Virtual Agent How-to

Top 7 SMART Customer Service Goals and How to Set Your Own

When you set goals the right way, it can drive organizational success. Here's our advice to set your own SMART goals for customer service.
8 min read

Updated on April 25, 2023

Published on March 07, 2018

Smart customer service goals
Bob Grohs
Bob Grohs
Product Marketing

As a business leader, you continually set goals to improve revenues and profits, customer retention, and operational efficiency. But in addition to defining those goals, do you have a workable way to reach them? 

It can be particularly challenging for your customer service team to meet your goals. For example, you may tell them to “be polite to customers,” but your team may not know how to execute that or how to measure their success. It’s all about clarity and communication.

When you set goals the right way, it can be the driver of organizational success. And setting SMART goals for customer service will help you overcome those challenges. 

Why you need to set customer service goals

Providing excellent customer service won’t happen by chance. Even if you have an outstanding customer service team, your business needs a well-planned strategy and the right customer experience technology to ensure satisfaction and efficiency. Furthermore, taking a big-picture view, your customer service goals can also help your business build customer lifetime value (CLTV) and predictable monthly revenues. 

With the SMART approach, you’ll set goals that help you and your team work together to move the needle on progress toward excellent customer service and a more efficient business. 

(Pro Tip: Here are 7 types of customer experience projects as recommended by Gartner®)

How to set SMART goals for customer service?

Developing SMART goals for customer service is easy by remembering what each letter in the acronym represents. Remember, the SMART method won’t tell you anything specific about your organization’s needs — that part is up to you. But it will provide an effective plan for addressing your identified needs. 

Each part of the SMART method below includes a business example or two, but it may be helpful for you to have a goal in mind for your customer service team as you read through this section to see how it would work for your business. 

S – Specific

SMART goals for customer service should be granular, comprehensive, and unambiguously phrased, especially if they require multiple steps. 

The key is to proactively address questions your customer service agents might have after you communicate the goal, for example:

  • Who is responsible for working toward the goal?
  • What resources should we use to reach this goal?
  • Which methods should we use to reach the goal?
  • Why work toward this goal?
  • What obstacles or challenges will we need to overcome?
  • What’s the deadline?

By thinking through the questions your team may ask, you will create a detailed roadmap for accomplishing the goal, which is far more valuable than pointing your employees in the general direction of an outcome with little instruction on how to get there. 

For example, you may have directed your team to meet customer expectations. It’s a great goal, but it’s not specific. 

A SMART goal would focus on the element of customer experience you want to improve, for example, decreased average resolution time. After you have thought through achieving this goal, you may create a chatbot to answer simple customer queries, allowing your agents to address complex issues more quickly. 

Following the SMART system, you would also explain why you’ve set this goal, for example, to increase customer satisfaction and retention, how to overcome obstacles, like a long queue building up for a particular agent, and the date you want to see improved response time numbers. 

M – Measurable

Goals should always be measurable. In the example above, that team may have had an average first response time of 4.5 minutes for phone calls with a goal of reducing it to 3 minutes. Without measurable customer service goals — rather than simply saying first response times should be “better” — it’s impossible to eliminate ambiguity about whether agents throughout your entire team have accomplished them. 

However, in the customer service space, some goals may be more of a challenge to measure, for example, improving customer satisfaction. Fortunately, many customer support KPIs, such as Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), can make the qualitative measurable. 

(Pro Tip: Here’s how we’re reinventing the customer experience at Zoom)

A – Attainable

Goals should be reasonable and realistic. For example, setting a goal of 100% customer satisfaction by the end of the quarter would be great, but probably impossible. On the other hand, a SMART goal for customer service may be to find a way to improve your CSAT score by 5% by the end of the year. 

Setting attainable goals are important for three reasons:

  • If employees know a goal isn’t possible, they’ll be less likely to try to reach it
  • Working toward unattainable goals ties up resources that could be better spent elsewhere
  • Unattainable goals can lead to low morale

Ensure your goals are possible and provide the plan and the tools for your team to reach them. 

R – Relevant

Always take a step back to ensure your goals are relevant to your overall business goals and customer service team. 

For example, if your business’s goal is to reduce operational costs, setting a goal of decreasing the cost per call is relevant. Using the SMART method, you’d be specific about the decrease you’re aiming for, the timeframe to achieve that goal, and tools, such as an artificial intelligence (AI) customer service platform, to help streamline customer interactions and tasks. 

However, if your business goal is to increase revenues and your customer service team doesn’t sell or upsell, making them responsible for progress toward that goal would be irrelevant. 

Always put goals in front of the right teams to make them happen and build a company culture in which employees are sure of their roles. 

T – Timely

SMART goals make sense to do now. Explain why making changes is necessary for the present and the advantages it will provide in the future. 

Also, create a timetable to develop a sense of urgency. For more complex issues, set milestones that help your customer service team progress toward the goal in bite-sized steps and give you early warning signs that your plan is stalled. It will also allow you to make adjustments more easily if necessary. 

How to set and measure customer service goals for your team

Once you understand the method of setting SMART goals for customer service, you need to apply those principles to your customer service team. Input from your customer service manager and representatives is a good place to begin. They’ll assist with setting individual customer service goals. People closest to the operation will likely have the greatest insights into improvements needed and how to progress toward your organization’s mission. 

Another valuable source of information is your customers. Your CSAT score, NPS, or other results of customer surveys can provide insights into the right customer service goals for your organization (i.e., changes you make that will bring the greatest returns in customer support efficiency, cost-savings, increased growth, customer satisfaction, or employee satisfaction). 

Tips on setting SMART goals

There are a few rules of thumb to follow when setting goals for better customer service for your organization:

  • Set one goal at a time
  • Visually display goals as a reminder 
  • Ask employees for their input 
  • Break large goals into smaller subgoals
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust goals after their set
  • Offer incentives for achieving a goal

Remember, it’s about simplicity, not making things more complicated than they need to be. Don’t overwhelm employees with too many goals or ones too complex. 

Examples of SMART Goals for Customer Service

Here are seven examples of customer service goals devised with the SMART method to provide some inspiration. Consider adapting them, as well as the examples mentioned previously, to your operation.

1. Reduce customer wait times by X seconds

This is one of the most common customer service goals, but remember to make it specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. A SMART goal is to reduce customer wait times by X seconds by a particular date without scaling the customer support team. Let your team know how you’ll use technology, such as an AI chatbot, to reach it. 

2. Increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty

These are complex goals that require planning and setting milestones your team should reach over a longer period. The plan may include collecting customer feedback, calculating a CSAT score, and making changes to improve that score based on surveys. The next step may be to track customer retention related to those changes. Each milestone should follow the SMART format. 

3. Reduce customer churn rate

One of the common long-term goals for customer service is to improve the churn rate. The first step is to collect and analyze data, identify the reasons for churn, then make changes to address them. Those changes should be specific, measurable, and attainable. It may take several quarters to positively impact the rate. 

4. Improve Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS lets you know whether your customers would recommend your business to others. You need to find a way to impact customer happiness, for example, by responding to specific survey responses or reducing your customer effort score (CES). In this case, you need to make subjective things quantifiable so you can measure them and choose a timeframe for improvement to create a sense of urgency. 

5. Improve customer onboarding processes 

Onboarding is essential for providing positive customer experiences and helping customers get the most value from your products and services. Improving onboarding is a complex goal that requires creating customer journeys for each type of client you serve. Start with data that shows the path that most commonly leads to customer success and then implement tools to help guide new clients on that same journey. 

6. Increase the quality of customer service responses

Any time you include improvements in “quality,” you need to define what that looks like. Fewer errors? First call resolution? Aim for quality, but make sure you are specific and can measure progress. 

7. Promote self-service and efficiency

Encouraging clients to use self-service tools found in omnichannel contact centers rather than relying on phone calls can greatly improve efficiency and even increase customer retention and loyalty by offering a convenient way to access information. Plan specific steps that direct customers to self-service options, measure their effectiveness at different milestones on your timetable, and adapt your plan as needed. 

Do you need more information on creating SMART goals or other ways to improve your customer service and the tools to help you reach them? Contact us for information on Zoom Virtual Agent.

Our customers love us

Western Union
Western Union

Zoom - One Platform to Connect