KPIs for call centers: 8 critical metrics to track
When it comes to KPIs for your call center, one thing is for sure: less is more.
You may not be so convinced. After all, when you’re managing a call center, whether it’s in-house or outsourced, there’s a long list of KPIs (key performance indicators) that you could be measuring. Handle time, CSAT, FCR, abandonment rate—the list is nearly endless.
So how can you know which are the best metrics to track for your business?
This is why less is more—by trying to track every metric possible, you may actually lose sight of which metrics are most important for your goals and struggle to get results.
To determine which call center KPIs are most important for your business, start by considering your current goals. Once you understand what you want to accomplish, you’ll be able to determine which metrics are the best ways to focus improvement in those areas.
In this article, we’ll walk you through:
- the importance of KPIs for call centers
- 8 critical call center KPIs
- advanced call center KPIs for organizations who are ready to take things to the next level
- how to decide which KPIs to track
What makes call center KPIs so important?
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are one of the easiest ways to track your call center’s performance.
By determining and tracking KPIs for your call center, you can better understand what’s working and what’s not working in order to achieve your goals and drive results for your company and sales. Selecting and tracking the right KPIs will also help you get results faster—not to mention get better results.
As you can see, understanding which KPIs to track is pretty important!
KPIs don’t just help you understand what’s happening in your call center, though—they can also help you better understand your business across sales, marketing and service departments. Tracking call center KPIs leads to more streamlined and effective communication, better strategic decisions and a clearer picture of how different teams are contributing to overall goals.
How to decide which KPIs your call center should track
So, how do you decide which KPIs to track?
As mentioned above, this depends on the goals of your business. Are you looking to make sure call center agents are equipped to handle each call as efficiently as possible? Then you may want to look at average handle time and first contact resolution.
On the other hand, if your goal is to enhance the customer experience, you may want to look at metrics like CSAT, speed of answer and net promoter score.
To decide which metrics are right for you, let’s look at a few examples.
Example #1: Call center KPIs for a retail business
In this example, a small retail business is building out their call center.
They’ve recently outsourced their call center to help handle the increasing volume of customer service calls as their business grows. They want to provide great customer service, but also need to make sure their call center agents have support to perform optimally.
In this situation, the business should track speed of answer and first call resolution.
A low speed of answer and high rate of FCR ensures that customers get their issues resolved quickly, improving the customer experience.
With Global Response, first call resolution is our gold standard. Getting customers answers fast means they can easily get the information they need about your business, have a great experience, and keep shopping.
Example #2: Call center KPIs for consumer services
For our next example, let’s look at a consumer services brand who offers digital services and subscriptions.
The call center for this business handles a large volume of incoming customer service calls, often related to membership or subscription questions, technical support or general customer service inquiries. In order to drive loyalty and increase sales, this consumer services brand wants to focus on improving their customer service experience.
In this situation, the best KPIs to track would include average handle time and FCR (first call resolution). First call resolution is a measure of customer effort and issue resolution that impacts the CSAT score—customers who have their issues resolved quickly and efficiently are more satisfied with their experience.
In addition, average handle time can help this brand ensure that customers are getting efficient service, as well as ensuring that agents have adequate training and support to quickly and effectively resolve concerns.
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Example #3: Call center KPIs for automotive businesses
Finally, let’s take the example of a business within the automotive industry.
This business is marketing and handling large, expensive and often emotional purchases from customers who may have varying levels of expertise within the industry. Customers who have a good experience are more likely to make a repeat purchase later, as well as recommend the business online or via word of mouth.
As a result, this business should focus on creating an excellent customer experience, one where the customer interacts with a warm, knowledgeable employee at every step of the way.
In this situation, the best KPIs to track would include CSAT and net promoter score. Both of these metrics will give insight into how the customer perceived the engagement and how likely the customer is to return or recommend the business.
Which call center KPIs matter most?
Of course, the call center KPIs that matter most for your business depend on your goals. Let’s walk through 8 of the most critical call center KPIs that can help take a standard call center to a superior one.
1. Customer satisfaction / CSAT
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important goals for a call center, and an important metric to track.
CSAT is a metric that measures the overall performance of the customer service engagement based on the customer’s perception of the engagement, typically with a short survey or question at the end of the call or as a follow-up email or text. Customers frequently will be asked to rate their experience on a scale of 1-5, 1-10 or on a simple binary scale.
2. First contact resolution
First contact resolution (sometimes called first call resolution) is a KPI that measures how frequently a customer’s question or concern is resolved the very first time they contact you.
An omnichannel contact center model can help you track this metric more closely, as it allows you to streamline all customer communications to understand which touchpoints a customer has already used to interact with your brand, or where else they have contacted you.
Studies have shown that first contact resolution is correlated with higher customer satisfaction scores, which makes it an essential call center KPI to track.
3. Speed of answer
Did you know that 56% of customers won’t wait on hold for more than two minutes? Ensuring you are accessible and available whenever customers need help is an essential part of good customer service.
Speed of answer (sometimes called “average time to answer”) measures the amount of time between when an inbound call is received and when it is answered by an agent. Industry standard for this metric is 80/30, which means answering 80% of calls within 30 seconds.
Tracking this metric can not only help you improve customer service and support, but also ensure you have enough staff to handle the incoming volume of calls (and scale up accordingly if you see this starting to lag). This in turn can help reduce agent turnover rate and abandonment rate.
4. Average handle time
Average handle time measures the amount of time from when the agent picks up a customer’s call to the end of the call—how long it took to handle the concern or issue that was called about.
Shorter average handle times are directly correlated with higher levels of customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty and retention, which is why average handle times are one of the most common call center KPIs.
Of course, keep in mind that handle time is dependent upon how complex the issue is. A call about your store’s hours or a simple password reset will take much less time than a complex question about the right subscription level for a certain customer or an advanced technical support call. That’s why it’s important to measure this as an average across all calls.
5. Average abandonment rate
Average abandonment rate measures the number of customers who hung up or disconnected the call before their call was answered by a call center associate.
Unsurprisingly, a high average abandonment rate is correlated to lower customer satisfaction scores. Customers who get frustrated enough to abandon the call without receiving support will be unsatisfied with their experience, and may grow dissatisfied with your brand as well.
6. Net promoter score
NPS (or net promoter score) is another popular call center KPI. This measures customer satisfaction alongside how likely your customers are to promote your business either online or via word-of-mouth to others.
An NPS score is calculated via a post-service or post-purchase survey where customers are asked how likely they are to recommend your service or business to a friend or family member. The higher your overall NPS score, the more satisfied your customers are—and the more likely you are to be gaining quality word-of-mouth leads through them.
7. Agent turnover rate
Agent turnover rate measures the rate at which your call center agents leave for other forms of employment.
This metric, while not directly tied to customer experience, is a critical one to track for your call center.
Well, because call center agents who are happy and motivated aren’t going to want to leave. Further, happy and motivated call center agents will be more enthusiastic about their work (and, by extension, your business) and will generally provide better support to your customers and better results for your company.
While it’s almost impossible to reduce your agent turnover rate to zero, making sure your call center agents are motivated and have the tools and training they need to succeed is essential to managing an effective call center.
8. Average transfer rate
Average transfer rate measures the percentage of calls an agent had to transfer to someone else for a resolution.
In many cases, this is not the fault of the agent—perhaps the caller needed more specialized technical support, had a specific request (i.e. needing to speak to a manager), or dialed the wrong department. In any case, it’s best if the FCR (first contact resolution) rate is higher than the transfer rate.
In addition, if you have specific call center agents who have a much higher transfer rate than the average, it could signal the need for further training and support to increase first contact resolution.
Beyond the basics: advanced call center KPIs
Perhaps your call center is already tracking some essential KPIs, but you’re ready to take things to the next level.
If so, consider some of these advanced call center KPIs to deepen your understanding of call center efficiency and optimize for your current goals.
Quality assurance, or phone etiquette
An important advanced call center KPIs involves the quality of an agent’s assistance and etiquette during a call.
In order to measure this, you’ll need to develop a checklist of factors that will comprise your quality assurance measurement, and then have a quality management team or quality assurance manager listen to recorded calls to assess the quality.
The more quality factors present in a call, the higher the score will be—and the more satisfied customers will be with their service.
Common factors used to measure quality assurance within a customer call include greeting customers by name, using warm, friendly and calm tones, repeating the customer issue to clarify the problem, limiting the amount of times the customer is placed on hold, using empathetic language, and so on.
Customer effort score
Customer effort score (CES) is a metric that aims to measure the amount of effort a customer has to put out to get their question answered.
Long queue times and high transfer rates, for example, increase the customer effort—as customers have to spend more time waiting on hold and waiting for their issue to be resolved.
Omnichannel contact centers are a great way to help track customer effort, as they provide technology that can streamline all customer communication through centralized channels and programs. As a result, you can see the number of times or channels a customer tried to use to contact you, how long they waited each time, and so on.
Average after-call work time
Average after-call work time, also sometimes called average idle time, measures the amount of time after a call has ended that an agent spends doing follow-up tasks related to the call.
This can include tasks like updating a patient chart, inputting relevant call info into a customer management system, sending follow-up emails, and so on.
The longer these tasks take, the less time the agents have to spend with customers, handling inquiries and resolving concerns. By extension, average after-call work time can also signal a need for streamlined systems or processes or increased training.
However, with this metric, shorter isn’t always better. Agents may be able to quickly resolve an issue with a customer on the phone, and then hang up and actually resolve the issue afterwards—thus decreasing handle time and first call resolutions. If the agent is taking less calls, but resolving each call more favorably, and with a better customer experience, then this should still be considered a win.
Revenue per successful call
If your team is primarily working on inbound calls and customer service, this will be a less helpful metric. However, for outbound call centers or sales and marketing focused teams, this is an important call center KPI.
Tracking the revenue generated per successful call is a good way to understand:
- the monetary value of your calls, in general
- if call center agents are hitting sales goals
- how many products your agents are (successfully) directing customers to
- which products are most popular
- what kinds of calls generate the most sales
Remember: satisfied customers are more likely to make more purchases, and remain more loyal to your brand. If you’re struggling with revenue per successful call, you may need to focus on other customer service metrics as well.
Using your call center’s KPIs to push your business forward
Now that you’re tracking KPIs and gathering useful data from your call center, what should you do with it?
Of course, call center KPIs and contact center metrics are only helpful once they are used to implement meaningful change. When you choose your KPIs to track, make sure you understand what data to gather, and that the data can be shared with stakeholders and analyzed properly to implement change.
Not sure where to begin?
Here’s a few tips for using some of the KPIs discussed above to push your business forward:
How to use CSAT to improve call center experience
It’s great to be able to measure and track customer satisfaction, or CSAT, over time. But how should you interpret the results?
CSAT is a broad metric that measures customer satisfaction in general. If you see noticeable declines to CSAT over time, it could be a signal that you need to make changes to agent training or implement new policies or procedures to reduce handle time or improve first contact resolution.
In addition, changes in customer satisfaction can also provide business insights around product features, service or subscription options, or other ways your core offerings may not be meeting customer needs.
How to reduce call center average handle time
Reducing average handle time is an easy way to improve customer satisfaction.
Of course, for more complex calls, a longer handle time is necessary, and ensures customers receive the care they need. As a result, it’s essential that this is not the only metric agents are evaluated by.
However, if your average handle time is increasing, it could mean that your agents need more training and support to answer customer questions quickly and confidently.
In addition, a longer than usual average handle time could signal there is a common problem, bug, or complaint within your product, service or industry that may be best addressed from a marketing, product or design standpoint.
How to improve first contact resolution
First contact resolution is a major factor in customer satisfaction. Providing effective and efficient service values customers’ time—an important part of a good customer experience.
If your call center is struggling with first contact resolution, it’s a sign that you may need additional training for your agents. If agents are consistently transferring to a manager or another call center agent, increased training and support can give agents more confidence and agency in resolving concerns on their own.
In addition, problems with first contact resolution may indicate a need for a policy examination—for example, in what situations a call gets transferred to a manager, or advanced technical support, or the sales team.
If calls are frequently being transferred due to incorrect routing, or dialing the wrong department, an IVR (interactive voice response) system can help. IVR technology helps cut back on transfer rate and improve first contact resolution by allowing the customer to access important information through an automated system before reaching an agent or narrow down their area of concern so they can be routed to the correct department immediately.
How speed of answer affects customer experience
It’s simple: the faster a call is answered, the less time a customer has to grow frustrated waiting on hold.
It immediately starts the call out on a better foot, and shows the customer that you value their time and are available whenever they need support.
Low speed of answer metrics can indicate that you need to scale up your call center team to be able to effectively handle the amount of incoming calls. Many businesses find that outsourcing their call centers provides them with flexibility to scale up or down as needed depending on seasonality, new product launches, and other factors.
Looking to work with a call center that can provide you with the most powerful technology and analytics to drive growth and sales at your business? Global Response’s human-centered, data-driven contact center solutions are here to help.
Reach out to a customer service consultant today to see how our technology and advanced call center KPIs can power growth for your business.