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Call center metrics FAQ

These frequently asked questions offer insight into effective call center metrics.


Got call center metrics questions? Chances are you're not the first person to wonder, "What is first contact resolution (FCR)?" "How do I measure cost per call?" or "How can I reduce hold time without adding staff?" Browse these most frequently asked call center metrics questions and answers from our resident expert Lori Bocklund. We've also included links to our other call center resources to help you find the information you need. If you're still feeling stumped, drop us an email at and we'll point you in the right direction.

  1. What is the true meaning of first contact resolution (FCR)?
    First call/contact resolution is a metric measured as a percent of time the contact is completed fully on the first call. In general, there shouldn't be much variation on the definition, by industry or company. Actual one call resolution rates will vary tremendously by industry and contact type though. For example, order processing might have a high FCR, while technical support may have a low rate.

    How a company actually measures this metric can vary greatly as well. It could be based on a call center agent's accounting of the contact as completed, comparing contact records in a database, specific questions to the customer about resolution (e.g., through a customer satisfaction survey, or questions at the end of a call), or even call observations.
    Read the original question and response
    Read this related question on first contact resolution

  2. How do I measure cost per call?
    Cost per call is one of several key performance indicators or metrics call centers today may use. It is certainly a measurement of efficiency, but can reflect other things as well. It can't be viewed in a vacuum. Rather, you need to consider it in the context of your business goals, and your initiatives based on those goals. For example, a company with a big push to grow revenue per customer may happily see cost per call increase if corresponding measures of revenue per call or per customer are increasing at a greater rate. Using CRM tools and processes, the call center agents may be spending more time with customers to up-sell, cross-sell, and optimize the relationship.
    Read the original question and Lori's full response

  3. How should Average Hold Time be figured into Average Handle Time?
    If you're referring to the CSR putting the caller on hold (as opposed to time in queue -- some people call that hold time), it is generally included in the talk time. Technically, talk time is measured from the time the caller connects to a CSR until they hang up. As you point out, hold time should be included in the overall handle time to get Erlang models right. So either the ATT includes hold time, or AHT=ATT + ACW + hold time.
    Read the original question and response

  4. How can I reduce hold time without adding staff?
    Time to get out the Erlang models! You have a math problem on your hands.

    More workload than available resources to handle it. That's the bad news. The good news is, you can look at some options, but you have to do some analysis. For example, is this a single pool of 50 handling the 13 products, or is the pool of 50 broken down into 13 little groups? If the latter, see if you can combine groups. Small groups are very inefficient, and thus will cause long queue times. This is addressing one variable, which is group size or segmentation strategy. Your other options are to reduce volume (can you get the customers to contact you less? Point them to self service? Are you staffed for big peaks that are short-lived, so you need to find ways to encourage callers to call at less busy times?), and to reduce handle or wrap up time. The latter would require you to do some time and motion studies, review processes, review training, and do some work to see if technology can help improve contact handling.

    Incoming Calls Management Institute's (ICMI) core course on call center management would help you understand these principles and your options. Or, try Brad Cleveland's book, Call Center Management on Fast Forward. Both are available at ICMI's Web site.
    Read the original question and response

  5. Where can I find information on certification and/or training for both agents and supervisors?
    The CIAC is an organization that has established various levels of certification for contact center professionals. They offer a framework and testing for certification, and other industry players offer training and study tools to prepare for the certification (visit for some good resources). These certifications don't generally address CSR-level work (they're targeted more at the manager level).

    To work out something at the CSR level, you may want to work with your internal HR department to establish an internal certification process for the various job levels in the center, tied to competencies for the job. Communication of those may help gain the respect your call center agents deserve.

    Other than that, I can suggest a couple approaches that may help:
    - Get your executive to work with the executives in the other areas to raise awareness and understanding of the role and value of the call center.
    - Start a change management effort that entails some communications and training for those that need to achieve a better understanding of the center's role and value.
    Read the original question and answer
    Read this question about international certifications for contact center agents


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