Businesses thrive or perish based on their acceptance by consumers. The ultimate test of success for a business is building its brand up to a point where all of your existing customers stay loyal, and you keep gaining new customers who trust your brand.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) thus forms a key element in the operational procedures of a business. Businesses must keep in mind what their customers want and how best to satisfy those demands so as to retain these clients and see a steady increase in sales.
With growing insight into the demands and requirements of customers, call center software have come up to monitor certain identified metrics which show a detailed picture of how customers are reacting to the company operations and what can be done to keep them satisfied.
These metrics are a measure of the efficiency of the call center agents as well, since they are the ones directly interacting with the clients.
These metrics of evaluations are called Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and they help to highlight the opportunities for optimization of techniques so as to ensure the customer loyalty.
With time, traditional KPIs have been replaced by more nuanced metrics, training agents to look at any situation from the customer’s perspective rather than the company’s, to try and find out exactly where the doubts arise and provide clarifications accordingly.
“Every great business is built on friendship”, said J.C. Penney. Jerry Bruckner, author of the highly acclaimed ‘The Success Formula For Social Growth’, adds that businesses should strive to “Go beyond merely communicating to ‘connecting’ with people.”
This is the primary principle behind the evaluation of KPIs. They shows the path to establishing a deeper connection with every customer individually, and outline what must be done to achieve that goal. Monitoring your KPIs constantly gives you the most comprehensive idea of the performance of a business.
It has become clear over the period of time to managers of all call center operations that tracking and monitoring KPIs is essential to success.
What remains slightly blurry, however, is which of these performance indicators actually provide the clearest view. This article will talk of some of the most useful KPIs to monitor, and how these KPI values can be interpreted to track success.
1. One of the most crucial KPIs to keep in mind is the percentage of calls blocked. This is a measure of the number of people who called in but could not reach an agent, either because the call volume at that point of time was too high, or because there were not enough agents manning the phones, or due to a technical glitch.
Every missed call is potentially a missed opportunity, which is why call centers must try to keep this percentage down as low as possible.
2. Another key performance indicator is the average waiting time for each caller. This tells you how long a customer has to wait in queue before his call is being answered by an agent.
Having to wait for a higher amount of time negatively affects customer satisfaction and leads to more disconnected calls. Thus this KPI shows whether or not customers are getting the prompt service that they deserve, and whether the team of call center employees is equipped to provide that service or not.
3. Average Handle Time refers to the amount of time elapsed between when an agent picks up the call and when he disconnects it.
This means the total call time that the agent spends talking to the customer. This KPI value reveals many aspects of the operation – how efficiently a call center agent can deal with the queries of the customer, how many calls an agent can take within a time frame, how many of the customers are satisfied with the answers they get, etc.
4. Average After-call Work Time is another metric that highlights the efficiency of call center employees. In most cases, the agent’s job does not finish when the call is disconnected. There are notes to be compiled, databases to be updated, updates to be sent to the teammates and supervisors, labels to be attached, etc.
All of this has to be done after taking a call and before taking the next call, which means it eats into the time an agent could spend on the phone.
This is why managers turn to technology that can reduce after call work time, so that the agents are more readily available when the call volume spikes up.
5. Call abandonment rate, or the measure of percentage of callers who dial in but are unable to finally get through to an agent, are one of the major KPIs for managers to keep their eyes on.
Abandonment can occur because of call drops, too long queues, abnormal waiting times, shortage of agents or other factors.
For a call center to provide efficient service, this call abandonment rate has to be kept as low as possible. It is important to note that even if one out of every 100 customers is unable to even reach an agent, the call center has the scope for improvement in its service providing metrics.
6. Perhaps the most important KPI to monitor and track success is that of First Call Resolution. This shows the percentage of calls where the agent has been able to successfully answer the entire client’s queries without the need for any follow ups or having to transfer the call to someone else.
This means that issues are being resolved at the very first opportunity, which contributes greatly to the increased customer satisfaction with the company.
This performance indicator is generally at the top of the list for managers looking to monitor day to day operations.
7. Agent absenteeism is a measure of the number of days a year lost due to the agents being absent, as a ratio of the number of working days.
This KPI drives the way of task scheduling and staffing which is carried out. Absenteeism cannot be absolutely prevented, because people are allowed days off for the various reasons.
Therefore, the managers must come up with a schedule such that these absent employees can be covered for, and business can go on as usual without any inadequacy because of the missing agents on that particular day.
8. The metric Service Level measures how many calls are being answered as a percentage of total number of calls coming in, within a specific time frame.
This is directly related to the efficiency of the call center. A call center that is able to maximize its service level is one which is able to handle almost all the calls that come in at that specific period of time.
A good service level indicates proper scheduling, enough agents and good training, while a bad service level means quick improvements are required in those areas.
9. Customer satisfaction is a KPI that is an amalgamation of many smaller metrics. For call centers, customer satisfaction is of paramount importance, thus they pay huge attention to the score they get in this KPI.
Customer surveys are often conducted to gauge the level of satisfaction, in addition to various other indicators obtaining quality assurance measurements.
10. One of the most important call center KPIs that should find a place in every manager’s list is Agent Turnover Rate.
At the end of the day, the amount of business generated takes precedence over all other factors in a competitive market.
Agent Turnover Rate talks of the number of agents who leave the call center and join a rival company or work in some other field.
This affects customer satisfaction because customers expect their subsequent calls to be connected to someone who has the knowledge of their previous interactions.
Keeping the turnover rate down is one of the key challenges for the management of call centers to keep their agents satisfied and yet efficient at the same time.
The Case Study
The underlying objective of constructive key performance indicators is to outline the business objectives and then build quantifiable metrics to evaluate the progress towards those objectives.
Each company may have a slightly different approach to the values of certain KPIs, but the basic principles remain the same – increase efficiency, decrease abandoned calls, increase customer satisfaction, decrease agent migration, etc.
The KPIs highlighted here are the ones that should be any manager’s priority when looking to optimize operations at their call center.
These simple metrics provide a comprehensive picture into what is going right or wrong at the ground level. In order to show the impact these KPIs can have, take a look at this case study of a real scenario.
To maintain anonymity, we will call the company XYTIS SOLUTIONS. In this example, XYTIS SOLUTIONS is a telemarketer providing call center solutions for an established company.
In this case study, we will talk about the scenario in which XYTIS SOLUTIONS found itself, the challenges it faced leading up to it and what sort of solutions they drew up to get their business back on track.
We will also discuss the sort of effect these changes had once they were implemented, and whether monitoring and tracking KPIs eventually lead to the increased success or not.
The Problem Scenario
XYTIS SOLUTIONS had been in operation for quite a few years, but they find that their growth is stagnating. Over the years they had directed operations based on the general norms rather than on the fluctuations of KPIs.
They now find themselves in a situation where they know, there must be some error somewhere, but they are unable to detect that error and do not know of the tools they can use.
They are looking for call center software solutions that will help them identify their problems and eventually optimize the process to boost sales.
The problems that the company faced are listed below.
1. They were unable to deal with sudden increases in call volume, which lead to customers seeing their calls abandoned, or having to wait too long in queue to get connected to an agent. As a result, leads that could otherwise have been generated were being lost.
2. Key Performance Indicators were not being mapped and shared with employees so they themselves were unable to keep track of their progress.
Without a standard to compare themselves against, the performance of employees was dropping with every passing month.
3. Overall time of the agents was being arbitrarily divided into on-call and after call work. There were no specific efforts made to reduce the after call work time, which is why the efficiency of the call center as a whole was on the decline, since less time was being utilized actually on calls with the customers.
The managers drew up the following solutions to be implemented in order to overcome the challenges they faced.
1. They decided to invest in the best call center software to take decisions based on the trends projected by the key performance indicators.
2. All of the relevant data was shared in real time with all the employees of the call center so that they could take data-driven decisions based on the numbers they saw on their screens and could ensure that the KPIs remain within the accepted limits.
3. Scheduling, staffing and other managerial decisions were taken based on the KPIs that showed data related to the availability and efficiency of agents. This ensured that there was a less chance of experiencing the shortage of agents even if the call volumes went up.
After the changes were implemented, it took the employees two months to come to terms with the changes in operations.
During these two months, productivity did not shoot up as expected. However, for the next 12 months, adhering to the KPIs helped the company see a 10% increase in productivity and 5% greater client retention than the previous year. Moving forward, the values are projected to increase rapidly.
Key performance indicators are an excellent set of metrics to drive your business down the path to success. Any manager with a priority for customer satisfaction, call center efficiency and agent effectiveness should look to KPIs to optimize the performance of their call center.