The 9 key call center metrics to transform your contact center

June 12, 2018

Why are call center metrics important?

It’s difficult to settle on just a few customer service metrics when looking for insights into your call center’s performance. Each statistic, whether it’s focused on inbound call center metrics or outbound, can suggest something about your customers, agents, and the workflow of the entire call center. Managers crave these insights because they provide the vantage point their directors like to see.

But while there are lots of metrics to consider, is more always better?

The truth is, digging deep into every metric is a luxury for most (particularly for those who are crunched on time or presenting to stakeholders who just want the gist of things). There are a few metrics that can tell a broader story and can even provide details you weren’t looking for in the first place. Getting familiar with these metrics will help establish some solid call center best practices for your customer service representatives.

After all, your contact center, customer service representatives, and callers are much more than just numbers.

What are the 9 key call center metrics?

  • Average talk time
  • Calls missed
  • Calls declined
  • Transfers accepted
  • Average wait time
  • Longest wait time
  • Abandoned in queue
  • Exceeded queue wait
  • Average time to answer

Average Talk Time

This the average time that elapses between an agent picking up a call and disconnecting. It’s a helpful metric for when an organization measures both agent consistency and customer satisfaction from a contact center. It’s also called average handle time.

Agents deal with a variety of calls (some more stressful than others)—average talk time can suggest both protocol efficiency and a call center’s ability to act under unforeseen circumstances. Long-term reviews can help find the balance between optimal handling time and uncompromised customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Calls Missed & Calls Declined

These call center KPIs are good for inbound metrics. Not only does each metric correlate to customer satisfaction (because nobody wants their call missed or declined after dialing a support line), but it’s also representative of the efficiency of a call center.

To measure these KPIs is to stay proactive over potential issues like if the call center is understaffed, the software can’t sufficiently handle the volume of calls, or agents are leaving themselves available by mistake (which can be fixed up nicely if a dashboard monitors them in real-time).

call center transfer

Transfers Accepted

This one is a bit of a sleeper for call center metrics best practices. A high number could indicate that agents have a good grasp of the flow of the call center and a reliable understanding of where the customer is coming from. It could also show that callers are reaching the wrong first-touch agent, indicating that first call resolution should be prioritized with more training or reworking the call center’s internal routing.

We found that 63% of customers become frustrated when they’re transferred multiple times. It’s always best to aim for first call resolution for the sake of the customer and the agent’s time.

Average Wait Time & Longest Wait Time

Considering that most customers aren’t willing to wait very long on hold, these two inbound metrics can be a clear indicator of how happy your customers on the other end.

A large gap between them might suggest the “longest time” was an unhappy outlier. However, if both metrics are close together and the “average wait time” seems high, then your contact center is likely frustrating customers on the other side of the phone.

Abandoned in Queue & Exceeded Queue Wait Time

These are what to look at when trying to mitigate call abandonment. It’s pretty typical for callers to hang up before they speak to an agent, but call center metrics best practices commonly dictate to keep these below an acceptable threshold.

If these numbers are too high, look to features that allow customers to request a callback so they aren’t stuck on hold forever. It also helps if abandoned calls can be tracked with tickets or a trigger can send a follow-up text message to abandoners.

Average Time to Answer

Be sure to measure this KPI as it can be telling of a few things: are agents picking up calls at an acceptable rate? Are there enough agents staffed during specific time frames? Is there a particular topic that customers are calling about that’s driving this stat up?

Those kinds of correlations help managers assess the strength of their customer service agents’ interactions and the call center as a whole more quickly. By establishing more efficient call center metrics best practices, managers can stay adaptable and see speedier improvements.

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