Measure Customer Service Quality, Not Just Call Time

The call time report is an often misunderstood customer service call center report. Too many customer service managers place too much emphasis on reports focusing the number of phone calls or the amount of time spent on phone calls. Phone call reports need to be taken in context because they offer no indication on the quality of service.

Let’s face it. Long calls, don’t necessarily mean bad service, I’ve seen superstar customer support people spend hours on the phone with a customer resolving a customer issue. This is a good thing, we need to encourage engagement in our teams and taking the time needed to solve the problem. I’ve also seen the other hand where individuals not comfortable with an issue will take much longer than needed to solve the problem, resulting in longer phone calls.

Measure Quality, Not Call Time

Call center metrics today, too often, are too focused on usage of equipment and not enough on helping customers. That’s probably why customer service today is measured in customer satisfaction and not customer loyalty. Zappos, the online retailer, has a reputation for awesome customer service and customer loyalty, without resorting to your traditional phone call metrics.

There are only 4 metrics questions you ever need to ask your customers. Zappos takes a unique approach to measuring their customer service work. Zappos doesn’t measure call times, in fact, they often tout stories about 6-hour support calls and have even sent inquiring customers to a competitor because they were out of stock in a particular item.

Zappos understands that customer service is much more than measuring call times or the number of phone calls an agent takes. If you are focused on calls times and discuss that with your team members, you’re not focused on the customer. Fortunately, real customer service, customer-focused, quality-based metrics aren’t hard.

The only 4 customer service metric questions you ever need to ask (call time is not one).

Customer-focused quality metrics are the gateway to great customer experience. Customers are looking for problems solved and not as much for a specific amount of time on the phone. Successful customer service is about creating great customer experiences where customers come away with a renewed sense of value from working with you, looking forward to work with you again, and willing and wanting to share about you with everyone they know. You don’t get that from a call time report.

You can follow the Zappos quality model and find how effectively you’re serving by focusing metrics around these 4 key questions (notice that call time is not included in any of these):

Question 1: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to recommend Zappos to a friend or family member?

Question 2: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to request the person you spoke with again?

Question 3: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to recommend this person to a friend or co-worker?

Question 4: On a scale from 1 – 10: If you owned your own business, how likely would you be to try and hire the person you spoke with?

Don’t throw out the call time report and other metrics. They can still be valuable.

Traditional call center metrics are valuable, in the right context. Call center metrics are part of the key to great customer service. Since great customer service and awesome customer experiences involve having team members available to work with customers, that’s where traditional metrics comes in, they give you an idea of where you need to staff people.

Call time reports shouldn’t be the primary measure of employee performance because they don’t give a full scope of the actual service being done. Instead, customer service and call center managers can implement the following practices for utilizing call time reports:

– Review long-term call times (over 1 month is best since shorter times lend to inaccurate information).

– Get average times for your entire team (compare only employees working similar shift hours).

For team members with statistically significant higher call times, review longer phone calls and look for potential issues causing slower service responses.

Incorporate findings into your on-going regular individual employee training, but not specifically pointing out that the training is being done because of longer times.
Why? Because you don’t want to have discourage employees from taking the time to help customers. You’re only addressing long call times if there is a legitimate need to address it. Good service is not a legitimate reason. That’s what you hope for.

The next time you see the call time report, take a minute and think about what it really means. There’s a lot of good, quality customer service taking place in those precious minutes.

Flavio Martins is The Customer Service Management Coach [http:

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Are You Providing REAL Customer Service?

Customer Service in America is horrible at best. Search online for the term “customer service” and you’ll find hundreds of millions of results. So why is it so hard to get great service? Great service isn’t hard. It just takes thinking. Thinking about who you’re serving, what they need, and how to deliver it in a positive manner. There are two simple ideas that when followed, will help you create positive, consistent, experiences with your customers.

Focus on the 99%.

Why are companies always establishing new policies that annoy or anger 99.8% of its customers to take care of the 0.2% or less sometimes of those that may be the offender? Don’t you know that you have to take care of your 99% plus customer base or they’ll go elsewhere? We all know that as customers, but corporate America doesn’t believe that. It’s clear that they believe that we won’t go elsewhere so they can treat people however they want.

Here are a few suggestions to offering REAL customer service, not the current customer dis-service that is what we are currently getting from the corporate giants:

Don’t feel restricted by policies. If a customer wants a refund after 40 days (10 days past our 30 day refund deadline), just give it to them.

Requiring a receipt for a return is ludicrous. You have complex systems for tracking inventory, stocking, pricing, serials, etc. yet for me to return something I need to prove that it came from you by showing you a receipt? Please.

When a customer is frustrated over chat or just isn’t getting it, sometimes it helps to give them a call.

If a customer is upset, forget the policies. Give them a full refund. Give them something extra. Send them a free gift.

If a customer is angry that the product doesn’t work like they thought it would (even if it is a known incompatibility), replace it, better yet give them a new product that works free.

If a customer goes out of their way to write an email and thank us, send them a package with something free.

Respond quickly to emails and chats. Give customers on the phone the attention that is needed to quickly resolve the problem.

Win the customer.

Winning customers centers on the idea that your customers are not just the customers from the moment they walk in the door to your business or visit your Web site, etc. They are the customer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are always the customer. Companies have started to treat people as one time customers, and not as life-long customers. People are loyal to themselves first and if you don’t take care of them, they will go elsewhere.


People don’t know good service until they get it. When they receive good service they go, “Wow!” and make the choice to switch to the new service provider.

The customer is NOT always right, but they are ALWAYS the customer.

Don’t take the easy way out and say NO, find a way to say YES.

Don’t hide behind a policy, do what’s right.

99.6% of the customer were good compared to those that were bad, why create policies to hurt those good customers?

Nordstroms once took back and refunded a pair of tires. Nordstroms doesn’t even sell tires. They won that customer.

Just because we make a special situation for one person, doesn’t mean that everyone else will want that too! Make that customer happy.
Great customer service isn’t hard. But you have to always know and train to recognize the needs of the customer. Few companies set out to offer bad service, but many struggle in defining what is great service and end up offering mediocre service.

Great service means paying attention to what’s important in your customers’ eyes. What really counts for the customer? Are you consistently trying to do those things that make it count? Are your actions and policies creating great experiences and emotions that will be associated with your brand?

Flavio Martins is The Customer Service Management Coach. As a blogger and service fanatic, bad service keeps him up at night so he’s on a mission to make excellent service consistent, simple, and easy.

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