Call Center Metrics that Matter- Moving Beyond SLA, CSAT and NPS


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This topic may be a bit controversial, but we are going to tackle it. Which metrics and KPIs really matter in your call center? The metrics we have been using for the last 15-20 years are ancient and don’t help measure a good experience. While we certainly need to be held to a standard, in some cases, it’s the wrong standard. Hitting certain numbers may make people feel good, but the actual customer experience may be suffering.

Question…has the customer experience gotten any better over the last few decades or so? Though we have tried to layer different technologies to improve the customer experience, the problem is that we measure results the same way we always have. We keep using these ancient metrics: service level, handle time, and ASA, completely disregarding all the new things that can be measured.

Using speech analytics, we can now listen to everything the customer says and analyze it in real-time: measuring tone and sentiment. We’re starting to really listen to that data now, but still every RFP we fill out at Expivia still includes those old metrics of service level adherence and ASA. They don’t include anything about the actual customer experience.
It’s not that those metrics aren’t important, but they aren’t enough to judge if your customers are having a good experience. There are several key points which will help us get away from these old metrics and truly improve the customer experience.

Embrace New Metrics

Get away from looking solely at things that are made from a Telephony program/platform they’re a small piece of the pie now. Other things matter more. Net Promoter Scoring was a step in the right direction, but it’s still not enough. What NPS helped us realize is that it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the full customer experience. It’s also about your self-service model, it’s your IVR, your website, all these things contribute.
A customer who is incredibly happy will turn into an evangelist for your brand. A negative customer can hurt your brand. In the social world we live in, the two extremes are often shouted to the rooftops online, but the people in the middle rarely say anything. Sometimes NPS input isn’t even about your call center, but perhaps the website was down or the associate was unable to access some information. It’s for this reason that NPS and CSAT isn’t the best measurement either.

Speech Analytics

Using speech analytics, you can take into consideration all of your correspondence with customers: all voice calls, all emails, all chat traffic. By “listening” to all this in analytics, you can get sentiment scores and rel VOC data. You can discover what’s happening with your customer along the full customer service journey. Doing this, you can identify trends in the customers who are calling in.

If 40% of your customers are calling in with a negative sentiment, that may mean they all had a bad experience before they even got on the phone with your agent. You can also track changes in sentiment over the course of the call. If the sentiment is becoming more positive, that’s a good indicator. If the sentiment continues to go down during the call, that means there’s some sort of call center problem. By using speech analytics, you can track every customer, not just the ones willing to answer surveys or who have extreme opinions one way or the other. Surveys can’t do that.

You can also look at trending keyword data. If people are calling with negative sentiment, you can track the keywords that seem to be popping up. It could be ‘website’ or ‘self-service’ or ‘IVR’. You can target those keywords to identify and find solutions for them. You can send them to your managers or higher-ups to fix this common issue. You may have just found and fixed an issue in your company that will help improve your company as a whole. Using the old metrics like hold time and ASA would never give you this much information. You would never have known.
Remember, these old metrics are still important. Keeping them in the green is great. But there’s more to the overall customer experience than hold time.

Look at Your Customer Service Lifecycle

There’s more to the call than just the call. Take a look at your IVR prompts, your self-service model, your routing, if you have omnichannel or multichannel, associate training, and your available service models. All of these things can be tracked with sentiment. Look at the whole customer journey. It’s about more than metrics. It’s about people.
When you focus on numbers, you turn people into numbers. People are people. They have feelings and they want to feel some understanding and empathy. Not everyone wants to get customer service in the same way. Focus on the experience your customer is having, not on what your rep is doing.

In Closing

To truly improve your customer experience, look beyond the standard KPIs everyone else looks at. These are the same KPIs we’ve been looking at for 30 years, but the customer experience hasn’t gotten any better. No matter how much technology you have or how great your standard metrics are, if they aren’t creating positive sentiment, then none of it matters.
Change what you believe a world-class call center experience is. Track sentiment and strive to improve the customer experience, not the numbers.

If you are interested in hearing a podcast on this topic check out our call center operations podcast “Advice from a Call Center Geek!” right here:

Thomas Laird
Founder and CEO of award-winning Expivia Interaction Marketing Group. Expivia is a USA BPO omnichannel contact center located in Pennsylvania. I have 25 years of experience in all facets of contact center operations. I have the honor of being a member of the NICE inContact ICVC Board. The iCVC is a select group of inContact customers selected to join as trusted advisors to help InContact validate ideas for new products and features and plans for future innovations. I am also the author of "Advice from a Call Center Geek" and host of the podcast of the same name.


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