You follow best practices, coach your agents, and do your best to provide quality customer service—but how do you know that you’re maximizing efficiency? Below, we’ll show you how to measure call center performance through some key call center metrics.
9 Call Center Metrics That Will Change the Way You Manage Your Agents
How do you measure call center performance? There are some standard metrics many managers use, and then there are some not-so-standard ones that managers adopt to fit their organizational goals. Let’s dive into some call center metrics that you might consider tracking.
1. Average Handle Time (AHT)
Ah yes, the king of all call center metrics. Average Handle Time refers to the total minutes it takes from the start of a call to its end, including talk time, hold time, and wrap time, according to Call Centre Helper.
Average Handle Time = (Total Call Time + Total Hold Time + Total After-Call Work) / Total # of Calls
Generally speaking, call centers try to optimize productivity by decreasing the AHT. So a “good” AHT number is hard to nail down, but the general consensus is that lower is better.
However, focusing solely on AHT doesn’t take into account the nuances of customer service. Some customer issues are naturally more complex than others. A lower AHT might mean your agents are rushing customers, which leads to a terrible experience.
In that case, the next call center metric might be better to use.
2. Percentage of Time in Customer-Facing Interactions
On the Zappos blog, the company shares that it gives its agents the freedom of unlimited call times. In fact, its longest customer service call was 10 hours and 51 minutes! Zappos moves the focus away from AHT and toward quality service.
According to SoftwareAdvice.com, instead of AHT, Zappos focuses on the percentage of an agent’s time that is spent on the phone with customers. The company has a goal of at least 80%, and agents who fall beneath that number get coached to improve.
To calculate this, you would take an agent’s total time interacting with a customer (not including hold times or after call work) and divide it by the agent’s total time at work.
3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is a beloved metric for call centers and marketers alike. It calculates how many of your customers are “promoters,” “passives,” and “detractors” through some variation of the following: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this brand to a friend?”
This simple yet effective way of measuring customer sentiment was invented by Bain & Company, and Net Promoter System’s website defines the scores and formula as follows:
- Promoters: 9 to 10
- Passives: 7 to 8
- Detractors: 0 to 6
Net Promoter Score = % Promoters – % Detractors
Measuring NPS after a customer call can tell you a bit about how well an agent is doing at turning your callers into promoters.
4. Average Hold Time (AHLDT)
For many consumers, being put on hold is one of the biggest nuisances of calling customer service.
So just how long are customers willing to be put on hold? In a 2012 Velaro survey of 2,500 consumers, 32.3% said that they’re not willing to be put on hold at all, while 27.6% said one minute and 30.2% said one to five minutes.
Many call centers choose to institute a maximum hold time. For example, agents may tell a customer, “Is it okay if I put you on hold? It’ll be no more than two minutes.” Even if the issue is not resolved within those two minutes, it’s best to have the agent come back to the call and explain what’s going on before putting the caller on hold again.
A high average hold time might lead to disgruntled callers, and it might indicate that your agents need more training.
5. First Call Resolution (FCR)
First Call Resolution is another key metric for measuring call center performance. Cloud communication software company CloudTalk defines it as “the percentage of cases addressed via First Call or First Contact Resolution (FCR), i.e., by resolving problems during the client’s first call or contact with an agent.” It’s called First Contact Resolution if your agents offer support via other channels, such as live chat or social media.
First Call/Contact Resolution = # of Issues Resolved After Customer’s First Call or Interaction / Total Number of Calls or Interactions
6. Average Speed of Answer
Related to hold time is the speed of answer. Unlike a hold, which happens when the agent puts the customer on hold after answering the call, waiting time is how long the phone rings before a customer gets connected to an agent when they call in. Like hold times, if the answer time takes too long, a customer can get irate or even hang up.
Cloud communication company Dialpad says the Average Speed of Answer formula is as follows:
Average Speed of Answer = Total Waiting Time of Answered Calls /
Total # of Answered Calls
7. Call Abandonment Rate
Now that we’ve talked about Average Speed of Answer, let’s talk about the metric that it directly impacts: Call Abandonment Rate. According to HubSpot, “Call abandonment rate is the percentage of people who hang up the phone before they’re answered by a service rep.” So, this does not include callers who hang up while speaking to an agent; it only includes those who hang up before ever speaking to an agent.
Call Abandonment Rate = (Total # of Calls Received – Total # of Calls Handled by Agents) / Total # of Calls Received
A high Call Abandonment Rate could be an indication that your Average Speed of Answer is too slow.
8. Conversation-to-Close Ratio
Sales teams, this call center metric is for you. Tim Connon, Founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors, says he measures call center performance by a conversation-to-close ratio. To calculate it, he looks at how many sales an agent made and divides that by the number of calls the agent took that were longer than five minutes each. Thus, an agent who made two sales and took 10 calls that were longer than five minutes has a conversation-to-close rate of 20%.
“Then we take this metric and scale it over the rest of the call center,” Connon says, “and that is how we measure performance. If our call center maintains a 20% close ratio, this is good data for the company.”
9. Employee Engagement
At first glance, employee engagement doesn’t seem to belong on a list of call center performance metrics. But it’s here because it directly impacts your agents’ productivity. How engaged a call center agent feels will affect how they perform.
In fact, a 2018 McKinsey & Company report found that “engaged and satisfied call-center employees are:”
- 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year
- 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
- 16x more likely to refer friends to their company
- 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues
Clearly, it pays to pay attention to call center agent engagement.
How Can I Improve My Call Center Performance? 5 Tips to Follow
1. Use software to remove background noise during calls
One of the factors that can negatively impact your call center performance is background noise. From other agents’ conversations to printers to AC units, unwanted sounds can interfere with customer calls and make it difficult for agents to understand what callers are saying (and vice versa).
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a survey of more than 1,100 call center operators in Sweden found that 74% were dissatisfied with background noise levels. Further, 72% of the call center workstations studied exceeded the maximum noise level at which speech comprehension is undisturbed.
But you don’t have to rearrange your office or buy expensive equipment. All you need is noise cancellation software like Krisp. Krisp is an easy-to-install app that identifies and eliminates background noise in real time, so your agents and callers can hear each other clearly. Don’t believe us? You can listen to the difference yourself on the Krisp website.
2. Invest in the right call center software
Call center software makes measuring and tracking important performance metrics quick and easy. Almost all of them monitor the most popular call center metrics, such as Average Handle Time, First Call Resolution, and Call Time.
Being able to access these metrics along with the context of other analytics will help you track progress and identify the root causes of any shortcomings. Be sure to check out our top picks for virtual call center software.
3. Focus on agent development
Every employee wants to be challenged and grow as a professional. Without that, they’ll stagnate, and it’ll start showing up in their work. That’s why if you want to improve call center performance, you need to focus on the growth of each individual agent.
Consider coaching as a start. Every good manager coaches their direct reports, and call center managers are no exception! This could be as simple as sitting down one-on-one with each agent and reviewing a recent call they took. Point out where they excelled and where they could improve. Be encouraging and show interest in their development. You’ll be amazed at how much they’ll improve when they can see what they need to do and receive the resources and support they need to get better.
Another option is professional development training or courses. You could host your own in-house training or pay for your agents to take a course, such as one improving sales conversions if you’re a sales call center.
4. Listen to your agents’ feedback
Your agents are the ones on the frontline and can give you valuable insights into what needs to be done to improve performance. Regularly conduct surveys where agents can share their feedback with you. Most importantly, though, you need to create a culture where your employees feel safe sharing feedback, especially when it’s negative.
5. Know when to throw metrics out the window
Many agents often feel reduced to a number, especially when it comes to meeting call center metrics.
We get it, metrics are an essential part of measuring performance. They give you a clear way to quantify how well the work is being performed and track progress—but they don’t tell you everything. Call center managers who focus too heavily on metrics risk missing what’s right in front of them and demotivating agents.
A great example of this is AHT. Many managers become so obsessed with lowering AHT that quality of service suffers. If you’re encouraging your agents to rush their customer calls for the sake of some metric, that’s not really improving call center performance—it’s just improving some number.
So if AHT is higher than you’d like it to be, but your agents are handling calls beautifully and customers are happy, then it’s time to let go of what you think that metric should be.
Ready to Boost Your Call Center Performance?
Measuring call center performance requires a careful balancing act of tracking call center metrics while also realizing that service is more than numbers.