Measuring and improving call center metrics can be a pain point for executives. Your call center operates in a stressful environment where good quality metrics lead to a higher standard of customer service.
There are 4 call center metrics that are critical to track and get right. These numbers drive your budget, the jobs of your agents and, of course, your company’s bottom line. Here are common mistakes made when measuring or interpreting these 4 popular contact center metrics: Occupancy Rate, Average Handle Time, Service Levels, and Abandonment Rate.
This is a synopsis of each pitfall. Click here to get the full detailed report.
1. Pitfalls in Measuring Occupancy Rate
Occupancy rate basically measures how “busy” call center agents are when they are at work. It’s often used as a predictor of “agent burn-out”. Agents need time to take a breath and collect their thoughts between calls. Otherwise, performance suffers, followed by higher absenteeism and, eventually, agent attrition. There is a general consensus that occupancy above 85% is not sustainable. But how do we arrive at that number? It’s driven by the number of calls per agent per day, but, as usual, there are nuances to the calculation that have important ramifications. Let’s look into how to calculate — and use — occupancy rate properly in order to avoid these 4 pitfalls.
2. Pitfalls in Measuring Average Handle Time (AHT)
Let’s start by defining AHT and its parts. Sometimes there’s overlap between the terms “talk time”, “handle time” and “call time”, depending on who you ask. The definitions below are very common, but not definitive.
Hopefully, you have a consensus within your call center! But be aware when talking to someone from another company you may need to sync-up your definitions first.
Handle time is the sum of 3 numbers (as shown below):
1. Talk time: The time an agent and caller spend talking to each other.
2. Hold time: The time a caller spends on hold, not including the initial hold time, when the caller had not yet reached the agent. In other words, “hold time” in this case only counts the seconds where an agent has put the caller on hold (usually to research a solution or confer with a colleague). You can call this “interstitial hold time” to distinguish it from the initial hold time. Another way to avoid confusion is to call the initial hold time the “queue time”, since that term is never used for the interstitial hold time.
3. Wrap-up time: The time an agent spends on post-call work after the conversation ends. It’s important to limit this to work that is directly related to the call, and exclude general non-call work.
Once you have that all cleared up there are 3 distinctive pitfalls you need to avoid when measuring AHT.
3. Pitfalls in Setting Your Call Center Service Levels
The forecast says there’s a 20% chance of rain tomorrow in your city. Does that mean that it will be raining 20% of the time? Or that there’s a 20% chance there will be at least some rain? Or something in between? And what in the world does this have to do with call center metrics?!
The forecast problem illustrates how difficult it can be to work with probability. The most common performance metric used by call centers is the “service level”, which measures how quickly calls are answered. It is defined as a pair of numbers: a percentage value and a time value in seconds.
So, for example, an “80/20″ service level means 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds. Just like the forecast of rain, this is a probabilistic measurement and can be misleading if not understood properly. Watch out for these 4 pitfalls to avoid confusion.
4. Pitfalls When Measuring Abandonment Rate
An abandoned call is one where the caller hangs up before reaching an agent. “Abandonment rate” is the fraction of all calls that are abandoned and is one of the most commonly used call center metrics. Its popularity comes from being simple to calculate and easy to understand. Furthermore, high abandonment is a symptom that is easy to correlate with a root cause: long hold times. (With most other metrics, it is not so straightforward to connect cause with effect.)
There are, however, a number of nuances in calculating the abandonment rate. Ignoring these five pitfalls could leave you with a misleading result.
Don’t forget to read the full report below explaining the specifics of each pitfall.