Targets - The Brave New World

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CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

targets - the brave new world
IMHO - Traditional targeting of CPH & AHT are NOT measures of an agents performance!

CPH is a measure of your customers desire to contact you, coupled with your managements ability to effectively resource and manage utilisation; AHT may indicate call control etc, but for many contact centres it is a random measure depending on the specific call...

Therefore my gauntlet is this:

 Calls per hour are not controlled by the agent, and therefore must not be targeted. The number of calls an agent takes is defined by call flow, resourcing, call duration, wrap time, and idle.
 Call duration is beyond the control of the agent, and therefore must not be targeted. The average call duration of the team must be tracked to understand resourcing requirements. Where an agent’s call duration is disproportionate to that of the team a training need may be highlighted, however this must be picked up through monitoring and coaching.
 If properly managed, the only place an agent can "hide" from calls, therefore reducing their productivity, is WRAP (ACW). Therefore Talk time vs. Wrap time provides an accurate measure of agent productivity and must be used instead of calls per hour and call duration.

By removing traditional targets of CPH & AHT we help remove the "bucket shop" perception of contact centres, where people still believe the sole focus is to clear calls as quickly as possible.

Business Developent Executive


i agree. many businesses don't look at it your way. if you can present your idea effectively to them you might be able to put up your own pillar in the CC industry. the first question would be: so how do we measure our call centers fro now on?

Call Centre Manager


call handling stats
When I was a (n inbound) Sales Team manager, I always looked at stats as an indication, not an absolute. And you've got to look at teh whole picture, not just pieces.

Eg, Sally's average call length is above the normal range. I would look to other measures (quantitative and qualitative) to see why. Does she need coaching around eg filtering questions, closing etc. Or is her conversion rate higher than everyone else's, which would mean that she puts that bit extra in and gets results (and what can the rest of the team learn from her!). In the latter, I would conclude that she handles calls more efficiently than colleagues who turn over more calls but less business, leaving customers without a conclusion and maybe the need to call back (or not!)

I agree that cph does not account for call arrival during quiet periods being outside the agents control, and that call length should reflect total transaction time, including acw. Different centres have different views (and dependent on type of business) on whether it is best to keep customer on while processing, or whether to do it after call. In my experience, an agent will process faster with customer on the call - there is a tendency to relax and go slower, even unconscioulsy, after the call, but some processing is too complex to be done on line while the customer asks things, and it depends on the processing time of your transaction, and whether silences can be filled.

Like it or not though, scientific measure are here to stay!

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

There is another way...
Excellent - This has finally provoked some thoughts and dialougue. I agree with Zoe that some form of KPI must be used, and it is important to remember that performance management is as much about supporting individuals as the it is about company productivities and efficiencies. However if targets are not meaningful, then they can inspire negative behaviours. In the next post, I have tried to set out guidelines for changing the way the industry targets productivity... challenge it, develop it, rip it up and start again, but please think about it with an open mind. We must create a turnaround in cultures and perceptions of the contact centre industry if we are to continue to develop as the frontline service option of choice.

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

The "other" way....

Calls per Hour, Call Duration, Idle, and Wrap (ACW) are nonsensical targets in the majority of contact centre environments, yet they remain the number 1 targets for contact centre agents around the world!

In the perfectly managed contact centre, it may be possible to guarantee a consistent flow of calls to all agents, however this requires impressive resource and workflow management. It is feasible that with a limited product and service range a genuine optimum “talk time” and “ACW” target can be applied to all calls. But do any of us work in such a simplistic and idealistic environment? (If so I have a CV ready to forward to you!)
So if we take away these foundations of our performance management culture what do we use to measure the productivity and efficiency of our contact centre agents? And who is responsible for ensuring team productivity and efficiency remains high?

Calls per Hour
This is dictated by numerous factors controlled not by the agent but by the operation’s managers; therefore it is the managers who must be targeted on their teams’ efficiency (occupancy and utilisation)

 The resource levels of the team determine the “available” time in the team. “Available” time can be directly influenced through utilisation management, but not by the agents.
 The call traffic volumes dictate the frequency of calls hitting the queue. Only the customers can decide to call in.
 The length of calls and associated “Wrap” (ACW) determines the availability of agents to take calls.

Call Duration (AHT)
The length of call will largely depend on the customers’ requirements from that call. A short call may be efficiency or poor service, a long call may be poor call control or excellent customer service.

 Driving down AHTs results in driving down quality
 If AHT is to be used, it must be an optimum handle time based on delivering the required level of customer service for that call
 Poor service, poor call control, delays finding information, etc are quality issues not productivity issues

Wrap (ACW)
Wrap time will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the call. While it is true that agents can “hide” in Wrap, lengthy wrap times are not necessarily an indication of non-productiveness.

 Long calls with lots of queries / requirements will equate to longer Wrap
 Experienced agents will complete a greater proportion of call related work during the call therefore the % spent in Wrap as opposed to Talk will decrease

“Idle” is signed on time where the agent is not involved in calls. Other than personal (comfort) breaks “Idle” must be planned, or where reactive must be tracked and recorded. As “Idle” usage is planned and therefore beyond the control of the agent, it cannot be targeted; to do so results in agents penalised for training, etc. A typical “Idle” breakdown for an inbound contact centre profiles as:

 Breaks 7.25 % (30 minutes per day)
 Personal breaks 2% (Average 8.5 minutes per day)
 Training / coaching 5% (Average 1 hr 45 minutes per week)
 Query for use by lower benchmark agents only against individual targets
 Meetings 2% (Average 3 hr per month)

 Idle “Admin” only to be used for accountable time, such as being taken off the phones to support administration. This must where possible be planned time off the phones, or where reactive it must be tracked.
 Idle “None” must not occur for any reason.
 Idle “Training” must be accountable by either the training team or the Team Leader. This must where possible be planned time off the phones, or where reactive it must be tracked. Any ad hoc coaching should be recorded against “Training”.
 Idle “Query” must only be used by agents in the lower benchmark as agents’ queries must be answered during the call by either an assist or handoff, or during the wrap part of the call (recorded as “Wrap” or “ACW”). If calls are being handed off due to a skills or knowledge gap then this must be picked up as coaching or training, to be delivered when call flow allows. Agents in the lower benchmark have a greater need for assistance during the call, and restrictions in the number of experienced resource available to mentor and assist means that they have a need to use “Query” when appropriate.
 Daily ‘buzz sessions’ and ad hoc meetings such as daily target setting must be reorded against “Meeting”
 Agents must sign off the phones for lunch, as this is unpaid time. Remaining signed on distorts the true occupancy and shrinkage figures.


 “Talk” time - Targeted against individual performance
 “Wrap” time - Targeted against individual performance
 “Available” time
 “Occupancy” = “Talk” + “Wrap”

 Talk time is only partially under the control of agents. The requirement in most businesses is dependant on the nature of the individual call. Excessive talk time, when caused by lack of call control or knowledge, is a measure of quality issues not productivity, and should be addressed as such.
 Wrap time (ACW) is the only state an effectively managed agent can place themselves in to avoid taking further calls. However the length of wrap required will be determined by the nature of each call. It is therefore the correlation between Talk + Wrap that needs to be managed.
 Talk time vs. Wrap time provides an accurate measure of agent efficiency. As an agent’s knowledge, experience, and technical proficiency increases the % of talk time must increase and the % wrap time decrease.
 Talk time & wrap together provide the “occupancy” measure. Efficient occupancy is usually considered to be around 80-85%; the maximum occupancy before agents start displaying defensive and negative behaviours is 88% plus. The occupancy measurement is a % of time signed into “Talk”, “Wrap”, or “Available”. E.g. 65% “Talk” + 12% “Wrap” + 18% “Available” = 73% “Occupancy”
 “Available” time is dictated by call flow against resource.


Reynard Thomson Ltd.

Targets and the Brave New world
Hi again, folks.

This was a great topic, though I feel that it's probably been missed by many new members and might be of some interest. Feel free to add any thoughts/ideas on how to determine the worth of KPIs within the contact centre.


MI Capability Manager

Vertex DataScience Ltd

Slightly off topic but did anyone read the articles in the UK papers over the weekend about the union concerns over Big Brother tracking in supermarket distribution centres.

Packers are issued with small GPS trackers strapped to their arms with a light unit attached to their finger. The unit is linked to a central computer which issues packing orders based on the optimum packer for a job. Because of GPS it knows when the staff are working and when they are off job (Breaks / personal time) and there is no escape.

Call Centre Agents thought they had it bad eh.

Now if we could just link these to a wireless VOIP..............."Good [plop] afternoon, thank you for calling.....

WFM & Business Telephony Manager

Healthcare Insurance

Not quite the way I remembered

I thought it was just the particular orders being down loaded
to the wrist PC, then scanned with the fingertip device.

As far as I could see it eliminated the paper based picking system.

I may have missed something though.


MI Capability Manager

Vertex DataScience Ltd

I agree it is a useful tool and I doubt the unions are completely against deployment, it was just the tracking of movement that interested me because it is a step above what we do in call centres. Take that out and really it is no different to an ACD intelligently routing calls.

It is just interesting the debates and disagreements that occur when companies honestly try and track performance in a environment that generally has been hard to measure. For Contact Centres this is where tracking back office and support processes come in, measuring performance on the traditionally unmeasured.


Other Developments
This is very interesting and actually goes a stage further than just 'picking orders' in a depot or warehouse. Currently being trialled by Walmart and the likes is a solution that actually has a small disposable chip on each packet/tin. This allows for the complete tracking of the individual item from manufacturer to check-out. The purpose of this is to reduce waste and speed up the supply chain. It could seem quite bizarre - but with loyalty cards tracking our purchases etc - soon the retailers could actually identify the exact product (i.e. packet or tin) that we bought.

Logically all we need after that is a fridge or cupboard with internet access and they can order it direct when it's been used. Which are already in the shops in the UK?

Roll on - the future.

WFM & Business Telephony Manager

Healthcare Insurance

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification)

Eric Blair eat your heart out :-)


MI Capability Manager

Vertex DataScience Ltd

Other developments
It all depends how you look at these things.

On the one hand it is great, shopping lists generated by your fridge to replace regular items, your supermarket picking up the list and delivering to your door.

On the other Big Brother because with chips in your cars (for road charging), your mobile phone signal, your internet links people, your loyalty/credit/debit cards people can track just about everything about you - in the wrong hands this would devastate personal liberty. We have to hope that governments remain benign and that data protection laws really are as strong as we believe them to be. I would hate to think what the security services about the world can do. But enough of this, if you aint doing anything wrong what do you have to worry about (but then that's the argument government always uses, right!!).

There is a human element to all this, culturally, we are already seeing a shift towards isolation - kids in the bedroom communicating with the world via chat/email/discussion forums because parents prefer to know where they are - it's a big old dangerous world out there with bad people waiting to pounce. We use the excuse that technology is helping make life easier - internet shopping is an key example. But is this really the case or are is the isolation just moving up to the parents now who are also concerned about the danger's out of doors - all those hoodies waiting to mug us in the shopping malls. As technology does more for us, do we really use the time wisely in other social events or do we just spend more time on the internet or watching "reality" TV.

Campaign Manager


CPH and RPH - Main KPI's
In response to CPH not giving an accurate view of agent performance, I have to agree. However, it is just one tool that has to be viewed amongst other statisitics and human judgment.

I prefer Revenue per Contact and number of calls to give a more accurate picture of how efficient an agent is. In an OB contact centre, the higher the RPH and less calls made, signifies an highly efficient agent.

We have recently changed from looking at Revenue per Hour to Rev per Contact, as this discounts the problems such as "freezing computers" or when a campaign needs to be changed mid-day.

However, as a Campaign Manager, i still feel that too much emphasis is placed soley on the statisitcs produced, and that there is a lack of human judgement, which does nothing to better the traditional view of contact centres.

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