A Closer Look at Call Center Metrics in Our Hosted Call Center Solution

When selecting a call center or contact center platform, there may be certain terms or features of which you are unsure. Many platforms display these details in feature lists but do not explain them in detail.

First, let’s talk about call centers vs contact centers. A call center is a facility that offers customer service via phone calls, managed by personnel known as call center agents. A contact center is a department that offers customer service across multiple communication channels.


Various industries, including healthcare, financial services, e-commerce, retail, technology, business process consulting, and business services use call center phone systems. Providing your customers with open communication channels is important. To improve customer service and help your sales team, a robust call center solution is vital.

When selecting a call center or contact center platform for your small business, make sure to evaluate its features carefully.

Important Features

(IVR) Interactive Voice Response

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system uses automated technology to provide an interactive experience for incoming callers. Customers may be able to access information through an IVR feature when they call in. Let’s say a customer calls a retail store to inquire about the remaining balance on a gift card. Customers can select “checking balance” from the menu using the IVR feature, after which they will be prompted to insert their gift card number to view the available remaining balance. This feature enables customers to find answers easily, resulting in fewer calls for your agents.

(ACD) Automatic Call Distribution

Automatic call distribution (ACD) operates in a similar way to an interactive voice response system (IVRS) by providing a menu of options for customers. ACD automatically routes calls to the corresponding agents. Customers are provided with an automated message prompting them to select an option such as “1” for sales or “2” for technical support. A caller who presses “1” connects to a sales representative instead of a customer support agent. This feature can shorten the customer’s wait time, increase customer satisfaction and reduce the duration of calls with an agent who does not have the necessary knowledge.

Virtual Call Center

Cloud software helps create virtual call centers, with benefits like remote staff, more recruitment, and varied shifts. Companies using virtual call centers can increase staff without extra office costs. Businesses gain efficiency, cut costs and boost customer satisfaction.

Contact Center Reporting

To effectively run a call center, managers need to be aware of call center metrics such as inbound call volume, outbound call volume, call trends, and agent efficiency. Knowing these metrics is essential for scheduling and planning for the future. Reporting on common customer calls can help identify gaps in support and uncover potential training opportunities. In addition, call center reports can reveal how customers feel about their interaction with agents, and provide insight into customer satisfaction.

Real-time reporting is an important tool for understanding the performance of your call center. Reports can help you identify areas for improvement and measure agent performance against goals and help your sales team. Additionally, by tracking inbound and outbound call trends over time, managers can identify seasonal or cyclical changes in call volume that require planning to accommodate.

In business, we all know that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” That is why Carolina Digital Phone’s hosted call center solution empowers you to track and optimize a wide range of call center metrics. Below we take a closer look at these:

Average Wait Time (AWT)

AWT is one of the most crucial of all call center metrics. It captures the average duration of all times when a caller is not engaged with a representative (which could be a customer service agent, technical support specialist, etc.).

AWT is generally viewed as a reliable measure of call center handling efficiency. In the call center industry, the traditional AWT standard is 80/20. That means 80% of calls are answered within 20 seconds. Some best practices for reducing AWT include:

  • Increase the number of representatives during high volume periods and historically busy times (e.g., many businesses experience a spike in calls on Monday).
  • Identify the topics for the most frequent calls, and explore ways to proactively provide this information through automated channels (e.g., Auto Attendant, website messaging, etc.).
  • Use Auto Attendant to route callers with complex issues to more knowledgeable and experienced representatives.

Average Handling Time

AHT measures the average duration of an entire customer call experience, from the moment they initiate a call, to when their call is completed. It is important to clarify that AHT is not limited when a representative is actively engaging a customer. Rather, it includes all aspects that might characterize a call, including hold times and transfers.

Some businesses also include after-call work (AWC) in their AHT calculation, which captures the time that representatives take in carrying out post-call activities (e.g., adding notes, scheduling follow-ups, updating customer records, etc.).

AHT is an especially valuable contact center metric because it helps you determine how capable your representatives are at properly handling inquiries. The traditional AHT standard in the call center industry is 6 minutes and 3 seconds. Best practices for reducing AHT include:

  • Analyze the various ways that representatives elicit the same information from customers (e.g., model number, error code, etc.), identify the methods that are the most effective and efficient, and establish them as best practices across the entire roster.
  • Record all calls to identify if additional training could reduce AHT — and consequently, improve customer satisfaction (the less time that callers spend solving problems or getting answers, the happier they are).
  • Use a technique known as signposting, which is when a representative lets callers know what is on the horizon. For example, a representative can say: “In just a few minutes, I will provide you with a reference number for our call, which you may want to write down in case you need to refer to it later.”, the caller is more likely to have a paper/pen handy when the reference number is given vs. search for them later on. Effective and strategic use of signposting can significantly reduce AHT, plus it can make the overall call experience more pleasant for callers. Everyone wins.

Abandon Rate

Abandon rate (also known as abandoned call percentage) captures how many callers disconnect from a call center before they are engaged by a representative.

Calculating the abandon rate is straightforward. Take the number of calls received in a specific period of time, deduct the number of calls handled, divide this amount by the number of calls received, and multiply by 100.

For example, say that a call center received 500 calls in January, and it handled 450 of them. Calculate Abandon Rate as (500 – 450)/500 x 100 = 10%.

A global benchmarking report in 2021 pegged the average abandon rate in the call center industry at 5.91%. Here are some best practices for reducing this call center metric:

  • Add staff and/or adjust schedules (this should also reduce AWT and AHT).
  • Offer a callback option. Research has found that a whopping 63% of customers would rather request a callback vs. wait on hold for any amount of time.
  • Customize a message that provides realistic estimated wait times (callers who are prepared to wait 5-10 minutes are more likely to stay on the line vs. those who expect to only wait 1-2 minutes).

Play very “caller-friendly” music. Research has found that appropriate music (such as these selections) reduces the subjective duration of time spent waiting. For example, a caller can “feel” as if they have only been on hold for 1-2 minutes, when in fact they have been on hold for 5-7 minutes. And that can make all the difference between whether they stay on the line or hang up!

Additional Call Center Metrics

Here are some more call center metrics that you can easily capture, track, and optimize with our hosted call center solution. Maximum Expected Wait Time:

This refers to the longest duration (and not the average duration) that a caller had to wait before speaking with a representative within a specific timeframe. Even the most efficiently-run call centers, with the most prepared and competent representatives, will see their maximum expected wait time climb above the standard. However, it is critical to determine whether these surges are occasional or part of a trend.

Maximum Queue Length:

This refers to the largest volume of callers that are waiting in the queue during a specific timeframe. Similar to the maximum expected wait time, managers and leaders need to analyze this metric for abnormally long queue lengths and trends.

Calls Answered:

This refers to the total number of calls that were answered in a specific period. It is important to keep in mind that “answered” in this context does not mean “picked up.” Rather, it refers to when a representative speaks with a caller in real time.

Call Volume:

This refers to the total number of incoming calls within a specific duration, such as a day, week, month, quarter, etc. As with the call center metrics discussed above, it is useful to analyze this metric to see if a spike or dip in activity is an outlier or signifies a trend. In addition, it can be very illuminating to compare this metric to total sales closed (or some other relevant key performance indicator), to gauge the effectiveness of representatives, and see whether additional hiring or training would be beneficial.

Take a Live Guided Demo

Want to see our hosted call center solution in action and learn it can improve customer experience? Then contact Carolina Digital Phone now and schedule your free live guided demo. Discover all of the advanced features, call center metrics, and customizable parameters which will ensure that you can clearly and confidently “manage what you measure!” — and optimize your call center! Call us now at (336) 544-4400.