The contact center’s data-intensive environment with its multitude of metrics can make it all too easy to fall into a “managing by metrics” mindset. But to quote sociologist William Bruce Cameron: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
When it comes to delivering a superior customer experience, I’m often asked which key performance indicators (KPIs) are considered to be the “industry standards.” The truth is, each contact center’s metrics mix is unique to its business. Your company’s customer experience vision, brand promise, service objectives, level of employee engagement and workplace culture, among other things, will influence what you should track, share and emphasize.
With that caveat in place, the following are 12 KPIs commonly used by contact centers to gauge how well they’re delivering on the customer experience vision. This list is based on my interviews with center leaders. I am not advocating these as the “best” or the most valuable metrics. They’re simply the ones that are mentioned most often when I ask contact center leaders the question: How do you measure your customer experience success? Agent performance and satisfaction metrics are included as most leaders I have spoken with understand the strong correlation between happy agents and satisfied customers.
Keep in mind that there is no single magic metric that will offer a clear indicator of your center’s performance or guide your operation to a successful outcome. Think of each metric as just one piece of the puzzle. Look to the unique elements of your business to identify all of the pieces that you’ll need to complete the picture.
What it is:The percentage of callers who hang up before they reach an agent.
How it’s used:As an indicator of customer dissatisfaction and frustration; can reveal problems within the IVR, slow systems or other pain points along the customer journey; an indicator of understaffing or excessive wait times.
How it’s measured:Number of abandoned calls divided by total number of inbound calls. As contact center consultant Kathleen Peterson explains, “Abandonment is a response to a condition; it is not a condition in and of itself,” (“Plan and Measure = Pleasure,” Pipeline, November 2018). Identify and factor in the contributing causes that impact the customer experience.
AVERAGE HANDLE TIME (AHT)
What it is:The average amount of time an agent spends handling a customer issue—including talk time, hold time, wrap time.
How it’s used:As a measure of agent performance and efficiency; can identify agent knowledge and skill gaps; can reveal process breakdowns and call-resolution obstacles. More centers are emphasizing FCR and QM when evaluating overall agent performance; i.e., agents are not held accountable for a target AHT, but tracking still takes place at the management level to identify opportunities for additional coaching and training.
How it’s measured:Add total talk time, total hold time and wrap time, then divide by the number of total calls.
CUSTOMER EFFORT SCORE (CES)
What it is:A measure of customer satisfaction based on the amount of effort the customer has to exert to get their issue resolved.
How it’s used:As a predictive measure of customer loyalty; to identify “pain points” along the customer journey.
How it’s measured:A single-question survey that asks customers to rate the level of their effort on a scale; e.g., “Overall, how easy was it to get the help you wanted today?”
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION (CSAT)
What it is:An indicator of how satisfied customers are with your company’s products, services, agent and/or contact center performance.
How it’s used:As an indicator of individual agent and overall contact center effectiveness and productivity; identifies gaps between customer expectations and service delivery; can reveal a misalignment of service delivery to brand promise; a predictive measure of financial performance. Csat outcome is directly linked to employee satisfaction.
How it’s measured:Post-call surveys are most common though there are a wide variety of survey response formats, including star ratings, numbered scales, yes/no or satisfied/not satisfied.
EMPLOYEE NET PROMOTER SCORE (eNPS)
What it is:Assesses employee loyalty.
How it’s used:As a simple measure to quickly identify and act upon employee dissatisfaction before it infects the contact center culture or results in turnover.
How it’s measured:Similar to NPS, eNPS consists of a single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague as a place to work?” Based on a 10-point scale in which 9-10 ratings are considered promoters, 7-8 ratings are passives, and 6 or below are detractors. The eNPS score is calculated by subtracting the number of employees who are promoters minus number of detractors divided by the total number of respondents, then multiplied by 100.
What it is:Measures how content employees are with their job.
How it’s used:To identify opportunities to improve the agent job, processes and culture; provides employees with a vehicle to give feedback to the company on topics like compensation, management resources, benefits, workload and development opportunities.
How it’s measured:Quarterly, semi-annual and annual surveys, often anonymous to encourage honest feedback without fear of retaliation.
FIRST-CALL RESOLUTION (FCR)
What it is:Measures whether the agent has fully addressed the customer’s question, need or issue the first time they contact the organization; i.e., without being transferred, escalated, having to call back or having an agent follow up.
How it’s used:As a measure of call-handling efficiency and effectiveness; can highlight conflicting agent objectives; uncovers knowledge and skill gaps; identifies problem call types and processes that drive up costs.
How it’s measured:After-call surveys (IVR or email); agents ask customers whether their needs have been addressed and then close the calls in CRM system; recorded calls and speech analytics. Note: Contact centers and customers may have different views on what constitutes a resolution, which should be reflected in FCR scoring (see “Taking a Deep Dive into FCR,” Pipeline, November 2018).
NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS)
What it is:Measures how likely a customer is to recommend a product or service.
How it’s used:As a predictive measure of sales and business growth. (Note: There have been conflicting views about the use of NPS as measure of customer experience and future revenue with many arguing that there is a lack of credible evidence proving its value. Recently, the buzz around NPS has cooled due to the emergence of predictive analytics to analyze customer data for insights and make predictions about customer loyalty and revenue.)
How it’s measured:NPS uses a single-question survey, e.g., How likely are you to recommend ABC Software to a friend or colleague? Similar to eNPS, NPS is based on a 10-point scale in which 9-10 ratings are considered promoters, 7-8 ratings are passives, and 6 or below are detractors. NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage of promoters.
QUALITY MONITORING (QM)
What it is:Measures agent performance on an individual customer contact.
How it’s used:Identifies agent knowledge and skills gaps, and opportunities for additional coaching and training; identifies top performers for recognition and rewards,
How it’s measured:Call monitoring (recorded, live, side-by-side) using scorecards to rate elements of the call, such as greeting, compliance, upselling/cross-selling, communication skills, call closing, etc.
RESPONSE TIME (RT)
What it is:Percentage of non-real-time contacts handled within a specific timeframe; e.g., 100% of customer emails handled within 24 hours.
How it’s used:Measures the contact center’s accessibility and effective deployment of resources for responding to contacts that don’t have to be handled in real-time.
How it’s measured:Centers often set different response time targets based on the customer segment (premium vs. basic), service level contracts, or type of inquiry (e.g., a quicker response time for sales and escalated issues, and longer response time targets for general inquiries).
SERVICE LEVEL (SL)
What it is:Percentage of calls answered within a specific timeframe; e.g., X% of calls answered within Y seconds.
How it’s used:Measures center accessibility, and effective use of staffing and resources, and how consistently the center achieves service level objectives throughout the day.
How it’s measured:Service level applies to a given queue, phone number or group/skill set, and is generally measured for each time interval (e.g., half-hour). Often reported on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. (Source: Strategic Contact, www.strategiccontact.com)
What it is:Percentage of agents who leave the contact center and are replaced by new agents in a given timeframe. Turnover is different from attrition, which occurs when an agent leaves because they move away, retire, decide to go back to school or leave to raise a family, and the agent is not replaced. Turnover can be voluntary (i.e., willingly chooses to leave) or involuntary (e.g., fired for poor performance).
How it’s used:As a gauge of workplace culture, supervisor/manager effectiveness, agent burnout, job quality.
How it’s measured:The number of agents who left the contact center divided by number of active agents within a certain time period. Use exit interviews and feedback from departing agents to categorize and track reasons for leaving and identify actions to reduce turnover.