The modern call centre is central to a business’ ability to deliver excellent customer service. However, at a time when squeezed budgets and cost-cutting techniques are commonplace, call centres need to be able to measure their KPIs in order to drive improvements and justify their spending. To do this, they must analyse a variety of call centre metrics. Here, we take a look at a few of the most important metrics available.

First-call resolution

First-call resolution, where the customer query is answered in just one call, not only keeps customers happy, it can also reduces costs for the company (provided the query needed to be answered by an agent and couldn’t be covered by AI The fewer interactions it takes to resolve a customer problem, the less that problem costs the business.

However, with first-call resolution, businesses need to ensure that they’ve carefully defined what a “resolution” is. Is a call resolved if there was no need to transfer it? Or when there’s no additional work to complete after the call? If you’re looking for a comprehensive definition, it may be best to define a “resolution” as when the customer explicitly states that their problem has been resolved.

Abandon rate

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While first-call resolution is important, it doesn’t mean much if customers are abandoning calls in their droves before agents have the opportunity to resolve their problems. The abandon rate measures those customers who hang up before reaching an agent. This is an important metric for various reasons.

First and foremost, a high abandon rate suggests customers are frustrated with the call centre and are likely to complain of poor customer service. Abandoned calls will also lose you sales opportunities and additional revenue. Finally, a high abandon rate can have a detrimental effect on the accuracy of other important call centre metrics and statistics.

For instance, a simple figure, such as call volume, can be artificially inflated by a high abandonment rate. Those who abandon are likely to phone back at a later time or date, pushing up your call volume, even though their call is essentially an extension of their previous attempt.

One of the key ways of lowering the abandonment rate is the introduction of self-service options and call management techniques, such as IVR. While self-serve technologies like chatbots allow customers to retrieve information without the need to contact a human agent, IVR reduces call abandonment in two main ways.

First, it provides businesses with a means of communicating basic information without having to engage a human agent. If a customer wants to find out a store’s opening hours, the attention of human agent probably isn’t required.

Second, it gives the customer a sense of progress. If they’re moving through an IVR system, they’re getting closer to their goal of speaking to a customer service agent. This process handles all the simple repetitive calls and also gives the call centre additional time to respond and allows them to direct the customer to the relevant agent immediately, without having to transfer them.

Service level and response time

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Service level and response time are two of the most prominent metrics in any call centre and possibly the most visible of all customer service metrics.

Most businesses will have established targets for these metrics and it’s typically a big deal if the team falls short of those figures. Service level is usually calculated as a percentage over time figure and expressed as “x% of calls in y seconds.” For instance, a call centre may have a service level target of 90% of calls answered within 20 seconds.

On the other hand, response time deals with all interactions, including those that don’t have to be processed as they arrive (such as emails). It’s expressed in the same way as service level but the percentage figure is usually set at 100%. This makes it a more absolute target, as 100% of enquiries will need to be handled in x amount of minutes, hours, or days. In other words, it’s a limit.

Customer satisfaction

In the end, technology and customer service agents are there to ensure that everything possible is done to satisfy the customer. If a customer is satisfied with the service they receive, they’re likely to remain loyal to the business, spend more money on its products and services, and tell others about their experience. This is all good news for business.

There are numerous ways of calculating customer satisfaction, each with its own particular focus and specific purpose. However, almost as important as how you measure satisfaction is how you deliver the required survey.

In recent years, IVR has become a popular means of requesting real time feedback, as it doesn’t require interaction with a human agent and a score can be input via a phone keypad after the enquiry has been dealt with. Extremely low scores can also be automatically flagged for inspection by a supervisor, ensuring that unsatisfactory calls are monitored and improvements suggested technically or with agent training.

Cost per call

In the modern business environment, it all comes down to cost efficiency. That’s not to say that the cheapest is always best, but that the quality of customer service has to be set against the cost of providing that service.

The cheapest customer service system is likely to lose you customers and eventually put you out of business. An expensive customer service system is likely to push your profit margin below that of competitors and also threaten your business’ existence. A balance must be found.

There are two widely accepted means of establishing the cost per call. The first is a basic calculation that approaches the issue from an agent-centric perspective. The calculation is expressed as;

Calls per hour / Cost of agent (their hourly wage) = Cost per call

The second is a more comprehensive examination of cost per call. It is calculated as;

(Annual operating cost + cost of agents) / Total number of annual calls = Cost per call

While both are useful in their own way, the second calculation incorporates the entire cost of running a call centre and is therefore considered more accurate.

Conclusion

This list is by no means an exhaustive account of all the call centre metrics available to customer service professionals. Other metrics, such as quality scores, customer effort, and schedule adherence, all play an important role in measuring performance. However, the metrics listed above are those that should be used in every call centre. No matter what the product, business, or industry, they’re the numbers that count.

Have a question or want further information on improving your contact centre metrics? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line.