The Top 15 Contact Center Metrics You Should Know
Every industry has their own lingo or jargon. Industry pros often forget that the rest of the world has no idea what they're talking about when they use those industry-specific acronyms or use a well-known word in a very industry-specific context. This is certainly true of contact centers (formerly known as call centers) and even more true of the vast array of metrics used in them. Here are 15 top contact center metrics, what they mean, and why you need to know them.
Abandons (or Abandoned Calls) are calls that were terminated by the caller before they reached an agent. Abandon Call Rate can be expressed as a percentage of total calls offered or as a raw number. Abandons can happen for a variety of reasons but by far the most common and concerning reason is waiting in queue too long. High rates of abandon can indicate a technical problem, a staffing problem, or both. It can be useful to graph out abandoned calls correlated to wait time to understand the patience threshold your customers have before they are no longer willing to wait in queue. This threshold can vary significantly based on your business and customer profiles.
ACW / Wrap
ACW stands for After Call Work and is sometimes referred to as Wrap or Wrap Time. ACW or Wrap is the time from when a customer interaction has concluded and the customer is no longer involved to the time when the agent is available to handle another customer interaction. During this time, agents may be updating an account, categorizing the reason for the contact, sending a survey, etc. ACW is one of the 3 components of Handle Time.
AHT stands for Average Handle Time. Because individual calls can have different demands, an average for a specified time, often a month, is used to determine efficiency. Handle Time consists of After Call Work (Wrap), Talk Time, and Hold Time. While most KPIs (Key Performance Indicators - addressed in more detail below) are ideally as low as possible or as high as possible, AHT is more of a Goldilocks metric - you want it to be "just right" within a target range. High AHT is a sign of inefficiency while low AHT often means we're not actually doing everything we need to do.
Available / Unavailable Time
Unavailable Time is often broken up into various sub-categories but is simply time that the agent is working but not available to handle customer interactions. It includes things like training, coaching, meetings, paid breaks, etc. Available Time is the time that agents are logged in a ready state (available) to handle the next customer request but are not actively working on contact-related activity.
For most sales organizations, "conversion is king!" This measure is simply the number of sales divided by the number of opportunities. It's essentially a sales success rate. In "Sales and Service" departments where not every interaction is a potential sale, you might have more refined measures like Gross Conversion (Sales / All Contacts) and Net Conversion (Sales / Sales Opportunities) to account for the types of customer interactions each agent receives.
Customer Effort Score (CES) is a relatively new metric for contact centers and has a few different methods of measurement. Ultimately, the goal is to understand how much effort was required by the customer to handle a specific need. This might be measured on a 3-, 5-, or 7-point scale, with the 3-point scale often using emoji (🙂😐🙁) rather than numbered answers to a question like, "How easy was it for you to get your issue fully resolved today?" The 3-point scale can also be converted to a score similar to NPS® methodology like this:
Customer SATisfaction (CSAT) is the elder statesman of "Voice of the Customer" surveys and is similar to just about anything you rate online today with a 1-5 stars scale. It simply asks the customer how satisfied they were with their interaction and provides response options from 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). Like CES, there are alternate methods to measure CSAT, including a 10-point scale and an emoji scale. CSAT is still considered a reliable metric to understand customer sentiment for a given interaction.
First Call (or Contact) Resolution is a measure of how often customer inquiries are resolved with a single interaction. There are a few methods to measure this including surveys or utilizing CRM data, but reliability of the data is often a concern because what may seem like a different issue could be related to a previous issue. FCR is often an agent-level measure that captures if an agent is being thorough, proactive, and resolving customer issues but can also help organizations understand systemic issues that may be driving repeat contacts and creating a poor Customer Experience (CX).
A Key Performance Indicator can be any performance metric but most businesses choose a small set of metrics to act as their most important measures of success. While KPI is certainly not relegated only to the contact center world, it's important to understand that not all metrics (of which there are many in a contact center) are KPIs and the KPIs for one contact center may differ from those of another contact center.
Net Promoter Score® is a metric derived from the Net Promoter System and was the result of a research project launched by Fred Reichheld and Bain & Co. using data from Satmetrix. In 2006, his book, The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth launched NPS as an entirely new way to predict "overall company growth and customer lifetime value". In essence, the metric is based on the question, "How likely are you to recommend X to your friends and family?" with X being the company or a product and the scale being 0 to 10. Unlike other Survey-based metrics, NPS divides responses into 3 categories and then uses an equation to arrive at a score between -100 and 100. 0-6 are labeled as Detractors, 7-8 are labeled as Passives, and 9-10 are labeled as Promoters. The NPS score is then formulated as follows:
[(Promoters - Detractors)/Total Responses]*100
Occupancy and Utilization are very similar metrics and often confused with one another. Occupancy is a measure of how much time an agent spends working on contact-related activity vs. simply being available between calls. Occupancy does not consider any other type of unavailable time like coaching, training, breaks, etc. The formula for Occupancy is as follows:
Handle Time / (Handle Time + Available Time)
This metric is important to Workforce Management (WFM) teams because significant deviation from agent schedules can negatively impact Service Level. Breaks and lunches, and even training and coaching in some organizations, are included in a published schedule. These events are staggered to ensure enough people will still be available to handle customers at any given time. While it's nearly impossible for any agent to achieve 100% schedule adherence (and doing so may be a red flag), extremely low schedule adherence can lead to intervals when there are far too many or far too few agents to handle customer volume.
Service Level is the percentage of calls (or other contacts) answered within a given timeframe. Outsourced Contact Centers often operate under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees a minimum Service Level measured over a period of time, typically a month. Acceptable service levels can vary widely by channel. For the voice channel, typical Service Level Agreements are 80/30 (80% of calls answered in 30 seconds or less) or 80/60 (80% of calls answered within 60 seconds or less). Low Service Levels often lead to high Abandon Rate because customers are waiting in queue too long to reach an agent. While Service Level is a relatively simple measure, the variables to achieve a specific Service Level can be quite complicated and include forecasted volume, contact arrival patterns, agent staffing, shrinkage (percent of agents scheduled who don't actually work their shift), Occupancy, Average Handle Time, and Schedule Adherence.
QA / Quality
Quality Assurance, often simply referred to as Quality, is a measure of how successfully an agent demonstrates all of the relevant and desired behaviors during a customer interaction. Quality can be measured using a form that outlines all of the desired behaviors and is compared to an actual customer interaction, often by a Supervisor, Team Lead, or dedicated Quality Assurance Associate. Quality can also be measured using next-generation speech analytics platforms like Happitu and do so on every word of every call.
As mentioned above, Utilization is often confused with Occupancy, but Utilization also takes into account things like training and coaching spent offline. As such, Utilization will always be equal to or less than Occupancy. The formula for Utilization is as follows:
(Handle Time + Available Time) / Paid Time
Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.