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How startups can embrace analytics for better customer service

Monday, 7 July 2014 | By Michael Hansen

Analytics is the tool that the business world is talking about, with organisations using data to gain a much deeper insight into the wants and needs of their customers.


While you may think that analytics is only a tool for big businesses with vast tracts of data available to them and teams of people to make sense of it, you’d be wrong. The larger end of town may have jumped on analytics early, but as the costs and amount of technology required to turn analytics into meaningful information have shrunk, so too have the barriers to harnessing their power.


This is great news for startups, as analytics can play a critical role in delivering efficient customer support and, ultimately, satisfying your customers.


Our most recent Zendesk Benchmark report found that, on average, organisations actively using analytics in their support operations not only had greater customer satisfaction ratings, but recorded a 12% faster first-response time to customer inquiries and could completely resolve inquiries 16% faster.


So with a small team and the limited resources that every startup has, where do you start?


Keep track of your help desk


Keeping track of how your help desk is performing is the best place to start. By keeping a close eye on your team’s current performance, you can start making adjustments to better serve your customers and provide quality service.


For example, a slow response time might highlight a staffing issue and help quantify the need for additional support personnel.


Analytics can help you know what’s happening by taking every interaction that occurs between your company and your customers, and turning it into data that can be used to measure and improve customer experiences. It can give you greater context and allow you to drill down into specific segments of customers.


Ultimately, analytics helps drive smart decisions. Startups can raise the profile of customer support by knowing where to focus. Support teams can use information from other business units to ensure that customers’ input are included in new products or services.


What to measure


Companies that measure performance provide better service. To begin analytics for customer service, you must first collect and report on data that is available to you; data about your customers and the way your startup works.


For customer service these metrics typically include customer satisfaction, agent and team performance, ticket deflection and ticket lifecycle. It is sensible to measure factors that contribute to customer satisfaction, such as first reply time (how long it took an agent to respond to the end user), full resolution time (how long it took for the ticket to be solved), and percentage of one-touch resolution (the percentage of tickets resolved with a single interaction).


Embrace technology


With all the roles a startup owner has, we certainly don’t expect to add data scientist to your job description, too. The rapid technological evolution over the past couple of years has provided a real opportunity for startups that want to use their own data to help them operate more smartly and efficiently.


Cloud-based technology exists that can capture your data, record it and make it simple for organisations to understand customer interactions and support team demands. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud platforms make it easier and more efficient to gather data, but it’s hard to make sense of that alone.


Look toward your customer service software and determine whether you have access to important customer service metrics within the product, without the need for additional tools, fees, or vendors. The best customer service software should provide advanced analytics and visualisation tools that provide comprehensive metrics, reports and dashboards.


Make changes, but keep monitoring


Those companies that use analytics are making informed decisions when it comes to customer service. Based on your metrics, it’s easier to make informed changes, but it’s just as important to monitor those changes.


Routinely monitor your data and look at what customer service and customer satisfaction improvements have been made based on your decisions. Great customer service is a constant improvement process, particularly as your company and customer base grows.


Data with a face


At the end of the day, great customer service comes down to people, context, and personality. Data can only tell us so much without anecdotes. Satisfying customers is ultimately about understanding them, their situations, and their problems. Allow your customer service to reflect your startup’s passion, compassion, and sometimes even humility.


Analytics has the power to transform customer support and customer engagement data into measurable intelligence that can help startups make more informed decisions and provide better customer service. And it’s easier than you think.


Startups aren’t afraid to dive in head first, so don’t treat analytics any differently; it can help you provide exceptional customer service, keep your customers coming back and help you grow your business.


Michael Folmer Hansen is vice president and Asia Pacific managing director at cloud-based customer service software provider, Zendesk. www.zendesk.com