February 01, 2024

Driving Customer Loyalty With the Metrics That Matter

​​Learn how to measure and optimize key CX metrics on the path to loyalty for long-term business growth.


Resource cover photo

The Most Valuable Currency Is Shopper Loyalty

In psychology, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps us visualize what’s necessary to achieve personal fulfillment. Similarly, in the hierarchy of customer experience, brands can find the essential steps for creating long-lasting customer relationships.

This customer experience metric value chain begins with the basic building block of customer experiences — transactions and interactions — and slowly builds toward the most valuable currency known to ecommerce brands: shopper loyalty.

The Hierarchy of Customer Experience

To reach that valuable peak of loyalty at the top of the pyramid, ecommerce brands need to understand and optimize the service and CX loyalty metrics that establish their support center as a quality, attentive, and consistent operation. Hitting and superseding these numbers should become your focus as a CX leader to build long-lasting brand affinity with a wide, loyal audience.

In this guide, we’ll explore the key value metrics at each stage of the hierarchy, the purpose of measuring each value metric, and the strategies for optimizing your performance to continually move toward high-value customer relationships. With the right processes, training, and technology in place, you’ll have the makings of an exceptionally customer-centric brand — led by talented, thoughtful customer service agents.

Foundational CX Loyalty Metrics

All strong brand–customer relationships boil down to timely service, solution-oriented action, and consistency across interactions. One look at the hierarchy of customer service and it’s made that much more clear — “conversations” and “transactions” are at the bottom, the first steps toward lifelong loyalty. This is when a company has the opportunity to make a positive first impression and start working its way up the pyramid.

There are a few foundational loyalty metrics that are crucial for building your relationship with each customer. Here are the ones you should pay attention to, how to measure them, and why they help you move closer to the loyalty peak.

Average Wait Time (AWT)

What it is
Average wait time measures the average amount of time it takes an agent to respond to a customer request, inquiry, or complaint.

How to calculate
Add up the total amount of time between customer outreach and response, and divide it by the number of customer requests.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
The less a customer has to wait to hear back from your agents, the more appreciative they’ll be of the timely service. Lower AWT provides a better experience that can lead to a more satisfactory shopper response.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

What it is
This metric finds the average duration between when a customer reaches out and when the agent responds to, resolves, and then closes the ticket.

How to calculate
Average handle time encompasses the entirety of a request resolution. Take the total amount of time, from request opening to closing — and any additional work needed afterward to close a ticket or conversation — and then divide that by the total number of requests.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
Responding quickly is an important start (as AWT indicates), but paving a frictionless path toward a solution is the key to building your customers’ trust in your brand. Once AHT is optimized, your customer service center will be freed up to focus on the more important metrics that build satisfaction and, eventually, loyalty.

Tickets Solved

What it is
This metric quantifies the exact amount of issues your support center has solved.

How to calculate
“Tickets solved” doesn’t require any calculation — it’s simply the number of tickets that have been resolved over a period of time. Your customer service technology should keep a record of this number on a daily, monthly, or weekly basis.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
A high volume of tickets solved could simply reflect the quantity of service, rather than the quality of your interactions. But as your agents have more conversations with shoppers, they will become more experienced and better at providing the service that drives the other metrics higher up the hierarchy.

Improving the Foundational Metrics

Managers need to do everything in their power to optimize these metrics in order to pave the way for a successful customer service center. Consider some of the essential aspects of a well-attuned operation, and ensure you’re providing staff and customers with these capabilities:

  • Create more options for self-service, investing in automation tools like chatbots or quick response answers to make resolution times faster, particularly for simpler customer needs.
  • Make product information more easily accessible with a centralized knowledge base that updates across your digital presence, ensuring agents can draw upon crucial, consistent information with as little friction as possible. At the same time, keeping FAQs updated from that same knowledge base empowers customers to solve basic self-service needs on their own.
  • Assign your workforce appropriately, putting each agent on their highest-performing channel so that they’re set up for success and customers get an expert solution every time.

You can use these metrics to improve customer service operations and better cover the fundamentals of service — but don’t stop there. In the next section, we’ll take those logistic building blocks that you’ve established and work in the fabric of customer satisfaction to further your journey up the value chain.

Improving Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Advancing up the hierarchy of customer experience requires a brand to deliver on the aforementioned foundational metrics. From there, relationships evolve into the “Satisfaction” tier, where brands shift focus on the customer loyalty metrics that ensure shoppers don’t just find boilerplate solutions but feel inspired to consider a brand more seriously.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

What it is
This metric measures the percentage of customer requests resolved during their initial outreach.

How to calculate
Start by tallying up the number of times customers reach out per issue. Then, take the total number of customer requests and divide that number by the number of requests from previous outreaches to calculate your precise FCR average.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
By boosting FCR, you can ensure customers feel taken care of every time. The better this metric performs, the more the customer will feel satisfied and potentially promote your brand to their friends and family.

How to improve FCR
Provide your agents with the ability to improve their task resolution speed.

  • Train agents to feel confident when identifying each issue or request so they can either tackle it themselves or direct it to the best available agent.
  • Improve internal brand and product training, ensuring everyone on your customer service team is an expert on your catalog.
  • Invest in self-service tools like chatbots, quick response answers, and other automated solutions that help customers tackle basic issues on their own.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

What it is
This metric averages the level of customer satisfaction with your service quality, gathered through customer satisfaction surveys and other direct response tools.

How to calculate

CX leaders can derive customer satisfaction from surveys that ask questions about the quality of service shoppers have just received. In practice, these surveys should have a few key aspects in order to receive the best responses:

  • Offer surveys within a reasonable timeframe after the shopper has completed a transaction or service interaction.
  • Offer surveys directly on your pages, in the channels of communication, or followed up via email/SMS.
  • CSAT surveys in particular should be no more than five questions.
  • Don’t send repeat surveys to individuals who have already received or responded to one within the last six months of service.

Once you’ve established these parameters, your CSAT is calculated on a 1-to-10 or 1-to-100 score by averaging out the customer responses. For example, an average CSAT of 85/100 indicates strong, but improvable, CSAT potential.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
A high CSAT means happy customers — plain and simple. When your shoppers repeatedly have successful interactions with your brand, they’ll begin to trust you more and feel confident returning to shop with you.

How to improve CSAT
You can increase your CSAT by forming a more impactful, effective service center. Focus on adding contact channels to improve customer satisfaction.

  • Use omnichannel solutions that enable consumers to engage on their preferred channels.
  • Use analytics or real-time data to find out which channels are most popular with your customers, and focus your attention on those.
  • Train agents to incorporate more personal information into everyday interactions to increase the empathetic quality of each conversation.
  • Focus on the solutions that improve other baseline metrics referred to in the first section. The more your logistical operation is up to speed, the more likely your customers are to leave feeling satisfied.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

What it is
This metric shows how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to another person — essentially, a quantifiable scale of who will be your brand’s champion.

How to calculate
NPS can be found using a sample size of customers — ideally around 5% of your daily shoppers. Then, indicate which of them are “promoters” rather than complacent or detractors — you can gather this information in a couple of different ways:

  • Conduct in-person or digital focus groups of existing customers.
  • Offer online surveys to active shoppers.

Ask each of these shoppers if they’re likely to recommend your brand to a friend or family member. The number of respondents who say “yes” divided by the total number of customers surveyed is your final NPS.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
High NPS is an early sign of customer trust. Improving this metric not only indicates that you’re performing well with your existing audience, but also that you’re putting the pieces in place to expand that consumer base through the affordable and valuable power of word-of-mouth referrals.

How to improve NPS
Make an effort to drive up your NPS to turn your happy customers into brand ambassadors.

  • Foster your customer community — highlight user-generated content on your social media channels to put customers’ stories front and center.
  • Offer incentives, like discount codes, access to exclusive merchandise, or early access to sales and deals, to those who promote your brand.

Improving CX Loyalty Metrics

By focusing only on customer satisfaction metrics, you’ll become too invested in creating immediate revenue rather than establishing long-term value. Emotional connection drives sustainable customer loyalty — made valuable thanks to recurring, high-spending shoppers who love your brand.

In these final stages of the hierarchy — trust and loyalty — brands need to refine their efforts by focusing on the CX-focused loyalty metrics that reflect a curated tone, brand voice, and deep product knowledge.

Internal Quality Score (IQS)

What it is
This metric is a self-reflective measurement for CX leaders and staff to determine whether their customer service centers are adequately helping their customers and representing their brand.

How to calculate
Think of IQS like a self-auditing version of CSAT. To properly quantify this metric, you’ll have to establish certain KPIs for your service center — like product knowledge and conversation strength — and then measure your performance against these benchmarks. For instance, an internal auditor can evaluate these metrics on a 1–10 scale by comparing the total to an industry or internally set average.

Consider this example over SMS.

  • Your SMS agents have a product knowledge score of 8/10
  • Your SMS agents have a conversation strength of 7/10
  • Your SMS agents have a response speed score of 9/10

Based on just these three measurements, your IQS would land at 24/30 or 80% quality, which is relatively high, but could vary depending on the benchmark of success that you’ve established.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
Implementing processes and systems to improve IQS is critical to improving the way your customer service center works over time. Higher IQS also means your agents can do their jobs more easily, increasing their productivity and preventing attrition. Here’s why:

  • Higher IQS means your agents are more knowledgeable about the products, thus performing better against your internal measurements.
  • Higher IQS means overall faster and more satisfactory resolution times, meaning your agents are comfortable with the tools you’ve put in place and the support routing you’ve established.
  • Your IQS baseline also indicates when something is a service error or a product error if looked at in conjunction with other metrics — providing insight and opportunity to improve either agent training or internal information.

How to improve IQS
Building up better IQS requires your internal customer service infrastructure to be better attuned to hit the predetermined benchmarks you set.

  • Build up your support technology to be as accessible and navigable for agents as possible, so they can find simple pathways to customer solutions no matter the issue.
  • For new agents especially, don’t be afraid to use scripts to train them on certain channels. Over time, they should be able to build off of these baseline interactions to have more natural conversations, but a starting point that reflects your brand values and quality is essential for every channel.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

What it is
A numeric value based on the level of effort a customer has to give in order to reach a solution for their issues or requests.

How to calculate
Like CSAT, CES is also calculated via survey. The final score should be an average of the responses to specific survey questions that ask about ease of use, channel access, overall experience difficulty, and more.

  • Offer surveys within a reasonable timeframe after the shopper has completed a transaction or service interaction.
  • Offer surveys directly on your pages or followed up in preferred communication channels.
  • CES surveys should be no more than three questions asking for a 1-to-10 scalar response on effort.

Once you have your responses, take the average of the scalar responses to find your CES.

How it moves you up the hierarchy
Better CES reflects an essential piece of a loyalty-driving experience — ensuring that no matter how or when a customer comes to your service center, they’re able to find a solution with minimal effort. As noted by Gartner, “Customer effort is 40% more accurate at predicting customer loyalty as opposed to customer satisfaction”

How to improve CES
Stronger CES is possible through a more comprehensive customer service center — one that uses intelligent tools to give the best possible solution to each customer every time.

  • As with FCR, focus on building up your self-service tools so customers can solve simple requests and issues on their own. Going further, create or write out handy explainers, guidebooks, or other customer-accessible resources that can teach your shoppers more about your brand and help them with product issues that they’d otherwise feel they couldn’t handle themselves.
  • Explore more nuanced forms of automation to make your agents’ lives easier — which will have the cascading effect of customers having an easier time as well. For example, intelligent routing ensures that each customer is met with the best or most readily equipped agent for the task, based on factors like shopping history or personal details.

With Gladly, numerous ecommerce businesses have leveraged an intelligent, personalized service solution to foster deeper relationships with shoppers and drive valuable, long-term customer loyalty.

The Unparalleled Heights of True Customer Loyalty

The hierarchy of customer experience provides a direct path for you to achieve the long-lasting, valuable customer loyalty that every brand craves. Take the tips and strategies in this ebook and implement them to optimize each metric for the maximum return on your customer service center investment.

In your action plan for supercharging these metrics, consider using Gladly as your customer service solution of choice to turn your call center into a bona fide revenue-generating machine.