Call Center Metrics Hints, Tips & Best Practices
We won’t bury the lead ¬– the common thread in all of the tips presented below is how much easier they are to achieve with forecasting and scheduling software. An automated workforce management (WFM) solution provides insight into contact center operations and will play an integral role in establishing policies that boost customer service.
1. Setting Specific Goals
“We want to improve customer service and experience.” “We want to improve our training.” Great – now how are you going to do it? The more specific you can get with your objectives, the more likely you will be to accomplish them. When you set more precise goals (“We want to lower our average handle time”), WFM will provide the data that can be used to make it happen.
2. Targeted Training
Once basic training has been completed, agents should be regularly guided toward and tested on their abilities to meet the contact center’s service goals. With the Performance Analysis component of WFM, managers have access to reports, statistics and analysis of all agent activities, including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators (KPIs). That will help to further target training sessions.
3. Set Quarterly Goals
Don’t make a list of goals for 2015 and wait until December to review them. With quarterly targets, you’ll know sooner if your efforts are working, and can make beneficial changes – which is certainly better than going another 6-7 months with a less than optimal system in place. The real-time monitoring and work history data delivered by WFM allows managers to track progress toward quarterly goals.
4. Avoid Agent Burnout
Agents are employees but they are people first, with families and outside interests and holiday plans they would like to keep. Flexible scheduling makes it easier for agents to work shifts that are more convenient, and when they have that option they are likely to be more productive and provide better service. With WFM, shift-bidding and shift-swapping (with a manager’s approval) is streamlined, while holidays and other special events can be factored more efficiently into overall scheduling.
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In the contact center, a change made to one aspect of performance or technology can impact several other areas, which will either enhance or undermine the original attempt to improve quality or service.
That is why a unified/integrated system is so important. Performance management encompasses a number of moving parts, and it’s necessary to have one system that connects all aspects of scheduling, skills, quality, metrics and compliance, with both qualitative and quantitative data.
The advantages of unified and aggregated reporting over less sophisticated systems or siloed strategies are obvious:
• Metrics are displayed in one place, making it easier to monitor and adjust them as needed
• “Connecting the dots” becomes simpler when real time and historical performance data is available to agents and managers
• Insight is gained through the monitoring of key metrics that are critical to contact center performance, from adherence and service levels to average handle time, forecast accuracy and shrinkage
• Real time data makes it possible to react immediately to situations, or even proactively to avoid issues before they can occur
Now that this data is more conveniently accessible, managers can clearly define what metrics drive the performance of the center. Use these metrics to set goals – is the average handle time too long? Are customers waiting too long for an agent? Are product upsells below expectations? Once that to-do list is in place, make sure all personnel are on board and working toward the same standard.
Monet Software recently presented a webinar entitled “How to Gain More Insight into the Performance of your Contact Center.” The event generated a strong turnout and has received positive feedback from many of those in attendance.
If you missed it, good news – the webinar is now available on our website at http://www.monetsoftware.com/webinars/. You can check it out any time you like.
Why should you? Because it’s one thing to read about how Monet's cloud-based WFO can help gain more insights and improve the performance of your contact center. It’s quite another to actually see this technology in action. And that is the opportunity this webinar provides.
Several related topics will be covered as well, from the importance of visibility at the agent level to the benefits of real-time data and alerts of key metrics and activities.
Don’t miss this second chance to discover what the advantages of cloud-based WFO can mean for your agents, your management team, and your contact center.
Whether they are designated as New Year’s Resolutions or corporate objectives and strategies, the end of the year is a time when many of us naturally take stock of where we are at, and where we are going.
For contact center managers, the desire to make every new year better than the one before requires the right performance optimization plan. And if you are in the process of creating a blueprint for success in 2015, here are four areas you’ll wish to explore, and some of the questions that must be asked if your business is ready to boldly confront the ongoing challenge of delivering excellent customer service.
1. Workforce Management: Forecasting, Scheduling, Adherence
Workforce management (WFM) has been defined as “assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time.” In a contact center, if a manager schedules the right agents with the appropriate call-handling skills on the shifts where those skills will be most needed, he or she is certainly on the best track to an efficient operation.
Workforce management and workforce optimizations (WFO) software can play a critical role in these functions. Is your contact center equipped with these capabilities? Do you have the right system in place to meet your needs?
The difference between handling the important functions of forecasting, scheduling and adherence with the right technology, vs. with a system that uses spreadsheets, for instance, is significant when it comes to proper utilization of resources, and the level of customer service delivered.
An accurate forecast model relies on accurate historical data. WFO delivers seasonal stats, monthly stats, daily stats, even numbers analyzing one portion of one hour, so variations can be determined and adjustments made accordingly. Special days and special events will also figure into these calculations.
With WFO, managers can automatically manage start times, end times and break times, so that agent needs are acknowledged, while call center performance capabilities are always met. An automated system provides more flexibility than a spreadsheet, while also contributing data that can help managers put the right agents in the right positions to maximize customer service.
In a contact center where workforce management software is capable of real-time adherence, a manager always knows if his team members are adhering to the schedule. The reporting generated by WFM can analyze adherence by team or by time period, making it easier to pinpoint issues that result in lower service levels.
The best WFM solution will include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.
2. Quality Assurance: Call Recording and Scoring
Quality assurance refers to a proven process of establishing quality goals and verifying and checking the quality of a service, as well as the activities implemented so that quality requirements will be fulfilled.
Assurance of quality requires a series of preventive actions, all focused on process and based on a set of standards defined by the company. There are challenges to getting it right, particularly if a contact center lacks a reliable means to measure and track quality, either via management action or software that provides automated data on policies and systemic activities.
Do you have the right technology and personnel in place to determine quality standards, and then to achieve them? Perhaps 2015 will be the year to take this important step. Here is one way to get started:
3. Performance Management: Real-Time Alerts, Dashboards, KPIs
- Define Quality Goals and Objectives – What constitutes a quality customer engagement? Quality assurance can only be attained if “quality” is specifically defined. Start by establishing thresholds, such as the number of calls per agent and time allotted for each call. Determine the call center’s current status in these and other areas, and document all goals and objectives.
- Focus on Communication – Open communication between agents and managers and agents and coaching/training personnel expedites the quality assurance process.
- Automate QA Processes – QA is easier when you can turn over many of its processes to the tools, templates, triggers and programs available for that function. An automated solution is not only more efficient, it also frees up personnel to spend time on other issues.
- Unification and Integration – Call center goals should be consistent, with personnel and technology working together to arrive at the desired place. Make sure that all teams are putting the QA plan into action based on the same goals, and measure progress based on the same reports.
- Real-Time Monitoring – Quality assurance is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without reliable, real-time quality monitoring that incorporates alerts, dashboards and key performance indicators (KPI).
- Use Scoring to Rank Agents – Call scoring requires a cooperative effort among managers, agents and even customers (through feedback and survey results) to determine what elements are important in each customer engagement. Scoring can also be invaluable in ranking agents for training purposes, as well as for assigning schedules and creating rosters.
- Think Long Term – While QA helps to fix short-term issues, it should also be established and utilized to track and report on long-term trends and improvement.
Performance management is something of a catch-all term that incorporates all of the management aspects at a call center, from planning to developing agent skills, to evaluating performance based on metrics and making adjustments accordingly.
As with every other part of the management process, it becomes easier if you first develop a plan of action. If you don’t have one, start by measuring your current status, then set realistic goals for where improvement is possible. Diagnose the causes of any issues, and then implement changes accordingly. Check the results, refine your system and then set new goals.
All of this takes accurate, reliable, up-to-date data.
It is critical for call center management to keep track of key metrics throughout the course of the day. This is also a practice made considerably easier through workforce management software. Dashboards deliver visual displays that provide insight into forecasts, schedules and adherence, so managers always have an instant snapshot of what is happening at every moment throughout the day.
It’s also important to know which metrics are the most crucial to track. That list is likely to include:
• Average Handle Time
• Calls per Hour
• First Call Resolution
• Abandoned Calls
• Average Wait Time
• Completion Rate
• Forecasted Call Load vs. Actual
• Scheduled Staff vs. Actual
• Waiting Calls
• Average Call Value
The more information you receive from your WFM software – KPIs, scorecards, alerts, dashboards, reports – the better equipped you will be to take effective action to better meet the customer service goals of the contact center.
4. Analytics: Speech and desktop
Speech analytics boosts the effectiveness of a call recording solution. It’s still a fairly new technology that has not been widely adopted within the industry. Is this the year your contact center moves ahead of the curve?
What do you get with speech analytics? It starts with automated alerts triggered by voice data that deliver critical business and marketing intelligence to improve agent performance and the customer experience. This is the type of information that would take weeks to ascertain with spreadsheets; with speech analytics, you’ll have it in minutes.
Desktop Analytics gathers application data at the desktop level across users, processes and technology, to help improve productivity and service delivery, while reducing compliance issues and lowering business costs. The more managers understand how agents interact with their desktop environment to perform daily tasks, the easier it will be to improve productivity, prioritize issues that need to be addressed, and fine-tune best practices that can then be replicated across the call center.
|Example Report: Adherence by Time of Day|
Do you have the right performance reports and metrics in your contact center?
more information you receive from your performance management solution –
KPIs, scorecards, alerts, dashboards, reports – the better equipped you
will be to take effective action to better meet the customer service
goals of the contact center.
But it’s helpful to know where to start, especially for those contact centers still acclimating to an
automated solution that delivers an abundance of actionable
These are some of the key reports to measure the most important performance metrics: Agent Adherence
is the report that lets you know if your forecast and schedule is on
track, or is no longer being met. Even a minor fall out of adherence can
impact service levels. Find out more about agent adherence
in our previous blog post. Agent Status
the agent's total times in each status, compared with what was planned
in advance. Is the agent providing what is expected, or is there an
issue with longer lunches, unscheduled breaks, too much time on non-call
activities, etc.? Hours Worked
This report provides
additional insight into assigned activities. Any hour when an agent is
on duty is considered time worked. Here you’ll find whether that time is
being used for optimum productivity. Coverage
gaps in staffing to avoid abandonment spikes. This report can also help
identify the underlying reasons why these coverage gaps occurred, from
inaccurate forecasts to adherence issues to schedule/shift patterns that
are not matched to the demands of the workload.
If you would like to learn more, please watch a recording of our recent webinar
about workforce optimization and performance management.
Call centers that use WFM software generate an abundance of data, all of it important.
But which metrics are most important? As a recent ICMI article
observes, some contact centers prioritize data based on cost
reductions. But it might be more advantageous to focus instead on those
metrics that impact the customer experience, customer satisfaction and
This might take some extra effort, through such initiatives as customer
surveys following each interaction. But the data that is generated from
this feedback is invaluable, and will impact every facet of the contact
center. Quality management and call scoring will also be a primary source of customer service measurement. More...
It’s an old adage that still has value – show, not tell. While we’ve often described the benefits of Monet solutions in blogs and throughout this website, it may be more effective to illustrate how they work through videos and demonstrations. If you’ve always wanted to see these products in action, now you can.
The links below will take you to our video archives, which include demos of the following products.
Call Recording and Monitoring
How does call recording improve customer service? What does it mean for your training programs? And how easy is it to incorporate call recording into your current call center technology? This video will show you why call recording has evolved from a luxury to a necessity. You’ll also discover how Monet Recording’s tagging system is the best way for agents and managers to find recordings quickly and easily among hundreds of thousands of logged interactions.
Performance Management and Agent Analytic
This short video on performance management challenges shows how Monet Metrics can help you meet your call center goals more quickly. Discover how key performance indicators (KPIs) are tracked and analyzed, providing valuable data that can be utilized in forecasting and scheduling. Plus, find out how real-time alerts make it easier to adjust schedules as needed to meet changing call patterns or unforeseen circumstances.
Workforce management metrics track a number of issues vital to the
success of a contact center. Some attention should be paid to tracking
all of them as they relate to performance efficiency and customer
satisfaction. But if that is not always possible, these are the metrics
that should receive the most scrutiny. More...
Call center metrics drive and manage call center performance. Whatever your business goals, key metrics will tell you where you are now, how far away you are from where you want to be, and where you’ll find the shortest path to get there. Here’s how to get started:
1. Identify Key Metrics
Which metrics are most important to measure, and which will have the greatest impact on the success of your business? In most cases these will include average handle time, average speed of answer and average talk time, as well as metrics on abandoned calls, labor costs and forecast accuracy.
2. Tools and Technologies
An automated workforce management (WFM) solution can access, record and display dozens of different metrics to help manage performance. Choose a solution that will get the metrics you need, and make sure that data is efficiently reviewed and processed.
Once you have the WFM solution you need, expedite implementation and employee training so you’ll start collecting the necessary data more quickly.
4. Dashboards and Alerts
When your key metrics have been selected, make sure they are prominently displayed through dashboards and alerts. This will help agents and managers be aware of issues as they arise. Having your key metrics at your fingertips will tremendously help you in step 5 - review, revise and retrain. If you would like to see metrics in action, please take a moment to watch this call center dashboard demo.
5. Review, Revise and Retrain
Establish regular review sessions with teams and executives to find out what is working and what is not. Then, based on what has been learned from the metrics, take any necessary steps for improvement. This may require agent coaching or re-training, or changes in established procedures. Consider both short- and long-term goals.
There is often the question about the type of call center metrics you should track. But equally important is how "actionable" these metrics are. So, what does "actionable" mean?
- Do I have access to metrics at the time when I can still have an impact (e.g. adherence, performance)?
- Can I actually make a change at that moment and have an impact (e.g. re-calculate forecast, adjust schedule, monitor calls)?
So, how can you make metrics actionable? More...
The capabilities of call center software have advanced rapidly over the past ten years. Call center metrics that were once luxuries are now standard, and call center software is now capable of compiling and analyzing so much information, it is possible to become overwhelmed, or to lose focus.
Certainly all the information collected by ACD, workforce management, call recording, quality management and performance management systems is beneficial, but here are seven of the top performance measures that can most directly trigger improved results, whether directed at management, agents or customers.
1. Schedule Adherence and Efficiency
Do agents scheduled to work specific hours actually do so? If not, are calls being missed or delayed before they are addressed? Corrections of deficiencies here can have an immediate impact on productivity. Once schedule adherence has been clarified, schedule efficiency refers to assigning the right number of agents for each day and each shift, to avoid the problems caused by over- or under-staffing.
2. Call Answer Time
What is the average speed of answer (ASA) at the call center? Most centers have a defined wait threshold that should be met consistently.
3. Agent Occupancy
Closely related to schedule efficiency is the time agents spend on the clock but not answering calls. When staffing and scheduling is handled correctly, agents should be busy but not overworked. The goal is to avoid too much idle time, while also having enough available personnel so that each call is answered in an acceptable time frame.
4. First Call Resolution
Customers want to resolve their issues with one call, which makes a call center’s first call resolution rate critical to customer satisfaction. While it will not always be within the agent’s power to resolve all calls the first time, agents who are consistently unable to achieve this objective should be scheduled for additional training. That's where call recording and quality management systems add value.
5. Transfer Rate
Few situations are more frustrating for a customer than explaining an issue to one agent, and then being transferred to a supervisor or other agency personnel, and having to do so a second time. While this may still qualify as a first-call resolution if questions are ultimately answered and the problem is solved, it should still be kept to a minimum whenever possible.
6. Abandon Rate
When a customer hangs up, it will not always be the fault of the call center or the agent. Some people just have shorter fuses than others. However, abandon rates can often be reduced by shorter wait times and courteous agents.
7. Blocked Calls
Blocked calls never even make it to a call center agent, because of insufficient network capabilities. Obviously, the only possible result becomes a frustrated customer. Are some blocked calls inevitable at peak times? Or can these calls be taken with better scheduling, expanded trunks or other corrective measures?
In follow up to our post about call center metrics goals, we are now starting to talk about specific metrics; the first one is Abandon Rates. Abandon rate is the percentage of calls that hang up before an agent could take the call (and did not get a busy signal).
What it measures:
- It can be considered a measure of customer satisfaction. If customers hang up a lot, they might not like the speed of service.
Potential causes and implications: More...
There are many call center metrics you can track, so the key question is often: What is really important for my call center? We have compiled a list of call center metrics that are usually used to measure performance. But before you select the metrics, you should first establish the overall goals and objectives for your specific business and call center operations. There are a couple of strategic goals and objectives that might apply to your call center:
- Contribute to profitability of your business
- Deliver services at lowest possible costs
- Maximize revenues More...