When you think about social media customer service, there are probably two encounters that come to mind: the best experience a brand ever provided…and the worst.

For example, maybe you’re completely loyal to the airline whose customer service rep magically found you the perfect flight. Even in the face of price increases and flight cancellations, you’ll never book with another airline again.

On the other hand, you might still be furious at the furniture company that delivered the wrong items to your home and refused to refund you. Even after five years, nothing can persuade you to end your boycott of the brand.

Many of us know firsthand that poor social customer service has consequences, but we also remember those positive moments that create a lasting impression and the data agrees. According to The Sprout Social Index™, 76% of consumers agree they notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support.

Only the brands that go above and beyond for their customers receive enviable brand loyalty. In this article, we’re breaking down the essential social media customer service metrics you need to track to ensure you provide exceptional service and care on social. As customer service inquiries continue to increase on the channel, up-leveling your efforts will help you future-proof your business and stand out from your competition.

What are social media customer service metrics?

Social media customer service metrics are data points that help you tell the story of how well your customer care efforts are satisfying your customers. These metrics uncover what your social customer care team is doing well, where there are opportunities to improve and what tools are needed to fill those gaps. Social customer service metrics can be grouped into three categories: speed and efficiency, volume and team productivity, and sentiment.

A graphic that reads: What are social media customer service metrics? Data points that enable your team to tell the story of how well your customer care efforts are satisfying your customers. These metrics help you learn vital insights that translate to organization-wide goals.

Social customer support data also reveals how your support strategy on social fits into the omnichannel customer experience your brand provides. Using data empowers you to answer questions like:

  • Where are our customers most likely to make service inquiries?
  • How satisfied are our customers with the support we provide on social? How does it compare to other channels?
  • What are our customers’ most common questions?
  • Where in the funnel are our customers most likely to get stuck?

How to use customer service metrics to improve performance

Tapping into customer service metrics will help evolve your approach to customer care. With these findings, you will be on track to cultivate an emotional connection with your audience, build brand loyalty and foster customer retention and advocacy.

But the use of these metrics goes beyond improving customer satisfaction and experience. Social media customer service metrics have the power to transform the way you do business—from refining product development to building your company-wide strategy. For example, the team at Grammarly uses incoming customer support messages to surface valuable user stories for their product and user experience teams, as well as company leadership.

And they’re not alone. The 2023 State of Social Media reports that 62% of customer service strategy is informed by social media data.  Customer insights gleaned from service interactions on social are your “secret sauce” for building cross-functional collaboration at your company. Let’s get into the 10 social customer service metrics you need to monitor, and how you can track them with Sprout Social.

Speed and efficiency customer service metrics

How quickly your brand responds on social media contributes to your reputation for providing good customer service. According to our Index data, 69% of consumers expect a response from brands on social within 24 hours or less.

Measuring your team’s response rate efficiency is imperative. This is where an intuitive customer service software comes to play. Look to the following metrics to help benchmark and improve your response time and overall performance.

1. Average first reply time

Average first reply time refers to the time it takes for your team to send out the first reply to an inbound customer message within business hours.

2. Average reply wait time

Measuring the time to your first response is just the beginning. Average reply time reveals how long customers wait in between responses until their issues are resolved, which is equally important.

For example, if it took five minutes for you to reply to their first message, and 10 minutes to reply to their second, the average reply wait time would be seven minutes.

3. Service level agreement (SLA) adherence

A social media service level agreement outlines terms of service, responsibilities and expectations between a company, its social team and their clients regarding quality of service. Departments within the same organization can also have SLAs. Regardless of the parties involved, SLAs establish commitments and guidelines for standards, protocols and key performance indicators. Guidelines will vary by company, but social media SLAs can include response time guidelines, issue resolution protocols and a crisis communication plan.

SLA adherence refers to the percentage of customer queries resolved within the agreed-upon time frame specified in the SLA. For example, let’s say a SLA sets a goal of responding to inbound inquiries within three hours or less. If the company responds within that timeframe for every inquiry, the SLA adherence would be 100%.

4. Customer abandonment rate

Customer abandonment rate refers to the percentage of customers who abandon their support requests before receiving a resolution. High abandonment rate can indicate poor customer support, leading to unsatisfied customers and lost business. Tracking customer abandonment rate can help you identify areas of improvement.

How to track these in Sprout Social

In Sprout Social, the Smart Inbox unifies all your incoming messages into a single stream, enabling you to monitor incoming messages, foster conversations and respond to your audience quickly. The Inbox also creates multiple reports that visualize and contextualize your team’s customer service performance.

Sprout Social's Smart Inbox, an inbox within the platform that consolidates all incoming messages and mentions into one place.

The Inbox Team Report enables you to evaluate your brand’s reply times at a team level and distill the metrics down by team member. The report also demonstrates median first reply times, slowest reply times, unique messages replied to and total replies listed by team members.

Use these insights to evaluate agent response performance more accurately, identify bottlenecks within your team’s workflows and closely monitor each agent’s activity for quality assurance or training purposes.

Sprout's Inbox Team Report that displays overall average wait and reply times, as well as social customer service metrics by team member.

By using features like this in Sprout, MeUndies reduced their average response time to less than 20 minutes.

Volume and team productivity customer service metrics

High-quality customer service isn’t just about response times. Measuring customer support requires demonstrating you’re resolving all customers’ problems, questions and inquiries that require comprehensive solutions. To do this, compare your productivity data to your overall volume and social media customer service stats in your industry.

5. Total received messages

The number of total received messages indicates how many total customer messages landed in your inbox.

6. Total replies or response volume

This figure represents the total number of responses your team sends to customers.

7. Reply or response rate

Response rate is the rate that brands respond to messages or comments that they receive on a daily basis. Not every single comment or message will need a response, and the amount you need to respond depends on the needs of your customers. Social media response rates vary by industry.

8.  Resolution rate

Resolution rate—the percentage of customer inquiries that are fully resolved—reveals how equipped your entire company is to address customer inquiries. This data illustrates how well your internal teams collaborate to find solutions for customers in a timely manner. It’s calculated by dividing the number of total actioned messages by the total number of messages.

9. Average Handling Time (AHT)

Average handling time (AHT) refers to the average time it takes for a customer service representative to handle a customer inquiry from start to finish. Calculating AHT can help teams ensure inquiries are addressed and resolved in a timely manner. It can also illuminate opportunities to streamline workflows and identify which support scenarios require more attention.

How to track these in Sprout Social

Maintaining customer satisfaction requires an all-hands-on-deck approach because customer service is a team sport. Index data shows 36% of businesses say social customer care will be shared between marketing or customer service teams in the future. Measuring customer service productivity across teams is made easy with Sprout—here’s how you can do it.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ illustrating which teams will own social customer care in 2024. Some 36% of businesses say social customer care will be shared between marketing and customer service teams in the future. Another 22% say marketing will own social customer care, 17% say customer service will own it with the help. of marketing, 16% say exclusively marketing and 8% say exclusively customer service.

The Inbox Activity Report provides a holistic view of your team’s social care efforts by presenting trends of incoming message volume and identifying the rate and speed of actions taken on messages by your teams. This report answers how much your team is accomplishing in the Smart Inbox.

Sprout's Inbox Activity Report. In the report, you can see a summary of all key performance metrics for received messages and inbox actions and a change over time in inbox volume.

You can also use the Case Performance Report to measure your team’s productivity and efficiency based on case management. The report compares the number of assigned cases with the total completed cases. AI can save your agents time and effort with auto-generated replies that elevate an agent’s quality of response. For example, Sprout’s Enhance by AI Assist helps customer care teams tailor their messages faster.A graph from Sprout's Case Performance Report featuring the number of assigned cases plotted against the number of total cases for a support team.

Sentiment customer service metrics

With so much valuable performance data, it might be tempting to zero in on ways you can optimize your social customer care strategy. But don’t forget about the big picture. The insights you gain from your customer interactions are integral to your entire company’s strategy. Maximize the impact of your direct access to the customer by sharing sentiment analysis data companywide.

10. Positive, neutral and negative sentiment

Through sentiment analysis, you can learn a lot about what your customers think about your brand, products and services. Overall, sentiment can be described as generally positive, neutral or negative. Although that doesn’t encompass the full context of a customer’s experience or opinion, monitoring sentiment trends helps you track and maintain a healthy ratio of positive sentiment. Be on the lookout for changes over time.

11. Most used quick replies

If you use a chatbot to optimize customer interactions on social, most used quick replies refer to the most commonly selected options. Use this data point to identify customer support trends, and optimize your customer service process to address these common requests quickly.

12. Most received topics and subtopics

The keywords or themes that pop up in your inbox often are your most received topics and subtopics. Tracking these topics and subtopics is challenging without the use of a tagging system or machine learning capabilities—however, tuning into them is essential for learning about your audience.

13. Voice of the customer data

Social media could be described as the world’s largest focus group. It unlocks an unprecedented amount of voice of the customer data, which helps you get to know your customers’ behavior, pain points, preferences and needs on a deeper level. This customer service metric is less quantifiable, but nonetheless rich in value. VoC data becomes even more valuable when you can pair social data with data from your CRM for a full 360 customer view—like with the Sprout and Salesforce Service Cloud integration.

14. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)  vs. workload 

A customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures satisfaction with a company’s product, service or interaction on social media platforms. CSAT is measured individually through surveys with questions like “How satisfied are you with your experience today?” and “How would you rate our product/service?”

CSAT is a powerful customer support metric because it enables businesses to gauge customer satisfaction while gathering actionable data to further improve the customer experience. CSAT vs. workload refers to the comparison of customer satisfaction scores with the overall workload of the customer service team.

How to track these in Sprout Social

When you receive incoming messages in Sprout’s Smart Inbox, you are able to add tags that indicate the content of the messages. For example, you can tag for audience type or service issue. Tagging your messages will enable you to visualize trends in the customer service reports. Sprout users on the Advanced Plan can tap into AI-powered sentiment in the Smart Inbox and Reviews Feed. Posts will automatically be assigned a positive, neutral, negative or unclassified value, making it seamless to isolate messages and even assign Automated Rules according to sentiment.

Sprout's Smart Inbox filtered for the tags coffee and latte. Only messages with those tags appear in the inbox.

You can use Sprout’s artificial intelligence-powered listening tools to uncover sentiment trends from the Inbox. Listening tools make it easy to track changes in sentiment, which empower you to share reports in a timely manner—and act on negative sentiment before it’s too late. You can also bolster your listening queries with our Queries by AI Assist feature, which uses OpenAI’s GPT model to serve up a vast range of suggested terms to include in your tracking.

A Listening Performance Sentiment Summary in Sprout. It depicts the percentage of positive sentiment and changes in sentiment trends over time.

And you can use the customer feedback tool to build custom surveys for X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram and Facebook. Then view and analyze your results in the Customer Feedback Report.

Sprout's Customer Feedback settings, which feature a functionality to enable feedback for profiles. There are also settings and forms for feedback type, privacy policy URL and net promoter score.

Provide your customers with an unforgettable social customer service experience

Whether you’re part of a social media team handling social support or a customer care professional on a dedicated support team, ground yourself in your goals for customer service. Then, as you measure performance and social media customer service metrics, you can adjust and better cater to your customers.

Try Sprout Social free for 30 days to start gathering these insights and get to know your customers on a deeper level.