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How to Calculate your Contact Center Service Level & Why this Metric Matters

November 20, 2018 / Evolve IP

There are many possible metrics call or contact centers may use to set performance level benchmarks. Calculating service level is an important one. Here’s why.

You probably didn’t become a contact center manager thinking you were going to have to know formulas. But, if you’re in leadership for a center, by now you know there is math to be done. One of the pivotal calculations you may rely upon is service level. Here’s some help with calculating service level and why it matters so much.


What do we mean by service level?

Your contact center is all about customer service. Or, if it isn’t, it probably should be. So, of course, in these days of metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you need to measure service level.

In a nutshell, service level reflects your company’s accessibility to customers. But more specifically it reflects the effectiveness of your contact center staffing strategy and how well your company is planning for inbound contact volume. Without this metric, your contact center managers are going on gut instinct and habit, which aren’t always the most reliable measures for success.


How do you calculate service level?

Different organizations are going to look to calculate service level in distinct ways. Service level can be measured at many levels:

  • Period of time
  • By agent
  • Per team
  • By department
  • For the entire company.

Whatever your predefined boundaries, you will be measuring the percentage of contacts answered within that time frame, by that individual or group. The calculation considers inbound contacts answered within the threshold plus contacts missed within that time frame divided by total answered contacts added to total missed contacts.

Service Level = (inbound answered + inbound missed within time frame) / (total answered calls + total missed contacts)

A common service level in the call center industry is the 80-20. This typically sets a target of 80% calls answered with an average speed of answer (ASA) of 20 seconds or less. The remaining 20% of calls are taking longer to be answered, perhaps due to the nature of the contact or the average handle time.

Omni-channel centers should set different service level goals for each channel of contact. For instance, you might aim to answer 80% of emails within four hours or 80% of chats within 90 seconds.

The Inner Circle Guide to Omnichannel

This survey report of over 1,000+ contact center professionals includes some interesting findings & trends around the omnichannel contact center market.

Yet there is no single, standardized level of service that will work for every contact center and all channels. It’s up to your leadership to calculate service levels at your company and set benchmarks for improvement. You may or may not include abandoned calls (or not those that are abandoned before a certain amount of time has elapsed), or you might set your service level timeline to begin when the customer has made their interactive voice response (IVR) selection. This is where your organization’s own needs and goals will come into play.


Why does calculating service level matter?

A low service level is not good. A low level could indicate:

  • Your agents need further training or better access to information to handle contacts efficiently
  • Your staff scheduling requires optimization and greater flexibility to handle fluctuations
  • Your employees are spending too much time on after call reporting and documentation.

How much your contact center values its service level metric is up to you. A 2015 study, What Contact Centres Are Doing Right Now found the percentage of contact center professionals who saw this as a “very important” metric had decreased from 70.0% to 62.7% in just twelve months.

At Evolve IP we value the many ways our efforts make a difference to your call or contact center’s success. Our call center software solution helps you to automatically analyze service level. Track and display results to help agents and managers make more data-driven decisions and act in real-time on the results. Learn more today!

Categories: Contact Center
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