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Goals – Part 4: What is “success?”

In order to be considered among the best in the industry, your company would like to be able to claim a 95% success rate in responding to technical service requests. You survey customers after each technical support transaction is completed, asking whether the request was resolved in a timely manner. You monitor results on a quarterly basis to learn what percentage of customers report that ‘Yes,’ the request was resolved in a timely manner.* 

Assumptions: Your approach makes the following assumptions. Move on ONLY if you determine that these are appropriate:

·         Maintaining a 95% success rate among technical support requests will qualify your company as best in the industry.

·         A ‘Yes’ response to “Was your request resolved in a timely manner?” indicates technical support success.

·         Employees can directly impact this measure.



·         Scores are FAR from the ultimate target of 95%.

·         Scores are not consistent from one quarter to the next.

·         Scores are cyclical. There is a drop in performance at each second quarter.

Setting a goal:

·         Metric – Since there is great fluctuation in scores over time, your quarterly metric may need adjustment. Consider the following:

o   Monitor quarterly evaluations, but aim for greater CONSISTENCY before trying for improvement.

o   If quarterly consistency is not realistic given the business cycle, aim for semi-annual or annual targets that increase steadily until 95% is eventually reached.

o   Consider whether another metric might be more stable, more comparable to what other top companies are monitoring, more indicative of technical support success, etc .

·         Target value – 95% is not realistic at this time. Many alternatives exist, including:

o   Computing the average annual score and setting an initial annual target that represents a statistically significant improvement.

o   Targeting a quarterly score that is a statistically significant improvement over the score for that same quarter in the previous year.

Some questions that naturally follow the goal-setting process include:

·         how best to gain employee support, and

·         how to not only achieve the goal but also build upon that success. 

The next part of the Goals series will explore these topics, including the heavily debated topic of linking goals to employee compensation. 


* This survey question, bivariate scale, and census approach (surveying after EVERY transaction) are used here for simplicity of example. This is not a recommended design in all cases.


Cortney Lantry

Director, Marketing Sciences

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