If you’re to improve the customer experience, it’s first necessary to identify those aspects of your customer service system that are performing below expectations.

To do this, the system’s performance must be gauged using metrics that truly reveal something about the customer experience.

Here, we take a look at four of the most important customer experience metrics for your telephony and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems.

Average Handling Time (AHT)

close up of measuring tape customer experience metricsAHT is defined as the average length of a customer call from the moment the number is dialled to termination of the call.

Some organisations choose to measure AHT from the moment an agent begins interacting with the customer. However, this doesn’t allow them to measure the efficiency of telephony and hold systems.

AHT is important because it allows you to identify calls that are taking far too long, as well as issues with telephony or design.

However, the major drawback with AHT is that it measures efficiency rather than performance. A low AHT means your telephony system handles calls quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those calls are satisfactorily resolved.

Call Abandon Rate

If callers are abandoning in high numbers, it’s clear that your telephony system is not performing as well as it should.

Call abandonment rate is typically expressed as a percentage – this is calculated by dividing the total abandoned calls by the total calls received.

This metric is helpful due to the way it acts as a warning system, alerting us to problems in the customer experience. However, it really comes into its own when organisations begin to identify where callers are abandoning.

For example, if you find callers are abandoning while engaged with the telephony system, it could be an indication that they find it more frustrating than useful. If abandonment happens more frequently when customers are trying to resolve a particular issue, it could be time to consider reviewing staff training needs for that service area.

First Response Time

chart showing customer experience metricsWhile AHT measures the amount of time it takes to complete a customer enquiry, First Response Time looks at how long it takes for a customer to get an initial response.

This will vary drastically from channel to channel but is particularly relevant to telephone enquiries, as longer wait times are directly related to higher abandonment rates.

However, taken on its own, First Response Time can be misleading, as it only reveals a small section of the larger picture. This is due to the way the metric only measures the speed of response, rather than the quality of the support provided by your customer service team.

For this reason, First Response Time must be used in combination with other metrics if it’s to provide comprehensive insight.

Call Containment Rate

Call Containment Rate is a metric that is used to measure the efficiency of automated telephony and its ability to help customers self-serve.

It is calculated as the percentage of total calls that are handled exclusively by the telephony system.

This is important due to the way that automated telephony is often implemented in an effort to cut costs and reduce the strain on human agents. If the system is not handling a sufficient proportion of calls, it is not fulfilling its principal function.

Bypass Rate

The Bypass Rate measures the number of callers that abandon the automated telephony system and choose to be put through to a human agent out of frustration, confusion, or boredom.

A high Bypass Rate is a sign that your telephony system is operating below expectations and is not optimised to help the customer self-serve. Poor telephony performance can cause considerable damage to your brand, so it’s a good idea to keep track of how many customers are choosing to avoid it.

However, it is important to note that some callers automatically bypass IVR out of habit and that these callers should be accounted for in the figures.

IVR Time

If you’re currently employing IVR in your organisation, you’ll know that designing an efficient IVR system is challenging and requires a great deal of experience.

This is due to the way in which businesses need to balance their desire to provide customers with comprehensive self-service options and the necessity of keeping things relatively simple.

A complex IVR tree causes customers to “zero out” or bypass the system for two reasons.

    1. It doesn’t allow for intuitive navigation. If it’s not clear where the customer needs to go or how they get there, they’ll often abandon or request to be put through to a human agent.
    2. It bores and frustrates users. If a caller feels as though they’re being put through an overly long IVR system, they’ll grow increasingly annoyed with your customer service provision.

Consequently, it’s critical that your IVR system is designed in the most efficient manner possible. For this reason, it’s often necessary to employ the services of experienced IVR development teams.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

old wooden door with feedback letterboxCustomer satisfaction can be measured using a diverse array of metrics.

Some businesses prefer to use Net Promoter Score (NPS), others favour satisfaction scores acquired via CSAT surveys. The Customer Effort Score (CES) is also often employed to give you an indication of the effort required by customers to complete certain tasks.

Whatever metric (or combination of metrics) you ultimately settle upon, customer satisfaction surveys can provide valuable insight into customers’ perceptions of your IVR and telephony systems.

It’s also important to think about how and when you deliver these customer satisfaction surveys. Most organisations will have considerable amounts of personal data, allowing you to request feedback via email, post, or a messaging service.

Surveys can also be added on to the end of customer service calls, giving callers the opportunity to provide immediate feedback on the quality of the service. (read our best practice guide on Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions)

Agent Availability Delay Time

One of the biggest causes of customer complaints has nothing to do with the mechanics of automated telephony systems.

Problems with agent availability and having to wait for long periods of time to speak to a human is a key cause of frustration. This is often accentuated by the fact that the customer will have already spent time passing through IVR.

For instance, it’s common for customers to move through the automated telephony system within three minutes but then face a five minute wait to be put through to the appropriate human agent.

Measuring agent availability delay time allows you to determine whether it’s the internal design and organisation of your telephony system or issues with agents’ handling of calls and staffing that are causing the problem.

What next?

This list of customer experience metrics is by no means exhaustive but attempts to cover many of the most valuable measures of customer satisfaction.

Measuring the customer experience is a complex process and new metrics are constantly being developed to offer deeper insights. This means that organisations need to constantly reappraise their feedback mechanisms and analytical processes, ensuring they’re up to date and fit for purpose.

It’s also important to note that these metrics must be used in combination, as no single measurement will tell you everything you want to know about the customer experience.

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