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A look at performance metrics in a multi-channel call center

The evolution of a simple call center into a multi-channel contact center means you have to think about new performance metrics. Are the ones that have served you well in the call center the same ones that will determine how well the multi-channel contact center is working?

What performance measures are typically associated with personnel and the processes in a multi-channel center?

The evolution of a simple call center into a multi-channel contact center doesn't just happen overnight. You many need to add or upgrade technologies, and certainly staff skills will need to expand as customer contacts begin to include e-mail and Web chat in addition to incoming calls. It's also important to re-think what performance measurements are important for this new breed of operation. Are the measures of performance that have served you well in the call center the same ones that will determine how well the multi-channel contact center is working?

(Note: The term "call center" will be used to refer to a simple, incoming telephone call center and the term "contact center" will be used to address the needs of the multi-channel contact center.)


The most important measures of performance are those associated with service. Some of these measures are the same for both a call center and contact center, while some will need to change slightly to reflect the new types of transactions.

1. Blockage

Blockage is an accessibility measure that indicates what percentage of customers will not be able to access the center at a given time due to insufficient network facilities in place. Measures indicating blockage (busy signals) by time of day or occurrences of "all trunks busy" situations are utilized by most centers. Failure to include a blockage goal allows a center to always meet its speed of answer goal by simply blocking the excess calls. This can have a negative effect on customer accessibility and satisfaction while the call center looks like it is doing a great job in terms of managing the queue.

The contact center must also carefully determine the number of facilities needed in terms of both bandwidth and email server capacity to ensure that large quantities of emails do not overload the system. Likewise, the number of lines supporting fax services must be sufficient to provide a reasonable level of blockage.

2. Abandon Rate

Call centers measure the number of abandons as well as the abandon rate since both correlate with retention and revenues. It should be noted, however, that abandon rate is not entirely under the call center's control. While abandons are affected by the average wait time in queue (which can be controlled by the call center), there are a multitude of other factors that influence this number, such as individual caller tolerance, time of day, availability of service alternatives, and so on.

Abandon rate is not typically a measure associated with email communications, since the email does not abandon the "queue" once it has been sent, but it does apply to Web chat interactions.

3. Self-Service Availability

More and more contacts are being off-loaded today from call center agents to self-service alternatives. In the call center, self-service utilization is an important gauge of accessibility and is typically measured as an overall number, by self-service methodology and menu points, and by time of day or by demographic group.

In the contact center, self-service utilization should also be tracked. In cases of Web chat, automated alternatives such as FAQs or use of help functions can reduce the requirement for the live interaction with a Web chat agent.

4/5. Service Level/ASA

Service level, the percentage of calls that are answered in a defined wait threshold, is the most common speed of answer measure in the call center. It is most commonly stated as x percent of calls handled in y seconds or less, while average speed of answer (ASA) represents the average wait time of all calls in the period.

In the contact center, speed of answer for Web chat should also be measured and reported with a service level or ASA number. Many centers measure for both initial response as well as the back-and-forth times, since having too many open Web chat sessions can slow

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