As a contact centre director, you’ll already know how important it is to monitor operational performance. In the words of Carly Fiorini (former CEO of HP): “the goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”

It is with this spirit that contact and call centre managers track metrics and KPIs; as part of an ongoing effort to understand, and improve. In this day and age, though, the telecommunications industry is a brutally competitive landscape, and your contact centre will have to pull out all the stops to get its nose ahead of the competition.

The market value of the contact centre industry is estimated at £2.6 billion (IBIS World). Given that over two-thirds of businesses now compete directly in terms of customer experience (Gartner, as reported in Superoffice), it’s no wonder that the importance of measuring contact centre metrics and KPIs continues to grow.

Of course, in order to monitor performance, you’ll first need to equip your organisation with future-proof communications technology. Our VCC is designed to extract and present vital performance data in easy-to-understand reports, so you’ll never need to shoot blindly as you set about actioning your growth plans.

Today, we’ll be exploring the essential contact centre metrics and KPIs, and giving some insight into how to measure them – and why you can’t afford not to.

Monitoring Performance Through Metrics and KPIs

A contact or call centre is a complex, dynamic environment comprised of many moving parts. To the untrained eye, the delivery of customer experience (CX) can seem chaotic, though this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, there is a structure to the machine; a method in what seems like madness.

Every agent interaction, every CX touchpoint is, in some way, one part of a larger, coordinated effort to achieve a goal. That goal takes the shape of one or several contact and call centre metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators).

Metrics vs KPIs: what’s the difference?

Fair warning: when it comes to contact and call centre metrics and KPIs, there is a significant amount of overlap. Indeed, many managers treat them as one and the same, and use the terms interchangeably.

In general, metrics and KPIs are both stated targets or goals that an organisation pulls towards in an effort to achieve wider business success.

It is, though, possible to make a distinction.

MetricsKPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Granular, operation-level targetsWider, top-level business goals
Often specific to individual departmentsCan be tracked by several departments working towards the same goal
Measure performance of specific activitiesQuantify larger enterprise targets
Give context to your business operationsEnable strategic decision-making

You might choose to view metrics as the drivers of larger KPIs; where a KPI is the overall, company-wide goal, metrics are the specific milestones required to make that KPI a reality. Some contact centre operators find it helpful to view the issue in this way.

Essential Contact and Call Centre Metrics and KPIs

Every contact centre is part of a wider organisational effort to improve: to become more successful, more efficient, service clients in a more effective way, and deliver greater profitability.

As far as your contact centre goes, you can make sure your operation is aligned with – or, ideally, exceeding – its part of the ongoing push for business success by keeping across these vital contact and call centre metrics.

Before we get into it, it’s worth reaffirming: it’s only possible to monitor performance once you’ve enabled your contact centre with appropriate technological tools, such as our VCC. This data-driven and performance-boosting client communication platform gives you access to the statistical insights and data you need to ensure continual improvements.

1. CSAT (customer satisfaction)

This one just had to be top of the list. Arguably, there is no better benchmark of your contact centre’s effectiveness than measuring the sentiment of your end users.

There are a number of ways organisations might measure CSAT, with varying degrees of depth and complexity. Generally, this involves some form of a scale (say, 1 – 10), and simply asking customers to rate their experience.

2. FCR (first-contact resolution)

FCR is a crucial part of your customer relationship management; or if it isn’t, it should be. First-contact resolution (sometimes known as first-call resolution) measures the ability of your service team to effectively resolve user enquiries at the first time of asking, without a callback or follow-up being necessary.

In other words: if a user enjoys a satisfactory and conclusive experience in their first interaction with an agent or brand, that is a successful instance of FCR.

FCR can be a tricky metric to measure, chiefly because definitions vary over exactly what constitutes ‘resolution.’ For this reason, FCR should be measured with care and consistency.

3. AHT (average handle time)

Your AHT, or average handle time, refers to the length of time an agent typically spends on a call or in a support interaction with a user. Handle time starts from the moment the line goes live, and ends once it disconnects.

Enquiries can vary greatly in nature, and often depend on individual customers and their unique circumstances. For this reason, it’s best to calculate your AHT over a large number of support enquiries, for the truest reflection in the data.

Since low handling times (or high handling speed, depending on how you look at it) are closely linked to satisfaction, loyalty and retention, many managers focus on AHT as a quality indicator of contact centre performance.

4. Average hold time

Linked, but not to be confused with the above, average hold times indicate the length of time the average customer spends on hold; i.e., on the line but not in an active interaction.

Customers may be put on hold for a number of reasons, including an agent looking up information or a call being routed to a different department. A low average hold time is tremendously positive, as it shows that a high percentage of enquiries are being met with quality, active service.

5. Percentage of calls blocked

This is a big one. Every time a user reaches out to your brand or organisation, it’s an opportunity to connect with them and create positive sentiment. But if that user receives a ‘busy’ tone – because no agents are available, the call queue is at capacity, or for any other reason – it will have exactly the opposite effect.

6. Quality of service

Call it whatever you like – phone manner, call etiquette, politeness, service delivery, brand advocacy – it’s actually possible, with modern contact centre software, to score the quality of customer service in individual interactions.

The scoring metrics will draw on a number of factors, to be determined by centre managers, and are typically reviewed by QM (quality management) or quality assurance staff, who listen-in on the call.

Quality of service would include factors such as:

  • Greeting customers by name
  • Speaking in a clear, calm tone
  • Following brand guidelines
  • Repeating issues to clarify
  • Adherence to a sales script

7. CPC (cost per call/contact)

Your CPC totals the bottom-line cost of facilitating each contact enquiry, including the agent’s time and technology overheads.

CPC helps bring other metrics, and wider operational targets, into perspective. You may be delivering incredibly impressive AHT and CSAT rates, for instance, but if the cost of doing so per enquiry is unsustainable, your contact centre is operating under a false economy.

In other words, excessive CPC means that customer support is costing your organisation more than it is worth. So be sure to keep an eye on this one.

8. Utilisation rate

Utilisation refers to the percentage of time an agent is available and able to provide customer service. You can think of it as an agent’s ‘available’ time, as a proportion of their ‘total shift’ time.

This helps to determine if your human workforce is spending too much, or too little, time in a state of waiting on contact enquiries. It also helps you plan the optimal amount of shift cover, in response to fluctuating call volumes.

9. User complaint volume

This may seem self-evident, but many contact centre managers overlook this seemingly-simple metric. It can be of great benefit to tag enquiries as belonging to a specific category; for example, ‘complaint about product’, ‘issues with website’, ‘inaccurate delivery period’, and so on.

This will illuminate your key areas for improvement and assist you in prioritising action points.

10. Customer sentiment

In the customer-centric world of digital communications, it’s crucial to get a clear grasp of how your users respond to you as a brand. The importance of customer-centricity is at an all-time high – it’s the model upon which most forward-facing CX strategies are built.

Deploy sentiment analysis tools to determine user sentiment among key demographics.

11. CES (customer effort score)

Competition is fierce among businesses; as such, your customer service and experience must be fast, rewarding, accessible, easy, and effective. No mean feat.

CES will help show you how easy or difficult customers find it to get the answers they’re looking for. Generally, it can be calculated by presenting users with a statement, and asking them to what extent they agree or disagree.

Seamless experiences will lead to a low CES; this shows that your contact centre and agents are delivering an optimal service, which in turn will be the bedrock of customer loyalty and retention.

12. Abandonment rate

Theoretically at least, you should aim for no customers to abandon a contact enquiry. In practice however, it’s inevitable that some users will sometimes discontinue an interaction with your contact centre.

Perhaps the doorbell rings, they experience a power outage, a child spills a drink, or they simply figure things out for themselves. More concerningly, users may get bored at having to wait, frustrated at poor service, or disappointed by needing to repeatedly answer the same question for multiple agents.

It is this second type of abandonment that contact centre managers should be focussed on.

13. Peak volume

It’s important to know exactly which times, on which days, your contact centre can expect the highest volume of enquiries. It’s a central part of the formula for resource planning and a key element of driving efficiency.

14. NPS® (Net Promoter Score®)

We finish with one of the most tried, tested and trusted KPIs of the telecommunications industry: the Net Promoter Score®.

It works by asking users one simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?

Scores of 0-6 represent dissatisfied users who can damage your brand; 7-8 is a neutral rating; and those who answer 9-10 are your brand promoters, who will return for repeat business and fuel growth.

Easily-understood and insightful, NPS® is a core contact centre metric around the world, and a staple of most CEM (customer experience management) strategies.

Turn Information Into Insight

Armed with the above data sets and benchmarks of core performance, your contact centre will be positioned to continually improve and help your business grow. Tracking performance is the cornerstone of effecting positive change; start monitoring these essential contact and call centre metrics and KPIs to see your efforts go from strength to strength.

There is one, unignorable caveat to all this, however: the need for modern, future-proof contact centre software, including tech tools capable of harvesting and interpreting data.

Performance monitoring cannot be carried out manually; it is expensive, inefficient and error-prone. Our VCC is built with data-gathering and reporting capabilities, meaning the vital information you need is collected and presented with accuracy and speed.

To discover the ways our VCC can unlock a world of statistical reporting and data-backed improvements for your contact centre, book a demo now, and a member of our team will be in touch very soon.