Discover Contact Center Metrics and Best Practices

Posted by Linda Caudle

3/20/13 3:30 PM


In an increasingly competitive market, your company’s economic well being depends on conducting business in a way that’s smarter than your competitors. Establishing and adhering to a superior benchmark of customer service means having the appropriate technology tools to monitor and assess your contact center interactions. Since the 1970’s, business organizations have been depending on “first generation” contact center metrics.

First generation contact center metrics:
  • Level of service
  • Answer time
  • Adherence
  • Occupancy
  • Abandonment
  • Queue time

There are very specific meanings associated with first generation metrics. The common approach to taking measurements of performance is to chart them over a given period of time and then compare them to a benchmark of peer group performance.

First generation metrics tend to address processes instead of outcomes and, as such, are considered to have certain vulnerabilities. One negative consequence is that the results can lead to management depending too heavily on numbers alone, regardless of the fact that they have little or no connection to the particular goals of the organization.

Typically there are dozens of ways in which contact centers measure their performance in their pursuit of contact center optimization. Unfortunately, very few of these metrics have been shown to impact customer sentiment in any verifiable way.


While it’s critical to identify those factors that affect customer experience, it’s even more important that contact center managers take responsive action to that intelligence in a way that creates desired outcomes.

When customers experience a disappointing interaction with your business, it’s often tied to policies and business practices that put too much emphasis on first generation metrics. Despite the fact that such practices are well meaning, they’re often at the heart of the problem.

Contact centers which are customer oriented should be collecting the following six measurements at minimum:

  • First call resolution
  • Average time to answer
  • IVR abandonment rate
  • Telephone abandonment rate
  • Customer satisfaction levels
  • Agent satisfaction levels

Best Practice: Perhaps the most frustrating of all customer experiences is when the customer is forced to repeat the same information over and over again. After a caller has already entered their account information or otherwise identified themselves, they’ll become reasonably aggravated by being asked to provide the same information yet again to a live agent.

Consider that the technology needed to correctly identify your customers, and pull up their CRM profile on the agents screen, has been in place for more than two decades. Still, far too many contact centers begin the interaction on the wrong foot by requiring a customer confirmation protocol.

Best Practice: It’s important to determine whether asking for a customers address, account number or Social Security number is truly required for all types of calls. Maybe the caller is just trying to get instructions on using their voicemail after signing up with a new phone provider. In that type of scenario, is asking the caller for information that’s already been passed through to the customer service representative going to work to your organization’s advantage or disadvantage?

Best Practice: In order to provide an individualized customer experience, contact center managers will need to enable their agents to distinguish how they should best handle a given call. Many of these calls could better be resolved by allowing for greater flexibility and policies that seek to accommodate the needs and expectations of your customers and agents alike.

With the use of contact center software, there is a vast amount of data that can be used in determining which specific factors result in customers feeling dissatisfied. These data sets can include surveys that measure customer satisfaction as well as calls recorded and tagged for specific keywords. Feedback provided by the call center agents themselves is an invaluable learning resource as well.

Considering the sheer volume of data that can be used in improving customer satisfaction, perhaps the biggest challenge is to separate those calls that stem from minor issues versus those in which there’s considerable client upset.

Best Practice: One of the most significant advantages of speech and data analysis is the power to properly tag and then quantify your contact center interactions so that you can put your focus on the most important issues. some of the more advanced analytics software programs allow call center managers to quickly drill down to the “root cause” of a problem; enabling the measurement of the relative impact of your business practices and customer care levels.

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