7 Key Performance Indicators to Measure and Optimize for a Great Call Center

In its broadest sense, there are two ways that you judge whether a call center is fulfilling its requirements: “Are the calls getting answered?” and “Are those answered calls being resolved satisfactorily?” Since the first call centers or contact centers were created in the mid-20th century, these have been the primary metrics by which call center success is judged. 

However, in the age of big data, it’s possible to drill down on a number of different metrics and call center KPI to work out whether they are working as well as they could. But what exactly should you be looking to measure in order to gauge performance and, where necessary, make improvements? 

Here are seven of the key performance indicators you should consider as you set out to optimize the call center environment.

#1. First call resolution

As noted, this is one of the big ones: Did the agent manage to sufficiently address the requirements of the caller without having to escalate or transfer the call to a colleague? First call resolution is arguably the most important metric to track because, ultimately, it refers to the reason people are phoning a call center to begin with. Get this right and you know that customers are at least going to feel the time invested in making the call was well-spent.

#2. Average handle time

Customers don’t want to be on the phone for longer than they have to be. The average handle time is an average for how long it takes the agent on the other end of the line to complete the conversation with a caller. It’s a measure of efficiency that allows the agent to get on to other calls and the caller to get on with the rest of their day. Beware, though: While average handle time is essential to track, don’t assume that the speed with which agents can race through calls is the most significant indicator of whether they can do their job effectively. Encouraging agents to wrap up quickly as speedily as they can can mean a dip in quality.

#3. Wait time before being connected to an agent

This one relates to the average handle time because, as noted, the faster an agent is able to wrap up a call, the sooner they’ll be able to get on to answering the next one. Customers are busy people, and there’s only so many repeated “Your call is very important to us” messages they’ll listen to before it seriously affects the overall customer experience. 

#4. Hold time after being connected to an agent

Customers might think their days of waiting are over by the time they actually get through to an agent. Not so. During a call, an agent might need to put the caller on hold in order to find a piece of information or speak with a colleague. Measuring the amount of time a customer is put on hold is an important metric to track since, like the initial wait time, this will affect how the customer feels their query was dealt with.

#5. Abandon rate

Customers don’t typically phone call centers for fun. They’re doing so because they want to get a query answered, and they’re happy to do so even though they probably know that there will be a wait time involved. But callers can only be pushed so far. Abandon rate refers to the number of calls that are ended by the customer prior to being connected to an agent for a call resolution. Some abandoned calls may be the result of error, such as those people who phone the wrong number and hang up to redial. However, there are also plenty of cases in which customers get frustrated, or simply run out of time available to them at that juncture, and decide to terminate the call rather than waiting. A high abandon rate is proof positive that there is something awry with your call center answering approach. More agents may well be needed.

#6. Agents hitting their targets

Targets are important in just about every job, including customer service positions. Targets will vary depending on what the call center is carrying out. For example, a sales-focused call center will, obviously, be focused on selling products or services to customers. In that case, hitting targets likely means successful sales to a customer by an agent. Measuring the percentage of calls, or the overall number, that end in a sale can help highlight which employees are performing best in this area.

#7. Customer satisfaction

This metric may require additional measuring capabilities, such as customer surveys following a call. However, it’s essential to get a firm grip on whether or not customers feel satisfied with the overall service they received. That information can, in turn, be used to help further hone the offerings of a call center.

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