Tracking is vital to providing a great customer experience and running a call center.
But most metrics that contact center managers use to measure agents focus on optimizing them rather than encouraging them. And they usually end up doing neither.
Your contact center runs on technology, but it’s your agents doing the running. And if you want them to improve, you need to be holding the right yardstick.
Here are the critical call center agent performance metrics.
The 4 Most Important Call Center Agent Performance Metrics
1. Agent Satisfaction
Gone are the days when occupancy rate and average handle time were used to browbeat agents.
The customer service industry got turned on its head in 2020. We’re hoping that CX leaders realized the key to outstanding service was ensuring their employees were happy.Gone are the days when occupancy rate and AHT ruled the roost. CX leaders are finally realizing the key to outstanding service is happy employees. #cctr #cx Click To Tweet
You can implement as many processes, procedures, and incentives as you like, and they’ll all crumble in the face of one unengaged employee.
Look after your people. They’re the key to your contact center’s success, and their agent satisfaction needs to be at the heart of everything you do.
2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Customer satisfaction is, of course, the reason we’re all here. This call center metric is an essential gauge of customer perception — how they perceive your product and service.
But it’s also a great way to measure your agents’ performance, so don’t forget to ask customers, “How satisfied are you with the service you received?”
Unsurprisingly, when you have happy and productive people working for you, they pass on that love to your customers, and CSAT goes up.
Hurt people hurt people, and happy people help people. Simple.
3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score is an ingenious way of measuring how customers feel.
Chances are, people won’t be able to gauge ‘satisfaction’ in anything more than a nominal way. But it’s far easier to make a call on whether you would recommend this product or service to friends and family.One of the secret ingredients to excellent customer satisfaction is reducing friction at every point. Customer Effort Score is a great way to do this. #cctr #cx #ces Click To Tweet
You can also ask for an NPS rating after a customer interacts with a rep, “How likely are you to recommend our brand after talking with this agent?”
It’s important to remember that people don’t read carefully. So — as with all post-contact measures — not all low scores are directly related to the agent’s performance.
Let’s put the humanity (and reality) back into KPIs and avoid the meaningless sliding scales.
I’m personally in favour of a more straightforward NPS system: Yes or No.
And for agents, I would suggest reframing it to: “Would you want to speak with this agent again?”
4. Customer Effort (CES)
Customer Effort is a reasonably new metric in the call center and one that is sadly under-utilized.
One of the secret ingredients to excellent customer satisfaction is reducing friction at every point. Friction in the customer journey is anything that increases customer effort.
Whether they’re making a purchase or getting an answer from a human being, the idea is to alleviate hurdles, minimizing the effort required by the customer to get what they want.
CES is a good measure of how willing the agent is to go above and beyond. But remember, ‘effort’ is as subjective as ‘satisfaction.’ Peoples’ expectations of how much effort they’ll have to exert to get something will vary wildly.
As with many of these call center metrics, CES is a good indicator but rife with nuance.
Other Common Operational Agent Performance Metrics
These are the more traditional metrics for call center agent performance.
We call them ‘operational metrics’ because that’s what they’re really for.
They’re able to indicate how your agents or team is operating. Still, they’re not very good at telling you why that is, or how best to improve.
Occupancy Rate/Auxiliary Time
Occupancy rate is a crucial metric in the call center and a great indicator of how busy your agents are. Still, many managers use this back to front.
It’s common for leadership to equate high occupancy and ‘auxiliary time’ (time not working) with agents that are skiving off during shifts.
But the real value of occupancy rate — if you’re looking to improve agent performance — is forecasting demand and ensuring that agents aren’t overworked.
If your occupancy is consistently high, expect both CSAT and agent satisfaction to sink.
Schedule Adherence is another old but still useful measure of how well agents are turning up for work.
Set a lower bar for schedule adherence, make sure everyone on the team knows what it is, and then determine why agents are missing the mark. Likely, it’s because they’re struggling with something else too and need help.
Escalation Rate is another operational KPI in the call center that can be used to measure agent efficacy.
If an agent is escalating more inquiries than the expected average, that is an area that probably needs to be addressed. Likely, the issue isn’t laziness on the agents’ part but a breakdown in your internal processes.
The agent could perhaps do with better training. But it could also be that you haven’t empowered them to resolve the issues they’re facing. That could also mean something on your front-end is broken that shouldn’t be, which is impacting the customer experience all the way back to your agents.
Understanding Call Center Agent Performance Metrics
To their detriment, many legacy call center managers take a ‘nose to the grindstone’ approach to agent performance metrics.
Average Handle Time is a terrible indicator of call center efficiency. And focusing on operational KPIs like Occupancy or Schedule Adherence will only show you who are the worst performers.
A better approach is to focus on improving Agent Satisfaction. You will soon find that all other metrics fall into line because happy people help other people.