Contacts Per Order — What It Is and How to Reduce It

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

Ecommerce brands are always searching for ways to optimize their support centers so customers don’t get unnecessarily frustrated and team members aren’t overworked. A key measurement of your service efficiency is contacts per order (CPO), which identifies how frequently a shopper is contacting you regarding a single order.

We spoke with CX expert Paul Whitaker at Gladly Connect Live 2023 to learn more about the power contacts per order can offer your team when used correctly. The value of CPO, according to Whitaker, comes when you “treat every contact as a defect.” This makes reducing your ratio and understanding the value this data holds a crucial part of your CX strategy.

How to Calculate Contacts Per Order

The CPO ratio is the average number of contacts per order, calculated as:

Total # of contacts / total # of orders processed = CPO ratio

Imagine that a brand has 1,000 contacts for 250 processed orders during the holidays. Using the CPO ratio formula, they find they averaged four contacts per order during the sale period:

1,000 (total # of contacts) / 250 (total # of orders processed) = 4 (CPO ratio)

Your goal is to get your CPO ratio as close as possible to 1 or 0, meaning your customers are reaching out only once or not at all per order. As Whitaker points out, “If you get good at identifying why customers are calling you and you can fix those things, then you’re going to have fewer calls, spend less money, and have higher customer loyalty.”

Leverage the right metrics to keep your customers. Are your contacts leading to a loss in retention? Make sure your team is measuring the right data to understand your retention rate by using these five customer retention metrics every CX leader should be tracking.

Using Contacts Per Order to Drive Business Improvement

Measuring your CPO ratio is valuable for forecasting your staffing needs and identifying problem areas with your shoppers. However, understanding how to use these CPO metrics can also help you improve your CX performance overall.

Analyze the problem, not the solution

When building out topics — what you use to sort your contact types — consider focusing on the issue rather than the solution. For example, Whitaker mentions focusing on “I never got my package” as a topic, rather than “processed refund.” This keeps your team’s focus on customers rather than the agents — helping pinpoint common issues rather than measuring resolutions.

Use a manageable number of topics

Whitaker emphasizes the importance of keeping your topic numbers reasonable. He recommends starting with around 50 topics and working your way up as you get more comfortable. Less topics makes it easier for agents to keep them organized.

Also keep in mind that these topics should remain fluid. “Don’t be afraid to change [topics],” Whitaker says. If there is a new topic that your agents find more relevant, consider swapping it in. Your agents are dealing with customer issues live, so let them help you guide your strategy.

Focus on the big picture

Measuring your contact per order ratio helps you better understand your customer experience, but looking too closely can provide skewed results. Looking closely at weeks surrounding holidays like Black Friday may give you an inaccurate understanding of your current metrics, as high sales numbers will make your ratio seem smaller than average. Whitaker recommends analyzing data over the course of several months or year-over-year to get a clear picture of your current ratio.

This need for a high-level view also applies to your topics themselves. “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough,” Whitaker says, pointing out that your priority should be solving the problem itself rather than just lowering your ratio.

Trust your agents

Believing in your team, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed, is vital to the success of your CPO strategy. When given the information required to do their jobs, agents will typically work alongside your strategy to inform your real business outcomes.

Whitaker uses the example of holiday sales metrics to highlight this. If you see your sales numbers go up during the holiday season, and then see contacts go up after, this means your team is using the correct codes and topics to gather the metrics you need to plan for next season.

Streamline your pathways to minimize contacts. Don’t make your customers contact you multiple times to reach the right agent. Use tools like People Match to get your shoppers to the agent who can resolve their issue on the first call.

Reducing Your Contacts Per Order Ratio

Getting a lower CPO ratio requires technology that clears a path to success for customers and empowers, rather than eliminates the need for, your support agents. The result is satisfied customers who get the answers they need faster.

Perfect your fulfillment

Invest in upfront fulfillment services, like fast, trackable shipping and prepaid return labels, in order to make self-service easy and shoppers feel like they’re in control. Go even further by incorporating proactive communications that signal order delays, out-of-stocks, or other time-sensitive issues.

Maximize self-service

According to Whitaker, “In today’s world, a lot of your customers are going to prefer to do things themselves.” The more your shoppers can do on their own, the more you can free up your agents to handle more pressing issues that require a human touch.

Bolster your self-service options by adding automation and intelligence to your FAQs, and quick responses on chat and other automated channels. Use a consolidated knowledge base that updates across your digital reach so there’s consistency no matter which channel a customer reaches out on.

Choose conversations over tickets

Stop giving customers a 10-digit number to memorize for each request. Especially when CPO is high, this makes the process all the more complicated. Instead, find a system that foregoes ticketing altogether, collating all communications on a single, shareable timeline. Doing so helps agents to serve customers far easier and develops valuable, loyal relationships in the process.

Gladly and Your CPO Ratio

With Gladly, your brand views customer interactions through conversations first. This holistic view of the customer relationship helps agents access historic information to solve issues quickly and effectively. Gladly reduces CPO without decreasing service, maintaining your brand’s high-quality customer experience even as you save resources and free up agents to create entirely new, revenue-generating opportunities.

Want to learn more about how to supercharge your customer service from experts like Whitaker? Gladly Connect Live is available through free on-demand sessions, so you can get the tips you need to take your business to the next level.


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