Contact Center Metrics that Matter

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Contact Center Metrics that Matter

Contact centers thrive on performance metrics. Yet while standard metrics like average speed of answer (ASA), average handle time (AHT), hold time, and abandon rate are still widely accepted, they aren’t always relevant beyond phone-based transactions. As new communications channels like SMS and social media emerge, however, and as customer service efficiency is redefined, new performance metrics are gaining traction.

Here are some of the metrics that acknowledge and address the changing attitudes, objectives and definition of the contemporary contact center. Already, these and other similarly new measurements are transforming the focus toward results that will improve customer service levels — dramatically.

Voice of the Customer

Going to the source and asking the customers how they rate their service experience positions VoC to carry considerable weight. But according to decision makers in the contact center, this approach poses two challenges. The first is that some metrics to gauge customer satisfaction, such as Net Promoter Score, are too generalized to have meaning and be actionable. This is a fair point, although the ability to slice VoC data more granularly is available, and is integral to putting such data to good use.

The second challenge is getting a sufficient number of survey responses to make VoC information reliable and statistically accurate. Given the survey overload among consumers these days, and the unwillingness of many consumers to participate in post-service surveys, contact centers must simplify their surveying methods to generate larger sample sizes. (This is often easier to do in high-transaction consumer companies, such as retailers.) With an appropriate survey sample size, the information is applicable to measure the contact center’s overall performance, rather than that of individual agents.

First Contact Resolution

First Contact Resolution (FCR), still termed First Call Resolution in some circles, is the new average handle time. Although FCR might take more of an agent’s time, it largely eliminates the duplication of effort if a customer’s issue isn’t resolved in the first contact. While there aren’t yet any generally accepted standards for performance measurement relative to FCR, customer survey is one method contact centers currently use to gauge FCR. Speech analytics also offers a means of capturing FCR via the analysis of calls taken by agents. (To capture data from non-voice transactions like SMS and chat, solutions such as text analytics are slowly emerging to fill that gap.)

Sales per Contact/per Hour

For some contact centers, the sale of products comprise the entire objective of the center, or at least some portion of its purpose. The trap that many of these centers fall into is over-simplifying the metric and just measuring total sales and sales per agent. In reality, agents are often pulled in multiple directions — training, follow up, product resolution, and so on. Sales per contact/per hour therefore is a more appropriate metric. This refined form of measurement gives management a better look at how effective the agent is at selling product during each conversation. Better, it removes the ambiguity often introduced by non-selling activities. When coupled with results for total sales per agent, sales per contact/per hour delivers a much greater level of detailed information actionable by management.

Transactions per Headcount

Transactions per Headcount (TPH) is a relatively new metric that for many contact centers is replacing standard sales performance metrics. TPH is reflective of two distinct characteristics that weren’t necessarily true only a few years ago. First, transactions in today’s contact center take all forms: telephone calls, emails, chat, faxes, snail mail and others. Second, rather than just agents, the entire customer service group is responsible for the success of customer contacts and transactions. Nor are transactions measured on an hourly basis (as are calls per representative); they are rolled into monthly averages, and then into sales or transactions per head. This way, success is consistently measured at the contact center level rather than the individual representative level.

Associate Satisfaction

Top producing contact centers pay close attention to the satisfaction levels of their agents. This metric is based on the premise that agents who are satisfied in their role offer a better service experience to the customer. Contented agents also help stem turnover, and lend to a more experienced workforce delivering a higher level of service. Associate Satisfaction is best measured using these four factors: 1) agent satisfaction scores; 2) availability, measured in customer time/staff time; 3) agent satisfaction, measured through the eyes of the customer; and 4) agent attrition rate.

Social Media

This is arguably the most interesting category of valuable new metrics, in that social media as a customer service tool is defining itself in real-time, with the rules of engagement established on the fly. For the “social” customer experience, three distinct metrics qualify as ones that matter most.


This metric serves as a means of justifying a social media engagement and measuring the impact the engagement has on customer relations. In and of itself, Recovery is not intended to measure changes in customer behavior — it’s to let the customer know the contact center is listening to them, and to track when a social media engagement changes from negative to positive.

Tweets to Resolution

The objective here is to track the number of tweets exchanged in the course of a customer care conversation, or more specifically, to track the number of tweets exchanged to a pre-determined limit before changing the communication strategy to get the problem resolved. For instance, the contact center can eventually initialize a phone call or a Facebook (News - Alert) private message with customers to resolve their issues, and then post the positive outcome on social networks.

First Social Contact Resolution

First Social Contact Resolution (FSCR) might seem similar to First Contact Resolution (FCR). But considering the consumers who flock to social media for customer service (opposed to the phone or email), FSCR is very different. In essence, most “social” customers turn solely to social networks to voice their opinions about a company and its products and services, usually regarding a poor service experience. Conversely, traditionally-minded customers still call or email, and turn to social media only as a last resort when their issue goes unresolved. In any case, contact centers should look at social media contact without regard to past communications. The objective is to solve the customer’s issue with the initial exchange of social media posts. And while the measurement of success for this metric is not as clear-cut as with other social media metrics, the outcome is equally important.

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Edited by Alisen Downey
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