Choosing the important metrics in a plethora of KPIs and indicators can be overwhelming. As a result, most supervisors and managers keep track of a handful of KPIs and focus solemnly on their variances.

Indicators are important and insightful, but they give you a small scope of the contact center’s overall performance. If we see a team through the same lenses all the time, there’s a risk that we might be missing the big picture.

Let’s talk about the 5 metrics that should be a part of Contact Centers analysis. This article is focused on inbound call centers.

1. AHT- Average Handle Time

We are starting with this one because it’s a widely used indicator, but it also raises doubts and misunderstandings.

Average Handle Time is the average length of a customer interaction in the call center, from start start to finish- from call initiation, to hold time, to talk time, and all the way through the tasks that the agent must do after the end of the call, such as writing the outcome of the interaction.

In the table below, we see what typically happens when someone calls to a customer service phone line and the respective KPIs.

Table with KPIS
Average handle time

Why is AHT important?

Lower AHT can be equivalent to better use of resources. Shorter calls imply more calls per agent and more revenue. This KPI can be very useful to understand service level, team efficacy and to detect if any agent needs additional training to quickly resolve customer’s issues.

Warning! Service speed is not service quality.

AHT must be carefully analyzed.

Less AHT means more calls per agent and it can be tempting to rush agents to reduce it. But hurry customers over the phone can have drastic effects – customers can end confused and dissatisfied. They might need to call again, which will impact on other KPIs, such as FCR (First Contact Resolution). Measuring agents by speed, not customer outcomes, might come at the cost of customer satisfaction.

How can I optimize and reduce AHT?

Frequently, common problems affect AHT: agents need to flip between different computer systems or platforms, computer systems are slow, and the agent has no access to client history. To reduce AHT you should focus on:

  • Fast devices, good internet connection. This should be a priority in every call center – infrastructure must not affect performance or customers.
  • Intuitive, unified platform for agents. Obsolete, confuse platforms with diffuse information make everything harder for agents. If all the information is properly accessible and easily consulted, everything goes smoother and faster.
  • Solid training. Agents must have a deep knowledge of what they are talking about. If the training is good, the agents’ responses will be quick and convenient. Bear in mind that struggling with the client’s doubts is normal at the beginning.
  • Up to date, user-friendly Support Portal. Many customer questions can be answered in a FAQ, knowledge base or support portal. Redirecting customers to a webpage with the information they need is time-saving for both parties.
  • Intelligent Routing. This feature understands the customer inquiry thanks to artificial intelligence. It queues and routes the inquiry to the right agent or service, based on a set of rules. By implementing this in a call center AHT reduces and customer satisfaction increases because it’s no longer necessary to be transferred or on hold.

2. FCR- First Call resolution

First Call Resolution is a KPI that measures the rate of issue resolution in the first interaction. Customers appreciate having their issues solved right away and resolving them in a call only drives satisfaction and saves the call center’s resources. To calculate FCR, take the number of issues that are resolved in a single call by the total number of customer’s issues raised in the same period.

Why is FCR important for call centers?

A high FCR means that operating costs are minimized. On the other hand, a low FCR means the contact center is wasting resources on processes that are not efficient.

On top of that, this metric impacts on customer satisfaction: higher first call resolution rate reflects on more positive customer experience (and therefore, higher customers’ lifetime value (CLTV)).

This metric is closely linked with AHT: if AHT reduces and FCR increases, that means that customers’ calls are not being answered satisfactorily.

How to Improve FCR

  • Intuitive and advanced Call Center software. To improve FCR agents must have access to all the information and context about the customer, and tools to resolve the issue. Agent routing capabilities, artificial intelligence and automation are all very useful to enhance every call flow and assure higher FCR.
  • Centralized Information. Flipping between platforms or call transference should be avoided. Agents must have a handy system that displays transversal services, like billing and technical support, without facing roadblocks.
  • Identification of customer journeys and call routing. Common doubts and customer queries must be considered to predict the customer’s next steps. Call routing delivers each issue to the right agent.

3. NPS- Net Promoter Score

This KPI is fully based on one simple question: rate your experience on a scale of 1 to 10. On this scale, 1 is the worst score and 10 is the best one.

The NPS survey question has its variances, but it usually goes like this: “To what extent would you recommend this brand, company, product, service or agent to your colleagues, family and friends?”

After this question is answered by the client, a second one can be triggered. This second part is an optional follow-up, with an open-ended question as to why the specific score was given.

For telephone interactions, NPS is usually made at the end of the call and it’s often optional. The customer attributes the grade point with the phone’s keyboard.

NPS can be used in multiple channels, such as email, chat bots and social media.

Why is NPS important as a KPI?

According to a research of the London School of Economics, an average NPS growth of 7% correlates with a 1% growth in revenue.

NPS provides valuable information directly from clients. It can be used to get more customers and increase their loyalty. It’s a very valuable insight to improve call center performance and customer satisfaction.

The NPS has become an instrument of customer satisfaction management for thousands of companies around the world.

NPS measurements: score points explained

It is understood that users who vote a 9 or a 10 are very happy with the service, so they are considered promoters of the company. They are loyal customers.

From 8 to 6, customers are considered passive, or neutral.

Bellow that grade point, the customer is clearly unhappy about the company or service and it’s considered a detractor. This kind of customer will probably avoid the company and will talk negatively about the experience they had with everyone they know.

How can I improve call center NPS?

To improve NPS rate the best thing to do is to hear the costumers and understand what can be improved. Some useful steps are:

  • Considerer your AHT and FCR. Customers like their issues to be resolved in a timely manner, and high AHT or low FCR can be a culprit of low NPS.
  • Learn with every score. Promoters feedback is as valuable as detractors and passives. Mapping where are the strong points and the weak ones can be a good start to draw a strategy for NPS improvement.
  • How about training? Highly trained agents represent the best of your company and provide the best assistance.
  • Be reachable! Clients appreciate when they can be assisted in the chats they use daily. Using Facebook and WhatsApp as a customer service channel is highly valorized by customers. For more info, check this article about how Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are changing customer experience

4. NBA- Next Best Action

The next best action in a call center means the action that is suggested by the agent to the customer after the initial issue is resolved.

For instance, the customer calls a travel agency to book a flight. After helping with the flight, the next best action would probably be to suggest booking a room.

The next best action can be an opportunity to refer to a service or product that fits the customer profile or complements and adapts in the current conversation, encouraging up-selling or cross selling. In this case, it can be referred to as the next best offer.

However, NBA can be much more than an offer; it’s a tool to engage and promote loyalty. In this case, NBA can also be called “Next best experience”. It can be an action like setting an alert for a follow-up call, set a notification, sending a thank you message, email an educational piece of content to the user, or any other activity that serves to enhance the customer’s relationship with the brand.

Some organizations see NBA not as a KPI but as a process that can help with other KPIs. For instance, after implementing a NBA strategy, a call center can measure how many of the best actions were implemented, how many had positive outcomes or the percentage of unsuccess. In this case, the contact center could use NBA rate implementation or NBA success as KPIs.

Why is NBA important?

Next Best Action as a KPI means a strong focus on customer needs and desires. Besides being an opportunity for sales, NBA is a tool to promote engagement, retention and to leverage customer satisfaction indexes.

NBA can also be valuable to predict and forecast leads and market trends.

How to implement and Measure Next Best Action

In the call center system interface, the agent has access to the customer info and context. Agents can check the client’s past behavior, recent actions, interests and desires. NBA should cross the individual profile with the organization’s marketing goals to identify the most effective action.

Implementation and measurement of NBA requires a data-oriented approach.
To create a NBA strategy, it’s necessary to address the company’s goals, typify the customer’s profile and plan the next best action actions for each case. NBA should be tailored to the customer’s personas and profile.

Intelligent software can predict the path to purchase and identify the next best step to do. A set of possible NBAs are suggested to the agent and he/ she must choose the most adequate to deliver an individualized NBA.

To implement such a strategy it’s necessary to go beyond Contact Center Software. Each company has different objectives and an NBA process may require actions that are not in the standard contact center software features and require professional services.

5. Abandon Rate

Call abandonment is when the customer hangs up before an agent can take the call or as an agent is answering. The abandon rate KPI is the percentage of inbound phone calls that are abandoned by the caller before speaking to an agent.
Any call abandon rate that is over 5 percent is considered to be worrying and in need of improvement.

Why is Abandon Rate important

A high abandon rate can damage the brand’s reputation. Abandon calls can be missed opportunities, they show customer dissatisfaction and should be seen as lost revenue.

How to reduce Abandon rates

Call center’s abandon rates vary according to the industry. In any case, the best way to reduce the abandonment is to identify when most of the callers are leaving. Check below some tips:

  • IVR is important. Accurate, accessible and empathetic messages reduce abandonment.
  • Staff levels. Long waiting time is the main reason for customer’s call abandonment. Some call centers experience piques of activity in specific periods of the year. Marketing campaigns can increase the number of calls. Call center management must be prepared to adapt the number of agents for those periods and forecast needs.
Please note that some KPIs require professional services to be set. For more information on KPIs measurement and implementation, feel free to reach out to our team- marketing@collab.com. We’re happy to help 🙂
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