What Support Metrics Should SaaS Companies be Using?

saas-customer-support-model

CSAT. NPS. TTFR – So many acronyms, so little time! As a support team manager, you’re already wearing a ton of hats – bet you didn’t think data wizard would be one of them, huh?

But this is your life as a manager developing a SaaS customer support model that scales.

And there’s so many metrics you can track! It can leave you feeling overwhelmed with a lot of decisions to make about data.

Some of the best metrics can help you to analyze the health of your team and their relationship with your customers. You can use these metrics to be a hero and champion to your cause for other teams.

Using smart data can change other areas of your company. It maybe helping your product team understand where customers are having the most trouble, or providing in-depth information to your executive team about where your spend is going.

5 Metrics that shape your SaaS customer support model

These are five of the best metrics to convey the value your support team adds to your company’s ecosystem:

  • Conversation volume/volume per rep
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • First response time
  • Cost per conversation

Conversation Volume/Volume per Rep

What is it?

Conversation volume (sometimes called “tickets”) is the amount of conversations you are receiving or your reps are responding to on a regular basis. This could be an average, or a total for the amount over the past year, month, week or day. You can also determine how many conversations each of your reps is responding to.

What can it tell you?

A lot of the structure of your SaaS support model can be built around the insights from your conversation volume. You can find out:

Once you calculate conversations volume and volume per rep, you will have answers to all of these questions.

Having another period to compare data to helps you to contextualize any shifts up or down. Sure, it’s great to know you’ve had 2000 conversations in a month, but wouldn’t it be better to know the difference up or down from last month or last year?

Once you’ve got data for the team as a whole, get more granular with it. See how many conversations each of your representatives is handling. Averaging out the amount of conversations covered by each person can tell you when you might need to think about hiring more people. Looking at the individual performance of your team members can help too.

Is someone consistently performing at a lower level than everyone else? Maybe it’s because they are slower at responding, or they could be struggling with something. If someone is always on the high range of conversations, they might be getting closer to burnout so you might need to spend more time making sure they take the breaks that they need.

Who else will find it interesting?

Other customer-facing teams will find this metric interesting. The marketing team can use it to  determine busy periods, or to see if some outgoing content has caused a spike in traffic. The product team can use conversation volume to determine the success (or struggles) or a recent release or A/B testing. The executive team can use this metric to see how effectively your team growth of the customer base is scaling. They can see whether they need to budget more money for your department, or if you’re good as you are.

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Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

What is it?

Everyone’s received one of those “How would you rate this interaction?” emails. The responses to each of those requests get amalgamated into one score: your Customer Satisfaction, or CSAT for short.

saas-customer-support-model-csat

What will it tell you?

CSAT lets you see how customers are feeling specifically about your support interactions, and can take a pulse of how your team’s responses are being received. .

Along with a broad overview of your team’s efficacy, CSAT allows you to measure individual contributors on your team. If you notice that someone’s usually-high CSAT has taken a dip over the course of a week, it may be worth talking to them about what has changed. Similarly, if someone consistently has lower CSAT than the rest of the team, that’s an opportunity to review  and discuss some of their conversations with them.

Besides immediately using CSAT to determine how effective your support team is, you can  look at the ongoing impact your team has on a customer. If you have tools in place, you can track the responses of one specific customer each time they reach out to your team. The only issue is that CSAT specifically tracks people who have reached out with a support interaction, thus lending additional weight to people in your customer base who are more vocal than others.

Who else will find it interesting?

CSAT is interesting to marketing and sales teams because it is a direct line to how your customers are feeling in the moment after they’ve spoken with you. The sales team (and maybe the success team, if you have one at your company) is the only other directly customer-interfacing team. They can learn from your CSAT to see what changes occur when you use different styles of communication or queue strategies.

Indirectly, your CSAT can be affected by any changes to your product. Who hasn’t seen a, “The interaction was good, but I’m SO UPSET that you don’t have that feature I want” response. These feature requests can be helpful to people on your development or product teams as well.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

What is it?

Whereas CSAT measures the immediate feelings of your customer, NPS measures their long-term relationship with your brand.

CSAT usually asks “How was this interaction?” while NPS asks “How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?”.

It and then offers a scale from one to ten. Anyone who rates from 1-6 is a detractor, or someone who is not a fan of your brand, 7-8 are passive users, and 9 and 10s are promoters.

saas-customer-support-model-nps

What will it tell you?

NPS allows you to gauge a user’s relationship with your brand, and is useful because it can be segmented and sent to any group of users that you like – not only people who have recently reached out to support.

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Segmented properly, you can tell how  customers’ use of your product impacts their enjoyment of your brand.

If, for example, your free customers have an incredibly low NPS, but your paying customers are skyrocketing it may tell you your customer engagement practices are better for your paying customers than your free clients.

After you have conducted an NPS survey, you can do a deeper dive with follow-up surveys or additional questions. Unlike CSAT, you can hone in easily on a specific segment of your customer base and uncover how they feel about your product at a given time. So, if you would like to determine exactly how a specific product change impacted your customers, use a well-targeted NPS survey.

If you are responsible for proactive support within your organization, NPS is a great starting point for customers to target.

Retail managers within Apple Stores reach out to detractors that they get via NPS within 24 hours to discuss their experience. While that may not be the most scalable tactic for every company, it is a nice way to reach out to an at-risk demographic within your customer base.

Who else will find it interesting?

Product and marketing are the two areas that will find these insights the most useful.

Product can use NPS surveys to see how the features that they are building and pushing forward impact on customer relationships with your brand. Similarly, marketing can use these insights to better their targeting and content strategy based on what your customers are interested in.

NPS is also regarded as a good indicator of future revenue growth, so it may help people on the executive team to determine at what scale they need to hire for the coming fiscal year.

First Response Time

What is it?

First response time is how long it takes for your team to reach your customers. It is averaged across all customers for a certain period of time: a day, a week, a month, or a year.

Just like conversation volume, it is most useful when compared to previous periods, but also good to set up against a benchmark. It is only measured during Business Hours, so if you do not have a 24/5 or 24/7 team you will not be penalized.

What will it tell you?

Knowing your first response time helps you to know, how quickly your team is getting to conversations.

The first response time is even more important than your average response time because it sets the tone for how the interaction is going to go. If it takes your team a long time to even acknowledge your customer, you’ve already lost their trust. To no one’s surprise, higher CSAT scores are positively correlated with a quicker time to first response.

In a less direct manner, your first response time can tell you if your support team is scaling, or if you need to make some changes in your support strategy or in hiring.

As your first response time rises, it signals that you need to look into how you can get it back down to your goal again. This could mean investing in self-service opportunities, or simply analyzing the time management of your team.

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Similarly, if your company has a service level agreement (SLA) for paying or enterprise level customers, your time to first response will be a major indicator as to whether you are holding true to that or need to reassess. If you do not yet have an SLA in place, having a time to first response metric will make it easier to decide what is feasible if an enterprise level customer requests a guarantee.

Who else will find it interesting?

For your executive team this is a primary health indicator of how your support organization is doing. You can discuss time to first response as a means to better understand the effectiveness of your team, to argue for adding more people to your team, or getting the budget to try new tools.

Cost Per Conversation

What is it?

This is price it costs your company to have each individual conversation answered. It is calculated by adding your employee salary, burden rate (usually about 50%-60% of salary) and the cost of your tools and then dividing it by the number of conversations for that same period.

What will it tell you?

Cost per conversation is useful for evaluating potential for new tools, and determining how expensive your support is.

In the first case, say you are evaluating a new tool that allows you to send questions to an outsourced community of product experts. They will likely provide you with the amount that the service will cost per conversation. Then, you can use your cost per conversation to evaluate if their cost is eventually going to be more expensive than it would be if answered by your own support employees.

In the second case, if you have a high cost per conversation, especially in ratio with the amount of people using your product (not just customers emailing into support), you may need to analyze ways to drop your costs. While cost is not usually of huge concern, it can be a good indicator if you are spending unnecessarily, or using tools to compensate for an issue you could fix through management.

Who else will find it interesting?

This will help the executive team most.

Not only does it help to indicate how your team is doing, but spend is increasingly important as a company grows.

This metric is useful as a bargaining chip to gain additional heads for your team or to get budget for tools or projects.

Use the right support metrics to lift your company’s SaaS model

So now that you’ve heard some of the metrics that we love, what do you use in your support team?

The best part about metrics and data is the story you can use it to tell. You can easily convey all the important inner-workings of your team to people who would otherwise never get their hands on the inbox.

Speak the language of the teams around you and share this data with them. You might even have them wanting to try their hand at talking to some customers, too!





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About the author
Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is contributing writer at Kayako. She is the support team lead at Trello, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time.

  • Erin Maccabe

    Such informative article! Investing on a SaaS support system would really be worth it as not only it helps in the technical aspect of SaaS itself but plays a role as well in customer satisfaction and retention, productivity and sales, communication, and a lot more. One such SaaS support that I know of is Lirik (http://lirik.io/).

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