Great customer service means going out all the way to ensure that you and your customers are a happy lot. For businesses that would mean ensuring that a whole set of areas related to customer service are in top-notch condition.
A contact center serves as the first level of contact between the business and its client. Setting up a contact center with requisite staff and equipment is not guarantee enough to achieve success in your customer service efforts. It is essential for the business to monitor its operation, its practices, and its performance.
Regular, extensive, and effective performance monitoring and management of a contact center is a necessity for business decision making and for evaluation of processes and is a critical part of the best practices for contact center management. Implementation of these practices ensures that the contact center would achieve excellence in its goal, thus benefiting the overall business.
Performance monitoring of contact centers provides valuable information not just on the individual performance of the contact center but also on the following key attributes:
• Benchmarking Performance Vs Industry Peers
• Track Performance Over Time
• Identification Of Positives And Negatives
• Identification Of The Drivers/Reasons Behind Performance Gaps
• Corrective Actions
• Goal Setting For The Team And The Individual Performers
From the initial focus on cost cutting to improvement of the customer’s overall experience, a contact center’s management needs to ensure that, its performance metrics align well with the business’s objectives.
Importance of Performance Metrics
Key Performance Indicators are the metrics used to carry this out. Performance metrics are all directed at answering the question, “How is my contact center performing”?
The different categories of performance metrics relate to different parameters that influence the quality of contact center service and through that of overall business performance. A top-class contact center ensures that processes and procedures related to the following key operational functions of a contact center are tracked and optimized:
a) Workforce Management: Includes allotting staff, managing and monitoring the staff performance, scheduling, daily service standards.
b) Quality: Includes assessment of customer service through monitoring of quality indicators.
c) Technology: acquisition, implementation and monitoring of infrastructure and software needed to operate a contact center.
d) Reporting and Communication: Includes assessment of the performance of the contact center as well as the individuals in communication.
e) Financial: Includes monitoring and management of costs associated with running a contact center.
f) Risk Management: disaster recovery and back up services.
Six Effective Performance Metrics for Contact Center Success
There is a set of metrics associated with each area. One should remember that the importance of these metrics is liable to change with changing needs and trends. Therefore, educated usage and implementation of the metrics should be carried out. Identifying and focusing on major performance metrics would be a great way of carrying out performance monitoring. However, before you do that, here are the essential performance metrics that you should know about.
1. Cost Metrics: These metrics measure how well the contact center is managing the costs involved in running the contact center services including operating expenses and costs incurred on handling contacts. Some useful metrics include:
• Cost Per Call: Total cost associated with the handling of all calls/contacts within a specific time.
• Cost Per Inbound Contact: A very important cost metric. It measures the total annual operating expense of the Call Center divided by the annual inbound contact volume (from all sources of contact) of the Call Center. This ratio is an important measure of the operating efficiency of the contact center especially when taken into account with current standards of service delivery. If the ratio is high but the quality is poor, then it warrants attention. Regular tracking of this metric should be enforced.
2. Productivity Metrics: This is about how best the contact center is utilizing its resources including its staff, in the attainment of goals. Some of the key metrics include:
• Agents as Percentage of Total Headcount: It refers to the percentage of contact center personnel who are engaged in direct customer service activities. It is expressed as the Full Time Equivalent Agent headcount/Total call center headcount.
• Number of Inbound Contacts/ Agent/ Month: A low value can indicate underutilization of the agent; a high value can indicate high agent utilization and better agent scheduling.
3. Service Level Metrics: These metrics are associated with measuring the quality level of the service delivery by the center. Some of the important metrics include:
• Average Speed of Answer (ASA): This is the total wait time that callers are in queue divided by the number of calls handled by IVR and live agents. The metric is a measure of the responsiveness of a contact center. It is one of the most commonly used service level metrics in the contact center and is used to track service level compliance in accordance with set goals.
• Service Level and Response Time: The percentage of all calls answered by a live agent within x seconds is referred to as the service level. It is a measure of the responsiveness of the contact center to the customer and measures service compliance in adherence to set targets. Response Time is a measure of the time taken to complete 100% of the contacts. These metrics are connected to the kind of productivity desired in a contact center.
• Call Abandonment Rate: This refers to the percentage of calls that were connected to the ACD but were disconnected by the caller before the process was completed or before the agent was contacted. A very important metric, it is a measure of the level of customer dissatisfaction with the service. A high CAR is a serious comment on the operation of the call center services.
• Accessibility: The set of measures related to this attribute, determines the accessibility of the contact center to the customer.
• Longest Delay in Queue: A real-time performance metric that measures the age of the
• Call that has been the longest in the queue.
• Other important metrics include Schedule Adherence, Forecasting Accuracy, Self-service accessibility and contact quality.
4. Quality: Measures for ascertaining the level of quality offered by the customer service relates to actual resolution of the issue and the quality of the process involved.
• Customer Satisfaction: This is the most important parameter that provides information on the current level of customer satisfaction. This needs to be regularly tracked. There are various ways of determining the perceptions of a customer towards a contact center’s customer service efforts:
o Customer surveys
o Customer praise and complaints
o Observation of customer interactions with staff
• The surveys may be related to the products, issues resolved, customer experience, and expectations fulfilled. High customer satisfaction is evidence of successful customer service practice and need not be associated with high costs of customer service or high cost per customer contact. High call quality rates and High FCR rates are related to this measure.
• First Call Resolution: This metric is applicable only to calls answered by live agents. It is a ratio of the number of calls resolved on the first call, divided by the total number of resolvable calls. This is a crucial measure of the contact center’s quality and hence is one of the most tracked metrics. However, it cannot be used by itself as the complete metric as a few customers may not have an issue with getting their issue resolved on later attempts. It is found that the level of staff training provided is proportional to the FCR rates of a contact center
• Call Quality: Evaluating the quality of a call helps contact center to understand about the effectiveness of its customer service practices. A contact center may develop its own rating scale to gauge call quality, which may range from 1-10 to 1- 100 based on different parameters. The parameters may include such things as agent trait and responsiveness, quality of interaction, professionalism, knowledge, smoothness of process, etc.
5. Agent Performance Metrics: Monitoring the performance of the agent is the key to successful contact center performance. There are various metrics used to estimate the effectiveness of the agent such as Agent Occupancy Rate, Agent Turnover Rate, Daily Agent Absenteeism Rate, Agent Schedule Adherence Rate, Training hours for new agent and annual agent training hours, Agent Tenure and Agent Job Satisfaction. Some of the key metrics include:
• Agent Occupancy Rate: It is a measure of the actual time taken by the agent on a call or after-call work as compared to the total available time. The AORs reflect the quality of agent scheduling of the contact center as well, as how efficiently the contact center is using its resources. This is a measure of overall call center effectiveness, rather than the performance of an individual agent. The AOR increases as the volume of calls increase. However, contact center needs to monitor its level- an overly high AOR can indicate the possibility of staff exhaustion.
• Agent Satisfaction: The success of a contact center is heavily influenced by the satisfaction of its employees. Periodic conversations as well as formal surveys may provide contact center management with an accurate picture of the employees’ views regarding the contact center operation and help them to take steps for possible improvement.
6. Contact Handling Metrics: These metrics measure the performance related to agent management of customer. These include such metrics as inbound contact handle time (time taken by an agent on a contact) and IVR completion rate. The latter refers to the number of contacts that handled successfully without the requirement of a live agent.
Many performance metrics can be used to evaluate the different aspects related to the functioning of a call center. Organizations need to choose the metrics that provide information on what is most important to them. Selection of the relevant metrics and its rigorous implementation would certainly help organizations boost the quality of their contact center services.