Benchmarks for digital customer service success

Customer expectations for digital customer service are rising, and in a hyper-competitive market, it’s important to regularly benchmark your performance against your competitors so that you have a firm understanding of how you stack up. By measuring your performance against the rest of the industry, you can identify any shortcomings you may not have been aware of. It will also help you to set meaningful goals to work towards.

When benchmarking, there are two important rules to follow

You must use high-quality data: It’s not enough to gather benchmarking data haphazardly. You must ensure there is a consistent approach to gathering data, and that the data you gather is monitored for completeness and accuracy. In addition, you need to collect enough data to be meaningful; if you have only a limited data set to analyze, you will not be able to draw any meaningful conclusions.

Avoid comparing apples and oranges: When making comparisons, you need to make sure the things you are comparing are analogous. For instance, if you are comparing your performance to a competitor that has many more employees, or that supports channels you don’t, that will make a difference.

While there’s no hard and fast rules for benchmarking success, since benchmarks can vary widely from industry to industry, there are some overall business trends to be aware of.

Important trends

Most companies are not responding to customer emails: It might sound like stating the obvious, but when your customers contact you over digital channels, you need to respond. And yet, according to a recent study:

  • 62% of companies don’t respond to customer service emails
  • 90% of companies don’t send acknowledgements that an email has been received

Companies that do respond to emails are too slow: According to that same study,

  • Only 20% of companies are able to answer customer questions in full on the first reply
  • The average response time to handle a customer service query is 12 hours and 10 minutes

The lesson here, if nothing else, your company can get ahead of the game with an email customer service strategy that ensures prompt and complete replies to customer service queries via email.

What if I want to do more than the baseline? 

Assuming your company wants to do more than the bare minimum (and why wouldn’t you?), here are some baseline metrics that you should at least be meeting for email and social:

  • Acknowledge 100% of customer emails upon receipt
  • Time to first response: 60 minutes
  • Resolution without escalation: 69%+
  • Customer satisfaction: 85%

For live chat, Facebook messenger, or other instant messengers, here are the metrics to meet or beat:

  • Time until first response: 58 seconds
  • Total handle time: 14 minutes
  • Time per response: 3.9 minutes
  • First resolution rate: 70.2%
  • Chat abandonment rate: 13.1%

The good news is if you’re already meeting these metrics, you’re ahead of most North American companies. And even if you’re not currently meeting these metrics, acting now to implement a digital customer service strategy with these targets will still put you ahead of much of the competition.

Benchmarks for success, summarized

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About the Author: Anna Kreider