7 Customer Service Operational KPIs All International Businesses Should Measure

April 27, 2021

To maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty across the globe, companies need to keep their finger on the pulse of multiple connected categories of analytics that fall under the scope of language operations

In part one of our KPIs of Language series, we examined some of the most relevant customer-centric metrics that customer service teams should use to measure the success of their multilingual translation efforts.

Equally as important are the customer service KPIs that managers rely on to assess the productivity and performance of their internal teams and agents. The three areas of metrics that all customer service managers should focus on are 

  • Language flexibility 

  • Performance improvement 

  • Cost savings 

Let’s take a look at each of these groups of customer service operational KPIs and how they fit into the broader picture of multilingual support for an international business. 

Measuring language flexibility and agility 

Monitoring KPIs that relate to language flexibility allows you to see if your teams are able to provide a high-quality customer experience across all languages. By identifying any problem areas in your CS operations as soon as possible, you can work to find a solution quicker and keep customers satisfied. 

Customer service KPI #1: Average first response time (FRT)

The average first response time refers to the average number of minutes or hours that pass between a customer raising a ticket and an agent submitting a response. When you break this metric down by language, you can get an idea of where there is room for improvement with specific languages. For example, if your first response time for Spanish and French is 12 hours, but for Korean it’s 48 hours, you’d know there’s a bottleneck or constraint that’s likely hurting your customer service quality (and reputation) with Korean-speaking customers. 

Customer service KPI #2: Tickets responded per hour per language

Measuring your customer service teams’ tickets responded per hour per language is another good way to get a better understanding of which languages you’re able to serve quickly and effectively versus which languages you’re struggling to address. The goal is to be able to focus on all customers equally, no matter where in the world they’re located. For long-tail languages that may not be as common among your customer base (Polish, Vietnamese, etc.), you might consider using an AI machine translation solution to improve your tickets responded per hour. 

Customer service KPI #3: Average agent onboarding time

Often overlooked or undervalued, the average agent onboarding time across all of your customer service employees can be a good indicator of how long it takes to start producing value. If you service any languages where onboarding time is especially high, leverage technology such as chatbots, machine translation, and call center automation.  This helps you decrease average agent onboarding time and get your team up to productive speed faster. 

Driving performance improvement 

Monitoring this category of KPI will enable you to develop better strategies for improving customer service team performance and productivity. This will also help you quantify the impact that introducing a new method or tool into your workflow has on customer satisfaction and retention. 

Customer service KPI #4: First contact resolution rate (FCR) 

Tracking your first contact resolution rate (FCR) is a good idea: FCR measures the percentage of support queries that are resolved successfully during the first interaction with a customer.

Further breaking that definition down by channel:

  • For phone support that means resolving the problem in a single call.

  • For email support that means resolving the problem in a single response.

  • For live chat support that means resolving the problem in a single chat session.

When setting FCR goals for your team members, keep in mind that long-term research from MetricNet found that an FCR around 90% is considered very good, while rates at 40% or lower are considered to be poor. 

For companies that provide multilingual customer support, a range of factors including accuracy, fluency, and style affect translation quality and whether or not either party is able to get their ideas across on the first try. Even multilingual human translators may be less proficient at communicating the nuances of one of their practiced languages versus another. When introducing a new support team, translation tool, or BPO provider, be sure to monitor that each has a positive or, at the very least, neutral impact on your FCR. 

Customer service KPI #5: Average customer satisfaction score per agent

Referenced in the first blog of this series, average CSAT score per agent is a good example of a metric that is both a customer-centric KPI and an operational KPI. Not only can it be used to track agents’ performance over time, but it can serve as a basis to gauge the effect that process tweaks have on an individual or a team as a whole. For example, you could assess the CSAT scores of a single agent before and after implementing a language operations solution to help measure its impact.

Realizing cost savings

Tracking customer service KPIs that directly affect your bottom line is a must, as overall profitability is what high-level stakeholders care about the most. Of course, the above KPIs factor into this equation as well, so it’s important to maintain a holistic view across all customer service operations KPIs to determine the true ROI of a new tool or change in process. 

Customer service KPI #6: Headcount variation

Keeping track of your headcount variation across all of your customer teams is useful for evaluating the impact that operational changes have on your bottom line. On one side, having an erratic headcount variation due to a high turnover rate is not good, to say the least. Harvard Business Review discovered that, when you factor in things like onboarding time and productivity fluctuations, the total organizational cost of turnover can be worth up to 300% of the exiting employee’s salary.

Take, for example, a company that has a seasonal headcount variation. In low-volume seasons, fewer agents handle fewer requests. Some technologies allow team headcount to remain stable, even during high-volume times, by increasing the productivity of each agent. This produces considerable cost savings. For example, an AI machine translation solution could eliminate language constraints so that one English-speaking team would be able to effectively service multiple languages with ease. 

Customer service KPI #7: Cost per contact

Cost per contact is calculated by dividing your total team costs by the number of customer contacts they’re able to respond to across a given period. This metric is a crucial part of your cost-benefit analyses — if it takes one team much longer to do the same amount of work as some of your other employees, finding a solution (like customer service AI) to lower that team’s cost per contact should be a high priority. 

Integrating customer-centric KPIs with operational customer service KPIs 

By taking into account these seven metrics for measuring CS teams’ success along with the customer-centric KPIs that indicate customer satisfaction and loyalty, you will have a more comprehensive view of where your organization stands in the current global market. Having a data-backed CS strategy and constantly looking for ways to improve your language operations will help you outpace the competition and stay prepared for any challenges the future may throw your way.

About the Author

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Sophia Malina

Sophia Malina is Director of Customer Success at Unbabel. With a demonstrated history in customer success and the internet industry, she leads the team by establishing and building customer relationships to promote customer retention, trust, and loyalty.