In our previous Sharpen HQ office building, my team sat dispersed through a few separate rooms. We had floor-to-ceiling windows where we could peer out at the bustling Mass Ave corridor in Indianapolis
But time spent in the office, chewing on new goals and new priorities, quickly turned our floor-to-ceiling windows into whiteboard space where we mapped out ideas and phrases that inspired us.
One in particular sticks with me: “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”
My team used this mantra regularly (we still do, in fact) to help us prioritize and meet larger company goals.
We knew trying to tackle our annual goals all at once would 1). Leave us completely drained. And, 2). Be largely ineffective.
Stretching yourself too thin and trying to pinball between priorities ensures one thing: you won’t hit any of your targets. That’s why, we’re firm believers in setting smaller quarterly team goals and taking things one step at a time. And we’re here to help you do the same with quarterly customer service goals.
Not only do quarterly goals inch your company closer to achieving your core mission, but they give your team purpose and a reason to put their shoes on and show up each day.
(Sidebar: Yes, I still put my shoes on each day, even when working from home. It’s one of my little tricks to stay productive and ignore the comfy couch calling my name, practically begging me to nap post-lunch time).
Let’s map out quarterly customer service goals to set your team up for success. We’re walking through five steps to setting customer service goals that your team can accomplish in 90 days.
1. Align your targets with your annual company goals.
Execs draft your annual company goals to support the direction of the company. These goals exist to help fulfill your company mission and vision, bit by bit. To set quarterly goals for your customer service, you first need to look through the lens of your company goals.
What did your leadership mark as essential to achieve this year? Was it to grow your revenue by a certain percentage? How about to lower your current customer churn, shrinking closer to zero lost customers year-over-year?
Use company goals as a marker for your quarterly contact center goals, so you set targets that contribute to the big picture.
Create a list of goals that are directly actionable to your team and execute on them. For example, if one of your company goals is to reduce customer churn, it’s actionable to your team because the contact center directly impacts churn. You can create specific goals and benchmarks to help your agents reduce customer churn, like improving CSAT and positive customer outcomes.
On the flipside, a corporate goal like improving workplace culture and manager training isn’t actionable to your customer service team. It’s more of an HR and exec leadership function, so you don’t want to dedicate quarterly headspace to that specific corporate goal.
Staying aligned with the overarching business strategy your execs lay out ups the ROI of your contact center and proves the value of you, your supervisors and your agents.
2. Next, narrow your focus.
Look at your data to ID broken pieces of your customer experience. Start there.
Let’s say low CSAT scores contribute to high customer churn at your company. To progress your corporate goal of reducing churn, you know you can make an impact by improving CSAT.
Break the goal of “improving CSAT” down into even smaller chunks to make it manageable for your team on a quarterly basis.
If you need to improve CSAT by 5% over a 90-day period, then how much do you need to progress each month? What about each week? Define small slivers of your goal to dish out to agents, so they understand what outcomes to strive for on a daily basis. And, so they don’t feel overwhelmed trying to reach your stretch goals.
Dissecting your goals into smaller pieces helps your team focus in on specific action items. And, it gives you ample opportunities to celebrate progress, keeping morale high and teams engaged.
As you and your team progress towards goals, celebrate the milestones – big and small – as you go.
3. Give your team ownership over each goal.
When agents view your quarterly goals through the lens of their individual role, they can be intimidating. Maybe your all-star agent Jenni feels helpless when she thinks about improving CSAT. She consistently gets positive feedback from customers, but she knows some of her peers struggle to do the same. She loses a sense of ownership over the goal because she feels like there’s nothing more she can do to bump up CSAT scores.
To help, break your goals down into detailed objectives that each agent can align efforts to, so they all feel a sense of ownership.
A few months back, we mapped out the GOST model for setting goals and waterfall objectives. Using the GOST model, create a list of detailed objectives your team needs to achieve in order to hit your high-level quarterly goals.
Let’s stick with the goal we outlined above – improving CSAT scores by 5% in 90 days. The objectives that link back up to your CSAT goal are the detailed targets you aim for, first. The idea is, once you hit those objectives, the outcomes will drive home your high-level goal.
Here are a few example objectives you can set to help your team hit the CSAT goal:
- Shrink hold times to less than 2 minutes – we know anything longer is a source of customer frustration.
- Improve First Contact Resolution by 5% – Statistics show, a higher FCR leads to improved CSAT scores.
- Get 3x as many responses to CSAT surveys – customers (like Jenni’s) might already be happy, but if they don’t share feedback, your CSAT still suffers.
With objectives set, your agents have more manageable metrics and outcomes to impact.
4. Assign KPIs and metrics to track goals – and check on progress often.
When agents can’t measure progress toward their objectives and goals, productivity stalls and performance plateaus. Customer experience expert Jeff Toister found that agents who don’t have visibility into daily performance sit at a severe risk for agent burnout.
Avoid burnout and stalled performance in your contact center by assigning KPIs and metrics to your goals and objectives, so agents can keep a pulse on how they’re doing.
Put your quarterly goals on display in the contact center for your team to see. Then, build wallboards and dashboards to show your KPIs side-by-side. Give your agents visibility into each of their goals and objectives, plus their daily progress, at a glance.
And, use your contact center’s reporting engine to give your agents individual performance metrics, too. Fuel ownership and accountability by showing agents how they’re helping your team reach your goals. Give each agent a look at their hold times, FCR and CSAT scores, daily.
Use colors, like red, to alert your agents when they’re trending low on a KPI. And, use uplifting colors, like green, to show agents when they’re hitting targets and delivering excellent customer outcomes.
If an agent ends a day in-the-red, jump in to coach them 1:1 where they struggled. If FCR tanked on Wednesday, see what resources your agent needs to improve outcomes on Thursday. And, if hold times skyrocketed, look to your WFM strategy to make sure you had enough staff on deck to handle your highest volume.
Give your team the tools to track progress and know where they excel (and where they don’t). It builds confidence in their ability to help customers and gives them information to fix problems in-the-moment.
5. Complete the SMART check to put your goals to the test.
Before wrapping your goals up and tying them with a bow, run them through the SMART check. SMART goals clarify expectations, deadlines and required action items.
Ask yourself these questions to vet your goals:
Specific: Have you narrowed your focus to a few key goals that are actionable to your team?
Measurable: What KPIs or metrics can you associate with the specific goals you mapped out? Did you take benchmark measurements so you could evaluate progress?
Attainable: Does your team have the resources and training to reach each goal? And, do they understand each goal and why it matters?
Relevant: Do your team goals align with the company mission and corporate goals?
Time-based: Do your goals have an end-date? How about each of your objectives?
If you can check the box beside each of these requirements, you’re all set and ready to improve customer (and company) outcomes.