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7 Call Center Metrics: What You Should Know

Call Center MetricsAccording to The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI,) the top performing call centers and experts in the call center industry, there are seven key metrics every call center should be using to measure their efficiency and customer satisfaction. While a few of these metrics focus on the quantity of calls, complete emphasis should not be placed on quantity alone. Too much focus on the quantity of calls will eventually result in a loss of call quality. Instead, the focus should be a balancing act between the quantity and the quality of the calls.

First Call Resolution

You know the old saying, “do things right the first time.” Well, this probably goes without saying that first call resolution has the biggest impact on customer service in the call center industry, according to research done by Service Quality Management, a consulting firm. It should be the goal of every call center to achieve as close to 100% first call resolution. Statistics prove that for every one percent improvement in first call resolution; you will see as much as one percent improvement in customer satisfaction.

Depending on industry, and type of center, a call center achieving an average first call resolution of at least 80 percent or greater can be considered to be “world class”. Conversely, a call center is not considered to be among the elite and is likely in bottom third of all centers, when it achieves a score of just 67 percent.

Call centers who are demonstrating a high level first call resolution experience many added benefits, including:

  • Lower operation costs
  • Reduced revenue at risk
  • Higher employee satisfaction

Without a doubt, the key to achieving first call resolution comes with defining exactly what a resolved call is. This is extremely important. Some call centers define a resolved call as one an agent did not need to transfer or one that did not need any type of follow-up phone call. Others, particularly Business Process Outsourcers, may define a resolved call as one that falls within their contracted expertise. However, most importantly, the customer should be given the opportunity to relay to you clearly whether or not their issue has been resolved.

Service Level / Response Time

Considered to be one of the most important, classic metrics that is fundamental to effective management of the call center and the customer service experience, service level / response time is the key to getting the results you want to achieve in your call center. Service level is calculated by saying X percent of contacts are answered in Y seconds. (E.g. 80% of calls are answered in 20 seconds. Response time is the service level for the contacts that do not have to be answered the moment they arrive. (E.g. 100% of contacts handled within N days/hours/minutes, or all customer email inquiries will be handled within four hours of receiving.)

Service level / response time measures how accessible your call center is to your customers, how many agents you need to staff in order to provide efficient service to your customers, and how your call center compares to others in the industry. When assessing your call center’s service level / response time, it is very important to keep in mind whether or not you are hitting those objectives for that particular day. Today, many companies are adopting “Zero-Time Selling” strategies and processes. For them, service level and response time are paramount to achieving sales and customer success.

However, accessibility does not necessarily mean your customers are satisfied because they are receiving top quality service, it simply means that the contacts are getting through and being answered. Yes, your call center has the opportunity to succeed in accomplishing its mission, but if your customers are receiving poor quality information, your service levels can suffer, leaving your customers frustrated. There is also the possibility that your call center is achieving its objectives, but wasting resources, creating extra work and providing poor quality.

Adherence to Schedule

One of the most important call center metrics that paints the big picture of where your agents are and what they are doing, adherence to schedule tells you how much of your agents’ shifts they actually spend logged into their stations, handling customer contacts, or being available to answer customer contacts.

The time spent interacting with customers includes the time spent in after-call work, making necessary outbound calls, and waiting for calls to arrive. Any scheduled lunch breaks, breaks, or training sessions are not factored into adherence to schedule.

Most call centers set their adherence to schedule objective between 85 and 90 percent, as a strong emphasis on this will decrease average handle time and calls per hour will also increase, assuming agents have quality training and managers and supervisors are right on target with their scheduling and forecasting.

Adherence to schedule allows you an excellent opportunity to make your agents available for where they are and what they are doing. However, your agents cannot control how many calls come in, the types of calls that come in, or even how long it will take to answer the calls.

Forecasting Accuracy

When staffing and scheduling for a call center, many factors need to be considered, with the most important being, how many agents are available to be scheduled at certain times of the day and what is the expected amount of calls to be received during that time period. Forecasting accuracy is the percent variance between the number of inbound customer calls forecasted for a particular time period versus the number of customer calls actually received.

Forecasting accuracy is critical to the success of the call center. Underestimating the number of inbound calls the call center will receive, and you could find yourself understaffed. This will lead to long wait times for customers in the queue, burned-out, fatigued agents, and high toll free costs. Overestimating the number of inbound calls the call center will receive, and you will find yourself overstaffed, with an increased agent idle time.

While it is not easy to predict how many incoming calls the call center will receive, it is possible to use history and various tools to predict volume and therefore the numbers of agents required. Some centers use a trailing 3 week for forecasting. While this can give an idea of what volume to expect, it also can cause you to be over staffed when volume decreases, such as after the holiday rush. Conversly you can find your self understaffed when volume is ramping faster than forecast. Of course, you can also us sophisticated workforce management systems to narrow down the range of inbound calls you may receive within a given day. These systems take into account many variables and apply sophisticated forecasting models.

Self-service Accessibility

Self-service accessibility allows call centers to remove many basic transactions from their agent queue and move them to self service systems, including IVR and interactive web applications. IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, allows computers to interact with humans through the use of voice and dual-tone multi-frequency signaling.

Call center agents have the opportunity to be freed up to assist customers who may have more complex issues, as customers with more basic issues will have the option to send an email or chat with a live agent online to resolve their situations.

However, some call centers get so caught up in implementing these self-service accessibility technologies that they forget to track how well these services treat their customers. It is very important for call centers to implement some sort of customer survey, following a self-service transaction, to gather feedback about the customer’s experience. Perhaps customers are experiencing issues using the self-service accessible technologies that are keeping them from being satisfied. It is always important to test these systems periodically and to watch statistical trends to make sure they are functioning properly, every time a customer or prospect uses them.

Contact Quality

Probably one of the most common and critical of all the call center metrics, regardless of the call center’s size, industry, and function, contact quality gives you the opportunity to measure how well your agents are meeting the needs of your customers. The most common form of contact quality in the call center comes in the form of monitoring and recording an agent while they are on a live call with a customer.

Typically, after the call is completed, the agent sits with their supervisor or manager to review the agent’s actions that transpired during the call. Most call centers use a comprehensive evaluation form with key criteria identified that contributed to a satisfying call from a customer’s perspective. The agent is rated by a numeric value assigned to each criterion. The higher the agent’s score on the evaluation, the greater the chances the agent satisfied both the customer’s expectations and the call center’s goals and requirements.

Common criteria on call center agent evaluations include:

  • Following call center scripts and/or using appropriate greetings
  • Using courtesy and professionalism
  • Capturing accurate key customer data and call coding
  • Ensuring customers are provided with correct and relevant information
  • Grammar and spelling in text communications, including email and chat

Customer Satisfaction

While there is no common or standard method for calculating customer satisfaction, it is considered to be another critical call center metric, measuring the correlation between customer loyalty, corporate revenue, and employee morale and performance.

Customer satisfaction measurement has moved beyond mail-in surveys and telephone interviews days after the transaction. Instead, customers now receive an immediate interview or survey regarding the agent’s performance and the level of satisfaction the customer received after completing the call.

Typically, the customer is given the opportunity to rate the agent’s performance through a series of questions, based on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The customer is also given a few open-ended questions so that more details as to the performance of the agent may be provided.


While customer service and satisfaction seem to be the ultimate goals and objectives for a successful call center, operations and business needs also need to be considered. Following these seven call center metrics will give any call center the opportunity to achieve a much needed balance between superior customer service and satisfaction and operations and business needs.

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