pink screen depicting metrics for customer support funnel

Choose the Right Metrics for your Customer Support Funnel

Miruna MitranescuLast updated on March 26, 2024
7 min

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This is a guest post about the customer support funnel by Sarah Chambers, former Head of Support at Kayako, a yoga teacher and self-diagnosed Twitter junkie, who moved to London from Vancouver. Sarah is passionate about keeping customers loyal through amazing customer service.

One of the top challenges that we've heard from customer support managers is the pain of scaling personalized support as the business grows, while keeping costs in check.

How can you ensure you're spending your most expensive resource – your time – on the right, high-value customer interactions?

We like to think about the customer's journey through the customer support funnel. Similar to the sales funnel, you want to guide customers through their experience with your company, qualifying them as you go. This ensures that everyone gets what they need, but no additional resources are wasted when not needed.

What is the Customer Support Funnel?

A customer support funnel consists of a series of guided choices to efficiently direct a customer to information they need to be successful.

Why's this handholding so important?

Well, when customers are free to choose their own support channel without any assistance, they usually end up choosing a more difficult path than they had to —  usually due to a lack of information about your company's customer support environment.

For example, they might email your team to fix a billing issue when they could've filled out a quick form. Or call and go through a routing tree when they should've just used the live chat. 

Not having the right information leads to unnecessarily long resolution times, which can make customers feel frustrated and sometimes even angry.  

It's your job to help them find the easiest, quickest path to solving their problems. That's what the customer support funnel is all about. 

The customer support funnel starts off with the service path that requires the least effort (usually a knowledge base or in-product assistance) and moves through one to many support, and finally ends in a one-to-one interaction with a dedicated support agent, which should result in a happy customer. 

Low- vs High-Value Customer Support Funnel Interactions 

If your customers are forcing high-effort interactions by calling for every question, two things are going to happen.

First of all, you're going to pull your hair out trying to budget for staffing your phone lines.

And secondly, your customers are going to churn. They really don't want to call you if they don't have to.

Kate Leggett has the research to back this up – self service is quickly becoming the most popular form of support.

There are two scales we need to look at for support – the Effort Scale and the Interaction Value scale.

You want low-value interactions to be low effort, and your high-effort interactions to be high value. What does this actually mean though?

Low Value:

any interaction that doesn't improve your relationship with your customers. These are the “updating billing information” and “how do I do this simple thing” type questions. They don't provide a ‘WOW’ moment, and there's very little room for delight.

You want your customers to be able to perform these interactions with very little effort – which is where self-service comes in.

High Value:

interactions which positively increase your customer's perception of your company or product. These can be webinars, training sessions, proactive support or in-person meetups. 

Often these things are neglected in support because of the perceived high cost of providing this level of service.

However, if you're automating your low-value interactions, it frees up the time for your agents to engage in these high-value services.

If you've set up your customer support funnel properly, you'll find that most of your customers are in the top section, where answers are easy to find and require little of your support team's time.

Two Underrated Customer Support Performance Metrics

So how do you know if your customer support funnel is working effectively?

There are two often-overlooked metrics you can track which will offer valuable insights into your funnel and help you create more positive customer experiences. 

1. Customer Effort Score 2.0 (CES):

This metric was introduced by CEB in their book Effortless Experience, and widely adopted by SaaS companies.

Following a support interaction, customers are asked to rate their experience by agreeing or disagreeing with CES statements, such as:: “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue.” A scale of 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree).

While intuitively, you want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to resolve their issue, you actually want to look at the distribution of replies.

If too many of your customers say it's very easy to contact you and get help – your funnel may actually look like a pyramid, with more customers contacting you than self-serving. These customers should be directed to a knowledge base instead of defaulting to a low-value human interaction.

Remember that this survey is only sent after support interactions – when customers have had to contact you to resolve an issue. If you're looking to improve the customer support funnel, we want to decrease the number of times customers need to contact you. Which is why you may want to see how many customers have been able to get help themselves, and the point of our next metric.

2. Self-service-views-to-contact ratio:

This ratio compares the number of customers who were able to get help themselves with the number that needed to contact a human.

By making this a ratio, you account for the overall volume of customers looking to get help. For example, if you were just measuring the number of views of your knowledge base, you'd likely see it increase on busy weeks.

While you might be excited to see that more people are using your knowledge base, if an equal increase of customer calls were received, you didn't actually direct anyone to self-service… It was a normal increase in volume. Ratios are a great way to balance out metrics and see what the underlying trend is.

Overall, you want to see this ratio increase as more customers are encouraged and able to self-serve to resolve their issues. This keeps the top of your funnel wide, and frees up more human time for those high-value interactions.

Other Key Customer Support Metrics to Track

In addition to the two metrics covered above, there are some other key customer service metrics you can keep an eye on to assess whether your customer service agents are meeting customer expectations often and efficiently. 

Here are the top six metrics to measure customer service performance: 

  • Average Response Time: also known as reply time, it’s how quickly reps reply to customer support tickets and messages on other communication channels. 

  • Resolution Rates: How often customer support requests end with the customer getting what they need.  

  • Average Resolution Time: How long it takes for customer service teams to resolve customer inquiries. 

  • Average Handle Time: How long your phone-based customer support interactions last. 

  • Self-Service Resolution Rate: How regularly customer support agents are able to solve their problem through your self-service options.  

  • FCR Rates: How often your agents resolve the customer service requests on the first call. 

It's also best practice to offer customer satisfaction surveys to get customer feedback about customer service performance. In surveys, ask about customer issues and hiccups they experienced in the customer journey. 

Also, monitor customer satisfaction metrics like churn rates and net promoter score, and do your investigation when you notice a spike in ticket volume, as this can indicate an issue with your service or website. 

How Tracking Customer Support Metrics Helps your Business

Tracking customer service KPIs will help you spot weaknesses and knowledge gaps of your customer support team. With this insight, you can provide training and protocols to help them improve. 

Keeping an eye on metrics will also help you identify when changes you've made to the customer service process are working, so then you can double down on them. 

This alone is a game-changer. There's nothing more frustrating than lacking clear data about whether your ideas and theories are working or failing in practice.

Not only does that lack of clarity about impact hurt your support funnel, it also hinders your ability to establish yourself as a strategist and promote your future ideas. Now you'll have data to prove that your good ideas are actually good. 

In the end, from a business standpoint, increased visibility into your customer service interactions empowers your team to craft effective strategies that lead to an enhanced customer service experience, more customer loyalty, and stronger customer retention rates. 

Need to Calculate these Customer Support Metrics?

Find more helpful support metrics for all levels of the customer support funnel and how to calculate them in Kayako’s guide to customer support metrics.

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Published on April 15, 2016.

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