Guest post by Vlad Falin
While 2020 was a difficult year, it can be argued that it did a lot to speed up the digitization process. It was hard to imagine working completely remotely just a few years ago, and now it is becoming a norm.
With this shift, the habits of the customers change too. Many of them had no other choice than to start using online platforms for shopping or delivery, and they will not be going back to their earlier habits.
The notable inflow of new digital shoppers (either of products or services) is presenting a lot of opportunities but of course also many new challenges.
At this time, it is more important than ever to provide extraordinary customer support, and increase sales activity — all of that being done remotely. Therefore the earlier importance of call centers increases even more.
As the result of this jump in demand for call center capacity, it is no wonder that some sources claim that the call center market will grow to over $430bn in 2024 representing a 9% CAGR.
While it can be easy to manage 1 – 2 call center agents, it is increasingly difficult to retain the same level of quality when you have a team of 10 and more individuals, not even speaking about full scape call centers with tens or hundreds of agents.
To help you capture the growth, but retain the overall level of your service, we prepared a list of 9 call center metrics and KPI that you should follow closely.
1. Blocked Calls Rate
For the success of your customer satisfaction strategy, you first need to know how many calls are not getting through to your call center. Blocked calls are an important metric in the success of any call center.
Customers not being able to speak to a customer service representative are not likely to give your customer retention strategy a thumbs up. Quite the contrary!
The consequences of this could be:
- bad reviews
- complaints on your social media
- bad press
- and eventually losing business.
Calls get blocked because no agents are available to take the call. This is either because of an issue with the call center software or because agents simply cannot handle the load. In such cases, customers typically get rerouted to voicemail or get a busy tone.
Either way, their issues are not resolved.
It’s very important that you, first of all, make sure you have a call queue and then determine if it is full and why.
To reduce the blocked call rate, you’ll have to properly fit your call center software to handle the call volume. Then, you’ll need to adapt your call queuing system to the number of calls. Especially at critical times when the call center is getting the most callers.
The software can notify your agents about the call queue. They should have procedures in place to allow them to solve customer calls and efficiently manage and reduce the queue.
Your agents should also be efficiently organized and be available at peak times. Consider hiring extra staff for the times of day or days of the week when you get the most calls.
Another good solution to not keep your customers waiting on the line is to have a queue callback option or implement a chatbot to help with basic needs.
2. Queue and Abandonment Rates
Keeping customers waiting for a long time is a definite no-no for any call center.
When customers reach out to your call center agents, it’s usually because they have an issue or need information. They will easily get frustrated if they cannot get answers fast. Eventually, they will end up taking their business elsewhere.
That is why queue and abandonment rates are essential metrics for any call center KPI. Solving this call center issue is one of the best ways to improve customer satisfaction.
To solve it, you will have to look into what the average time is that a caller spends in a queue and how often they just give up trying to talk to an agent. Keep it under 2 minutes for best results.
Look into the average time a caller spends in a queue. If it’s above 2 minutes, make adjustments to your call center procedures and strategies to bring down these times.
As for abandonment rates, they need to be as low as possible. If they are high, this is a good indication that your call center strategies are not working and that your customer satisfaction and retention levels are going to suffer.
Possible solutions for improving these call center metrics are:
- invest in more agent training
- adapt your call center software options (callback or voicemail options and real-time call queue data)
- set up procedures to manage calls more effectively.
3. Call Duration
Call duration can have an impact on customer satisfaction, yet just as importantly, optimizing this metric will also allow you to bring down queue and abandonment rates.
While your goal should be to make the average duration of calls shorter, it’s not always easy. Time-to-Resolution is important. But it’s not the only thing you should be focusing on.
Increased customer satisfaction also depends on you giving your callers the best answer. Not just the quickest.
To improve this, you can analyze different caller queries. See how long they typically take and analyze how you can reduce call times.
- Is the agent asking the right questions?
- What other questions could they ask to understand/solve the customer’s issue quicker?
- Is there a specific order in which the agent can ask questions to understand and solve a query?
Analyzing all call duration metrics is a good way to reach your average handle time and average speed of answer KPIs.
Based on these answers and this information, create dedicated scenarios and procedures. Set up specific steps and questions that can reduce call handle times, implement call scripts, and reorganize and train your agents in this direction.
By following the procedures, your agents can minimize the time it takes to solve the customer call and give the most appropriate answers. Plus, this will take the load of your call queue and decrease your abandonment rates.
4. First Call Resolution
First call resolution is one of the KPIs that can guarantee high customer satisfaction levels.
The better and quicker you solve customer queries, the more likely they are to become loyal to your brand. And since loyal return customers are any business’ goal, you will have to pay special attention to this KPI.
First call resolution refers to the number of customer queries or calls that get solved on the spot. That is without the agent redirecting the call or the customer having to return with the same query.
An efficient and successful call center will have a high percentage of first-call resolutions. It is the number one indicator that the call center’s procedures, staff, and strategies are working and can deliver great results.
As much as you’d like to, you won’t be able to solve all customer calls instantly. Some will be more complex and will require redirecting the customer to another department. Or, they will take several calls to work out.
However, as a general rule, you must look into:
- how many queries are not solved in the first call
- how many return calls you get from the same customer about the same issue
- how knowledgeable the agents are about the products/services you offer
- how relevant and useful the answers the agents provide are
- how callers rate their experience after talking to a customer service rep
- how the answers given by agents to a specific query can be improved.
Keep this KPI in the heart of all your call center metrics. It is essential for good reviews and repeat customers.
5. Customer Satisfaction
Customer surveys are the most efficient way to evaluate the quality of support and customer satisfaction levels.
To do this, most call centers ask callers to rate their experience, whether directly at the end of the call, or through follow-up communication.
The customer support metrics you get from these surveys are vital to improving your call center’s efficiency. The more detailed your survey questions are, the more valuable the information. Many businesses rely on a simple NPS survey (“how likely are you to recommend this business to a friend/colleague, on a scale of 1-10?”) to determine and evaluate score performance over time. This is an easy way for customers to quickly respond, and if they want to add additional feedback or commentary they may.
Based on this feedback, you can identify any weak points and procedure issues that may be standing in the way of a higher customer satisfaction score.
How customers rate the quality of the support they received will also allow you to identify the call center agents that are the most knowledgeable and those who could benefit from more training.
6. Agent Metrics
How well you manage your staffing needs will have a major impact on how you reach your call center KPIs.
There are several agent-related metrics that can help you identify where you can improve or change your team structures. Additionally, these metrics will help you manage your call center’s schedule.
The first thing you will need to identify is how often you change agents. If your call center is constantly employing new agents due to the older ones leaving, this may be a serious issue.
Your call center agent turnover metrics will tell you how satisfied your staff is. If the turnover is low, your agents are happy. At the end of the day, having happy employees means you will also have happy customers.
Satisfied employees will treat your customers with respect and will feel motivated to offer top-quality support.
If, on the other hand, your turnover rate is high, you must dig deeper. Try to understand the reasons why agents choose to leave and what you can do to improve their experience of working in your call center.
Another metric you can look at is how often your agents miss work and why. Having a lot of absentees will translate into a lot of reorganizing and rescheduling staff that you could avoid if you identify what makes them miss work in the first place.
Last but not least, you must identify your top agents. To do this, look into several metrics like:
- call resolution rates
- call handle times
- speed of answer
- customer ratings.
Top-performing agents are a valuable call center metric that will give insight into a lot of things. First, it will indicate which agents are ready for the next level. Top agents are great candidates for promotion to management roles. They will have all the knowledge and understanding of performing the job themselves and help nurture efficient teams.
Second, it will help you identify which agents have low scores and need more training hours.
Third, it can serve as the baseline for any incentive and reward systems you want to implement to improve your call center’s KPIs.
7. Call Trends
Having the right information is vital for an efficient call center. It can help you plan, organize, and schedule your call center teams better and improve your queue and response time metrics. A good option for getting this information is tracking call trends.
Even if your call center is busy 24/7, it will still be busiest on certain days or at certain hours.
You should identify your busiest periods and adjust your call center staff accordingly. Having enough agents to handle customer calls is the best way to stay on top of the call volume and increase customer satisfaction.
Typically, the busiest periods will coincide with other things, like your company running a promotion or the holidays. However, if you notice a sudden surge of customer calls that you did not expect, you should check whether there are some issues with how your product/service is working.
8. Call Center Costs
When you compare your call center costs to your overall revenue metrics, you can get an idea of how much your customer support is costing you.
However, while it may be tempting to make a saving here and there, don’t lose sight of what’s important: the customer.
You should set your call center costs KPI according to the lowest costs you can achieve without affecting any customer service quality standards. It won’t help you much to save some call center expenses and see a drop in customer satisfaction levels.
Decreased customer satisfaction levels will end up costing you a lot more than you saved on call center support.
To make your call center more productive and cut down on costs, you can take several routes.
- improve your agent training procedures
- reduce agent turnover rates
- improve agent engagement
- schedule staff more efficiently.
9. Customer Loyalty
Customer satisfaction levels are a vital call center metric. But, in the end, customer loyalty and retention are what translates into KPI success and revenue.
Having repeat customers is more profitable than running after new ones for any business. While marketing attribution is always a difficult task, it can be said with certainty that a good call center will help to convert your brand, PPC, or email marketing campaigns.
So, identify your customer loyalty metrics (or “repeat customer rate”). Do this by dividing the total of return customers by the total number of customers.
However, don’t be surprised if the retention rate is low. It will depend on what product/service you offer. For instance, people are not going to buy a new laptop or fridge every month. A short-term low customer retention rate for these types of businesses is normal.
Analyze your customer retention metrics from this perspective and use a suitable time frame to understand how to drive your business further and ensure long-term success.
Of the main 9 call center metrics we just reviewed, one of the tips not listed there, but that kind of goes without saying is that if you want your CSR to present at their best, you must make sure that your company is customer-centric.
It can be argued that given the existing boom in digital business and the associated shard rise in the competition, that only the companies who truly put their customers first (not only in words but in action) will prevail.
The work on the call center never ends. There is always something to tweak and improve. So start increasing your main metrics and never stop!
About the Author
Vlad Falin is a digital marketer and founder of Costofincome.com, where he writes about online business, digital marketing tools, and other topics to tens of thousands of monthly readers.