Contact centers are complex operating environments utilizing many systems and applications to cost-effectively deliver an outstanding customer experience.

The primary goal of a contact center is to provide meaningful service to anyone who interacts with your organization, independent of the channel they choose. This objective is fairly ambitious due to all the moving parts involved, like the intricacies of underlying technologies and the variety of personalities on your team. 

To exceed customers’ expectations, contact centers should offer the business visibility into all aspects of their departmental activities and performance. While it’s relatively easy to obtain key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics, the challenge is formulating the right set of contact center KPIs for each group of stakeholders – executives, directors, supervisors, agents, quality management (QM) managers, trainers and workforce managers.

Figuring out what information each group needs and delivering that data in a timely manner can be tricky, but it’s necessary to keep your call center on track to achieve its goals. Before we dive in any further, let’s start with a quick definition.

What are contact center KPIs?

Contact center KPIs are measurements that contact center managers use to determine the success of their operation. These indicators reveal whether a call center is meeting its goals, and whether or not agents are solving customer issues via a high-quality customer service experience. 

What are the challenges of picking the right set of contact center KPIs?

In general, it’s better to give managers a limited number of actionable KPIs and contact center metrics rather than delivering dozens of reports. The aim is to find a balance between useful information and data overload, and to supply the real-time and historical data companies need to measure their impact and promote their success.

Aligning KPIs between departments

One challenge in selecting the right call center metrics is that the required KPIs will vary based on the purpose of the call center and who works in it. For example, while both sales and customer success care about the entire customer experience, the sales team is rewarded for outbound calls made and dollars earned, whereas customer service agents are recognized for successfully addressing customers’ needs and resolving their inbound issues. These differing purposes and end goals can lead to misalignment in KPIs across teams.

Measuring outdated KPIs

A second challenge for many enterprises is continuing to measure outdated KPIs that have become less relevant to their customers or agents over the years. It’s recommended that contact centers regularly audit, review and update their KPIs to ensure they’re keeping up with the needs of their customers and the business itself. 

Call center managers should consider and identify KPIs for the following activities: customer effort, customer satisfaction, revenue (sales and/or collections), agent effectiveness and engagement, and agent productivity.

Ensuring KPIs are measurable and attainable

There’s really no point in selecting a KPI for your business if the data behind it cannot be obtained and shared with stakeholders, or if collecting those metrics would be incredibly costly. When selecting contact center KPIs, it’s wise to consider what data points you’ll need for those measurements, what processes need to be implemented to access the data and how much everything will cost as compared to the anticipated returns.

12 contact center KPIs that accrue to a successful customer experience

1. Average Time to Answer

Average time to answer is a metric quantified in seconds used for evaluating the average amount of time from when an inbound call is received until it is answered by an agent. This measurement hinges on agents being available to answer calls in a specific time frame, and while it includes time spent waiting in the queue, it does not factor in the time it takes for the call to navigate through an IVR system. Managers typically reference average time to answer when they want to assess their team’s efficiency and degree of accessibility to customers. It may also be helpful to define a service level objective, which is a specific goal for answering a certain percentage of calls within a set time period. For example, the industry-standard service level is 80/30, answering 80% of customer calls in 30 seconds. Setting service level objectives will not only improve average time to answer but can also assist in decreasing abandoned calls.

2. Average Abandonment Rate

The average abandonment rate measures the number of callers who hang up or who are disconnected before they reach a representative. Abandonment rate is largely a reflection of call center performance rather than individual agent performance, but it’s closely tied to customer satisfaction and success KPIs. This metric is an expression of how many people grew frustrated enough to leave prior to receiving support, and can reveal important insights into areas for improvement.

3. First Call Resolution (FCR)

First call resolution (sometimes referred to as first contact resolution or FCR) is an important component of customer relationship management, measuring a call center’s ability to resolve customer issues on first contact, with no call back or follow-up required. The better the agent is, the higher their personal first call resolution rate will likely be. However, because a customer’s concern may warrant action by someone other than the agent, this can be difficult to assess. For this reason, FCR should always be measured with caution and care.

4. Transfer Rate

In addition to FCR, some contact centers also look at transfer rates to help determine customer interaction success. This percentage reflects the number of calls an agent has to transfer to someone else to complete, like an available supervisor or possibly another department altogether. The reasons for the transfers certainly vary, but it may be the fault of the agent or representative, a specific request made by the caller or an incorrect routing of the initial call. Ideally, the percentage for FCR would always sit higher than the transfer rate.

5. Average Handle Time

Average handle time (AHT) refers to the length of time from when an agent answers until they disconnect from the call. Call handling largely depends on the complexity of the customer’s issue, which is why it’s important to average the response time over a number of calls for the best assessment of agent performance. This is why average handle times are one of the most common contact center KPIs, since favorable handle times are directly linked to caller satisfaction, customer loyalty and, most importantly, customer retention.

6. Average Hold Time

Optimizing average handle time means focusing on other elements of the call that can impact issue resolution, such as average hold time. As its name suggests, this is the amount of time an agent keeps a customer on hold during a call, contributing to the overall call length. A customer may be kept on hold while an agent looks something up or seeks out the answer to the caller’s issue from a supervisor or subject matter experts in another department. To make sure hold time is kept within a reasonable range as compared to talk time, this metric is calculated by the cumulative time callers wait on hold divided by the total number of calls answered by agents. Average hold time is a wonderful indicator of whether teams are providing callers with the superior service they deserve.

7. Average Idle Time

Idle time is measured by the seconds an agent spends completing work related to a customer interaction once the conversation has ended. This is also referred to as after-call work time. After the majority of calls, an agent will have to input relevant information or notes into the call center software, or perhaps mail printed materials or send a follow-up email. Some contact centers may require agents to take care of these things while the caller remains on the line. While this will likely result in a lower idle time, it will create a higher average handle time in the process.

8. Percentage of Calls Blocked

Another contact center KPI with a tremendous impact on customer success is the percentage of calls that are blocked. This measurement has to do with the number of inbound callers who receive a busy tone because there are no available agents, queues are already at capacity or the contact center software platform is unable to handle the call volume. Since even one blocked call is a missed opportunity to connect with a customer, provide an exceptional customer experience and reinforce customer loyalty, this metric is not one to be ignored.

9. Phone Etiquette 

With call center KPIs, it’s actually possible to score the quality of an agent’s etiquette during the call. This particular KPI is comprised of a number of factors (sometimes weighted) that are reviewed by a quality management (QM) or quality assurance monitor listening in on the call. Essentially, the more factors that can be checked off, the higher the agent’s score will be. Examples of phone etiquette include greeting customers by name, using a calm, clear tone, and repeating the caller’s issue to verify understanding for both parties.

10. Adherence to Procedures

In many call centers, there’s a set script the agent needs to follow as they’re in conversation with a customer. With contact center metrics, managers can track how well agents follow company procedures while speaking with customers, like the proper way to greet a caller, how best to terminate a call, when a call transfer is appropriate, how to deescalate a difficult situation, and more. By monitoring agents’ adherence to procedures, organizations can guarantee greater consistency in their call center customer service.

11. Rate of Absent Agents

The number of days lost per year due to agent absenteeism can take a major toll on call center scheduling and staffing, as well as affect a company’s bottom line. That’s why a KPI measuring the rate of absent call center agents can be incredibly helpful when revising an existing budget or optimizing workforce management practices. Knowing there are enough agents scheduled and present at a given time is crucial for handling high call volumes, limiting queue wait times and reducing call abandonment rate.

12. Rate of Agent Turnover

Agent turnover goes one step further than agent absenteeism, by uncovering the rate at which representatives leave to pursue work elsewhere. This KPI is vital for every manager to track as it ebbs and flows over time, since a high turnover rate can have very significant consequences. Not only can turnover influence team morale, but it can also impact call center scheduling, hiring, training and retraining requirements, and customer satisfaction, which is why it’s so important not to neglect agent experience indicators when tracking contact center metrics.

Improve your customer experience with the right contact center platform – Lifesize CxEngage 

Measuring contact center KPIs gives invaluable insight into customer service success, agent effectiveness and overall call center productivity. For any leader or manager looking to boost their contact center’s performance, Lifesize is here to help. Organizations can readily improve their customer service strategy and exceed customer experience expectations — as evidenced through KPIs and metrics — with Lifesize CxEngage cloud contact center solutions.