Update Your Call Center Metrics for 2017
While companies often use anecdotal stories of customer successes to demonstrate how awesome they are, the truth is that anecdotes don’t drive the success or failure of a business. Sure, you’ve got one happy customer, but what about all the unhappy ones? What if they are outnumbering the happy ones?
The only way to measure and track broad trends in the quality of customer support and efficiency of the contact center is by carefully tracking metrics. But today’s metrics are a little different than those of yesteryear, so it’s critical that organizations evaluate their metrics and make sure they’re related to customer support excellence rather than (exclusively) cost savings. (This may mean that average handle time, once a favorite call center metric, is out the door with yesterday’s fashions. Keeping calls as short as possible is counter-productive to customer service excellence.)
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) recently identified seven metrics that are the most critical for call center management to track today. All of them relate to quality.
First-call resolution. Recent research suggests that no single KPI has a bigger impact on customer satisfaction than does first-call resolution (FCR), or the percentage of calls that require no follow-up. A study by customer contact research and consulting firm Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group found that for every 1 percent improvement in FCR, there is a corresponding 1 percent improvement in customer satisfaction. It’s important to note, however, that first-call resolution should be verified by customers, not the contact center. This leads us to customer satisfaction metrics.
Customer satisfaction. This metric can be achieved only by surveying customers. Mail-in surveys or post-call surveys have fallen by the wayside in favor of surveying callers immediately after the interaction occurs, when the experience is fresh in the customer's mind and before problems can escalate. It could be via IVR (for phone customers), or with a pop-up form on a website. Regardless of channel used, customers are asked a series of questions about their interaction with the agent, their feelings about the organization and their plans to continue doing business with the company.
Service level/response time. These metrics tell you how accessible customer support is for customers, how many agents are needed to provide efficient service or how your center's service compares to others in your industry. Service level is defined as "X percent of contacts answered in Y seconds" (80 percent of calls answered in 20 seconds, for example). Response time (which is the equivalent of service level for transactions that don't have to be handled the moment they arrive) is defined as “100 percent of contacts handled within X days/hours/minutes" (for example, all social media posts handled in an hour).
Adherence to schedule. Schedules are useless unless agents are adhering to them. Adherence to schedule is a measurement of how much time during an agent's shift he or she is logged in and handling calls and contacts (or is available to do so). This metric has, in many ways, replaced average handle time as a measure of agent performance. Most centers choose an adherence objective around the 85 to 90 percent range, meaning that each agent is available to handle contacts .90 x 60 minutes, or 54 minutes each hour.
Forecasting accuracy. Forecasting accuracy (forecasted contact load vs. actual contact load) tracks the variance between the number of inbound customer contacts forecasted for a particular time period and the number of contacts actually received by the center during that time. If this metric is consistently off, there’s something wrong with the forecasting process.
Self-service accessibility. This is a measure of how well self-service is working. (Putting customers into self-service isn’t a win unless it’s helping customers.) This metric measures not only how many customers begin self-service transactions, but also how many complete those transactions without live-agent assistance.
Contact quality. This metric is usually assessed using quality monitoring via recording of agent interactions with customers. Quality assurance specialists or supervisors listen to the calls and rate the transaction using a comprehensive evaluation form that features key criteria that reflects quality from the customer’s perspective.
Contact centers don’t exist to serve the company. They exist to serve customers, which is why all meaningful metrics are collected and tracked with the end goal of improving the quality of customer support offered. Done properly, however, they can help increase efficiency and boost revenue, which is a win for the organizations they represent.
Edited by Alicia Young