3 KPIs for your customer support team to adopt in 2016

3 min read
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Often, customer support teams use KPIs that measure how busy your team is, but they don’t actually identify ways to provide better support and service. For example, common KPIs such as number of tickets or resolution time let you understand the basic flow and volume of support cases. But, they don’t help you understand the root causes that are leading customers to need to contact your support team – or even how much time and resources each support case requires. We’d like to share three KPIs that aren’t common, but should be part of how you measure your effectiveness.

1. Cases generated per product (or product feature)

The simplest way to provide better customer support is simply for your customers to be self-reliant and not need to ask for help. Often, you’ll find that specific products, or features within products, are most troublesome for users. The features are responsible for the bulk of support tickets that are created. Here, you’re simply analyzing your total volume of support cases and looking at the product or feature that each ticket concerns. You might group cases into batches such as:

  • User creation and password resets
  • Reporting
  • Integration
  • Etc.

From here, you can start fixing the areas in your product responsible for the highest amount of support cases. Start by shoring up your documentation and knowledge base. Do you have simple, high-fidelity instructions that users can follow? You’ll also want to partner with product, user-experience and engineering teams to simplify these areas of your product so that they’re intuitive for customers to use.

2. Cases to knowledge base visits

When customers need product support, the ideal outcome is they can easily research and solve the problem on their own using your knowledge base and documentation. With this metric, we’re answering a key question: do customers that request support first visit our help center?

Often, there are several problems with your knowledge base:

  • Customers don’t know it exists or where to find it
  • Customers cannot find documentation to resolve their issue
  • Customers cannot follow the documentation or instructions

All of these problems cause customers to by-pass your knowledge base and contact your support team for help.

How do you create this metric? You’ll have to do some digging.

First, you’ll need to look at each support case. Next, you’ll need to look at each specific user that submitted the case and identify if they visited your help center before contacting you. The good news is that you can easily identify this by using basic analytics packages within your app, website or help center. Note: you will want to set a window for a specific time period between when the user visited your knowledge base and when the ticket was created. For example, your metric might be: “Percent of support tickets where the user visited the knowledge base within 12 hours before contacting support.”

How do you use this metric?

First, you’ll want to identify if customers that contact support actually visit your help center or read your documentation. If most of your customers aren’t using your knowledge base, you’ll want to start by creating awareness for your knowledge base. You could do this by telling customers about your knowledge base, adding links in your product to your knowledge base, or even integrating your knowledge base directly into your software or app. Next, you’ll want to identify if customers visiting your knowledge base are still submitting tickets. If they are, this means your documentation is ineffective. You’ll want to identify gaps in your documentation, add new content, and even experiment using new content such as video for support.

3. Replies per support case

Support tickets that require multiple exchanges are just as bad as new support cases. Multiple exchanges frustrate your customers and continue to consume your support team’s time. Sure, you probably measure resolution time, but that metric is flawed. It doesn’t account for how much time it takes your customers, and your team, to solve an issue.

Replies per support case help you measure:

  • Are you solving a customer’s issue on the first try?
  • Are your support agents receiving the information they need from customers to provide precise answers?
  • Do you have documentation readily available to send customers?
  • Are customers able to easily understand and implement the instruction your support team sends?

Often, your support agents may not fully understand the issue a customer is facing. This leads to multiple emails and calls to gather more information. And vice-versa, often your customers cannot understand the instructions provided to them, leading to multiple replies and calls.

How do you use this metric?

If it’s often taking multiple interactions and round trips to solve a customer issue, you’ll want to see how you can make your customer and agent interactions more efficient.

  • How can you get better information from customers? Can you get more details upfront? Can customers attach screen shots or screen recordings?
  • Do your agents have good information to share with the customer? Is your knowledge base complete and up-to-date with instructions to resolve common issues? Are agents sharing this content with customers that need help? Are customers able to easily follow these tutorials and solve their case?
  • Can you make it easier for your customers to follow instructions by sending videos, tutorials or in-app guides?

Reducing your replies per support case will lead to quick resolutions and happier customers. And, it will free up your support team to help other customers.


It’s key not to use support volume as your KPIs, but measure the root cause and issues that are consuming your team’s resources. Does your product have confusing features? Is your knowledge base effective? Are you able to quickly solve customer requests? These are all KPIs that affect your support team’s effectiveness, and ultimately, customer satisfaction and retention.

Adam Steinberg
Adam Steinberg is a co-founder of Breakout Room, a product that enables teams to communicate with customers and users over video and integrates with your help desk.