Published: April 26, 2017 | Comments
An important cornerstone of business is the ability to consistently evaluate overall direction and performance to determine areas for improvement and overall growth. To this end, profitable contact centers often establish metrics to gauge success and achievements within their organization, by setting milestones, tracking progress, and fine-tuning efforts based on concrete data. However, with the contact center industry constantly evolving, it has become more challenging to establish comprehensive metrics that accurately evaluate performance. For contact centers, the bulk of the assessment lies within agent and business performance, coupled with customer service.
Below are some guidelines to consider when developing, revising and establishing metrics for business performance.
Metrics provide definition for work. One common way for executives to evaluate the performance of an organization is through the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs), which put a quantitative value on crucial business objectives. When looking to improve contact center efficiency, enhance customer service, and increase overall revenue, it’s best to study and survey the patterns of customers and current employees to identify where the company excels and where it falls short. Here are a few standard metrics to consider when developing an evaluation structure for contact centers:
- Average Handle Time - Measures the average amount of time spent on each call as well as the administrative duties associated with each call (i.e. submitting call reports).
- First Call Resolutions - Measures the percentage of calls an agent resolves independently, without having to transfer, escalate or return the call. Structural weaknesses to first-contact resolutions are often the most disruptive to the contact center workflow and therefore supervisors should carefully monitor performance protocol at this stage.
- Active Vs. Waiting Calls - Measures current volume compared to the number of callers waiting to be connected to an agent. Every contact center should keep track of the amount of time each customer is on hold versus actively working to resolve an issue. Customers who are left waiting too long on the phone will often leave the call unsatisfied, even if their issues are ultimately resolved in the end.
- Customer Service Rating – Measures how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass a customer’s expectation. Although this metric is often seen as the most valuable to consumers, it’s also the most subjective. Contact centers should be careful on how they evaluate and publicly post these ratings.
Supervisors should measure agents’ activity and efficiency when they are on the clock. Keeping an agent’s activity high in a contact center means keeping agents on task and having them clear calls quickly and reliably. However, there is a thin line between increasing performance level and lowering customer satisfaction. Be conscious not to encourage agents to rush the clock when they are working with customers. Oftentimes this practice results in unanswered issues and repeat callers.
When managers begin to integrate business performance metrics into a workplace, they should agree on a minimum standard of expectations for all agents to follow. Eventually, over time, high performing contact centers can work toward establishing individualized goals and incentives for each agent, as a way to keep all agents challenged and engaged in the overall success of the business. Outlining objectives and giving agents targeted incentives helps inspire and ensure company protocol is being followed and supported. When agents are made aware early on how they will be evaluated, as well as the impact their roles have on the overall business, productivity and performance levels go up. In the customer service industry, transparency is everything. When it comes to the image of your contact center, agents play a critical role in the company’s reputation as they are directly responsible for managing customer expectations.
Contact centers are continuously testing and training their agents based on feedback received from performance data. After all, you don’t know what you don’t measure. The key aspect of any business intelligence program is to ensure that progress directly relates to the contact center’s pre-determined business goals, and the data provided is evaluated correctly and analyzed routinely. In the end, business intelligence helps contact centers predict business and sales patterns within an organization. While you may be aware of some trends from experience, the industry is ever-changing and new metrics need to be reviewed and established overtime. If contact centers limit their KPIs and business performance measurements to basic record keeping and reporting, they will struggle with developing and growing their business in the long run.
In conclusion, contact centers need to make an active attempt to continuously update and expand upon their business performance metrics to better evaluate their agents, understand their customers’ behaviors and identify strengths and weakness within their company. When executed effectively, contact centers will be able to achieve their long-term business goals and provide unparalleled customer service, resulting in overwhelming levels of customer satisfaction.