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  • Writer's pictureSharon Oatway

Customer Service OKRs vs. KPIs: How do you measure success?

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Call center agent

In customer contact centers around the globe, the adage "You can't manage what you can't measure" stands as a timeless truth. Customer contact centers are, perhaps, the most measured of all channels -- from talk time, handle time, and abandon rate through to first contact resolution, CSAT, and conversion rates. When it comes to setting goals and measuring success, there is almost too much data, too many strategies, too many tools, and one too many frameworks at play. One framework that has been around for several years is OKR, or Objectives and Key Results.

In this post, we'll explore what OKRs are and how they differ from KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), take a look at some examples of customer service OKRs, and delve into how quality assurance plays a crucial role in identifying and defining OKRs in a call center environment.

What Are OKRs?

OKR, which stands for Objectives and Key Results, is a performance management framework initially popularized by Intel and later embraced by industry giants like Google and LinkedIn. OKRs are designed to help organizations set clear, measurable goals and track progress toward achieving them.

At its core, an OKR consists of two components:

  1. Objectives: These are ambitious, qualitative statements that define what an organization aims to achieve. Objectives are typically high-level and aspirational, providing direction and focus. They answer the question, "What do we want to accomplish?"

  2. Key Results: Key Results are specific, quantifiable, and time-bound metrics that indicate progress toward achieving an Objective. They answer the question, "How will we measure success?"

The primary distinction between OKRs and traditional goal-setting frameworks lies in their flexibility and adaptability. OKRs encourage regular check-ins and goal adjustments, fostering agility and adaptability in an ever-changing business environment.

"OKRs focus on what we want to achieve, not just what we want to measure. They encourage ambition, innovation, and continuous improvement, making them a powerful tool for driving organizational excellence." -- John Doerr, Author of "Measure What Matters: Online OKRs and the Power of Progress"

OKRs vs. KPIs: Understanding the Difference

While OKRs and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are both essential tools for measuring performance, they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics.

1. Focus on Goals vs. Performance Metrics:

  • OKRs emphasize setting specific, aspirational goals. They provide a clear direction for the organization to move toward. OKRs are more outcome-oriented and are designed to inspire action.

  • KPIs, on the other hand, primarily focus on measuring performance. They provide data and metrics that track how well a specific process or task is being executed.

2. Flexibility vs. Rigidity:

  • OKRs are flexible and adaptable, encouraging organizations to set ambitious goals and adjust them as needed based on progress and changing circumstances.

  • KPIs tend to be more rigid and are often tied to specific operational or departmental targets. They are typically not adjusted as frequently as OKRs.

3. Qualitative vs. Quantitative:

  • OKRs are more qualitative, with Objectives focusing on the desired outcomes. While Key Results are quantitative, they are still tied to achieving broader objectives.

  • KPIs are primarily quantitative and provide specific, numerical measurements of performance.

4. Time Horizon:

  • OKRs are typically set on a quarterly or annual basis, aligning with organizational planning cycles.

  • KPIs may be measured more frequently, often on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Ten Examples of Customer Service OKRs

Now that we have a better understanding of OKRs and how they differ from KPIs, let's explore ten examples of customer service OKRs. These examples demonstrate how organizations can use OKRs to drive improvements in customer service:

1. Objective: Enhance Customer Satisfaction

  • Key Result: Achieve a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 70 or higher by the end of the quarter.

2. Objective: Reduce Response Time for Customer Inquiries

  • Key Result: Decrease the average response time to customer emails to less than 6 hours within the next three months.

3. Objective: Improve First Call Resolution Rates

  • Key Result: Increase the first call resolution rate from 65% to 85% within six months.

4. Objective: Enhance Employee Training and Development

  • Key Result: Ensure that 100% of customer service agents complete a minimum of 20 hours of training annually.

5. Objective: Optimize Knowledge Base Content

  • Key Result: Achieve a 95% accuracy rate in knowledgebase articles by the end of the quarter.

6. Objective: Boost Customer Retention

  • Key Result: Reduce customer churn rate by 20% in the next six months.

7. Objective: Enhance Service Quality

  • Key Result: Ensure that 90% of tenured customer service agents achieve an average quality assurance score of 80% or greater by the end of the quarter.

8., Objective: Streamline Escalation Processes

  • Key Result: Decrease the number of escalated customer issues by 15% within three months.

9. Objective: Enhance Multichannel Support

  • Key Result: Launch a live chat support option and achieve a 90% customer satisfaction rating within two months of implementation.

10. Objective: Enhance Customer Feedback Loops

  • Key Result: Establish a feedback mechanism that collects customer feedback after every support interaction, aiming for a 70% response rate within the next month.

The Role of Quality Assurance in Identifying and Defining OKRs in a Call Center

Quality Assurance (QA) plays a vital role in the identification and definition of OKRs in a call center environment. Here's how QA contributes to this process:

  1. Performance Analysis: QA teams regularly assess and evaluate the performance of customer service agents. They identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, which can inform the creation of OKRs.

  2. Identifying Pain Points: Through monitoring customer interactions and analyzing data, QA teams can identify pain points in customer service processes. These pain points can serve as the basis for setting objectives aimed at addressing and improving specific aspects of service delivery.

  3. Data-Driven Insights: Quality assurance relies on data and metrics to assess agent performance and customer satisfaction. These insights can be used to define specific, measurable key results for OKRs.

  4. Training and Development: QA teams can collaborate with training departments to identify training needs and establish OKRs related to employee development and performance improvement.

  5. Process Improvement: QA teams are often at the forefront of process improvement efforts. They can identify areas where processes can be streamlined or optimized and set OKRs to measure the success of these improvements.

  6. Customer Feedback: Quality assurance teams collect and analyze customer feedback, which can inform OKRs focused on enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.


In the realm of customer service, OKRs offer a powerful framework for organizations to set and achieve ambitious goals. While OKRs and KPIs serve different purposes, they can work in tandem to drive excellence in customer service. By understanding the differences between OKRs and KPIs and leveraging the expertise of quality assurance teams, businesses can create and execute effective customer service OKRs that lead to improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and overall success.

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Sharon Oatway is a Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing professional with more than three decades of hands-on experience elevating the overall customer experience along with multi-channel contact center performance. As President & Chief Experience Officer of VereQuest, Sharon and her team have listened to, read, and analyzed several million customer interactions for some of North America’s leading brands. As a result, Sharon is a recognized thought leader in what it takes to build and sustain great customer experiences. Get in touch!


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