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Call Center Metrics that Matter Most – Part 1: Collecting the Data

December 1, 2014 / Rich Fox

Metrics, Metrics, Metrics… anyone working in a call center knows how important they are. But how do you determine which metrics you need to focus on?

To figure that out, let’s think about what your callers really want from your call center….and, let’s do that by looking at what they DON’T want from you:

“Answer my interaction quickly…and by quickly I mean right away…otherwise it FEELS like I’m waiting FOREVER!”

“I want to speak with a knowledgeable friendly person that can help me…empathize with me…tell me you can help…provide me accurate information.”

“Resolve my inquiry on the first call….please, please, please do not have me chasing my tail…don’t transfer me to 14 different departments.”
“Follow through on your committed actions….make it happen…do what you say….don’t let me fall through the cracks.”

So, how do you measure the customer experience to ensure these things don’t happen?

There are many goals for a call center. Some of these metrics are captured in the phone system, others require additional systems or processes to collect data, and others require that you marry up the data from multiple systems to give you a holistic picture.

Business drivers
These typically involve the core functions of the organization or call center and revolve around business transactions. They often are combined with ACD information. Common drivers include cost per call, revenue per call, average call value, sales conversion rate, cross-sell, etc. Evolve IP’s customers often marry up phone data with these other systems to produce these insightful business metrics.

Quality Management
This typically involves a conscious and consistent effort to review each agent’s customer interactions, grade the agents, provide coaching/feedback, and operate continuously to improve agent performance. This evaluation includes customer service skills, product knowledge, system expertise/usage, and various efficiency and effectiveness measures to create an overall Call Quality score.

Customer Satisfaction & Employee Satisfaction
The ultimate measure…net promoter score…are your customers loyal to your organization? Would they recommend your services to their connections? Of course a happy employee is critical to your organization and also is directly related to customer satisfaction. This data is often captured via surveys, which can be post-call surveys or those that take other forms such as email or web-based surveys.

Work Force Management (WFM)
For customers that have deployed a WFM solution, metrics include forecast vs. actual volume, scheduled staff vs. actual, agent adherence to schedule, forecast accuracy. Evolve IP has customers using various WFM tools like IEX and Monet for forecasting and real-time adherence that are fed historical and real-time data by the ACD.

Phone System / ACD
Strictly from the call center ACD, there are just a few key metrics that you should use to judge your call center’s performance, mostly focused on how quickly you are answering calls:

    • Service Level – This is calculated by taking the number of calls you answered within your goal (say 20 or 30 seconds) and dividing it by the number of calls received. This is indicative of the percent of callers that were answered within your organizational target goal. A common goal is to answer 80% of the calls within 20 seconds. I recommend that you look at this by interval not as an average across all the intervals in a day. In other words, what percent of intervals did you hit your SL goal? That way, you ensure that the customer experience is consistent throughout the day. In many call centers, the first hour or two or last hour or two will produce poor results since they have the minimal amount of staff. During the middle of the day, when all the shifts are in the office, the results are phenomenal – making the overall results for the day look great. If you were one of those end of the day callers and you waited on hold for 10 minutes, would you consider that a great experience? That’s why you should look at the SL across ALL intervals of the day since a daily result can be misleading.
    • Average Speed of Answer (ASA) – The equation for this metric is the total caller delay divided by the total number of ACD calls. This serves as a substitute for Service Level. Because it is an average, it is very misleading – many callers answered before ASA, and many wait far longer. For example in the red/blue bar graph below, blue bars represent the ASA while the red bars represent individual caller’s wait times.

If your call center is consistently hitting an 80/20 Service Level, your ASA will likely be about 15-17 seconds. However, that’s because many callers are answered right away without waiting. In reality, about 30% of those calls queued and there are quite a few callers that waited a few minutes to get answered. So the 15 or 17 second average really doesn’t represent as true of a picture of the customer experience. ASA should be considered a fallback position from Service Level since it is much less indicative of the customer’s experience.

  • Answer rate and abandon rate – The abandon rate is the inverse of the answer rate. These metrics are secondary to Service Level & ASA, and more a byproduct of the staffing lined up to handle incoming call volume. This metric often represents caller behavior more than call center performance and you have far less control of this stat. I like to look at this metric but not judge by it; it’s not black/white like ASA or Service Level. You can’t build staffing models to achieve an answer or abandon rate.


I hope you will pop back in next week for Part 2, where I will discuss the metrics by which you should judge your agents’ performance.

For more information on the Evolve IP Call Center Solution, Click here

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