The experience your customers have with your call center is often the only personal, human-to-human experience they have with your company. That’s why, whether they’re calling to place an order, ask for information, request technical support, or complain, it’s essential that their experience is satisfactory if you want to keep their business.
The best way to measure your call center performance is through call center metrics, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs). This quality monitoring via performance metrics provides an objective way to find out if the customer experience provided meets your brand expectations.
Tracking call center metrics gives managers a standardized, and often automated, way to measure the team’s overall performance and goal completions. In most cases, several KPIs are tracked, frequently serving as benchmarks for gauging agent performance, customer interaction, and quality assurance methods. By examining call center KPIs, workforce management can then make strategic decisions to improve call center effectiveness, customer loyalty, and customer retention.
For example, managers who notice a bottleneck in customer call routing may opt to utilize call center software like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which interacts with callers through automated menus before connecting them to a live agent.
Conversely, a decreasing customer satisfaction score can come from a high number of detractors. Raising this score may require relying on IVR less in favor of putting callers in touch with agents on the first ring.
Customer experience metrics examine how well customers perceive their experiences when calling into your call center. These measures affect customer retention and loyalty. Higher customer experience leads to longer customer life spans and more positive word of mouth advertising.
Also known as first contact resolution, FCR reveals whether your agents resolve the problems of customers the first time that they call your business. There are two ways to determine FCR rates:
In either case, a higher number translates to a better resolution rate, which leads to more loyal customers and a more profitable call center.
You can use CSAT to determine how satisfied your customers are with their call center interactions. Higher CSAT scores–like our partners’ average 95% CSAT rating–mean that customers end their calls with their issues resolved and brand sentiment intact.
The easiest way to measure CSAT is to implement a short automated survey into your call center software, which runs immediately after every call while the interaction is still fresh in the customer’s mind.
Surveys can ask callers to rate their service on a scale ranging from 1, highly dissatisfied, to 5, highly satisfied. As ratings come in, you can begin to calculate CSAT as a percentage by taking the number of satisfied customers (who picked 4 or 5) divided by the number of survey responses. You then multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.
Some IVRs have the capability to automatically alert call center managers of a below-average CSAT score given by any one caller. Managers can immediately contact the customer to rectify the situation as a way of performing damage control and restoring loyalty.
Though not often used, the CES measures how easy it is for the customer to deal with your company. Again, this metric is measured with the use of an after-call survey asking callers how easy it was for them to get their issue resolved. Callers then pick a number from 1, very easy, to 5, very difficult. To calculate the CES, divide the total sum of all responses by the number of total customer responses. In this example, lower scores indicate that your customers find it easy to deal with your call center.
The NPS objectively determines what your customers think of your goods and services. Along with customer reviews, it measures customer loyalty and customer retention, and can predict if your organization will grow. It asks customers to answer simple questions, such as “How likely are you to recommend our company to your family and friends?” on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as “highly unlikely” to 10 as “very likely.”
You can then group customers into three categories.
Determine your NPS by subtracting your percentage of detractors from your percentage of promoters.
Operational metrics measure the performance of your call center over a specific time. These benchmarks reveal the peak periods with the highest call volume and define staffing needs to deal with more inbound calls. Managers then know how well your call center operates each day and can determine ways to optimize operations and improve the level of service provided.
The CPC uses the total cost of all calls divided by the total number of calls. Companies often create a target CPC to then determine whether the call center goes above or below the target. Managers then have a foundation by which to allocate resources and create a budget.
The number of phone calls answered by the call center comprises calls handled, which is usually categorized into calls handled by an agent and those handled by the IVR. However, this metric usually does not count abandoned calls, when customers hang up before any talk time due to frustration with long wait times.
The PHT defines the time of the day when the call center receives the most calls. Knowing this metric helps call center managers determine when to schedule the most agents, which supports other metrics such as calls handled and CPC.
The call arrival rate represents the number of incoming calls that the call center receives during a specific time frame. Call arrival rates are usually measured in minutes, hours, or days.
Managers look at how these numbers fluctuate over long time periods to gauge what times of the week, month, or year have the highest number of calls. They can then determine whether the call center has enough agents to handle the calls or whether more staff is needed.
Dividing the total time spent for answered calls by the total number of calls produces the ACL, or average call length. This result does not include any prep time or follow-up work done outside of the call. It also does not take into account any extra time that the agent must spend with a customer to solve a particularly complex issue.
Knowing this KPI helps managers set the expected time that the agent has to spend on each phone interaction. Shorter ACLs reduce the hold times and the number of agents needed by a call center.
The average age of query is the average amount of time that a customer query, or issue, remains unresolved. It divides the total number of days or hours that queries remain open with customer support teams by the total number of open queries. Ideally, all issues would be resolved on the first call, so as not to affect the average age of query. Higher FCRs can lower this metric.
This number provides insight into how long agents take to resolve more complex issues. If your average age of query is too high, call center agents may either need more training on how to handle difficult issues, or the team may need a process for routing complex queries to more experienced staff.
The rate of repeat calls takes the number of calls that originate from the same caller and are related to a specific issue, and divides that value by the total number of calls. This metric relates to the FCR and highlights problems that were not resolved in the first call. Repeat calls are frequently tracked for inbound call centers, and can help a company determine what issues customers continually experience.
With this information, managers can devote more resources to resolving recurring problems either through self-service options or agent training. Your company can also create customer education campaigns, such as online tutorials or social media posts, that explain the problem along with its solution, to help avoid future issues.
To prevent customers from becoming frustrated as a result of spending a long time on hold while waiting for an agent, the call center can ask for contact information from customers and then give them the option to receive a callback. The number of customers who request this option in a given time becomes the rate of callback messaging. Managers may decide to hire more agents to deal with callbacks.
The most important assets of any call center are the agents who constantly deal with customer issues. The following KPIs measure agent performance and help spot deficiencies that need correction. They can also celebrate improvements in agent productivity and be used to identify and reward top performers.
The ASA shows the amount of time it takes an agent to respond to a customer who is waiting on hold. If customers are waiting too long and hanging up before any interaction, this metric goes up, which produces more customer hang-ups before any interaction. A high ASA may also reveal that agents are spending too much talking time on answering calls.
The AHT measures the average time it takes for agents to handle customer issues. A smaller number generally means greater customer satisfaction and a higher FCR. You want to ideally reduce the AHT but not at the expense of short-changing callers, reducing the service level, or offering poor-quality responses.
The agent utilization rate is the average percentage of work time that agents spend answering calls (also known as the occupancy rate). This KPI is best tracked over the course of a month, because call work time can vary too much every hour, day, or week. This percentage is found by dividing the average number of minutes spent on calls per month by the average number of total minutes worked during the month, then multiplying the result by 100 for the percentage.
You can rely on this rate to determine the efficiency of your agents and the staffing needs of your contact center. If your rate is 50 percent or less, the call center may have too many agents for current call arrival rates. If your rate is very high, your agents may be rushing their calls, making too many errors, and risking burnout.
How well do agents manage their time on the job? The answer lies in the schedule adherence rate. A high percentage means the team spends most of their time dealing with customer issues. This value is found by adding the handling and available times, then dividing the sum by the number of paid hours. You then multiply the result by the percentage.
Both inbound and outbound call centers that maintain a schedule adherence rate of 80 percent or better are generally regarded as highly successful.
Knowing the calls answered per hour by your agents measures how productive they are. This metric is determined by subtracting the agents’ idle or waiting time from the total available time. You then divide the number of calls answered by the result. This number can vary based on shift changes and seasonal call volume, among other factors.
The average hold time looks at how long customers spend on hold during a single call, which includes before an agent answers, while waiting for the agent to retrieve information, and during a transfer to a higher-level agent. Every second spent holding during this time frame risks the customer hanging up out of frustration.
When customers contact your call center for the first time, their first impression of your company is formed based on how they’re treated. Callers spend valuable time to contact your company, and how your agents use their time affects overall caller satisfaction. Callers are judging the amount of time that they’re spending on hold and how you communicate wait times, all before they even talk to an agent. Call initiation metrics classify the KPIs related to this first customer experience.
The FRT measures the time between the customer making a request and the agent responding to that request for the first time. Many call centers mandate a specific time for FRT in which agents must respond because this metric has a big effect on customer satisfaction. A good number is 3 minutes.
If your customers wait on hold for too long, they’re likely to hang up in frustration. Call abandonment rate divides the total number of abandoned calls by the total number of incoming calls. Multiplying the result by 100 gives you the percentage. An ideal call abandonment rate is 5 to 8 percent or less.
It’s worth noting that customers are usually willing to wait longer for technical support than for sales. Call center managers should also be aware that mobile calls usually have higher rates, going up to 25 percent.
The metric for active waiting calls represents the percentage of active calls that are waiting for an agent to answer. Best tracked in real-time, this KPI affects day-to-day operations. If too many calls are waiting in relation to the number of answered calls, you need to figure out what is causing the backlog and what to do to reduce it. If this KPI is too high, it may increase the number of abandoned calls.
Calls are blocked when they go to voice mail or customers are asked to call back later. This may happen when call centers don’t have enough agents to deal with the number of inbound calls, or when waiting queues are set up to play a busy tone and stop interacting with customers when they are full.
If your percentage of calls blocked is high, you may need more employees to deal with the call volume or your agents may be spending too much talk time on each call.
Tracking your call center metrics can objectively define call center performance. These numbers act as a foundation for quality assurance efforts to improve how your customer experiences your company. Call center KPIs that you can track and examine include: