At the heart of every successful customer service experience is a well-trained and efficient call center, which can answer incoming calls in a timely manner, route them to the most appropriate person or department, and otherwise enable a quick and effective solution to customers' and clients' calls. We previously introduced training tips for improving call center productivity, so now let’s dive into how to measure success.
Measuring success in call center productivity generally includes looking at several different types of metrics, some of which are easily gathered, such as number of calls fielded, average handle time, etc., and others are a bit more challenging to standardize, such as the perceived quality of the agent's calls, the productivity level of off-call time and after-call work, etc.. Let's start with the call center productivity metrics that are fairly simple to quantify, and then move on to those that need to be examined with a little more nuance.
The total number of calls handled is a good starting place for measuring productivity, and although the number of incoming calls is one element that can't be influenced by call center employees, the number of dropped or abandoned calls certainly is, as are the following metrics.
Average Call Duration (ACD), which is exactly what it sounds like, measures the average length of time spent on a call by a given agent, or by the call center as a whole. Longer call durations can be a sign of the need for more training, although the context of some calls may require more time, which is why an average is used, while shorter calls that constantly need to be escalated to another agent can also be an indication of more training needs.
Average Handle Time (AHT) includes both the on-call time and any related after-call work required to clear up the issue. Longer handle times may indicate a need for more streamlined processes or further training.Resolution time measures how long it takes to resolve a caller's issue, which in some instances could be virtually instantly and in others it could be hours or even days.
First Call Resolution (FCR) is a measure of how many callers had their issue taken care of on the first call, rather than having to call back to resolve their question or concern. The ability to resolve calls quickly and effectively the first time is a factor of how well-trained the call center employees are, as well as the quality and clearness of the company's processes and guidelines.
Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT), which often consists of a single rating or survey question immediately following a handled call, can help indicate the quality of the service of agents.
In addition to the easily measured call metrics, a few other elements of call center productivity should also be taken into account, even though coming up with standards and benchmarks to compare them to can be a bit challenging.
- Call quality is a good metric to begin examining, with a focus on measuring how well employees adhere to company guidelines and processes during calls, including the following of any scripted prompts to ensure good communication, offering a pleasant and professional experience to the caller, entering data correctly and quickly, and the agent's skills in successfully resolving a call without escalating it.
- Off-call productivity can be challenging to measure sometimes, especially if there are no standing agent instructions for duties while not actively on a call, but considering that most call center agents are paid for their time and not by the call, setting up clear expectations and guidelines for what agents are to do when between calls can help avoid excessive "paid downtime."
The call center is often one of just a few customer-facing parts of businesses, so it's imperative that call center employees not only do a great job effectively handling calls, but because the center itself can account for a significant part of the labor budget, agents also need to maintain a high level of productivity both on and off the phone. Call center supervisors and managers would do well to keep a close eye on both customer satisfaction and on internal productivity metrics.