No one needs to tell you that a great customer experience is critical to a company’s success. But the other companies that are courting your customers? They know this too and customers will gladly follow whoever serves them best. There is more pressure than ever on customer service teams to deliver an exceptional experience and keep up with--and even pioneer-- industry best practices.
One essential way to maintain a competitive edge is by regularly benchmarking your performance against competing organizations in your industry, especially those you admire. Benchmarking helps you view the performance and processes of your support organization objectively as a customer would see you. Quantifying the gap between where you are now and the industry’s best enables you to set more meaningful goals and motivates your team to work towards the highest standard.
Here are a number of ways customer service benchmarking put teams on the path to doing their best work:
Discover areas that need improvement
Seeing your metrics or processes side by side with other companies in your industry may open your eyes to weaknesses you didn’t know you had. For example, your time-to-close rate may be getting faster each month, but it could also be where you’re falling farthest behind your peers. Or you might find you’re one of the only organizations of your size that doesn’t offer phone support and if that's affecting customer satisfaction. Once it’s clear where your team has the most opportunity to improve, it’s easier to determine where to focus your time and energy.
Pinpoint opportunities to reduce costs
When you consider that billions of dollars are lost worldwide each year due to bad customer service, the costs of running a customer service operation seem validated. Nevertheless, the more efficient your operations, the more time is freed up for customers. Benchmark metrics in relation to overall revenue can shine a light on where your team spends above, below, or in line with other companies of your size. These insights can lead you toward better allocating the team’s resources.
Grade performance objectively
Customer surveys and operational metrics can tell you a lot about the health of your customer service organization, but it’s easy to get stuck thinking in a bubble. Benchmarking pushes you to grade yourself relative to other companies like you, instead of simply past performance. Holding your organization to the industry standard keeps the focus on being the best among many, not just the company’s best version of itself.
Gauge the success of your improvement initiatives
We all know that feeling of finishing a multi-month, give-it-your-all project only to be asked, “Can you point to a number that shows this moved the needle?” Benchmarking quantifies the status quo and defines a jumping off point that all improvement initiatives can be measured against. This way, in a few months time, you can see if newly implemented processes or practices are moving the team closer to their goal.
Gain insight into industry and universal best practices
How you define success will undoubtedly be different from companies in other industries or even your competitors. However, it’s helpful to know what other companies are doing--especially those setting the standard--to keep their customers happy and operations running smoothly. Other companies’ successes and mistakes provide opportunities to learn and accelerate improvement and can open people’s minds to new ways of working.