Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting customer service goals, part of Managing a Customer Service Team.
- Goals can serve an important role in helping to manage customer service teams. They can help us measure progress towards important business results, focus the team on top priorities, and help motivate employees to give their best effort. In this video, I'm gonna share with you the SMART model for creating goals. I'll also explain the difference between good and bad customer service goals. Let's start with the SMART model. I've included a SMART goals worksheet in the downloadable exercise files, so you can use it to set goals for your team.
SMART is an acronym for specific, so it's clearly defined, measurable, so you can objectively determine your progress, attainable, so employees have a reasonable chance of achieving it, relevant, so it's connect to your customer service vision, and time-bound, so you have a deadline to achieve your goal. There are several versions of the SMART model out there so you may have seen something slightly different in the past. This one just seems to be the most common. Here's an example how the SMART model can make a goal much more effective.
We'll start with a fuzzy goal that I've seen many times. Improve customer service. A lot of teams have goals like this. It's hard to tell exactly what we're supposed to do and no one knows whether or not we've achieved it. Now let's see what happens when we apply the SMART model to this fuzzy goal. Achieve an 85% average customer satisfaction rating on the customer service survey by December 31st. It's specific, measurable, relevant to outstanding service, and time-bound because we've set a deadline for achieving it.
It will also be attainable as long as 85% is within reach of our current rating. Setting goals using the SMART model as a start. But not all SMART goals are good. If you're not careful, you could accidently set goals that actually lead to poor service. Here's an example. A technical support team helped customers experiencing computer trouble. Each time a customer contacted them, a support agent would open a trouble ticket to track the issue. The team had a goal of closing tickets within an average of one business day.
So, what was the problem? Team members started closing tickets even if the problem wasn't resolved just so they could meet the goal. This was especially true of more complicated problems that often took longer than one day. This left unresolved issues so customers would have to re-contact the company and open a new support ticket to get the help they needed. Using this support team as a cautionary tale, let's look at the difference between good goals and bad goals. Good goals focus attention on what's most important, while bad goals divert attention to something else.
Good goals focus teamwork while bad goals reward selfishness. And good goals rely on internal motivation while bad goals rely on external motivators such as prizes and incentives. Let's look at what a good goal might have looked like for that technical support team. To focus their attention on helping customers, we might shift the goal from closing tickets, to resolving problems on the first contact. To promote teamwork, we might set a team goal rather than having individual goals for each agent.
And, to focus on internal motivation, we could resist the temptation to offer a prize for the agent with the best ticket closing speed. We could also avoid punishing agents with poor ticket closing speed until we knew exactly what was slowing them down. Our revised goal might look like this, the technical support team will achieve a first-contact resolution rate of 75% on support tickets submitted each month. Assuming 75% is attainable, this goal fits the SMART model.
It can also promote healthy behavior among support team members. We might see agents working harder to resolve problems on the first try. Experienced agents will be more likely to share their wisdom with less experienced agents since everyone shares the same goal. And agents are more likely to get excited about helping customers rather than winning a contest or avoiding punishment. Setting great customer service goals can be both an art and a science. So, I've included some additional references for you on the SMART goals worksheet that's in the exercise files.
I encourage you to use this worksheet to set SMART goals for your customer service team.
- Clearly defining outstanding service for employees
- Evaluating service quality
- Identifying obstacles to outstanding service
- Aligning resources to optimize service delivery
- Calculating the cost of poor service