Contact center managers are on a constant quest to find the right formula for measuring their center’s value and functionality. Nearly every contact center executive uses key performance indicators, or KPIs, but which ones truly benefit the organization and which are clouding the ability to make good decisions or leading to analysis paralysis? This very question has fueled a longstanding debate within the industry that may never be conclusively answered. Ask 100 contact center managers and supervisors for their opinions, and chances are that each will answer differently.
The truth is that there is no one right answer for every contact center because each one operates distinctively and plays a different role. However, everyone can agree that it is not feasible or beneficial to measure every KPI imaginable in the pursuit of a well-functioning and high-performing contact center.
Pragmatically speaking, most contact center executives really just need to identify which KPIs are sufficient to enable them to review and go, yet still allow a critical flag to be thrown if something needs further review by the operations group or if they spot a new emerging trend in the customer dialogue.
Here, we look at the three categories of metrics that can serve as the measurement backbone for most contact center operations.
Measures of Customer Experience
This measurement segment pertains to both insourced and outsourced contact centers, and takes into account service level, first-contact resolution rate, and average handle time. Customer experience-related measures are brand-critical because they identify key factors that impact a customer’s perception of experience, and can directly impact the brand image.
Areas to evaluate:
· Service level – To obtain service level percentages, track and analyze how quickly the contact center agents respond to inbound customer queries.
· First-contact resolution – Also expressed as a percentage, this KPI gauges how effectively and frequently issues are resolved on the first point of consumer contact.
· Average handle time – Handle times, calculated by minutes per call, can help determine how adept the customer service associate is at understanding the customer request and taking appropriate action. It may also serve as an indicator that individual agents may require additional support, training, or coaching in the pursuit of customer excellence.
All of these key variables inform the customer’s perception around the willingness of the organization to make it right. This has a direct impact on customer re-visit, re-purchase, and brand recommendation rates.
Measures of Productivity
Productivity pertains primarily to insourced contact centers and relates to the health of the company’s financial spend. Those managing outsourced relationships should be versed in these measures to ensure they are receiving strong value for their vendor dollar. Here, managers and supervisors should be most concerned with forecast accuracy, contacts per hour, and schedule adherence.
Areas to evaluate:
· Forecast accuracy – Contact center operations are costly, predominately due to the high price of labor to support consumer contact resolution. Forecast accuracy, which is measured as a percentage, ensures that customer service associates are scheduled efficiently with respect to the work:labor ratio.
· Contacts per hour – The number of calls that an agent handles per hour tells the operations staff if agents are executing their work in an effective and efficient manner.
· Schedule adherence and utilization – Monitoring the percentage of time that a schedule is followed and agents are fully utilized can help operations staff maximize productive time and ensure that the organization is paying a reasonable expense for its contact center business.
Measures of Consumer Dialogue
Given that the contact center organization is the frontline for consumer communication and sentiment identification, there is an opportunity to leverage this channel to identify the consumer voice. Equally important is delivering the company’s brand voice to consumers during the interaction.
Areas to evaluate:
· QA standard compliance – A metric used to measure compliance against internal standards. This program entails reviewing customer engagement, call handling mechanics, resolution, and issue identification strategies to ensure agents are correctly engaging customers and doing so in the most positive brand manner.
· Contact type trend rate deviation – By measuring trends in specific dialogue types over months or quarters, companies can proactively identify satisfaction challenges with specific business operations or identify new trends in consumer concerns.
· Post-call survey (Net Promoter) – It is critical that a company hears directly from its customers about the service being offered within the contact center to ensure it is meeting all of the customer engagement requirements and driving the highest level of customer loyalty and retention. A post-call survey allows customers to relate their experiences and serves as a rich field of feedback for enhancing contact center processes and tailoring the brand voice.
KPIs are necessary to keep a contact center’s performance in check and maintain the highest level of service. Regardless of the KPIs that organizations choose to use, they need to be clear on the overall objective to establish what they are looking to accomplish as a business, whether it is maximizing profits, maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction, recruiting new talent, driving new business, or all of these things. Only then can managers devise and execute upon a plan that addresses each area of the goal.
Ryan Stewart is general manager at Market Force Information
Edited by Maurice Nagle