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Should we measure call volume for every customer service rep?

Our small call center is a part of a larger organization. My director insists we use call volume per customer service representative (CSR) as a measure of performance. What information can I present that will support NOT using this metric? Instead I believe in measuring average hold time (AHT), service level agreement (SLA), availability, abandon ratio, occupancy, etc.

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There are a multitude of articles from experts in the industry that talk about the top metrics to use, and what metrics not to use, and you won't (or shouldn't) find call volume per CSR as a top key performance indicator (KPI). Some key reasons to discuss with your boss are:

 

  • CSRs can affect the amount of calls they handle by varying the speed, quality, or amount of information provided on the call. Measuring performance by the number of calls encourages and sometimes forces CSRs to behave improperly to meet the goal.
  • Hanging up on callers to increase the call count.
  • Not fully serving callers to speed up the call and, therefore, take more calls.
  • Not offering additional sales or services because it may take additional time and reduce the number of calls taken.
  • Many factors outside of the center's control can impact volumes and handle times.

    Things like product issues or incorrect billings or a new mailing can trigger activity that the center may or may not even know about before they occur. So calls per CSR could go up or down due to nothing that the center and its staff can influence (other than to try their best to clear queues and handle calls as effectively and efficiently as possible).

    If your boss still insists upon using a number of calls metric it should be used only for those people in workforce planning (scheduling and forecasting) who have the ability to affect it.

    On your list of metrics to consider, don't forget quality, customer experience, and financial impact (cost or revenue). Ideally, a balanced scorecard approach to call center performance will also include employee satisfaction and other internal metrics. While you are a small center, you should be able to find ways to measure these things.

    I suggest you give your boss a copy of Brad Cleveland's book, Call Center Management on Fast Forward (available on Amazon or through ICMI). Get a copy for yourself as well – it's a great reference to have around, and then you and your boss can discuss some of the topics in there. Part Four is a good place to start for your question on metrics.

This was first published in October 2007

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