Goals are a great way to add meaning to your workday and give yourself a destination to work towards.
Odds are good that at some point in time, you’ve looked up from your desk and thought … what next? Working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week without goals is a sure-fire recipe for burnout. Why are we here? Other than the paycheck, why do I sit here and answer tickets?
Goals are a great way to add meaning to your workday and give yourself a destination to work towards.
I like to think of goals as signposts along your journey. They help you know where you are, where you’re heading and how long it’s going to take to get there. That is if you set good goals.
In this post, we share our top tips on how you can set great customer service goals to motivate and inspire your support team.
1. Take a look at your history
Depending on how long your company has been in business, you’ll likely have some historical data about things like response time, number of conversations, customer satisfaction and other important metrics. If you can take a look at these things over time, especially in combination with one another, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s been growing and improving (or degrading) in your support team’s performance.
Several years’ worth of data can be useful in knowing what was just a flash in the pan, and what actually has been a trend that you can use to predict future growth and hiring.
For example, if one year you had a huge surge in ticket growth, but otherwise your ticket volume has grown by about 25% year over year, you can likely predict that it will follow that pattern, rather than the one-off surge.
Beyond ticket volume, metrics like first response time, contact ratio, customer satisfaction and time to close can all be helpful for forecasting trends when paired up and looked at together—especially when considering how much you need to hire for to specifically push those metrics down or boost them up. For example, does hiring new people drop first response time, but not make any impact on contact ratio?
2. Know where you want to go
Now you know where you’re coming from, but before you can set your customer service goals, you need to determine a direction.
Think about what success looks like to you in a year, or five years from now. What’s holding you back from getting there?
Brainstorm big ideas and areas that are important to you as a team and an individual. What skills do you want to level up? What opportunities do you want to explore?
As much as you focus on your customers and their satisfaction, pay attention to the satisfaction of your internal customers, too.
Some ideas to start fostering a more positive, growth-driven mindset amongst your support team include:
- Access to training, development, books, resources, conferences etc.
- Mentorship opportunities
- Offering growth opportunities within the company
- Having the right tools to complete their jobs effectively
- Open communication with management and coworkers
Rather than restricting your thoughts to “realistic” or “achievable” ideas, this is a time to think big and long term! You can break down your goals into more realistic timeframes later on.
3. Identify Specific and Measurable Customer Service Goals
The best-written goals are easily identifiable milestones. You know when you’ve achieved them, and when you’re not there yet. Customer service goals need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based.
Vague goals like “become a better leader” aren’t helpful. What’s “better”? When have you become “better” enough? Instead of vague goals, dive into what parts of leadership you want to explore.
This great example from Lighthouse shows a series of specific, measurable goals.
Let’s take a look at these goals again. Are they Specific? Yes, every milestone is well defined. Are they Measurable? Yes, most of these are binary goals – they’ve either been achieved or they haven’t. Are they relevant? Yes, all are related to Susan’s desire to move up in the organization. Are they Time bound? Yes, most of them have a clearly set due date. Your goals should pass the same test.
Your customer service goals should be more metric-based, like this:
- Increase personal CSAT scores to 95%
- Decrease chat handling time by 25%
- Write and publish 4 approved documentation articles
Your customer service goals shouldn’t be vague, like this:
- Make customers happier
- Don’t make them wait too much
- Focus on documentation
Each of these goals identifies an area to improve in, and give a specific amount of improvement to reach for. You’ll know exactly when you’ve accomplished your goal.
Taking a more data-based approach will allow you to argue for the changes that you need to make to be a truly great team.
For example, if you notice a correlation between your customer’s satisfaction and the time it takes you to respond, try to track that a little bit more deeply: how can you maintain that speed as you move into the new year, especially with a potential forecasted growth of 25%? You need to hire more customer support agents.
For another example, perhaps you notice that your customers reach out most frequently within the first three weeks of using your product. When you take a look into the tagging in your helpdesk system, you notice that most of the conversations are about three key issues.
People who received a response to their question on these issues within a few hours had a much higher NPS and CSAT rating than those who don’t.
Though you’ve never had onboarding before, the data in this example suggests that maybe you should invest in some, especially if your customer base is growing and you need to scale.
4. Connect customer service goals to company goals
Think of your organization as a giant row boat. If everyone’s goals align, you’ll be rowing perfectly in time, and in the same direction. If there’s no common direction, you’ll be spinning around in circles or not moving at all!
Setting big, audacious company goals before jumping into individual goal setting lets individuals connect their own goals to the company’s direction. This works well for a couple reasons. It’s easier to see how your own growth contributes to the growth of the company. Being part of something bigger is a great motivator for individuals. It’s also easier to choose a goal that will bring value to the organization. If you know that the company plans to launch a new iOS app next year, learning about App Store policies and procedures might be a good quarterly goal.
Rather than performing in a silo, if teams collaborate and share knowledge, you create a much stronger impact on your company goals.
Combining support metrics with other company metrics helps to show how customer support can help other teams reach their goals.
If partnering with your marketing team, you could examine the correlation between NPS and response time, or NPS and CSAT to get a better handle on how people’s impression of the brand changes with how quickly they hear back, or if NPS and CSAT are positively aligned.
Understanding metrics contextually within the grand scheme of your company can help you make a much wider impact. Instead of just making changes that affect support, for example, your can influence your company’s marketing strategy, product strategy and beyond.
Customer service goals can flow down by position as well. Agent’s goals will support the Manager’s goals, which will support the Director’s goals, which directly influence the Company’s goals.
For example, if the company’s goal is to expand into a new market (perhaps Spanish speaking countries), your team could set the following series of customer service goals:
- Director: Decrease Average Handle Time by 25% to prepare for incoming volume
- Manager: Hire a Spanish speaking agent
- Agent: Identify a translation agency and assist with translation of documentation
Each of these customer service goals is appropriate to the skill level of the position, but work together to prepare the team for the new challenge.
5. Make a Plan
Once you’ve set your goal, you’ll want to make a plan to accomplish it. This involves listing tactics you’ll use in order to be successful.
The difference between a tactic and a goal is action. Tactics are actions you take to reach the end goal. For example, your tactics to decrease chat handling time by 25% might be:
- Research the types of chats that are taking longer to resolve
- Identify areas for team training
- Develop and deliver training session on efficient chat handling
- Create text snippets for common issues
While some of the tactics could be considered mini “goals” they are all specific actions and to-dos that will get you closer to your overall goal of improving chat handling time.
6. Publicize and Track
“Out of sight and out of mind” should never apply to your goals. Keeping your goals and progress in front of your face keeps them top of mind.
Full transparency should be afforded to any metrics that you use to measure the success of your support team, and not just during customer support performance reviews.
Giving agents full visibility into your company metrics lets them benchmark themselves against their own goals, the goals you’ve set and how their team members are doing. If you let the team see how they and their peers are performing on a daily, weekly, monthly and otherwise basis, you might find that they start to ramp up their expectations of how well they should do.
Different people will find different methods of tracking more effective.
Digital Dashboards: if you’re metric driven, try keeping all of your goal progress in an up to date dashboard. It might be in Zendesk, Salesforce or Trello, or you can use Geckoboard to design a cross-platform goal tracking mega dashboard. Keep the dashboard on a screen in your office, or bookmark it.
Post-it notes: if all you need is a mantra to keep focused, post a note on your computer monitor to remind yourself of your goal.
Thermometers or Gauges: if everyone is located in the same space, you can use tactile tracking methods. Draw a thermometer on a whiteboard and have agents color in their progress. Add a post it note for every new task accomplished. But if your team is partly remote, this doesn’t work because you’ll be leaving some of the team out of the tracking.
7. Review Often
Things change quickly in business. Rather than having one big goal for the year, separate your goal time-frames into quarters or months. You’ll be able to adapt your goals to the current needs of the environment, instead of being left chasing an irrelevant goal (or one that you’ve achieved months ago).
Weekly check-ins can help refine goals and drive progress. Keeping your goals front and center in 1 on 1s will help focus the conversations. Once you choose a cadence to make sure you stick to it or communicate to the whole team why and how it’s changing.
Keep your reviews at the same time and place each time you do them, just the same as you would do with 1:1s. This creates trust within your team—there is nothing that destroys trust and makes your employee feel more undervalued more than skipping or rescheduling a review or 1:1 last minute.
Maintain structure in your meetings, set clear objectives, and allow for transparency in your metrics and measuring performance, and your customer support team will be as good as gold.
Reviewing often also helps you adapt to change. Brian Balfour has this great quote on driving high performance by embracing change: “The mentality of “done” is the exact opposite of the mentality of high-performance growth teams. Change is constant. Change is difficult. Not adapting to change is fatal.”
Goals are not carved in stone. They are easily changeable and adaptable. If a goal isn’t working anymore, just update it! The purpose of goals is to keep moving forward in the right direction.
8. Celebrate Success
If you’ve reached a team goal, celebrate together. Instead of moving directly on to the next goal, take time to celebrate your success.
Perhaps your team as a whole has been operating on all cylinders for the quarter and has smashed all of their metrics. With the transparency of your metrics being what it is, everyone at the company and on the team knows how amazing you have been doing, and everyone can join in on the celebration.
Support is often one of the least recognized teams for their impact, so it can be incredibly meaningful to be recognized for a contribution, especially one as measurable and straightforward as metrics.
If you manage individuals, think about offering a small raise for completed goals. They’ve increased their skills and delivered more value to the team – they should be compensated for it!
Once you’ve celebrated and the confetti has fallen, it’s time to move onto setting the next goal!
Sure, it can be overwhelming to sit down and thinking about all of the things that you need to do to sort out the growth of your support team.
So, identify and measure your goals, allow for transparency in your metrics and measuring performance, and you will see a huge difference in growing and scaling your support team.