Customer Service Automation Operational Excellence

6 Contact Centre Metrics You Need to Track

By Simon Brennan 7 September 2022

Recently, there’s been a renewed focus on contact centre performance as more brands adopt a ‘hybrid’ digital-traditional approach to customer service. But with this renewed focus comes a new question: what is the best way to measure contact centre performance when you are taking this hybrid approach?

With so many possible metrics – from hold time to wait time to handling time and more – it’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend lots of effort tracking figures that don’t actually help you make smarter decisions that drive performance improvements.

To help you make sense of this landscape, this blog explores 6 key metrics that you absolutely should be tracking (and how you can improve them).

1. Average handling time (AHT)

Average handling time is the average length of a call, from start to finish. The timer starts the moment a customer gets routed to an actual agent (so it doesn’t include initial wait time or time spent navigating the IVR). It ends once the agent has completed any post-call work (such as updating notes and arranging future call-backs).

Tracking AHT is useful because it allows you to see how productive your agents are – the theory being that agents with lower AHTs can serve more customers, increasing overall efficiency.

Cutting AHT too much, however, can reduce overall call quality. If agents are too focused on getting through calls quickly, customers can feel rushed, mistakes can be made and the quality of the interaction suffers.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce AHT that don’t involve pressuring agents to bash through calls as quickly as possible. Well-placed automation does this by allowing you to:

  • Performing part of the contact requirements through self-serve prior to being passed to an agent
  • Bring up customer information for agents as soon as they answer the call
  • Reduce time-consuming manual work like data entry
  • Intelligently route customers to the right place first time, reducing time spent bouncing between departments

These measures have the bonus of increasing agent satisfaction as well as customer satisfaction because automation ‘done well’ makes everyone’s life easier.

2. Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is a staple of most contact centre reporting. It’s a crucial CX metric that measures how customers actually feel about your service, usually by sending them a short survey after a call/interaction.

There’s no universal scale for measuring CSAT. Most businesses use either a 5-point or 7-point scale, so it’s important to be consistent and use the same scale for every survey.

Of course, simply knowing on a scale of 1-5 (or 1-7) how happy your customers are isn’t helpful in and of itself. You need to understand the why behind the numbers – to work out what you’re doing right and, more importantly, what you’re doing wrong. The key is to ask qualitative questions as well, such as ‘What did you like (or dislike) about your experience today?’.

3. First call/contact resolution (FCR)

FCR is the percentage of calls (or chats) agents resolve in a single interaction.

It’s a vital metric for improving overall customer satisfaction because customers who have to contact you multiple times to get an issue resolved are more likely to be frustrated with your service.

You can boost FCR by improving the training and knowledge tools available to agents – and by giving them the time and space they need to properly serve customers (rather than rushing through calls to hit a counter-productive AHT target, for example).

4. Call abandonment rate (CAR)

Call abandonment rate is the percentage of callers who hang up before they get routed to an actual agent. Like FCR, a poor CAR can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction since people are likely to hang up because they’re frustrated by long wait times.

Remember, though, that many abandoned calls are likely to be misdials. To stop these ‘wrong number’ calls skewing metrics too much, most call centres don’t include calls abandoned within 10 seconds in their reporting.

The easiest way to improve abandonment rates is to reduce wait times. Reducing AHT can help with this, which can be achieved by offering self-service automation in your contact channels as can introducing virtual queuing systems that let customers arrange a call-back instead of waiting on hold.

5. Call transfer rate (CTR)

CTR is the percentage of calls transferred from one agent to another. While sometimes transfers are necessary and unavoidable, too many can be incredibly frustrating for customers. It also suggests one of two problems within your call centre:

  1. Your agents don’t have the right training to help customers
  2. Your routing isn’t taking customers to the right place

Improving training can, of course, help with problem number one; intelligent routing systems and AI-backed IVRs can help solve the routing issues and ensure customers get to the right agent, first time. Complementing these with Customer Journey Tracking and analysis will enable you to ensure you are meeting your metrics in this area.

6. Customer effort score (CES)

CES measures how easy it is for a customer to resolve an issue. It’s generally calculated by asking customers how easy their interaction was on a 7-point scale.

CES is one of the most important metrics to track because research shows that low-effort interactions also cost 37% less than high-effort interactions.

Like CSAT, CES is intertwined with many other call centre metrics and can be improved by improving the likes of AHT, FCR and CTR. Implementing an omni-channel strategy can also help reduce effort scores by making it easy for customers to get help wherever they are, whenever they want.

Make sense of all the numbers

These 6 metrics give you essential insight into how your contact centre is operating across 3 key areas:

  • Customer experience
  • Call centre efficiency
  • Agent productivity

By learning which contact centre metrics are key to track, you can tackle performance problems head-on and drive continuous improvement that delights customers while boosting staff morale.

For more ideas on how to improve your contact centre, check out our latest whitepaper Contact Centre Metrics & the Customer Experience.

See other posts by Simon Brennan

VP Sales

Simon Brennan has more than 14 years’ experience in the customer engagement sector, working with a wide variety of companies from tech start-ups to FTSE100 organisations. He is an expert in improving corporate customer communication, using technology to supercharge internal processes and deliver increased sales. Simon has a strong track record of successfully delivering cross-channel communication solutions for Engage Hub's corporate customer base, across multiple divisions within an organisation.

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