Contact center metrics

5 Inbound Metrics to Make a Contact Center Take Flight

The future of contact centers is data-driven: almost all aspects of the operations, be they inbound or outbound, can be measured and the data used to improve results and to simplify the work of agents.

Even though all metrics have their uses, the importance of a specific metric depends on the business strategy of the contact center. Still, there are some KPIs that affect most contact centers. That’s why we’ve compressed our full list of call and contact center metrics to the five vital metrics (in alphabetical order) that make your contact center the diamond of inbound operations.

1) Adherence to schedule

Do you know what is the single biggest expense at contact centers? Obviously, it’s the agents’ salaries. In order to have a successful contact center, your agents need to be efficient.

Adherence to schedule is a measure of efficiency. It indicates the percentage of time your agents stick to the schedule assigned to them. As adherence includes all typical contact center activities from calls, preparation and wrap-up to training and meetings, adherence to schedule measures the time when your agents are productive.

Especially when you have a large number of agents working for you, small adjustments make a huge difference. Improving the adherence rate by one percent can have a significant impact on contact center efficiency. On the other hand, aiming for unrealistic rates results in burned-out agents and poor customer service.

Apart from agent performance, adherence rates can signal the need for software improvements or better scheduling and staffing.

There are many reasons why a 100% adherence rate is not possible. It’s only natural that agents need to use the restrooms, computers crash, login processes are slow and so on. What you should be interested in, however, is the amount of time spent away from customers because of software issues, being late systematically, extended breaks or prolonged internal meetings.

Before taking measures in scrutinizing adherence rate, the agents should be trained and made aware of its importance. Building a company culture that supports and incentivizes good performance is the easiest way to get your agents working together towards a common goal. Adherence to schedule is also an important part of a fair team effort, as it signals that all agents have equal break time and workload.

2) Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Every contact center needs to know how well they are doing also from the end-customer’s perspective. One of the standard ways of evaluating this is the customer satisfaction score. It is a fast and simple metric to measure, as it only asks the customer to give your service a numeric rating on a scale from very unsatisfied to very satisfied.

The simplicity of the survey makes it easy to use regularly. Some contact centers have predefined intervals to measure customer satisfaction, while many centers concentrate on specific events. The key moments when you might want to know your customers’ feelings include:

  • Decisive moments in customer lifecycle, such as onboarding
  • Before customers face product or service renewal
  • After customer interactions.

As all aspects of your operations affect customer satisfaction, there is no quick fix. You have to deliver high-quality personal interaction and resolve customer issues quickly.

Lastly, don’t rely solely on customer satisfaction score. The scores are prone to cultural variation. In some countries extreme scores are typical, while other countries fill in the middle ground.

It is also common that neutral customers don’t take the survey, which can skew the results. Remember that the score only measures satisfaction, which is an ambiguous term that doesn’t offer you all the required customer insight. You should always complement customer satisfaction score with other metrics, such as net promoter score.

3) First response time

We all know how frustrating it is to spend a long time waiting before being served. Customers are looking for a speedy resolution to their problem, which is why they should reach an agent as soon as possible.

First response time indicates the time a customer has to wait before reaching an agent. This metric is essential for customer satisfaction as long first response times tend to annoy customers. If first response time climbs, customer churn rate will follow.

To improve first response time, agents need to know the standard expected of them. As the metric is absolutely crucial, the agents should treat it as such. Contact center managers should ensure that staffing and scheduling support the goals set for first response time and provide training to the agents so they are able to work efficiently.

Also remember to take trends and peak times into account. Omnichannel contact centers are better equipped to provide fast ways for the customers to reach an agent.

4) Handle time

Reaching an agent fast is just the first step towards customer satisfaction. What happens after that, however, is just as important. Handle time includes all activities that happen after the agent picks up: serving the customer, potential hold time and wrap-up.

Handle times need to remain reasonable: you don’t want to overspend time per customer. At the same time, customer service should be of high quality, which causes a problem. Efficiency at the expense of customer satisfaction is a road to ruin.

There are many ways to improve handle time:

  • Record calls and use them to train agents.
  • Route the call to the right agent for first contact.
  • Optimize processes to cut out unnecessary activities.
  • Ensure that the agents use quick and friendly expressions.
  • Provide a knowledge base that agents can use to solve problems.
  • Use efficient internal communication systems.
  • Update customer information regularly.

Remember that handle time is dependent on the type of customer case. The key is to strike a balance between efficiency and customer satisfaction. If you do it right, you get a satisfied customer with reduced costs.

5) Transfer rate

Even though customers love getting a speedy resolution through the first person they talk to, sometimes transferring to another agent is inevitable. Transfer rate indicates the percentage of calls that get transferred from the initial agent to another one. Transfer rate should be kept low, as transfers decrease customer satisfaction and prolong handle times.

It’s the contact center’s responsibility to make the transition as smooth as possible. This requires an efficient routing process, where the second agent is definitely the right one for the customer issue in question.

Training your agents is the key to low transfer rates. Agents should be capable of handling most call types.  They should also have the authority to make decisions. Consider deploying an informative database where agents can look for answers quickly and good internal communications that ensure reasonable hold times if consultation is needed.

Want more KPIs?

To get a full understanding of the wide scope of metrics available for optimizing contact center processes, have a look at our Complete Guide to Call Center Metrics.

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