Call Center Optimization: 4 Metrics to Measure

Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Customer Service, Sales 2.0, Small Business Efficiency, Telemarketing [ 5 Comments ]

Contact Center TipsBecause customers are now, more than ever, empowered when making a purchase decision, businesses and contact centers are looking for ways to address their changing needs. When it comes to call center success, it’s all about meeting the need of clients, customers and callers. In a 2013 study, Aberdeen Group surveyed businesses regarding their contact center workforce management (WFM) activities. Because many businesses understand the value of repeat customers, it makes sense that the top objectives driving these activities revolve around the customers. 48% cited their top objective as improving the quality of customer interactions (Tweet this stat!) followed by 46% citing improved agent productivity and utilization. Another 37% cited improving overall response time to customer needs. In order to improve your call center’s performance and help your teams meet their goals, focus on these four metrics.

Related: Receive quotes from our vendors and get set up with an inbound call center. 

First Contact Resolution (FCR) Rate

Each and every month, quarter and year, take look at how your team performs when it comes to first contact resolution rate. Customers don’t want to call in multiple times or have to speak with more than one representative in order to have their questions answered. In order to improve first contact resolution rate, consider the following technical solutions which can help your business improve this metric.

  • VoIP Phone System: Many VoIP phone system services offer a virtual assistant that can route calls according to your directions. Routing callers to the person most equipped to provide them with the answer, i.e. skill-based routing, is a great way to get started with improving FCR.
  • CRM Software: Are you agents able to quickly access customer information? Make sure each agent is utilizing your CRM system to its full potential so that they have a 360° view of the customer calling.
  • Email Automation: Measuring the FCR rate involves measuring some customer data. Automatically send an email to customers following their call to determine whether or not their issue was resolved during the first call or if they’ll need to make a call in the future.

Customer Satisfaction Rate

While improving first contact resolution rate is bound to increase satisfaction, your business should seek out additional opportunities to provide customers with an experience that exceeds their expectations. Monitor agents in real-time to make sure they are adhering to your call center code of conduct and are communicating effectively with customers. Another way to measure customer satisfaction rate is to send out customer feedback surveys following each call and measuring agent data to determine who top performers are when it comes to customer satisfaction and why. Offline training, online guidance and additional multi-channel monitoring are all ways your business can empower call center representatives to improve customer interactions.

Related78% of Customers Bail Because of Bad Customer Experience: Are Yours Bailing, Too?

Agent Utilization Rate

Agent productivity is often measured by the percentage of time spent on tasks that add value to the business. This could be answering or responding to phone calls, sending emails, or helping out other agents. Maximizing the time your business has each agent on the clock or in the office is crucial to improving agent utilization rate. By improving this metric, your business could reduce overall personnel costs by beginning to make use of the already available resources.

  • Ensure agents are trained to manage back office work and can accommodate unexpected staffing needs.
  • Provide your agents with continuous training, especially during idle times, that are tailored to each agent and the areas they need improvement. Address gaps in performance with training to help your team become top talent.
  • Implement a formal employee engagement program to manage your representatives’ experiences. Team bonding activities, group trainings on customer experience and the right tech tools can all be a part of your engagement strategy.

Related: 5 Tips for Improving Your Call Center

Average Handle Time

If customers are the focus for your business, as they should be, your business ought to be monitoring average handle time. Efficiency leads to success. Customers want their calls and questions answered without a long wait. Pay attention the average handle time of your agents. Your virtual assistant, employee training, and a focus on customer satisfaction should all be a part of your strategy to improve average handle time. While answering questions quickly is important, you don’t want to miss the human connection that comes with a customer calling in. Find the best balance using customer satisfaction surveys and agent data that your business monitors.

While these four metrics are only four of the ones your business should be measuring and monitoring, these four are all important when it comes to return customers and call center performance. Focus on providing agents with tailored training, utilizing customer feedback data, and becoming a customer-focused, efficient business and your call center will see improvements.

5 thoughts on “Call Center Optimization: 4 Metrics to Measure

  1. avatarJason Napierski

    It’s important to be careful when monitoring average handle time. You never want to rush the customer through a call. If they have multiple questions or concerns, take your time. If they are rushed through the call they will feel like they are not a priority.

  2. avatarErica Bell Post author

    Hi Jason,

    Good point. Average handle time could mean a representative is rushing through calls. These metrics should play into and off of one another. A fast handle time, but low customer satisfaction rate, could mean the agent is moving too quickly through calls and leaving customers disappointed. Thanks for reading!

    – Erica

  3. avatarMike Smutniak

    Some musings from my end on this fabulous topic..
    I have to agree with Jason’s point of view. I do understand that one metric’s need for improvement may directly, (or indirectly), affect other metrics. ‘Rushing a call’ is never a solution to lower AHT, as it usually impacts upon customer satisfaction. Having said that, an agent’s ability to be efficient with navigation of their tools while on the call is definitely of higher importance. I would also add to that one agent stat that can’t be measured, and that would be the gift of analyzing what the true issue is on the call. On most QA forms, we would mark that under ‘Used probing questions’ and ‘Restated the purpose for the call.’
    Interestingly, FCR is almost always impacted by AHT, especially when clients wish to ensure all issues are covered by having the agent ask the caller if there was anything else to discuss. In a way, that will boost FCR, but can also increase AHT if additional issues arise. Having an agent asking this on every single call can greatly impact on stats.
    A great, thought- provoking post Erica!

  4. avatarErica Bell Post author

    Hi Mike,

    Agreed – these metrics all tie together and isolating one may not be a good idea.
    Thanks for reading!

    – Erica

  5. avatarPeter Romero

    Delighting customers through efficiency and care is the objective of businesses today. We are after customer loyalty and this can be acieved through good FCR, AHT and CSAT. I believe that if representatives are given enough up training and are coached on a regular basis discussing their AFIs such us not probing enough, or placing the customer on hold unnecessarily or even sounding tired and are utilizing systems that are fast and stable will definitely improve customer satisfaction, first contact resolution and handle time. Companies must realize the massive impact of their culture in achieving this objective. FCR, AHT and CSAT are also the measures representatives use in assessing the way their employers handle their concerns. So if we want our agents to be the best representatives of our company we must also be ready to meet their expectations.

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