Harry Obsessively exploring the depths of consumer psychology... Then writing about it.

Why you’re probably measuring the wrong customer support metrics. (And which ones you should track instead)

4 min read

Have you ever had one of those embarrassing moments where a friend or a customer support colleague reaches out to you with their palm in the air and a huge expectant smile on their face? If you’re like me, you’re probably left a little confused – but your friend is assuming that you’re about to land a perfect, celebratory high five. But of course, your aim is way off and you completely mess it up.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of these awkward moments.

But it turns out the problem isn’t my inherent awkwardness or mal-coordination. The problem is that I wasn’t paying attention to the right thing.

Wait – what do high fives have to do with customer support metrics?

Let me explain.

When you go for a high five, you track the most obvious thing in front of you. Usually, it’s the palm coming towards you – or the face of your fellow high-fiver…

But according to high-fives experts (yes really), that’s not where your attention should be.

To get a perfectly connecting high-five every time, you should be looking at the elbow. Not the face or the hand!

And it’s a similar situation with tracking customer support.

According to the Service Desk Institute’s Benchmark Report, the majority of customer support teams track the trajectory of their success with the two most obvious metrics:

  • Customer satisfaction survey results
    and
  • Number of tickets resolved

Some teams track a huge range of metrics. Everything from Daily Agent Absenteeism to Cost per Minute of Handle Time.

Paying attention to the wrong things while high fiving often results in missing the mark. So it’s the case that tracking only the customer satisfaction and ticket resolution metrics also misses the mark. And even if you’re tracking a huge range of other metrics – with no strategic direction, this means you miss out on improving the efficiency of your support team.

So what are the most important customer support metrics to track?

We’ve all heard of the Pareto Principle (or the 80 – 20 rule). You can collect all manner of information on your team performance. And they may all be helpful and useful metrics. But there are just a couple that make, by far, the biggest difference to overall customer support performance. These are the foundational metrics for your team:

  • Cost Per Ticket
    and
  • Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (but not through surveys)

Customer satisfaction (CS) is clearly an important concern. Great customer satisfaction not only reduces churn, but it also means customers are more likely to recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

But the issue is that quite often, teams use surveys as their only measure of satisfaction. Surveys are generally pretty inaccurate. Some contain 30 questions, some have just one. Some involve multiple-choice questions. Others are conducted with in-person interviews. Couple that with differing scoring scales, invalid methodologies, biased questioning and you can see how variable and inaccurate the result can be.

So what are the biggest drivers for customer satisfaction?

The biggest causative factor is your First Contact Resolution rate (FCR). Basically, the number of tickets resolved at the first contact your customer makes. And if, as a customer, you’ve ever been passed from one department to another – like a pinball in a confusing corporate machine, you can easily understand why this would be such a strong factor of customer satisfaction.

The second most important factor (perhaps counterintuitively) is your Agent Job Satisfaction rate. The reason there’s a strong correlation with how happy your agents are and how happy your customers are is not immediately obvious.

But it does become quite clear when you oversee an agent who’s overworked – they’ve got an endless queue of tickets, and every extra second they have to spend with a customer means the queue is only getting longer. They’re tired, frustrated, and unhappy – and this comes out as impatience and unhelpfulness for customers.

Cost Per Ticket – your measure of efficiency

The majority of teams don’t know their Cost Per Ticket (CPT). But working out your CPT is reasonably simple:

Take your monthly operating expense and divide it by your monthly ticket volume.

Your operating expense is a combination of:

  • Salaries and benefits – both for agents and for secondary staff (such managers, supervisors, QA personnel, etc.)
  • Technology and telecoms expenses.Facilities expenses (office space, utilities, insurance, etc.)
  • And miscellaneous expenses (like training, travel, office supplies, etc.)

So what are the most important drivers of CPT?

The number one causative factor is your Ticket Handling Time. If your agents are able to handle more tickets in a day, then their performance in relation to their cost increases.

The second most important factor is your Agent Utilization rate. That’s basically how much of your agents’ time is spent on helping customers (rather than some other low-value activity). But there’s a balance. If you try to force Agent Utilization too high and over-work your agents, your Agent Job Satisfaction falls, and your staff turnover increases.

Customer Satisfaction and Cost Per Ticket – the yin and yang of customer support

Yin and Yang exist in a constantly shifting state of balance. Push too hard for CS and your CPT goes through the roof… Push too hard to increase your CPT and it will likely impact your CS (and staff turnover – which, like a chain reaction, actually lowers your CPT!)

Your aim is to get the best level of CS at the lowest possible CPT. Paying attention to these two key metrics is like paying attention to a fellow high-fiver’s elbow – it allows you to intuitively hit the mark – with less effort and a greater reward for your team and your business.


Coview is like a high five between CPT and CS!

If your team supports a website or a web app of any kind, then you’ll find that Coview will take the efficiency of your team to the next level. 

Coview is a tool that allows your agents to help customers visually on their own screen. 

So, say a customer is having trouble working out how to use her dashboard. She simply clicks the live chat button on the page and your agent can suggest to help her directly onscreen – once she agrees, he immediately appears on her screen as a second cursor and shows her exactly where to click and what to do. 

And best of all, this is super quick and easy – both for your agent and for the customer. No plugins or screen sharing tools to install.

Meaning your Ticket Handling Time is decreased dramatically (try explaining the same operation by text!)

And because Coview also offers a host of error reporting tools, your First Contact Resolution rate skyrockets. 

Ticket Handling Time and First Contact Resolution are the key drivers for slashing Cost Per Ticket and boosting Customer Satisfaction. Meaning Coview is the ideal way to elevate the two most fundamental drivers of customer support team success.

So why not see how easily and quickly you can improve the two most important metrics of customer support.

Try Coview for free

Harry Obsessively exploring the depths of consumer psychology... Then writing about it.