Call center performance metrics to use when starting a new center

Lori Bocklund discusses which call center performance metrics are most appropriate for a brand-new call center. Metrics like abandon rate and first call resolution are very important, she says.

What metrics do you suggest for a brand-new call center? I am involved in starting up a call center and would like to know which metrics make the most sense to focus on right now.
Metrics strategy is a very important part of operating a center. Ideally, you should align call center performance metrics with your business goals (i.e., they will differ if you are focused on low cost vs. revenue generation, or driving customer service excellence), and create a balanced view across key areas such as productivity/efficiency, quality, customer experience, financial and employee experience. Of course which metrics you can readily define and gather depend to a degree on the technology you put in place, the processes you have, and the support staff and time you have. I will give you a "best practices" view but recognize that you may need to ramp up over time as you secure more resources.

I suggest the list of metrics that you set targets for and manage to include:

  • Service level -- X% of calls answered in Y seconds
  • Adherence -- make sure agents are working when they're supposed to be working
  • Quality -- monitor X (five-10) calls per month per agent and score on a quality scorecard
  • Customer satisfaction -- survey your customers somehow - via phone, email, mail cards
  • Employee satisfaction -- there are some simple ways to measure employee satisfaction routinely, such as intranet sites with quick little surveys
  • Cost per contact or other financial measure
  • IVR self service rate, if appropriate
In addition, especially since you are a new center, I would suggest monitoring the following metrics to establish your baseline, identify anomalies, and look for trends. These can also help you identify if you have any major problems in your configuration of routing, agent skills, or staffing, and will help you fine tune your planning. Over time, you may want to set targets for some such as first call resolution rate (FCRR), and it will help you identify where your performance sits in key areas.
  • Call volume (offered and handled)
  • Talk time and wrap-up time (handle time)
  • Utilization
  • Forecasted versus actual calls
  • Abandon rate
  • Turnover
  • First call resolution (FCR) rate (if you can find a way to measure it effectively)
If you have any issues with system performance, add some metrics tied to that as well (uptime, response time).

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