Contact Center Metrics – Setting the Foundation

By Chris Recio, Dir. Contact Center & Advanced Applications

To start off our Art of Reporting Series, we’ll dive in to one of the most common metric that the industry looks to: Service Level and Response Time. This is a critical metric for setting goals within the contact center. This metric sets the performance standard and expectation among the contact center operations team. Communicating this KPI must be understood by all in order to achieve any level of success.

The industry guideline is 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds – 80/20. Simply put, the service level is a percentage of calls answered within a given time period. It is usually expressed as 70/30, or 80/20. This means: 70% of calls answered within 30 seconds or less, or 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds or less – our second example. Simple enough to understand and often misunderstood.

Setting this metric does not mean that you will achieve this result in every moment throughout the work day. It does, however, set up a benchmark for performance and can offer insight into the customer experience. There are times throughout the day when callers must be queued – it’s the nature of odds really. However, this metric is a fairly good indication of overall performance of the contact center and gives the contact center insight into probable customer experience – at least as it relates to expediency in making contact with an agent or customer service rep.

When dissected by half-hour, by hour, and by agent, it does offer you the ability to isolate where your contact center is falling short or perhaps which agent is falling short of performance that may be hampering overall achievement.

In reviewing this metric you may find opportunities for the following: a closer look at agent shift start/stop times, agent cross-training opportunities, agent coaching opportunities, to name a few.

This metric is often misunderstood due in part in how the result is calculated. For example, if the Service Level goal is 80/20, this is 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds. If we were reaching this goal we are at 100% attainment. However, many viewers will read a result of 86% as successful, which is incorrect. This points out that we have hit our target 86% of the time. So there is room for improvement. This metric is an absolute in the context of any contact center in my opinion.

In reviewing many client reports, the overall performance and ability to maintain consistency throughout the day is often hampered by 1 or 2 hours of unsatisfactory performance. What I often see is in the early part of a shift or the latter part of the day is where the service level really takes a hit. While the contact center may be consistent from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., there are often easily identifiable times where a bad start or lackluster finish can dismantle the best efforts throughout the day.

This is often resolved by making strategic decisions to avoid the shortfall, such as: having agents start their shift 30 minutes sooner, or ending their shifts 30 minutes later. This does not require overtime, but simply, a shift from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is redefined as 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., as an easy example, and this may be only necessary for one or two agents to allow for sufficient coverage. Another item to consider is how agent breaks and lunches overlap and stagger.

Of course, there are tools uniquely designed to accomplish this process using historical data, and we will save that for another time and discussion. Surprisingly, there are many contact center operations that have yet to adopt such applications.

Make sure to check back on the blog each Monday this month and learn more about these topics related to reporting. At Inflow Communications, we are always looking for application nuances that dramatically impact operational efficiencies for the contact center. We look for creative ways to marry the operational needs with technology. Our goal is to help our clients achieve their goals with common sense and practical applications.

About Inflow

Founded in 1997, Inflow is one of the nation’s top Unified Communications and Contact Center consultants in today’s market. Pioneers in cloud unified communications and cloud contact center success, Inflow is the first company to provide contact center consulting and training focused solely on helping you elevate your customer experience.

With over 200,000 endpoints supported under Inflow’s innovative success programs around the world, Inflow built its brand and reputation around providing unrivaled customer support. Inflow is in Mitel/ShoreTel’s top 2% in global customer satisfaction, and quickly acquiring a top spot with RingCentral, Genesys PureCloud and NICE inContact.

By partnering with Inflow, you can expect the highest level of strategic consultation, execution, and optimization available in the industry.