Measuring Success: Key Metrics for Evaluating Inbound Call Center Performance

call center kpis

Call centers play an important role in today’s consumer-centric business landscape, helping brands enhance and uphold their image by providing customers with a way to receive help with a problem or voice their frustrations. 

Nevertheless, call centers are far more than just dumping grounds for customer concerns; they are an extension of the businesses they represent and part of a strategic mission, and they should be treated as such. One way to accomplish that goal is using call center key performance indicators, or call center KPIs, to evaluate their performance.

What Are Call Center Metrics and Why Are They Important?

Call center KPIs allow you to gauge your call center’s performance. You may observe agents taking calls and managers looking busy and be led to believe that everything is going well, but observation alone won’t cut it when it comes to understanding how effective your call center is at meeting its goals.

With that said, by knowing how to evaluate call center metrics, you can understand performance more meaningfully, allowing you to more easily spot issues and develop solutions to address them. 

Three Types of Metrics to Effectively Evaluate Your Call Center’s Performance

Although a business owner might use many different call center metrics to evaluate performance, most fall into three general categories. Below is a brief rundown of each category and a few key metrics you can use to gather intelligence about your call center and identify ways to improve:

1. Operational Metrics

These metrics ensure your call center continues to run smoothly, affirming that you have the right staffing levels at any given time to satisfy customer needs and avoid payroll bloat. They can also help you identify trends in your call center so that you can uncover opportunities for training and effectively manage each team’s workload.  

Operational metrics include the following:

  • Repeat Calls: Determine how many calls come from the same number; a high score may indicate customers are calling with questions that can be answered via self-service options or questions that are too complex for one call.
  • Call Abandonment Rate: A high abandonment rate indicates that customers are waiting too long and giving up before they can talk to an agent. The formula to calculate the rate is: (Total Number of Calls – Number of Handled Calls) / Total Number of Calls — then multiply the result by 100.
  • Average Waiting Time: Measures how long customers are typically placed on hold, which can indicate inefficiency in how agents handle calls. The formula for calculating an average wait time is: (Total # of Seconds Customers Spend Waiting / Total Number of Calls).
  • Call Volume: Tracking the total number of calls your center receives in any given period helps you identify peak hours and adjust staffing levels accordingly
  • Cost per Call: Divide your operating expenses by the total number of calls you receive to determine whether your center is cost-efficient and is allocating its resources effectively.

As you commit to these call center metrics and learn how to evaluate them, you’ll discover what works over time and what you consider an acceptable level for each.

2. Agent Productivity Metrics

How agents handle customer contact ultimately affects customer satisfaction and retention. To that end, agent productivity metrics are focused on improving the performance of the people who work for you. 

Some vital metrics you can track to start improving efficiency in your call center business include the following:

  • Agent Utilization Rate: Divide the number of hours the agent worked by the number of available hours. In doing so, you determine how much of that time is spent handling calls.
  • Average Handling Time: Measure how long agents take to complete an entire interaction (including after-call work time) and divide it by the total number of calls. Improving the result can help your agents take more calls.
  • Average Speed of Answer: Divide the total wait time for answered calls by the total number of answered calls to determine whether customers are waiting too long to speak to an agent. High call abandonment rates may be attributed to this metric.

Though there are other agent and call center performance metrics you can focus on, these are often sufficient to assess, manage, and help improve agent performance.

3. Customer Satisfaction Metrics

One particularly notable KPI for call centers is customer satisfaction (or customer experience), which often acts as a form of quality assurance. It helps you understand how customers feel when they contact your call center and whether you are adequately resolving issues. 

You can track customer satisfaction via these metrics: 

  • First Contact Resolution: Figuring out how many of your total calls were resolved the first time helps you assess agent efficiency and whether customers’ needs are being met
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): A high NPS indicates that customers are loyal to your business and likely to recommend the brand to others; aim for a score of 50 or higher
  • Channel Mix: Calculate the total number of customer service interactions for each contact channel you offer to determine whether you are meeting customers’ needs with the right services

Satisfied customers are why your call center exists, so it’s vital to monitor these metrics and make adjustments to improve the overall customer experience.

An Effective Business Intelligence Strategy Is Paramount to Call Center Success

For call centers to be cost-effective, they must meet a high standard that justifies how much money a brand spends to retain them. Ask yourself whether your call center increases brand loyalty and conversions by providing amazing customer service and whether that translates to higher revenue.

Answering these mission-critical questions requires collecting data on key call center performance metrics. As you continue to use these KPIs, you’ll eventually get your business intelligence strategy down to a science that helps you understand whether your call center is performing well. Once that happens, you’ll have no trouble understanding how to improve call center metrics to keep your employees productive, your customers happy, and your brand thriving.

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