Today I want to talk about three concepts: goals, strategies, and metrics.

A goal is something singular you’re trying to accomplish.

Example Goal: I want to become a multiple award-winning pianist. (Why? Because saying “pianist” is funny.)

A strategy is plans for how you’ll go about accomplishing that goal.

Example Strategy: Make my contemporaries aware of my mastery of my craft.

A metric is a data point you use to measure whether you have accomplished or how you can accomplish your goal.

Example Metric #1: Number of attendees to my performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3.

man with blinders on

The issue I keep seeing is this: people either just look at their goal, or they just look at one metric.

This makes zero sense.

The problem with just looking at your goal is this: you have no idea what strategy worked. If I win an American Music Award, but I don’t look at metrics for my strategies, I have no idea how I got there. It’s going to be impossible to figure out which of my strategies will get me a Grammy.

It’s equally useless to look at just one of my metrics. Great, I had a thousand people come to my performance! But if I don’t know that these people all hated it, I’m not helping myself reach my goal.

So, back to customer support and community.

The goal is to increase my company’s bottom line. The strategy is providing great customer support.

Looking at just the bottom line doesn’t help. If it increases, how do I know if it was my great customer support that did it? That’s pretty obviously a mistake.

leversI see more people trip themselves up on the mistake of just looking at one metric, like First Call Resolution (a metric showing how many support calls or emails were solved during that first interaction). This is utterly useless in a vacuum. I can solve all my customers’ issues on the first call, but if they’re writing in every day with a yet another issue, they’re unlikely to spend more with my company. Whoops…should have been looking at the number of issues per customer!

Customer Support folks (and their bosses): Yes, look at First Call Resolution. Look at Customer Satisfaction. But also look at retention rates. Look at ratings on third-party sites. Look at the number of issues reported per customer. Maybe the people who aren’t filling out that customer satisfaction survey are the ones who are leaving your service running and screaming!

Community Managers (and their bosses): Twitter followers mean nothing if they’re not paying attention to you. Retweets mean nothing if they don’t drive traffic. Traffic doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t drive signups. All these metrics are useful, but must be looked at together.

Looking at the trends of multiple metrics as they relate to your strategies and goals is the only real way to accomplish those goals. Because anyone can say their customer retention is great, but if they don’t know what’s making it great then they’re just lucky.

Want to learn more about customer service metrics? Check out our blog post about customer service metrics at Zappos.

Blinder photo courtesy of Elmago Delmar.
Lever photo courtesy of Remi Longva.