Effective performance management is essential to business success. And, in the long run, survival. Notes McKinsey: “Through both formal and informal processes, [performance management helps companies] align their employees, resources, and systems to meet their strategic objectives. It works as a dashboard too, providing an early warning of potential problems and allowing managers to know when they must make adjustments to keep a business on track.”
In this article, we dive into a roster of performance management metrics your management team can monitor and track through our powerful hosted call center solution.
Performance Management Metric: Speed of Answer/Response Time
This measures the average time it takes agents to answer inbound calls (including calls in the queue). It is perhaps the most fundamental, and certainly among the most important, call center analytics.
Why Is It So Important?
Research has found that, on average, customers abandon their call after waiting on hold for 2 minutes and 36 seconds. However, in many cases, this duration is far shorter — especially when comparing prospective customers vs. existing customers. Whereas the latter may tolerate a longer hold period (because they need a question answered or support and cannot go to another source), the former is much more likely to check out and head to the competition.
Using our cloud-based call center solution helps you know — rather than “guess” — your agents’ speed of answer/response time. Once you are equipped with this reliable business intelligence, you can ensure that it is within the benchmark range for your industry/marketplace. That is vital for meeting customer expectations, and providing seamless customer experience along the entire end-to-end customer journey.
Performance Management Metric: Service Level
This measures the percentage of calls that get answered within a specific timeframe. Timeframes are measured in months, weeks, days, hours, etc. It is typically expressed as: “X% of calls answered within Y [duration].”
Generally, the service level for contact centers is 80/20. This means that 80% of inbound calls should be answered by call center agents within 20 seconds.
Why Does It Matter?
Tracking this metric helps you see if the service level (as defined above) is consistent or fluctuating — and if it is the latter, why this happens. This happens when agents are overwhelmed with questions but have no answers. Or, there may not be enough agents available.
Conversely, there may be too many agents during certain days or shifts. While this may be great for customer experience, it is not cost-effective for your company. It may be much more productive and profitable to cut back on staffing. Or, during certain periods, reallocating agents to other high-value activities. For example, updating customer details in the database, monitoring the queue callback board, etc.
Performance Management Metric: Average Talk Time
This is a measure of how long it takes agents on average to solve a customer query. Another name for this metric is average handle time.
Generally, the average talk time benchmark for call center operations is 10 minutes, with 5-7 minutes being considered “good.” Of course, this is not a definitive standard. Depending on a variety of factors, the average talk time in an industry or marketplace could be significantly higher. For example, companies that sell highly technical products or services to B2B customers may find that the average talk time for their customer support team is 30+ minutes, and may involve multiple calls.
Why Does It Matter?
Spending quality time talking — and especially listening — to customers is pivotal for customer satisfaction. Indeed, as sales team professionals have wisely said for decades: “the more you tell, the more you sell!”
However, your agents may be spending too much time communicating with customers. Whether prospective or current customers, this can be a significant red flag for individual or group agent productivity. For example, it could mean that agents need more product/service training, or coaching on how to make customer communication more efficient, while at the same time ensuring the experience is pleasant and positive for customers.
Performance Management Metric: Calls Handled/Forwarded
This is a measure of the number of calls that agents successfully manage themselves, and therefore do not have to route to a colleague (which can include call center supervisors). Another name for this metric is call transfer rate.
Why Does It Matter?
If you look at things from your customer’s point of view (which is always wise and ultimately profitable!), it is easy to understand why this metric is so important.
Simply put, customers don’t like “bouncing around” from agent to agent; especially if they have to explain their issue over and over again. A good call center solution minimizes the frequency and volume of transferred calls is critical for solid customer relationship management. It is also a big benefit for your agents who spend less time dealing with frustrated (and in some cases, furious!) customers.
Performance Management Metric: Agent Idle Time
This is a measure of the average time that agents spend waiting to answer incoming calls. The result is agents not working on other relevant activities (e.g., post-call follow-up tasks).
Why Does It Matter?
You don’t want agents to be idle, whether they work in the same building or remotely. Does this mean that you need to end idleness at all costs in pursuit of high agent productivity? Of course not!
Sure, excessive and chronic agent idle time is definitely a problem. But on a practical level, allowing some minimal idleness means that agents are available to take the next call. If agents are always (or almost always) speaking with customers, then it is very likely that new calls will go into the queue. As a result, this leads to diminished speed of answer/response time, and reduced customer satisfaction. Furthermore, subjecting agents to an endless stream of calls with zero idleness is a recipe for burnout and turnover — which is not just unpleasant on a personal level, but also very costly on a company level.
Ultimately, you need to find the “sweet spot” that optimizes agent productivity, while at the same time optimizes agent availability to handle incoming calls. Finding this balance takes benchmarking, monitoring, and adjusting.
At Carolina Digital Phone, our cloud contact center solution empowers you to boost both employee performance and customer satisfaction. With customizable dashboards and separate views for supervisors and agents, our call center solution delivers real-time analytics and real-time reporting about your call center’s daily operations, including all of the key metrics described above.
Call us today for your FREE no-obligation demo and consultation at (336) 544-4000.