So, no matter if you are just you and your co-founders or you are running a customer success team in full throttle, you will be involved in supporting your customers using different tools ranging from the plain old e-mail, to specialized software like Intercom and Zendesk among others.
Like with everything in business, from early on you need to measure the processes you have defined and execute and the same also applies in customer support. In this way, you will be able to assess your strategy, to understand what works and what not and iterate on the processes to improve them. No matter, what tools we use for customer support, data are generated, data that you can use to understand, monitor and improve your customer support strategy and execution. You can go as wild as you want with your data, from maintaining real-time dashboards to joining your data with other sources coming from sales, product, and marketing to building predictive models by involving your data science team. Of course to do the more complex stuff, you will need to be at scale with your business where large amounts of data are produced, but the plain old dashboards are always important, from your first steps to when you will be handling thousands of customers. For this reason in this post, we’ll see how we can build a dashboard for a number of KPIs that are important to understanding the performance of our communication with customers.
We’ll do that by assuming the use of Intercom although the principles are the same no matter what tool you use for communicating with your customers. All you need is a way to pull the data out of it and a database to store the data.
Quick Intro to Intercom
Intercom is a platform for communicating with your customers from different channels and for different reasons. Of course, one of the reasons that someone would use Intercom is to offer support to her customers. Intercom is also offering a product specifically for that. Additionally, Intercom maintains a web API that can be used for pulling data out of it, so it is possible to extract it from the platform and then load it into a database to build dashboards and perform ad-hoc analysis as needed. In other customer support systems, you will find the concept of “Ticket”, a user creates a ticket, your support team gets notified and then a conversation emerges through various channels. Intercom as a platform built around the concept of communication, has the concept of conversation instead, which of course can be instantiated because the customer seeks support, which is similar in creating a ticket. In any case, what is important is the communication between the customer and the support teams no matter if you are using a “traditional” ticket system or not.
From now on we will assume that we are using Intercom and that we have already figured out how to pull the data out of it and load it into a database, its data model looks like this.
It’s worth having a look at this model as it will help you identify potential questions that you can answer with your data, also a more technical review of the data coming from Intercom can be found here.
What metrics we should measure for customer experience and support
As in every case, like sales, product etc. also in customer support we are looking to define metrics related both to the process and the team. We need to understand how the process is executed and for each part of the execution figure out what to measure. Of course, as this process is executed by people, we also need to come up with good metrics that will help us understand how our people perform.
Intercom, at least when using the Lite version of Intercom Support, offers a dashboard that will help you have an overview of how your customer support process behaves and it includes the following:
- How many new conversations were created in the last: 7, 28 & 90 days Query
- In which day, day of Week and Hour of day conversations were created. Query, Query
- The median first response time for a period of 7, 28 & 90 days. Query
- And finally how busy your team was for the same periods. It reports how many replies each one of your team members has sent and home many conversations closed.Query
For each one of the KPIs that you can find in the default Intercom dashboard link to an SQL query is provided to recreate it using your own database.
Even this simple dashboard can help you understand how your customer support process performs.
- It gives you an indication of the number of issues that were created
- How fast you reacted to the inquiries of your users
- And finally how your team performs in supporting your customers.
Recreating such a dashboard is easy but the real value of having your data in your own database or data warehouse is in defining your own KPIs and executing your own analysis. This is important because what matters to you regarding customer support might be completely different from what a platform with pre-defined dashboards can offer. Every business is different, it defines KPIs in a different way and of course, a platform that is focusing on offering the best product for communicating with customers cannot offer a fully customizable environment for measuring and tracking metrics.
For example, some companies might want to measure their performance when it comes to how good the service they offer, by tracking how long it takes from the issuing a new ticket to its first response. This is also what Intercom offers, although median is only one statistic, as we can have more statistics, providing a more complete view for this specific KPI, see query here. For others, it might be more important to measure how long it takes to close a ticket, which can also be found easily with this query. Of course, we can measure both and have an even more complete view of what is going on.
It is also quite easy to go much deeper and track more KPIs like the following.
- How many of the tickets we have, need to escalate to more than one of our customer support team members? Probably a more senior one has to be involved or even someone from the R&D team. It is easy to do that with this query.
- How many messages do we have to exchange before a resolution to a problem is found? This can be another KPI of how well we perform and it can easily be tracked using this query.
- Who is the champion of our support team? We can see this by calculating the resolution team for each member of our team, see query here.
The above are just a small fraction of the questions you can get an answer for from your data, by just pulling them out of Intercom and using a database. For more questions and queries you can check here and please let us know of the KPIs that you find useful and that we could add to the list to also help others.
Building your Dashboard
So far we mentioned only KPIs, questions, and queries that we could execute to get some answers. Having a dashboard where these KPIs are visualized by feeding it with the results of the associated queries, it’s important. It offers easy access to the information we need when we need it. Building such a dashboard is a matter of taste, you can build your own from scratch or you can use one of the numerous platforms that can visualize query results from a database. You can read here a big list of possible tools that you can use.
Having access to your customer support related data is key for optimizing your performance in this important aspect of your business. The good news is that there are plenty of different tools out there for:
- Pulling your data consistently from the services that you use
- Store and query the data
- And finally for visualizing the results in an organized way that will help you get a birds’ eye view of what really matters whenever you need it.
All you have to do is to focus on what really matters and this is the questions that you need to ask yourself, your team and your data to build the best customer success experience out there.