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Call center performance metrics

In virtual customer service venues like call centers, to what extent do you think customer service reps should have their customer response performance quantified -- for example, having records kept of how many calls a CSR answers per hour, how long each CSR's average customer interaction is, the percentage of calls a CSR must hand-off to another rep/expert to be resolved, how many call-backs the rep makes to customers on average?

Also, are there any negative consequences for management in implementing such CSR monitoring practices?

FYI, I am writing an article on CRM and need a fast response.


Quantification of CSR (Customer Service Representative) performance is imperative. Performance metrics are an excellent way to objectively analyze how the call center is measuring up to goals and expectations. But, as with any statistics, numbers need to be analyzed carefully to understand their true meaning.

A primary problem is that, in many call centers, negative performance statistics are too quickly attributed to a lack of agent motivation or desire. They are used to punish, not improve, the agents. This is unfortunate, because in these cases the true value of the metrics is being lost. What many call center managers do not understand is that, in most cases, poor performance statistics indicate an underlying problem that isn't always easy to find. Agents are usually equally interested in assisting customers as quickly as possible. But management and agents want short service times for different reasons.

Agents want short service times so they can provide the needed information and finish the transaction. No agent wants to spend 30 minutes with a single customer just trying to find the answer to one problem. I guarantee you that same agent would be much happier providing the same information in 10 minutes.

In order to help the agent do this, both the manager and the agent need to understand how the agent's time is being spent and on what. Maybe the issue is a lack of training. Take for instance an agent that handles questions on five different products. For four of the products, their average service time is an above average 6 minutes. But on the fifth product, their average service time is an abysmal 21 minutes. Overall, this agent's response time statistic might be average at best - but the problem is likely not the agent. Is this because the agent is not as comfortable with that product as they should be? Or is it because that fifth product is more complicated and simply requires more time to deal with each question?

Without understanding how the agent is spending their time and on what, there is no way to identify the issue and certainly no way to determine if improvements are being made. Let's say the agent was sent to additional training on the fifth product. Now we need to measure performance to see if the additional training is making a difference.

Performance metrics are absolutely vital to running an effective call center. But they must be carefully collected and analyzed.

For more information, check out searchCRM's Call Center/Customer Interaction Center Best Web Links.

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