but but I always look at the people that are at the top posting the best numbers, you know, how are you able to do that? You know, you know, is there something that that you’re doing that we can share with the rest of the team. So, that’s just as compelling to me, in many cases, more so than obviously the people That might be struggling and might need a little help. And maybe at the bottom of those reports,
Matt Dale 19:05
I’ve been trying to build for years this report where it’s not quite there yet, because you know, we’re always trying to go look better. But like, I have a nest thermostat, right. And every month, Google used to be nest. Now Google sends out an email, it says, Hey, here’s how you’re doing. Here’s how you did this month, here’s how you did compared to last month. Here’s how you’re doing compared to the people in your neighbourhood or your specific area. And here’s some reasons why your usage of electricity may have changed from last month, it was hotter, maybe it’s cooler. But it’s really nice. It’s this nice little package of an email and it tells information about how my family is doing. And I can look at that and go up, you know, we use more than our neighbours because, you know, prior to everybody working from home, my wife or my kids were homeschooled. And so they would be home all day that I would want them to be comfortable in the house. And so yeah, like we’re probably using air conditioning, living in Southern California, the time using work conditioning, Okay, that makes sense, or, hey, here’s how you compare to last month and we really have been working on trying to reduce the amount of time that we’re really turning the air down to make it look cool. In the house, okay, you know, we can see that there’s some progress over last month and it, it captured kind of what I was looking for, that I didn’t even know I needed in this experience with the smart thermostat. And it’s the same kind of thing that I’d want to have for my agents kind of on a weekly basis. Here’s how you did this week, you know, how many tickets you’re deciding to kind of those key metrics that you’re looking at? Here’s how you did last last time period last week or last month, here’s how you compared to your teammates on your particular product or at your particular level. And kind of here’s as a team, how we’re doing and then using that as a springboard for in their, in their weekly one on one with their team lead to say, Hey, you know, how did you think oh, I did good here. Well, here’s here’s why, you know, my number suffered in this area, but it was because I had a really long call that I had to deal with with product and we were going back and forth and it perfect like the number was less than it was less than we expect you’re less than you’re aiming for. But there’s a really good reason for it. And the number isn’t the be all end all. It’s just part of that story to kind of say, Hey, here’s here’s what’s going on. Here’s how I can reflect on it. And so, yeah, I think I think that that’s what I want And I haven’t done an automated format to do that yet, but I’m working on
Craig Stoss 21:03
it. And I was going to say, I want to lift everything you’ve just said, and then apply it to the customer versus the agents, right? I think that some of the best uses of metrics I’ve seen are where we can say things like, you know, the customers who do this thing, are 90% more successful with our application? Or, or the customer or the opposite of that the customers who do this thing are less successful, and how do we either prevent them from doing that thing, or or educate them on why they may not want to do that, even though there is a valid use case to do it. So yeah, I reckon that that conversation was really, really great internally, but I think if you apply that exact same concept externally, you can get some incredible use metric and maybe this is diving too far into Customer Success and Support but you can still help to drive some real successful outcomes for your your customers using those exact same thoughts.
Unknown Speaker 21:58
Kind of like spend the the Data perspective, from like a personal or developmental standpoint, one of the area’s I’ve seen to be super advantageous is it’s interesting, especially coming into, you know, the other side of the BPO world where I’m no longer right, a client looking for BPO. But I’m inside the belly of the beast, I really get to look at that perspective, as well as channel what I’ve been able to see and do in my other capacities. There’s a clear lack of consistency for agencies and for agents in general that don’t have the area of visibility into in terms of their own numbers. Right. If you were to ask people, maybe some agents who are relatively new to the world of support, you know, how are you measured in terms of success? Do you have areas of ownerships in terms of your measures of accountability? Some of them probably might say, I don’t really know, or here’s what I’m told. I don’t really have an understanding of why I measured this way or why that’s important. But there’s something about actually giving everyone their own measure. Here’s how you can identify if you think if you’re doing your role well, and let’s talk about that. Add a context proponent of those of how that context will help you. But here’s your actual owner ownership when it comes to a number. And there’s something I’ve seen in the past about people being able to go in, pull their own number, and add their number to their scorecard amongst their entire team that send us to just give people some sense of ownership and accountability to the number they’re actually putting in that scorecard, to where they truly get a better perspective of, Okay, here’s my number. Here’s how my number compares to the rest of the team, kind of like what Matt said, How am I doing you comparison? And of course, I think one of the caveats of that scorecard approach, right, where every team member has visibility into everyone else’s numbers are, of course, that competition method you’re going to be just aware of. But I think it’s also important to make sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of you all are held accountable to similar degrees of the data that you’re looking at. value that understanding why it’s important to understand the bigger picture of how that comes into play. But now there’s no more ambiguity in terms of you understanding whether or not you’re doing your role. Well, you have your own measurement.
Zeni Bandy 24:03
I want to jump on that and say that I completely agree. And even bringing it back to the, you know, the metrics or questions, not answers. But anytime you do present metrics to people, I think it’s really important that you give them a chance to discuss it. They need to understand what’s going on. And when you saw like, one of the things that I did when I was leading a b2c company, that was the only touch point with the customer was with the, with the the metrics we looked at, I still gave an overall score. So even though they might have done good on one bad on the other, okay, on the third, the third that we were tracking, that that quarter, we still had an overall metric that had that talked more about their overall performance, and gave them of the month, not just the week, so that in that way, we can actually discuss it. And they could understand what was happening and have buy in and have their voices heard. And that made a big difference as well.
Charlotte Ward 25:09
That’s super interesting. Actually, Sandy, did you? How subjective was that overall rating? Was it like mathematically calculated based on the factors that you’re talking about? Or was there a layer of like, subjectivity to that that you brought,
Zeni Bandy 25:25
it was a bit subjective. The more I did it, the more objective it became. And then when I trained my team to do it, again, it they started a bit more subjectively and then became more objective. And I ended up not being a measure of how many, so I had a maximum number of bullet points that would come with each. So when we would talk about your work performance metrics specific, you could you would have five bullet points to talk about what that what that Mark was like, and if all five of those bullet points were great. And then you would get a five out of five. And then if two of them were good, and three of them are bad, you get two. And so it was subjective because as bullet points could be those bullet points might you have to decide how negative they are, maybe they’re more neutral. And so that’s where it got more subjective, but at least allowed kind of created some type of framework to understand how to grade people. But that that really just led to conversation too. And after giving a score and talking about these different points together, then I would always say do you think that this score is accurate? You know, and make sure they actually talked about it? Um,
Greg Skirving 26:41
I had a, I had a question, if I could just put one in here. Um, you know, we, we, we, we’ve talked a lot about what I call secondary metrics, like, you know, time to answer and things like that. And then, you know, we’ve got our bigger ones, how many cases are closed and cset? But really, you know, the key metrics are renewals. We, we want to provide a service so that our customers stay and just throw it up to the panel. Does anybody share that information? And in their team meetings, you know, what the renewal rate is? How many customers you potentially lost? Somebody share that information?
Matt Dale 27:19
I think it depends on your industry. I think there are some that are very geared towards like, I have a friend that does e commerce support. And I know they’re very interested in Hey, what are sales doing? What are we looking at returns, things like that, with my industry, we’re, you know, kind of business to enterprise or business to government and are, what we’re doing on a day to day basis, helping are the people that are calling in and writing in there not necessarily anything to do with the decision makers or anything like that. And so, that’s not a big picture metric that we try to talk as much about, hey, what is renewal look like? Our churn is an annual basis because we’ve got annual contracts and so and it because it’s a school year, it happens all in June. And so I think for our organisation that that’s not That’s particularly clickable. But there are other bigger picture company goals, where we try to say, hey, how do we how as a company, are we doing it? How does the services team are we doing toward this goal? How did the things that we’re doing on support tie back to these big picture goals that we hear the CEO and the CFO talking about? That way, the folks on the frontlines will say, this is what I’m doing right now. And this is helping push us forward, even though it’s not necessarily renewals like we’re, we’re adding to the renewals, and we’re helping on that because we’re moving this forward, because we’re getting this customer satisfaction. We’re, you know, we’re able able to help these customers in this way. So I think it’s really important to, as we, you know, talk about metrics. I know each one of us on this on this call are going to have a different perspective because we work in different industries, we have different customers, and understanding that that’s okay. There’s no magic metric perfect for all companies at all times. But saying, hey, how do I help help the people that I’m leading? How do I help them tie into that bigger picture company story of what we’re trying to accomplish? How do I help them see what they’re doing? That’s making a difference and, and help them change their behaviour in the subtle ways so that they can be even better than they are today. I think that’s the that’s the trick. And that’s the key and that that number changes all the time what we worked on last year is going to maybe be different than what we were doing this year because we have a slightly different focus. And I think that’s, that’s okay, so, Greg, your question like, do we share it specifically like renewal rates? Not necessarily but based on what our company is working on as a big picture goal? Those are the things that we’re talking about in our team meetings, those are things that I share in my weekly email updates where our whole support to like that
Charlotte Ward 29:33
yeah, there’s definitely a lot of variables their industry definitely mat you know, the, the stage of organisation, the type of customer, the other the other functions that you have and how mature they are within your organisation. So do you have a mature success team do you have how actually accountable our sales within your organisation and so many other things right. So and then I think that there there is a lot of variables there. And I think that, you know, that evolves in the lifespan of an organisation as much as it varies across industry. I would like to talk about evolution, then do you think our understanding of metrics and the use of metrics is changing right now, do you think do you feel we’re going through a period of transition? I know that in the support leadership 2.0 panel, I asked a very similar question about his support leadership evolving. And I think we kind of settled that this was more of a slow evolution for support leadership in general, but do you feel a tide in the way the industry looks at metrics? Do you feel a title change?
Unknown Speaker 30:45
Or do you ask this timing wise I was reading an article the other day I forget who it was, but it was talking about general trends and customer support and I was reading it and I was like, okay, but these trends aren’t different, like these trends are the same trends. They have been accepted. Maybe one giant pivot, right, I think we see a giant pivot in trends maybe every 10 years. I think this one’s currently is AI and machine learning, right? It’s all been the same in terms of like here trends, omni channel, social media engagement, that’s all been the same. And that probably came into play back in like, what 2006 when Facebook came into play, so there’s I feel like there’s there’s patterns of every 10 years, there’s some big pivotal change in support trends. I think we I think the support metrics area is still lagging behind that curve. I think what’s interesting is that, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of organisations and Matt and Craig have heard me like we talked about this before, but because it’s one of my favourites, but you know, it’s it’s still surprising to me that how many organisations don’t either understand the value or understand that it exists, right customer effort, as opposed to just relying strictly on customer satisfaction. That metric in itself i think is so out data, don’t get me wrong, there’s still value there. However, I think the challenge with that metric and specific is that the value interpretation, I don’t think is the same as to where it used to be, right customer satisfaction as a metric has been the holy grail of, here’s what we chase and why we chase it. But I don’t know if organisations truly understand that that’s the value they should be really getting from that measure, as opposed to what other metrics like customer effort exist for. So I think, I don’t know if if we’re going to see a tonne of innovation around metrics, I think the more businesses kind of have their hands forced and adapted into new times. That’s when we start to see a little more innovation come into play. But I think there are definitely still your standards of things that will always remain valuable. The question is how much value will they hold now versus 10 years from now?
Craig Stoss 32:53
I think the so I tend to agree with with tones right the the metrics are necessary. evolving right now we’re not in that evolution state. But one thing that I’ve seen is that as Customer Success becomes more important, there’s much more of tying of what support does to the success of the customer and those two teams being attached to the hip. And so well, I don’t have a specific metric to throw out there. I think that you know, these Customer Success tools that exist, which track things like number of tickets, number tickets by priority and start to kind of get customer health scores, and a number of that support directly contributes to I feel like that’s an evolution that I’m seeing so it’s not so much the metrics but it’s how we use those metrics to drive the outcomes we want to that I that I see more of an evolution.
Zeni Bandy 33:42
I agree I see that much more.Texting I’ve seen more customer care, customer care here. I’m more customer care and customer success teams being linked together. And and so that creates that creates a real interesting dynamic. But again, I don’t like like both Craig and Tony said, I don’t see an evolution in the metrics. And in fact, like, from a global standpoint, Europe isn’t even measuring cset a lot of money. It’s very rare that I even get this type of metric. So for him for it to really evolve in so many places, they really need to actually start measuring it. Because while while the cset, I think, has significant limitations, it still gives you some really good red flags. If you’ve never done it before, it will still give you information you didn’t already have. So there is a benefit from doing it and starting today.
Charlotte Ward 34:41
The interesting thing about cset as well as even if you don’t do it is generally widely understood by most people with their support people. Whether that whatever geography they’re in whatever whatever industry they’re in, most people understand what the, you know what the expression out of three smiley faces means or what A number from one to five means right? We can all interpret that and most people know what good looks like and see that. So it’s a really easy one to translate across organisations or translate within your organisation book. So it’s just so damn easy to implement, right? It’s just a flick of a switch in my CRM as well, you can get going with it really quickly.
Matt Dale 35:24
But I think if you kind of talk about, hey, there’s some that are problematic or don’t work as well as other metrics, I think if you can provide that context, and if you don’t take that as your single point of this is the be all end all. They can provide it helpful information, right? Like I can look and I can say, Hey, you know, like, we double volume during our busy season, which is from August until usually December. And during that time, obviously, things like C sat take a hit. We’re working really hard. We’re backlog. Teachers are frustrated because they’re in the middle of classroom and stuffs not working. And so our numbers are different during that But I can at least compare and kind of say, hey, how does it How did this team do this week versus last week on something that we asked, you know, several hundred tickets every, every, every week, and I can get a temperature check on kind of how customers happen to be feeling. It’s not again, the be all end all. But it like, Charlie, like you said, it’s a quick, easy one where I can say, cool. I know what this is. Our CEO understands what that means. And so I can kind of communicate a little bit of the truth of what’s going on in our team. Is it really something that helps me, you know, take direct action and make big changes? Probably not. But, but can it help me identify, hey, there’s a little hiccup over here or in some cases, while this person got a negative score, and the person gave feedback, and so they didn’t get an answer, cool, we can we can jump back in there and give that person the answer that or catch a mistake. And so so there can be some utility in this but I think and I think it’s important to realise that, you know, some of the other metrics that are out there and the other way to look at things may work really well for your particular company or industry right now, but they may not be very valid or or useful as you as you grow and change.
Unknown Speaker 37:03
One of the one of the interesting pieces that I’d love to see evolve over time here is gonna be not so much with the actual metrics. We are currently in play, but probably more from our perspective as support leaders, right in terms of making sure we choose the right ones that we want to actually utilise and measure against. I think there’s so many metrics out there that exist from occupancy, to customer satisfaction to reopen, look, there’s so many things that exist. But I think it can get overwhelming, quite honestly, for a lot of people, especially if you’re relatively new or haven’t quite figured out what you want to do. But I think that really just re emphasises how important it is for either us to sit with, you know, have some moments for ourselves and our team and or sit with the executive leadership and say, Hey, what is the intention behind the support team? What is our What’s our strategy? What’s our focus because that strategy and focus should help us drive to using the right metrics, versus just throwing spaghetti at the wall and see which one stick and which ones seem to make the most sense, right. So I think Think if there’s anything I think we could emphasise more and more over time with is making sure we understand what our intent is. It’s our intent quality, or is our intent quantity. And those are going to inform different decisions in terms of what metrics we actually want to put in play. based off of that rolling up into the overall vision of the organisation. I still think there are people who are struggling with that concept a little more, just in terms of focus on what the top down approach, right, what’s the strategy, and that should help me drive out what the rest of the levers that should be in play are?
Matt Dale 38:30
I think it’s really important on that point to to clarify if this is an aspirational goal of the organisation, or is this something that we actually want to, you know, actually live it out, and this is who we are. And I think that’s something that I’ve watched evolve in my company over the last nine years, where, you know, right now leadership is saying, Hey, we want to have world class support. And at the same time, when when I talk to the CEO, CFO and CEO, and we’re talking and saying hey, what should we staff, how should we set things up? The focus isn’t necessarily on Hey, let’s build world class support. It’s, hey, what’s an acceptable level of support and so then the metrics That I want to describe that reality are different based on our aspirational goal, maybe, you know, something that’s really awesome. And we’re world class, whereas in reality, we’re focused on how do we, how do we give our customers enough, so they don’t really hate us all the time, especially during our busy season, but, but also prevent from from going to a place where they’re gonna turn or they’re gonna cause a lot of trouble. And so, I think understanding the difference in those two scenarios is really important. And so, to your point, like, push back on that and make sure as a leader in your organisation, you’re understanding what, what are we really trying to accomplish here? Is it is it you know, doing whatever it takes to take care of the customer at the highest level? Cool, then we probably shouldn’t be focusing on average handle time because that that metric doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s helpful from a planning perspective, but we’re not trying to reduce that because we’re trying to we’re actually probably want to increase that because we want the customer to have an amazing experience. Is it you know, cheapest support possible with with what we have cool, then maybe we do need to reduce that number. Maybe we need to look at ways where we can, you know, push people off to a knowledge base or use some automated bots are things like that that can help us deflect, because those are two valid strategies, they have different consequences. But but the metrics behind those are going to be very different based on what your company is looking for. So as a young leader or someone that’s thinking about this, make sure you understand what your company truly values so that you can be looking at the right metrics.
Charlotte Ward 40:19
So as as we go through this kind of may be delayed change, as we as we trail behind some of the other other innovations in the industry and in sport in general, as Tony was saying the way metrics probably trail behind some of the other 10 yearly industry, defining changes that we see. And let’s think of it think then as far as we can about the future of metrics and what metrics might look like in support. Are there particularly any new measures on the horizon that you’re aware of that have caught your eye? Any new ways of using metrics and anything What’s the kind of sparkly stuff out there? That’s attracting your attention right now?
Craig Stoss 41:06
I had a really interesting conversation last week with a with a senior leader in support. And something he brought up that I think is fantastic in the area of metrics is, office support metrics are about deflection or reducing demand. Because in theory of support, if you consider support a call centre, reducing demand is a good thing, because then you cost less. And, and it was an interesting idea, because, you know, and this is more of his words than mine, but it was the support does provide a value. And so where are the metrics that show the value of support retentions because of support, the churn risks that are saved because of support the the attribution of when support does have a business impact in conversation while they’re solving a technical issue, though those types of things aren’t making Well, and so I’m really sparked a lot of things in my mind and how I could start measuring my team differently. And I think that there is a future there because I think more and more and something that I’ve always believed it’s something more and more that’s happening is support is not being seen as a cost centre, it’s being seen as a critical path to to customer engagement and customer success. And so as we move away from that cost centre mentality that traditional companies have, I think that metrics around value versus reduction in demand and deflection become more important.
Zeni Bandy 42:34
Charlotte and I have actually spoken about this as well, about talking using support as more of a profitability tool. And, and so I agree with what Craig said, how important it’s going to be in the future. And so one metric that I think is interesting that’s really tricky to track and this is more related to b2c again, is LTV, have customers who have interacted with customer support compared to LTV have customers in general, or customers that you know, have not interacted with support. And that was that’s something that I’ve been able to analyse. But I haven’t been able to set up recurring data. But I think that actually as well will be very valuable to have that as something that you can track over time and understand the trends. And again, give really give more impact for the business.
Unknown Speaker 43:26
Hey, you know, I will say this one again, because this one I think, has so much power behind it, but customer effort and I think the challenge with this as people started recognising the benefits behind it, are that satisfaction doesn’t necessarily mean loyalty. However, what’s been proven is customer effort reduction does in fact, mean loyalty. And actually we were, we have the opportunity at my last organisation to you know, I joined the company back in 2016. And within a month rolled out this entire effortless strategy and we have that in play for about that. Three years, actually, it’s still in play that no of Today, more than four. But then about two years, we actually had sat down with our bi team and said, Okay, let’s look and see what the financial impacts have been with customer effort as opposed to customer satisfaction. And what that looks like over time, right? Kind of what thing is talking about, like, what does it look like over over the course of time. And what we found was we had a, we had over 6000 survey responses, I think maybe like 6600 per customer effort. And of the 60 695% of them had said they either that the company had either they strongly agreed or that they agreed that the company had made their effort eat or maybe their reduce their effort along the way in support journey. So we looked at all of those 95 that 95 percentage of those, how many of them were first time orders, how many cars would be to see So how many of them are first time orders and what What was the repeat purchase propensity over those who may be ranked one to five. And we saw some interesting numbers, we saw some numbers that showed us like the repeat purchase propensity for those who ranked six or seven out of the scale of seven bots, two times more often, that there, HIV was increased, that the opportunity cost between those who rank six or seven versus those who ranked one, I think, through four was like somewhere north of $40,000. So it was a really interesting opportunity to associate effort reduction into that long term journey of here’s where we can see our values actually, a little more of a granular one that I think is starting to see its way more and more with e commerce specifically, if we think about chat, specifically conversion rates, right, I think especially as an e commerce understand the benefits behind those chat windows in that in that cart category or that cart page, actually Being able to attribute how many chats have gone through that actually ended up converting versus those that didn’t go through chat that didn’t convert, and actually being able to associate those numbers appropriately to so that’s been a really interesting lesson, especially for those become brands that have subscription models as well. So those are, I think, you know, echoing the very similar sentiment of both me and Craig to where we’re driving value is where we should start to see a lot of this evolution. But again, is that really changing? Right is that is AI that we’ve seen in the industry? Maybe not, I think we’re still gradually rolling along the road here. But it takes time as I think this industry is, is very familiar with, right? It takes time for huge changes to happen, then it takes time to evaluate those changes, and then figure out what we have at our disposal to make sure that change actually makes sense to do going forward. Right. So there’s all of this iteration involves, as you look at terms of value and with a proposition comes into play, but I think We’ll we’ll start seeing more of that, as those companies start to change their mindsets, right from cost prohibitive to causing damage.
Charlotte Ward 47:09
I think there are just so many metrics aren’t there that we can draw on? I think that’s part of the complexity with support. And I think we can have big philosophical debates about which ones are right for an organisation at any point in time and which ones you want to reduce like Craig was just saying a minute ago is, is deflection a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? Do you want to deflect conversations with customers to reduce the time spent on supporting those customers by your team, which is a scalability factor or do you actually want to increase customer touches and spend more time with your customers, and I just think, possibly more than almost any other business function, there’s the whole the whole arena or the whole way support and customer care and like technical support or customer service, wherever I’m That spectrum you fall, that the number of metrics that you can apply to it, uh, probably, you probably have more available to you than almost any other function in the business. Almost any other function in the business is probably only talking to potentially even something as simple as one measure of success. How much did you sell this quarter? Right? It’s kind of It’s that simple. I know, there are other functions that have more complex metrics and more complex message measures of success. But I think support is way out there in terms of what we can draw on. Right. And I think that there’s so much available to us. And I think that even now, never, never mind what’s on the horizon. I think even now, the way that we fight, the way that we have those conversations internally where we find the right interplay between all of those things is really individual, as we said before, but it’s also the kind of philosophical approach to it is I think that interesting one, that kind of culture within the organisation is really important. I think that is a journey of discovery probably every year, as Matt was saying before.
Greg Skirving 49:06
I heard a lot about perspective there. You know, we talked about the perspective of the customer making it easier on them. Craig talked about support actually bringing value, but it’s viewed as a cost centre. I know for me personally, you know, I, I want to look at my people and say, you know, you’re just as responsible for retaining these customers, as anybody else in this organisation. You know, I think that’s, that’s a critical message that drives the right behaviour for people and letting them know that no, they’re not a cost centre, you know, you you, you’re critical to the success of the business and retaining customers.
Charlotte Ward 49:49
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I want to get to the final thing which I like to wrap up every panel with which is getting You’re thinking about how we distil this marvellous conversation into your one piece of advice. I’m going to come to you tones first. And I hope you’re ready. Because I’m going to ask you, what is your one piece of advice when it comes to metrics for the future?
Unknown Speaker 50:21
Don’t be afraid to innovate with your metrics. But when you innovate, the caveat there is be aware, be cognizant of behaviours that could emerge from that be cognizant of the messages that could come from that. But also don’t let that stifle you from embracing something potentially new. Because unless you decide to reinvent the wheel, because it will need some reinvention, I think you’ll consistently be in the same box that everybody else is in. So don’t be afraid to innovate, but just keep your wits about you when you do.
Greg Skirving 50:57
I’ll go next. And as you know, I’m pretty pregnant. And I said this to start with numbers so the questions they’re they’re they’re not the answers, you know, pick your metaphor know the data devils in the details. You know something may be up this month but there’s an explanation because or something may be down because there’s something else is up or somebody’s working on a project so they’re not the gospel you have to spend a little bit of time understand research and and figure them out of the questions, not the answers.
Matt Dale 51:29
Mine’s kind of practical from a very recent experience. When you’re doing metrics and sharing them with people make sure that you’re actually updating the date ranges that you’re looking at. I’ve for the last six weeks, I’ve been sending out an email to my team with the same report out of three reports that I share. It’s got the same data every time because I selected a hard hard coded date range rather than a a trailing weekday range and so I didn’t notice it and look kind of goofy when finally someone said, hey, these numbers and don’t look like they’ve changed much and it’s like oh, shoot. So you know, be aware of how you’re creating the metrics where you’re pulling your data from making sure that it’s actually valid and correct. So that you’re you’re looking at real numbers and you can take really make real decisions based on those not just, you know, pulling the same thing week over week and mess it up that way. Awesome.
Charlotte Ward 52:18
Yeah. I think we’ve all been there with a dashboard or a slide, right? Or a newsletter or an email, whatever it is. Yeah. Zeni what’s your one piece of advice?
Zeni Bandy 52:31
Okay. Okay. So this is more for earlier stage companies. I would make sure you take the time to sit in meetings of other business leaders to understand what metrics they’re checking their tracking and how they’re talking about it. So that when you are having those same conversations with your CEO or executives in your company, you’re able to articulate yourself in the same way and tie in to those other metrics and how the metrics you’re tracking are relevant to what you’re looking at.
Craig Stoss 53:04
Yeah, one thing that that I always believed in is looking at trends over individual metrics. And so by that, I mean, you know, is 80% cset? Good? I don’t know, is it better than last month, you know, is what’s the trend is the trend up or down and I believe in this and everything from from kind of the support and traditional support metrics, CS included and see sad NPS but also in performance management, you know, I don’t like when when you have these tools that say, oh, rate rate and employee on their, you know, scale of one to five, because I think a three trending down is much different than a to trending up, you know, and so, when it comes to metrics, my advice is, is think about trends over individual metrics.
Charlotte Ward 53:48
Thank you, everyone, for your time today. I think the one thing that I’m going to take away from this myself is that metrics are slower moving then a lot of other their ideas and support, we are stuck somewhat to our ideas of the past, to our habits of the past, to our measurements of the past.
And I think that metrics are evolving. And I think that we just have to be a bit more patient. And I think that, with that patience, we will achieve a greater and wider understanding of the good that we can accomplish with the right measures, both through our teams for our customers, and for our wider organisations as well. Thanks so much everyone. That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/107 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.
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