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Article 3 min read

Which call center metrics should you really focus on?

By Brett Grossfeld

Last updated June 12, 2017

It’s difficult to settle on just a few metrics when looking for insights into your call center’s performance. Each statistic, whether they’re inbound call center metrics or focused on 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 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 call center metrics that tell a broader story beyond the number. They can even provide details you weren’t looking for in the first place. Getting familiar with these statistics will help establish some solid call center metrics best practices and hone the performances of your phone support representatives.

Average Talk Time
This the average time that elapses between an agent picking up a call and disconnecting. It’s a major metric for measuring both agent consistency and customer satisfaction.

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

Calls Missed & Calls Declined
These KPIs are killer for inbound call center metrics. Not only does it correlate to customer satisfaction (because nobody wants their call missed or declined after dialing a support line), but it also represents the health of the call center.

It might mean 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).

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 on 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 and that it might be time to rework 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 60% of consumers aren’t willing to wait more than one minute on hold, these two inbound call center 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, but if the numbers are close together and the “average wait time” seems high, then agents are probably expecting frustrated 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 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
This KPI 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 support agents and the call center as a whole more quickly. By establishing more efficient call center metrics best practices, managers can stay more adaptable and see speedier improvements.

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