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My call center measures Service Level, Answer Rate, Average Handle Time, Availability and Call Quality
 
We recently asked our readership for their thoughts on one query: "What are the most common or industry standard call center measurements? My call center measures Service Level, Answer Rate, Average Handle Time, Availability and Call Quality. Are we measuring the right things? What are some of the other things, other call centers measure? How many centers measure service level vs. average speed of answer?"

Here are some of the answers. (We've kept each response unattributed to protect the respondents' privacy; if you'd like to contact someone who has a response here, send an email to kdawson@cmp.com and we'll pass it along).

Consider three buckets when thinking about contact center measurements.


Production: Call Center 101 stuff like average speed to answer, service level, abandon rate, talk time.
Quality: monitoring scores, first call resolution, error rates and most importantly, customer satisfaction ratings. The latter is of key importance.
Efficiency: site occupancy, staff occupancy, retention, overhead, etc.

It's important to note here to make sure that your availability is part of occupancy/ time efficiency. Not only are the agents present, but they should be available for calls. It's easy to skew these numbers when agents are in a 'not ready' state (availability could be low), but this doesn't paint an accurate picture; it's not an efficient use of time and resources.

Any contact center can do ONE of the three -- usually focusing on the first category while considering (or just giving lip service to) the second and third. The key is finding a balance between all three, keeping each bucket equally full. How can you measure the water when one bucket's overflowing into the second, and there's a hole in the third?

I sure want to know what you find with this survey. This has been a problem here for quite a while. The metrics that the employees decided on don't seem to hit the right spot. Managers don't use them to manage the business. Perhaps that would be a follow-on question to ask - "How does management use the established metrics to manage the business?" At any rate, other metrics we use are:

Customer Satisfaction,
Backlog (number of customer issues owned) by team,
Accuracy (of the recorded issue),
Total Resolution Time (Open to close)

For each line of business



Service Level
Abandonment Rate
Accuracy (e.g., defect rate of calls monitored)
Call Quality (e.g., overall call monitoring score)
Volume (e.g., number of calls received per period)
AHT
Cost per Call
Agent Utilization
Customer Satisifaction
Client Satisfaction

For the center

Absenteeism
Attrition
Staff satisfaction

What is measured in Call Centers is a rather routine matter - service level, average speed of answer (actually service level provides for this) answer rate, handle time, availability are all metrics available via the ACD.

How this data is utilized makes the difference between high performance and simple assessments. For the most part if these types of metrics are viewed in the "day after" mode - they represent dead soldiers, the battle is fought and over.

Evaluating these metrics against a solid plan, a forecast for volume, handle time, availability etc. allows corrective action and improvement.

Many measure metrics, and rarely improve anything significant. Others measure and adjust metrics using "fuzzy" math to meet stated objectives. The key is to view metrics as an output and to focus corrective action on the inputs.

Identify what goes into handle time, how well agents are trained, how well agents learn and use their training, how effective the tools at the desktop are - if system response is slow - agents cannot improve it - and handle time will reflect it.

Use of After Call Work is often all over the place, because its purpose is not understood and the call center leaders offer little effective coaching around this "state." The work state is part of the call load for the interval, to achieve an accurate forecast this information must be correct.

People must understand all the component parts of service level, the customer's experience, the agent's utilization, the budget! There are too many environments where what is measured is not clearly understood or effectively communicated to be connected to the actions of teams and individuals.

Availability is paramount in call centers, it is not a complicated process to communicate and understand. Many complain that they ought to be allowed "flexibility" because they are "professionals" - intelligent contributors understand that professionals comprehend job requirements and deliver on that requirement. The biggest issue I often see with adherence is there is no direct consequence to the individual for non-compliance. The result is the agents that do show up on time etc. handle a disproportionate amount of the load, potentially become disgruntled and THEY - your good people, will leave and you are left with a staff that does not necessarily understand or respect high performance.

I work with clients to establish a measurement called "Contribution to Capacity", this measures adherence, handle time, availability and "other." Contribution is a basic human need and to use this term the leadership team must be able to explain what it is they are looking to measure and how that will help the Center accomplish its objectives.

Use measures to get people working together instead of continuing to silo and isolate.

Measuring quality, single call resolution, contacts per transaction type - measuring the ability to improve business processes to eliminate contacts eliminating is infinitely more powerful than automation), measuring cost is also crucial because that is the current business language! Demonstrate savings by improvements made. View your performance measurement activities as powerful tools in the improvement of individuals as well as the center and onto the enterprise.

Another item to consider is ACW (after call work). How long (on average) does it take your agents to finalize their previous call (paperwork, data input, etc) before getting to the next call?

Once this is understood, you may be able to find some efficiency gains in total productivity.

I am a Call center Director who also questions if I am measuring against overall centers standards. I probably measure too much! We measure answering performance, calls per hour per agent, ACD incoming vs. ACD answered to measure the incentive a rep has to field calls, log time, available vs. unavailable, abandoned call rate, year over year improvements & statistics and inbound vs. outbound calls.

I have been in the call center business for over ten years now. We measure the following:

Service Level
Abandon Rate
Speed of Answer
Avg. Call Length
Longest Call Length
Avg. Hold Time
Longest Hold Time
Arrival rate (how many calls arrive at any given 30-minute increment over a 24-hour period)

Analyst specific items: Number of calls, avg. call length, avg. hold length, availability rate, after call work activity (anything that has to be done to a call after they hang up with a customer - this is a manual process, but an important one when determining how many calls an average analyst can handle per day).

At the (international) call center I work for the calls are rated based on Abandon Rates, Average Length of Call, Number of Calls handled by foreign language speakers, whether there was a good resolution or not among other things. I have been at this center for 3 years now. And especially recently there has been downsizing resulting from the slowdown in the economy, competition from other sectors, etc. (We just recently had to end 6 mid-level management positions as a cost cutting measure - temporary we hope). I would like to transfer to the Midwest but my company does not have a center in the Midwest, so I feel a bit "stuck" as the benefits (which have not been cut thankfully) are quite good. Back to the issue of standards, we consistently meet the "industry standards" for our area (banking) though admittedly it has been difficult during the summer months where there has been a hiring freeze and I look around especially on the weekends and notice a number of cubicles are vacant and the light on my phone indicating a callwaiting is blinking....

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