Metrics: Do They Accomplish What You Want?
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Metrics: Do They Accomplish What You Want?

Metrics can be a great barometer for monitoring results, identifying opportunities for improvement, and driving behavior.  The question is whether the specific metrics in your contact center are measuring appropriate results, identifying meaningful opportunities, and driving proper behaviors.

Contact centers are one of the most heavily metric driven organizations in a company.  Great contact centers are transparent organizations and as a result of technology, results are available every second of every day.  While it is great to constantly measure performance and communicate results, are you measuring the right things and are you driving the best behaviors for your organization?

There are many common contact center metrics that are monitored on a regular basis, but do these metrics get us to where we need to be?  The following provides some of the more common metrics:

  • Service Level
  • Average Handle Time
  • First Contact Resolution

Service Level - Service level has several definitions including “Average Speed of Answer (ASA)” and “Percent of Calls Handled in X Seconds”.  Both of these metrics have merit; customers do not want to wait on hold for an extended period of time before speaking with a customer service agent.  Service level may be the most common customer focused metric monitored in a contact center.  Every ACD reports results on a real-time basis and many times a contact center leaders primary goal is related to the achievement of a service level goal.

Service levels are easy to measure but there are some major gaps:

A Disservice Level – Take the example of a contact center that has a goal of answering 80% of their calls in 30 seconds.  What happens to the 20% of the calls not answered in 30 seconds?  Is anybody reporting how quickly those calls are answered?  Another example is a contact center that has a goal of a 30 second average speed of answer…well you can answer 50% of the calls in 0 seconds and 50% of the calls in 60 seconds and still make the goal.  This is definitely not a consistent customer experience or a good utilization of resources.

One Step Of A Process – Answering a phone call may be one step in a process.  What if an initial call results in a dispatch of service or the delivery of a product?  Are metrics in place to measure the timeframe of the entire process?  How do you measure the impact of the speed of answering a phone call on the overall resolution process?

Average Handle Time – Average Handle Time (AHT) is the length of time that a telephone interaction lasts between a customer service agent and a customer.

Reducing average handle time is a key opportunity to reduce the operating costs in a contact center and as a result is a key call center metric.  If the focus on average handle time is not managed properly it may actually drive up costs and drive down customer satisfaction.

Average handle time is easy to measure but accountability is a challenge:

It Is Not An Agent Goal– Driving agents to reduce AHT by handling calls quicker is a disservice to both the agents and customers.  Interactions are rushed, questions are not answered, and relationships may be destroyed.  Does anybody measure the AHT of resolving a customer issue that’s driven by multiple calls rather than the AHT of a single interaction? 

It Is a Management Goal – The reduction of AHT must be a management goal, where the leadership is accountable for providing the tools, processes, training, etc. to assure the agents can process call in the most efficient manner.

A Better Metric Than AHT – Rather than focusing on AHT, a metric can be put into place that answers a critical question.  Monitoring for “Call Control” is a better metric and believe it or not can drive down AHT.  The key question would be “Did the agent do everything possible to process the call in the most efficient manner? “

First Contact Resolution – First Contact Resolution has many definitions. The major concept is assuring that a customer contact an organization one time to resolve an issue.

First contact resolution makes a lot of sense, is more difficult to measure, and has its own set of challenges related to accountability and process.

Policies/Procedures Tie Agents Hands – As a result of a company’s policies and procedures, many times customers must make multiple contacts with an organization to resolve an issue.  There are interactions (e.g. insurance claim) when a customer may have to answer a number of specific questions.  Many times the customer may not have all of the information at the tip of their fingers.  The agent has done everything in their power to resolve the issue, but the supporting processes do not allow for first contact resolution.

Dial Transfers Good or Bad? – In many organizations, dial transfers are not accepted in the definition of First Contact Resolution.  If dial transfers are not allowed, are agents guessing at answers?   Are dial transfers a bad thing or is it the process of a dial transfer (e.g. waiting on hold, repeating information) the true driver of customer frustration?

Contact centers live and die with metrics.  Is this a good thing or bad thing?  There are lots of “good” things that result from the metrics and there are also some “bad” things that result from these metrics. The key is to have metrics in place to measure meaningful results, identify opportunities for improvement, and to drive proper behaviors.

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Topics: Metrics


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