The Top 10 Most Important Call Centre Metrics

Over the past three months, in a range of workshops, webinars and web chats, Jonty Pearce asked a wide range of contact centre professionals for the most important call centre metric needed to do their job.

Read on to find out which one came top.

The good news is that a growing number of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are based on quality or outcomes, rather than just on pure efficiency.

Here are the most common answers.

1.  Quality Scores

Quality Scores were by far the most important metric used.  They provide the ability to look at the overall caller experience and also look at the conversations that agents are using on their phone calls.

Scores can be provided at a high level to track how well the centre is doing and they can also be taken down to agent level.  Scores are typically measured over between 5 and 10 calls per agent per month, although when things get busy, the number of calls sampled starts to drop off.

2.  First Call Resolution (FCR)

Also known as ‘Best Contact Resolution’.  This was a very common metric and looks at how many times a customer needs to call  a company to get a problem resolved.  This is a very good way of measuring a problem from the customer’s perspective.

The problem is that it is quite difficult to accurately measure and tends to be rather subjective. For example, a repeat call could be about a different problem.

Here are some common ways that contact centres measure this.

  • Can the agent give a satisfactory answer so that the caller does not have to call back (calls are monitored)
  • Looking at the number of callers that call back within 7 days
  • Looking at the calling party number within a set period
  • Using a post-call IVR survey
  • Looking at the quality of answer and positiveness, measured by a third party

Articles about first call resolution

3.  Customer Satisfaction

An old favourite that looks at the percentage of customers that are happy.  This is simple and easy to operate.  It can be carried out through a wide range of methods, the most common being a post-call IVR survey, or a follow-up email survey.

4.  Service Level

This was one of the very first metrics to be produced by the ACD systems.  It looks at the percentage of calls that are answered within a given time.  The average figure seems to be between 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds and 95% of calls answered within 15 seconds.

5. Average Handling Time

This was for many years the most widespread contact centre metric.  It looks at the total amount of time that it takes to handle a call.  This is a simple measure of efficiency.  This measurement includes talk time, on-hold time as well as wrap-up time.

It has had a bad press in recent years because it looks only at efficiency but not at the outcome of the call.  Critics say that it tends to encourage the agent to rush the caller off the phone rather than solve their problem.

Articles about Average Handling Time

6.  Right Party Connects (RPC)

This is a favourite of many dialler managers.  It is an outbound metric that looks at the ability to get through to the right person.  With the high number of answer machines, coupled with people who are seldom at home, this can often be a difficult metric to drive up.

7.  Net Promoter

Given the amount of hype that this metric has generated, it is surprising to see this so low down the list. It looks at the number of people who would recommend the product or service to their family or friends.

This metric has had a huge amount of air play in the past few years and has been promoted as the one metric that can be used to predict customer loyalty.  In many ways it is similar to customer satisfaction, but it tends to take a more binary approach to measurement.

It is not as popular as it once was.  For many companies who have used it, after some good initial results, they have seen their results level off.  It is also influenced quite highly by factors outside the contact centre – for example, pricing policy, news in the press and overall branding.

Articles about net promoter

8. Forecast Accuracy

This is a favourite among workforce planners that looks at the accuracy of their overall forecasts.   We looked at this topic on a recent webinar and the average figure is between 5 and 10%.

This is a tricky metric to use.  The problem is, as one resource planner said to me, “Our forecasts are normally quite accurate most of the time, but when they go off, they tend to go way off.”   Forecast accuracy is highly influenced by external factors such as the weather, marketing and the post.

Article on – 4 Questions You Need to Ask to Improve Forecast Accuracy

Click here to download our Monthly Forecasting Excel Spreadsheet Template

9. Revenue (or Revenue per call)

Given that many contact centres are used for customer service, it is not surprising that revenue comes down the list.  This would be much higher if you looked at telesales or telemarketing contact centres.

10. Utilisation

This metric looks at the total percentage of time that an agent is available to take a call.  It typically includes ready time, talk time and wrap-up time.  It can be measured either as a percentage or as the total number of hours per day.

The Best of the Rest

There were a number of other ‘favourite’ metrics that did not make the top 10.

  • Calls Per Hour
  • Conversion Rates
  • Employee Engagement
  • Promise to Pay (typically used in debt collection)
  • Abandon Rates
  • Speed of Answer
  • Customer Effort Score
  • Non-value-add Calls (where customer could have self-served)

Your most important metric

What is the most important metric you use in your contact centre?  Please leave your results in the box below.

  1. Well you missed the most important one, staff satisfaction! Engage with your staff and you will find most of the other SLA’s will be delivered. speed of answer and 95% calls answered are not very inteligent metrics. what happens if you answer only 94% of calls? nothing so….

    Bob wild 12 Jul at 12:02 pm
  2. very useful article thanks!

    Michael 12 Jul at 12:20 pm
  3. Dissapointed that employee engagement didn’t get into the top ten and yet AHT came in 5th! Reallly? That explains a lot!

    Others to consider…Contacts per sale(order), Cost per Contact and Cost per Sale.

    Dan Cuthbert 12 Jul at 4:25 pm
  4. Amazing that Quality has come to to the top, however it may be too simle to just say Quality as Customer Experience Quality (i.e. sentiment measuring) is as important to measure Agent Quality.

    Dick Bourke 13 Jul at 10:15 am
  5. Cost per call minute or process minute split by call or process type. In my opinion we should look for all the KPI’s that influence the five key contact centre challenges. 1:Cap or reduce costs. 2:Increase efficiency 3: increase revenue 4: Reduce risk. 5: increase customer satisfaction.
    Only when we have absolute, measurable control of operational costs do we have the basis to develop ROI models. It’s ONLY ROI that the boardroom is interested in. With substantiated ROI data all initiatives and investments designed to address the 5 challenged are possible .

    Rod Jones 14 Jul at 9:04 am
  6. Could not agree less with the Quality Scores one, even though Quality is my own number one preoccupation. In my experience, Call Quality monitoring is done by bored-out-of-their-minds ex-agents who tick boxes like “Used the Corporate Greeting” or “Used the customer’s name 3 times”. Since when has that got anything to do with the customer experience? The only opinion that really matters is that of the customer. Why not ask them what they think, instead of relying on meaningless data from inside your own organisation?

    Kieron Murphy 24 Jul at 12:34 pm
  7. Employee satisfaction is also one key metrics to look after .. if my staffs are happy then its good to go and permorm

    Saurav Majumder 8 Aug at 10:24 am
  8. It’s important that these metrics don’t get the way of providing an actual customer experience. AHT is important, but does chopping five seconds off your average mean all that match when the caller calls back in an hour?

    Trish Voskovitch 22 Aug at 9:14 pm
  9. The FCR as it measure directly the customer experience from the quality metric and effectiveness metric (AHT)

    Bassem Abdel Kawi 17 Nov at 5:25 pm
  10. The ‘wide range’ of contact center professionals has a lot of bearing on what is important.. Strictly from a business perspective (and in some ways the only perspective that counts), what is missing in all of the operationally-focused metrics is a conversion to their business-value equivalents

    Tom Maude 20 Feb at 11:48 am
  11. I would think that the top 10 KPI’s would be dependent on the organizations goals. The company that wants loyal customers who will stick with them when the competition is strong had better be looking at customer satisfaction/NPS scores, contact center staff satisfaction, and cost per call as leading indicators for the other metrics that drive business. Ease of experience for the customer is the strongest driver of customer loyalty. How easy is it for a customer to have their need met?
    Someone is asking why cost per call. Easy, its a business, cost per call should be looked at for change in value, not for how much it is costing. What the customer needs to resolve their need may just cost more than others. Look at what is driving that KPI using Lean Six Sigma techniques.

    Jim Black 11 Jun at 3:06 am
  12. Someone knows the meaning of the Ex metric?

    Armando 31 Jul at 4:38 pm
  13. Can anyone define Email Per hour metric concept in call center?

    Eric 13 Oct at 3:00 pm
  14. Quality scores are the worst metric in the call centre world. I am strongly of the opinion that quality scoring is the reason that the vast majority of call centers frustrate customer so much. You can always tell when the agent is more focused on hitting quality scores than helping customers

    I stopped scoring quality years ago and it was the best thing I have ever done. Scoring contact quality is divisive, political and prevents effective performance management and improvement. My advice, if you want to improve quality, is to stop scoring individual agents now. Then you can focus on improving quality and customer needs.

    Nick 21 Apr at 5:58 pm
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