CRM Call Center Metrics:
Call Center Metrics
Measuring and understanding metrics can be a pain point for call center managers. With that in mind, SearchCRM.com teamed up with Strategic Contact to bring you this Call Center Metrics School. Start with the introduction below, then go through each of the lessons to learn about the top 10 metrics individually. Whether you're a new agent trying to measure metrics performance or a seasoned manager who's been tracking metrics for years, you'll learn tips for designing a metrics strategy that works.
New in this guide
- Understanding average handle time (AHT) for the call center (Understanding average handle time as a call center metric: Podcast)
- Understanding occupancy for the call center (Understanding occupancy as a call center metric: Podcast)
- Understanding service level for the call center (Understanding service level as a call center metric: Podcast)
Metric: Average handle time
Definition: The total amount of work time related to calls, including average talk time (ATT) and average after call work time (ACW), divided by the number of calls handled.
Application: AHT is the total average amount of time a CSR spends talking and in post call work in relation to a call. Comprised of ATT and ACW.
Tips about using average handle time as a call center metric:
AHT is a metric which can be monitored or measured at a CSR, center or enterprise level.
Similar to ATT, AHT can be easily manipulated so caution is given to how this metric is monitored or measured.
Aside from call volume and service level, it is the most critical metric in determining the workforce required.
Metric: Blocking rate
Definition: Percent of calls offered that are not allowed into the system; generally % receiving busy, but may also include messages and forced disconnects.
Application: Blocking rate is an important metric to consider to ensure you are allowing your customers access to your center. It is generally kept very low (under 1%).
Tips about using blocking rate as a call center metric:
Blocking rate must be considered along with Service Level to ensure that the customer has access; you can meet service level but have a high blocking rate, and therefore dissatisfied customers.
Blocking is sometimes used for extreme peaks to flatten them out (e.g., the tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.).
The network provider is generally the source for blocking reports (percent busies). If you accept calls and then give out a busy or disconnect from the ACD, you report on it from the ACD reports.
Metric: Cost per contact
Definition: Total of all costs associated with answering a call or handling a contact divided by the total number of calls or contacts.
Application: Cost per call / contact is a common metric used widely across all industries. Monitoring cost per call allows management to determine where to spend valuable funds on technology and process improvement.
Tips about using cost per contact as a call center metric:It is important to clearly identify which costs are included and not included in the cost.
Are shared resources like HR, IT, facilities included in your calculation?
Are they determined on a prorated basis or straight costs?
Usually monitored/measured as a specific period of time -- weekly, monthly, quarterly.
Generally broken out by channel/media (e.g., self service via IVR, web; assisted service via phone, email, chat).
Metric: Customer satisfaction
Definition: Customer satisfaction is the measure of the overall satisfaction of the interaction or service.
Customer satisfaction is an important measure of success and is vital method of feedback for process and product improvement.
Companies that devote energy and resources into determining their customer satisfaction are more easily able to maintain a competitive position.
Tips about using customer satisfaction scores as a call center metric:
Ideally, a customer satisfaction survey is focused on the call center/customer interaction (not overall products/services) and is tied to a contact.
CSAT customarily measured by an in-house or third-party survey.
Common avenues for surveying include:
- Automated surveys (IVR) immediately after a call
- Telephone surveys and call backs
- Company web site
Metric: Forecasted calls vs. actual calls
Acronym: +,- FCST
Definition: Expressed as a percentage of the difference between the amount of calls forecasted and the amount actually received. +, - % above or below forecast.
Application: Accurately forecasting the amount of volume is critically important for call centers. It is a key element for determining the appropriate amount of resources required.
Tips about using forecasted calls vs. actual calls as a call center metric:
Telephone distribution systems (ACDs) and workforce management (WFM) systems work in conjunction to provide comparisons of actual call and contact volumes received and staff required with what was forecasted and projected.
High importance is placed on forecast accuracy as it directly drives the cost of labor and impacts the customer experience (proper forecast leads to proper staffing and good performance).
This metric is usually monitored and measured at multiple levels -- interval, day, week, month.
Metric: Forecasted AHT vs. actual AHT
Acronym: +,- FCST
Definition: Expressed as a +,- % above or below forecast -- Also expressed as a number +,- above or below forecast.
Application: Accurately forecasting the length of calls and contacts is the second most critical component for determining the appropriate amount of resources required.
Tips about using forecasted calls vs. actual calls as a call center metric:
Anticipated handle time multiplied by the "amount of calls that need to be handled' determines the base work load requirement.
ACD systems track and report ATT, ACW and total AHT
Metric: Number of calls offered
Definition: Total number of calls offered to a queue.
Application: Calls or contacts offered to a queue are important metrics to help quantify the amount of resources and staff needed to handle the queue.
Tips about using number of calls offered as a call center metric:This metric may be used in several ways:
The total number of callers seeking service or contact (before reaching an IVR or recorded message)
The total number of calls that were available to be answered by the queue (post-IVR selection and recording)
It is important to differentiate exactly when an organization is counting a call as "offered." This will vary from company to company. It can be measured at the network level, but is usually measured at the switch. Thus, blocked calls ("busies") can be missed.
Metric: Occupancy (*also called utilization)
Definition: Total handle time divided by total time signed into the queue expressed as a percent.
Application: Occupancy is the amount of time a CSR spends either talking or in after call work from handling a customer call.
Tips about using occupancy as a call center metric:Since CSRs cannot control their own occupancy this metric is a "big picture" metric which provides a high-level snapshot of how resources are being used. Inversely, it reflects how much time CSRs on average are "waiting" for a call.
An 85% occupancy rate means that 15% of the CSR time is available and waiting for a call. Occupancy will be lower for smaller groups and higher for larger groups. If occupancy runs too high, too often, it can lead to "burn out" and turnover.
Occupancy is a key factor looked at in workforce management/planning. The workforce planner and managers/supervisors should be accountable for occupancy.
Metric: Quality monitoring scores
Definition: Numerical scoring and notes/feedback about the service provided to customers.
Application: Normally used in reference to call quality monitoring, using some sort of scorecard. However, it is any quality measurement referring to calls, paperwork, Web interactions and email.
Tips about using quality monitoring scores as a call center metric:May be expressed as a numerical grade or percentage value.
Most commonly used to determine individual customer service representative (CSR) performance, but is also used in aggregated scoring at the team, center, and enterprise levels.
It's important to design monitoring and score sheets and elements that are as objectives as possible.
Extremely important to provide feedback to the CSR as soon as possible following observation.
Metric: Schedule adherence
Definition: Total time a CSR is available for call work divided by the time they are scheduled expressed as a percentage.
Schedule adherence is used to ensure CSRs work the amount of time they are supposed to work.
Sometimes adherence can take into account the specific times a CSR takes breaks and other time off the phone (often referred to as "compliance").
Tips about using schedule adherence as a call center metric:Used in a high volume/large call center environments where CSR availability is not easily seen or monitored. It is a method of measuring whether or not CSRs are signed on for the required time.
Workforce management (WFM) systems may provide this information either expressed as a percentage, or also how many minutes (+,-) a CSR was out of compliance with his or her schedule. Some flexibility is allowed to accommodate the unpredictability of call lengths.
Some will differentiate adherence (amount of time) with compliance (specific times), the latter being more detailed and rigorous time tracking.
Metric: Service level
Acronym: SL or SVL
Definition: Percentage of calls (X%) answered with in Y seconds.
Service level is generally measured for each time interval (e.g., half hour) and often reported on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Service level applies to a given queue, phone number, or group/skill set.
Generally expressed with notation such as "80/35" (for 80% in 35 seconds).
Tips about using service level as a call center metric:Service level is a common method for measuring the service to a particular queue or call type. It is one of the most important measures of customer experience.
Service level is a key target metric to use for performance and workforce planning.
A typical target would be 80% of all calls answered within 20 seconds (although there are no standards; each center must determine its target SL based on many factors, including business goals and budget).
Visit this section to get a review of the lessons in the school and to hear a comprehensive 20-minute podcast on metrics strategy featuring Lori Bocklund and Steve Suhn of Strategic Contact. Also find a downloadable PDF chart you can use to reference the top 10 call center metrics and those on Strategic Contact's "honorable mention" list.