The Most Important KPIs in Call Centers: How to Measure Success and Improve Customer Service
Call centers are critical to the success of many businesses, providing a centralized location for handling customer calls, emails, and other interactions. However, managing the operations of a call center can be challenging, with many moving parts to monitor and optimize. One of the most important tools for call center managers is key performance indicators (KPIs), which provide valuable insights into call center performance and enable managers to make data-driven decisions. This article will explore the most important call center KPIs and the most effective strategies to measure and improve them.
The Top KPIs in Call Centers
Call centers serve as a primary channel for customer communication. They are responsible for handling large volumes of calls and ensuring customers have a positive experience when interacting with their organization. One way to measure the success of a call center is through the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are quantifiable metrics used to track and measure progress toward specific business objectives. Call center KPIs are used to measure performance in a variety of areas, including customer service, productivity, and efficiency.
The top call center metrics and KPIs include Average Speed of Answer (ASA), First Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), Abandonment Rate, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
The ASA measures the average amount of time it takes for a call center agent to answer incoming calls. This metric is critical for measuring customer service responsiveness and is vital in determining customer satisfaction levels. A low average speed indicates that agents are answering incoming calls quickly and efficiently, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction. In contrast, a high ASA can lead to poor customer experience and reduced call center effectiveness.
For example, imagine a customer calls a call center and is put on hold for 10 minutes before speaking to an agent. This long wait time may make customers feel like their time is not valued, negatively impacting their perception of the company. On the other hand, if the same customer is answered in under a minute, they are more likely to feel like their issue is being taken seriously, resulting in a more positive perception of the company.
First Call Resolution (FCR)
FCR measures the percentage of customer calls resolved on the first contact with the call center. This metric is an important indicator of customer service quality and efficiency. Companies prioritizing FCR are likelier to stand out from their competitors and attract and retain customers.
For instance, a low FCR may force customers to call multiple times to resolve an issue, creating frustration and dissatisfaction with the service. This type of inefficiency may lead to negative reviews, loss of business, and damage to the company’s reputation.
On the other hand, a high FCR is a sign that agents are well-trained, knowledgeable, and able to handle a variety of customer issues efficiently. Additionally, agents who can resolve issues on the first call are more likely to feel confident and satisfied in their work, which can lead to increased motivation, engagement, and retention.
Average Handle Time (AHT)
AHT measures the average amount of time an agent spends on a call, including talk time and after-call work time. This metric is important for measuring agent productivity and efficiency. A low AHT can indicate that agents are handling calls quickly and efficiently, while a high AHT may indicate that agents are struggling to resolve customer issues effectively or that the call center’s processes and procedures need improvement.
By optimizing AHT, call centers can increase the number of calls handled per agent, reducing costs and maximizing resources. This can also lead to improved agent morale, as agents can feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to handle more calls efficiently.
The abandonment rate measures the percentage of abandoned calls by customers before they can be answered by an agent. A high abandonment rate can indicate that the call center is understaffed or that agents need to answer inbound calls more quickly. It can also indicate that customers are frustrated with long wait times and are giving up on trying to contact the call center.
Abandoned calls can also be a drain on call center resources. When customers abandon calls, they may call back multiple times, increasing call volume and creating longer queues. This can put additional strain on agents and result in longer wait times for all callers. By reducing abandonment rates, call centers can improve the efficiency of their operations and reduce costs associated with handling multiple calls from the same customer.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT measures the level of satisfaction customers have with their experience with the call center. This metric is typically measured through post-call surveys or other feedback mechanisms. A high CSAT indicates that customers are satisfied with the service they received, while a low CSAT may indicate that customers are not happy with the service they received.
CSAT is important for several reasons. First and foremost, satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and continue to do business with a company. They are also more likely to refer friends and family, which can result in new customers and increased revenue.
Additionally, CSAT is also a key indicator of the overall health of a call center. If customers are consistently unhappy with the service they receive, it can indicate larger problems within the call center, such as ineffective processes or poorly trained agents. By tracking CSAT scores, call center managers can identify areas for improvement and take corrective actions as needed.
Finally, CSAT is an important metric for regulatory compliance in certain industries. For example, healthcare call centers may be required to maintain a minimum level of CSAT as part of their compliance with HIPAA regulations. Similarly, financial call centers may be subject to regulations that require them to prioritize customer satisfaction as a means of avoiding complaints and disputes.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS measures the likelihood that a customer will recommend the company to others. This metric is typically measured through post-call surveys or other feedback mechanisms. A high NPS score indicates that customers are satisfied with the company’s products or services and are likely to recommend them to others. This can help call centers identify areas where they are excelling and areas where they need to improve in order to enhance the customer experience.
When measured properly, NPS can also serve as a benchmark for call centers to compare their performance against other companies in their industry. This can help call centers identify best practices and areas for improvement in order to enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction.
How to Measure KPIs in Call Centers
Measuring the right call center metrics and KPIs is essential for contact centers to evaluate their performance and improve their service. However, the process of measuring KPIs can be complex and may require the use of specialized tools and technology. In this section, we will discuss the steps involved in measuring KPIs and provide an overview of the tools and technology available for tracking KPIs.
Define your KPIs
The first step in measuring KPIs is to define the metrics that are most relevant to your call center’s objectives. Defining KPIs helps to align the call center’s objectives with measurable goals. To be most effective, KPIs should be set based on the specific goals of your call center, whether it is to increase customer satisfaction, reduce handle time, or improve first-call resolution rates. Having KPIs in place that align with the objectives of the call center ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals.
The next step is to collect data on the chosen KPIs. This can be done manually by recording data from call center agents, or it can be done automatically using call center software.
Call centers generate vast amounts of data, including call logs, call recordings and customer surveys. As such, it is important to collect data consistently and systematically, as data quality is critical to the accuracy of KPI measurement. Incomplete or inaccurate data can lead to misleading insights and hinder the ability to make informed decisions. Automating the process of collecting data makes it easier to organize and track KPIs in real time.
Once the data has been collected, it needs to be analyzed to provide insights into the performance of the call center. Data analysis can be done manually or using automated tools such as dashboards, providing real-time visibility into incoming and outgoing calls. The analysis should help identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement in call center operations.
For example, if the First Call Resolution rate is declining, it could indicate a training issue. Analyzing data can help businesses identify areas that need improvement and take the necessary actions to address them.
Set benchmarks and goals
After analyzing the data, it’s important to set benchmarks and goals for each KPI. Benchmarks provide a baseline against which performance can be measured, while goals provide a target to work towards. It’s important to set realistic and achievable benchmarks and goals that are aligned with the call center’s objectives.
A list of goals to measure against benchmark KPIs may look like this:
- Increase the FCR rate to 80% by the end of the year
- Reduce the abandoned call rate to less than 5% by the end of the quarter
- Achieve 95% SLA compliance by the end of the quarter
- Improve CSAT by 5% by the end of the year
- Increase NPS by 10 points by the end of the year
By setting these benchmarks and goals, call center managers can provide clear targets for their agents and track progress toward their desired KPIs. It also provides a standard of measurement for continuous improvement efforts and helps in identifying the areas that need immediate attention. In turn, this leads to better customer satisfaction, increased agent performance, and improved overall call center performance.
Monitor and adjust
Measuring KPIs is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and adjustment. Once benchmarks and goals are set, it is essential to monitor KPIs regularly to track progress toward the goals. Real-time analytics can help identify issues as they occur, and businesses can adjust their call center processes to address them.
One specific tool that can be implemented is Bucher + Suter’s Reports for CUIC, an add-on application to Cisco’s Unified Intelligence Center that offers an array of reporting templates to help analyze and manage every interaction across all channels. As an out-the-box solution, Reports for CUIC is an intuitive and low-friction tool that administrators can immediately implement to help monitor their KPIs.
In essence, regular monitoring helps to identify trends and patterns, while adjustments can be made to improve call center metrics. Monitoring and adjustment can be done manually or using automated tools, which can notify call center managers when performance falls outside of acceptable parameters.
Use analytics to optimize KPIs
Finally, call centers can leverage analytics to optimize their KPIs over time. Analytics can help identify the root cause of performance issues and suggest improvements to call center processes and procedures. Analytic tools, like the b+s Supervisor Management Console, can also help call center managers identify opportunities to improve KPIs and maximize call center metrics and supports them in making those changes in real-time.
For instance, if the Call Abandonment Rate is high, businesses can analyze the data to determine why customers are abandoning their calls. This analysis may reveal that call wait times are too long or that agents need better training to handle customer inquiries, leading to frustration and call abandonment. Businesses can then take steps to address these issues, such as hiring more agents, improving training programs, or implementing technology solutions to reduce wait times.
Strategies for Improving KPIs in Call Centers
In order to improve call center KPIs, it’s important to have a well-thought-out strategy that encompasses different aspects of the call center operation, including agent training, process optimization, and technology investment. Here are some strategies that call center managers can implement to improve KPIs and enhance customer service:
Invest in agent training and coaching
Agent performance is a critical call center metric. Providing ongoing training and coaching to agents can help them improve their skills and knowledge, which in turn can lead to better KPI performance. Call center managers can design training programs that cover a range of topics, including product knowledge, customer service skills, call-handling techniques, and conflict resolution. Coaching can be provided in real-time, during calls, or through regular feedback sessions. Regular training and coaching sessions can help agents stay motivated and engaged while also improving contact center KPIs such as First Call Resolution (FCR) and Average Handling Time (AHT).
Streamline processes and procedures
Inefficient and cumbersome processes can slow down call center operations and negatively impact KPIs such as ASA and AHT. By optimizing workflows, call centers can reduce inefficiencies, improve agent productivity, and enhance the overall customer experience. Here are some clear reasons to streamline processes and procedures:
- Improves Efficiency: By mapping out call flows, identifying bottlenecks, and automating repetitive tasks, call centers can reduce handle time and increase productivity, resulting in improved KPIs such as Average Speed of Answer (ASA) and Average Handle Time (AHT).
- Enhances Agent Performance: Streamlining processes and procedures can make it easier for agents to navigate complex call flows, access customer information quickly, and focus on delivering high-quality customer service, resulting in improved KPIs such as First Call Resolution (FCR) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).
- Increases Scalability: By simplifying workflows and reducing manual interventions, call centers can scale their operations more easily, allowing them to handle more calls and support a larger customer base without sacrificing quality.
- Enables Continuous Improvement: Streamlining processes and procedures provides a foundation for ongoing process optimization and improvement, as call centers can use data analytics and customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and implement changes quickly.
Overall, streamlining processes and procedures is a key strategy for improving KPIs in call centers. Through this process, call centers can create an actionable roadmap to achieve higher levels of productivity, scalability, and customer satisfaction.
Invest in technology and tools
Investing in technology and tools is a crucial strategy for call centers looking to improve their KPIs. The right call center software and tools can significantly impact KPIs such as First Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), and Abandonment Rate.
Here are a few examples (and a few shameless plugs) of tools to improve KPIs:
- A robust customer relationship management (CRM) system can help agents access customer information quickly and efficiently, reducing call handling time and improving FCR.
- Real-time analytics and reporting tools, such as b+s Reports for CUIC or b+s CCBI, can provide managers with valuable insights into call center performance, allowing them to make data-driven decisions and take corrective actions as needed.
- Call routing and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems can also help reduce Average Speed of Answer (ASA) and abandonment rates.
- Omni-channel integrations such as Bucher + Suter’s Connects for Salesforce, an out-of-the-box integration between Cisco Contact Center and Salesforce that allows agents to handle multichannel interactions and manage their state within a gadget embedded in the Salesforce GUI. b+s Connects improves contact center efficiency by enabling Cisco Contact Center to act as the single routing engine for all interaction types.
In summary, investing in technology and tools is vital for call centers to stay competitive and meet customer demands. By providing agents with the necessary tools to handle customer inquiries efficiently and by utilizing data to make informed decisions, call centers can improve KPIs and provide a better customer experience.
Implement a quality assurance program
A quality assurance (QA) program can help contact centers ensure that agents are providing high-quality service and adhering to best practices. QA programs typically involve evaluating a sample of calls to assess agent performance based on specific criteria, such as adherence to scripts, empathy, and problem-solving skills. QA evaluations can be used to identify areas for improvement and provide agents with constructive feedback. By implementing a QA program, call centers can improve KPIs such as CSAT and FCR while also ensuring consistent service quality.
Foster a culture of continuous improvement
Finally, it’s important for contact center leaders to foster a culture of continuous improvement. This involves encouraging agents to share feedback and ideas for improving call center operations and actively seeking out opportunities for process optimization and technology investment. Regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions can be used to generate ideas and solutions, while performance metrics and KPI targets can serve as motivation for improvement. By prioritizing a culture of continuous improvement, contact centers can stay ahead of the competition and deliver outstanding customer service.
Call center managers have a range of strategies available to them for improving KPIs and enhancing the customer experience. The key is to remain focused on the customer experience and to use KPIs as a means of measuring success and identifying areas for improvement.
Measuring and improving call center KPIs is essential in providing a high level of customer service. By tracking and analyzing key metrics, call center managers can identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to improve the customer experience. With the right tools, technology, and training in place, call center agents can provide a personalized and efficient customer service experience that can lead to increased customer loyalty and customer retention. As the call center industry continues to evolve, it will be increasingly important for call centers to prioritize KPI measurement and improvement to remain competitive and successful.
To help carve out a course to better contact center KPI recording, reporting, and improvement, get in touch with Bucher + Suter using the form below.