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Article 9 min read

A guide to customer service reports

Discover the reports that help you better understand and improve the customer experience.

By Kristen Hicks

Last updated October 28, 2020

The customer service requests your agents field have something valuable to tell you about your customers, product and business. More than that, the cumulative data produced by your customer service tickets can reveal key insights.

But to learn from the information included within all those requests, you need a good method for tracking and analysing them.

Any business that cares about providing an exceptional customer experience will benefit from developing a system for creating and learning from customer service reports.

What is a customer service report?

A customer service report is a presentation of customer service metrics that helps identify actionable insights related to the customer experience.

Customer service reports can include a number of different potential metrics that gauge the overall performance of your customer service team. They can be used to track how well you’re meeting your goals, and help you identify areas for improvement.

6 ways service reports contribute to customer satisfaction

Customer service reports provide business intelligence that can help you improve the overall customer experience your company provides in several key ways.

  1. Reports help customer service managers track the quality of service agents provide

    Customer service agents are on the front lines of the customer experience. The company needs to track how well they are meeting customer expectations and providing the level of customer satisfaction your brand aims for.
    Customer service metrics show customer support managers how well agents are performing on the whole, and how well specific agents are doing. They can then quickly identify when teams or individuals are not meeting their goals, and determine the best way to address these shortcomings and improve outcomes.
  2. They can motivate customer support agents to improve

    Customer service reports provide customer service agents a way to track their own progress. They can see how well they are meeting goals they have set for themselves, and identify ways to improve their performance.
    For many agents, the metrics function as a tool to incentivise them to meet customer needs better, as well as a way to show proven results that can help in their career prospects.
  3. They help the company track the volume of customer service tickets

    You can have the best customer service representatives in the business, but if customers regularly face long holding times on the phone, or wait days for an email response, their expertise won’t count for much. To keep customers happy and set your agents up for success, you need enough staff to respond to the number of enquiries coming in.
    Customer service reporting helps you track how many tickets come in during a given period, and identify when you need to scale up your team to address them all effectively.
  4. They clarify which channels customers use to contact you

    You don’t just need the right number of customer service representatives, you also need them covering the right channels.
    If your call centre agents spend most of the day waiting for calls to come in, while your social media team is consistently overwhelmed, customer satisfaction will suffer.
    Customer support reporting provides insights into how many agents you need covering each channel and at which times.
  5. They reveal areas for product improvement

    If a huge number of customer support tickets are about a particular product feature not working as expected, the company needs to know about it.
    Customer service reports can reveal important types of business intelligence. This can help the product development team create a better product; the marketing team develop better messaging; and your sales team ensure their pitch is accurate.
    Customer support is often the first department to learn about it when customer expectations of a product are not being met. Customer reports can reveal key business intelligence that’s beneficial to the rest of the company.
  6. They help you identify content gaps

    Much of the support your agents provide depends on the information they have access to in your knowledge base. They need content that helps them provide accurate answers to common customer issues.
    And 81% of customers express a preference for trying solving a problem on their own before contacting a customer support representative, according to Harvard Business Review. Publishing content that solves common customer problems can create a better customer experience, while also reducing the number of tickets customer service agents must manage.
    Customer service reports help with identifying opportunities for articles or video tutorials that explain how customers can solve common problems on their own. And if you realise agents are fielding questions that your internal support content does not adequately cover, you can determine what knowledge base articles or macros should be created to enable them to do their jobs better.

6 common types of customer service reports

Customer service reports are only useful if they include the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you better understand the customer experience you’re providing and meet your overall customer satisfaction goals.

Here are some of the KPIs that are commonly useful to include in a business report.

  1. First Reply Time

    Zendesk’s research shows a clear correlation between the time it takes for customers to receive an initial reply to a ticket and their overall satisfaction. That makes this an important metric to track. Pay attention to the breakdown of how long it takes in different channels, for different agents and for different issues.
  2. Customer waiting time

    Customer waiting time, sometimes called requester waiting time, is the combined amount of time a customer spends waiting for responses and answers in the total time it takes to find a resolution to their issue.
    Even if you knock the first reply time out of the park, if customers routinely spend long periods of time waiting for answers, their overall experience is likely to be negative. As with first reply time, note how this breaks down for different types of issues and for different agents.
  3. Time to full resolution

    Ultimately, one of the most important metrics for customer success is how long it takes you to fully resolve the issue at hand.
    If agents manage to get answers out fast, but customers end up having to repeatedly come back because the problem is not solved, prioritising response speed could end up prolonging the time it takes to find a real solution.

    Pro tip: For time-related metrics like these, looking at the median is usually more valuable than the average. The median figures won’t be skewed by outliers.
  4. Interactions per ticket

    Every time a customer has to follow up an open ticket, or provide additional information, they’re having to do more work.
    Agents should prioritise minimising the number of touchpoints required to solve a customer’s problem. To see how well they are succeeding, track the typical number of interactions per ticket.
  5. Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT)

    Most customer service metrics measure something that influences customer satisfaction. But CSAT scores are based on asking customers directly what they think. As such, they are usually among the most accurate measures available on how well your team is serving customers.
    That said, looking at CSAT scores in isolation can still be misleading. CSAT can provide an overview of how your team is performing, but it’s also valuable to look at how often people respond to CSAT surveys. An agent with a good CSAT average, but a low response rate, may not be pleasing customers as much as the average makes it look.
  6. Number of incoming tickets

    This is less about gauging customer service performance, and more about helping customer service managers determine the staffing levels required to provide adequate customer service.
    When you break this metric down, you’ll get more out of it. Knowing how many tickets or enquiries are coming in by channel tells you where you need to do the most hiring. And tracking which days and times of day are busiest helps ensure you schedule agents at the right times.
    Tracking the number of incoming tickets can also help identify issues with the product. A big rise in tickets within days of releasing a new product update tells you something’s not working right, or the changes are not intuitive.

How to create and use customer service reports

At some companies—particularly small or new businesses—creating customer service reports requires putting data about customer service interactions manually into a spreadsheet. This can make the process tedious, and make it harder to pull useful insights out of the data. And creating customer service reports is only useful if your company puts the information to good use.

What’s become more common, and works better for most companies, is investing in customer service software which automates the creation of customer service reports.

A good customer service reporting tool:

  • Removes most of the work from the process of collecting customer service metrics

  • Puts the data into a format that enables you to understand and use what you learn more effectively

With easy access to up-to-date customer service reports, managers can monitor service reports in real time to look for trends that point to areas which need work, and to spot any changes that suggest the need for immediate action:

  • If a sudden spike in live chat enquiries comes in, you need to notice right away so you can get more agents working that channel

  • If the metrics suggest agents are struggling to provide adequate answers, that points to a need to develop better content or provide enhanced training

Customer support agents won’t need access to service reports as often as managers do. But for those who want to track their own progress, monthly reports can provide motivation and help them identify areas to improve.

A warning about customer service reports

Monitoring customer service metrics does not automatically translate into knowing how to interpret them effectively. They point you to where problems exist, but it’s still up to people to diagnose the reason for the problem and the best solution for it. Building reports that don’t actually provide useful information is easier than you may think. How you slice and dice numbers matters.

Make sure the metrics you prioritise match your stated goals or answer your specific questions. And don’t assume you know what the numbers mean without further exploration. Combine quantitative data with qualitative by examining individual tickets, talking to agents, or checking with customers to fill in any gaps in the data.

Use them well, and customer service reports are good for business

So much of long-term business success depends on ensuring customer happiness. Customer service analytics can give you actionable information you can use to keep customers happy.

If your customer service metrics enable you to accurately identify areas in the business that need improvement, it can lead to:

  • Higher customer acquisition

  • Improved customer retention

  • Increased customer lifetime value

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