Who has ever heard the saying, “You can’t measure what you don’t track?”
It’s true for many aspects of life and even more applicable in the call center industry.
As agents work diligently to solve their problems efficiently and effectively, the temptation for managers to stand behind their agents and not-so-subtly micromanage each moment must be resisted. It’s not going to help – and they can’t stand behind everyone.
Still though, managers, directors and up all need hard data in the form of the right call center KPIs. It’s what separates hopes, dreams and fears from reality – good data builds a complete, accurate picture of where operations succeed (and where they need a kick in the pants).
At the same time, the old hands know that KPIs can be deceiving; A “star” agent could be taking shortcuts to put up remarkable numbers while an “underachieving” agent might be one or two adjustments from unlocking their superhero powers.
Today we’ll review the must-watch call center KPIs that uncover grey areas in call center operations – and reveal the heroes in your operation.
Wise Managers Track These 6 Call Center KPIs
1. After Call Work Time
Any high-level manager knows they need to vigilantly track their agents after call work (ACW) time.
That’s because most agents must engage in ACW after every caller interaction – meaning it can quickly account for much of a contact center’s overall work time.
ACW includes post-call activities like…
- Recording the customer’s reason for calling
- Recording the call’s outcome
- Scheduling follow-up calls and next actions
- Handling work can be completed after the call, rather than placing the customer on hold
Ideally, agents should be wrapping up ACW quickly so they can be available for the next call.
That’s where overseeing this KPI can get tricky.
An agent’s ACW time could show a quick turnaround, but upon further inspection reveal they neglected to finish the work they are obligated to do. This can be a reason for great aftercall times – since work checkups are spot checks, and post-process work is difficult to track, be wary of this process.
If you bust an agent with this problem, there’s almost always a reason for that doesn’t add up to “lazy” (although you should address why they weren’t being transparent about the issue – are they afraid to seek help? If so, why?) Further questions for aftercall concerns could be: Were they properly trained on their processes? Or, are they so focused on meeting other KPI expectations they’ve neglected ACW?
Do they know the tricks and benefits of completing most ACW during a caller interaction? One of the great skills of an agent is the ability to work, banter, and collect useful information as they talk.
Whatever the reason, managers and agents can work together to achieve the optimal ACW time that builds on agents’ strengths while strengthening call center performance.
Do you have an agent who has flawless, short ACW? Make them a trainer or build a training on their call-handling superpowers.
2. Short Handle Time
While smart managers use a variety of KPIs to identify strong spots and areas of opportunity, a KPI like average handle time (AHT) could fit into both categories.
AHT measures the length of a customer interaction from the time a customer initiates the call until completion, including wait time, talk time, and hold time.
Establishing a short handle time is on any high-achieving agent’s mind. That usually means they are expertly handling caller questions and dilemmas.
The agent might have expert knowledge handling a majority of call questions and a superior command on the call center system.
On the other hand, it could also mean these agents are quickly trying to “solve” caller issues at the expense of service. These agents mainly focus on a number, not the customer.
From the experience of our researchers, you will want to keep an eye on your number one performer. Just because they are a star pupil doesn’t mean they aren’t cheating. Our experience in the call center industry has seen numerous stories of top performers gaming the system, shortchanging customers and making their managers look bad.
It’s also why managers shouldn’t automatically get down on an agent for a higher handle time.
It’s totally unintuitive – we know. But human beings are emotional creatures. If you see someone with long handle time, it can mean a few things: they aren’t well trained (but they are committed to giving good service), they are well trained but they are slacking (easily identifiable with screen capture integrations), or they are well trained but they are encountering an issue with their system, environment or personal performance.
3. Schedule Adherence
Are agents working when they’re supposed to be? That’s what the schedule adherence KPI tells the manager.
Agents with low schedule adherence could also be late, leave early, and take breaks that are too long. Another common tactic for these agents is to switch their status to “busy” even if they aren’t helping callers.
Ooh – that’s dirty pool!
All of this is a sure sign of agent burnout or another unresolved issue, which is always worth exploring. Maybe certain agents aren’t meant for the call center industry. Perhaps they’re doing too much. Maybe they need a shift change or need to find a solution to their personal issues.
On the bright side, those agents with high schedule adherence are your go-getters. Managers need to work with them to develop their superhero powers and catapult them to the next level.
They are committed. They care. And despite any tough conversations or lousy performance days, they continue to show up. Those are the valuable agents’ managers want to keep around year after year.
4. High Transfer Rate
A transfer rate measures the percentage of calls transferred between agents from the total number of calls received. A high transfer rate is an alarming call center KPI, on its face.
It might mean the agent doesn’t have the training to satisfy and solve the caller’s problems, so they avoid the situation by transferring it to another agent.
This is a surefire way to decrease customer satisfaction and increase the abandonment rate. After all, once the initial agent transfers the call, they could be on hold before reaching another agent. Next step: repeating themselves to the next person… Don’t make a caller explain their issue again.
We could have put this at the #1 spot in the list. Why? High transfer rates are a virus for your whole team – or someone else’s. When a customer is frustrated with a call, they might provide a review of their service after the call is complete. When that happens, it is the last agent in line who gets the bad review. This throws off all of your reporting, shines a false bad light on different teams and agents, and helps a dishonest agent get ahead. Don’t waste your raises!
In short, low transfer rates point to your go-to agents. Find them. Grow them. Everyone wins.
5. High Net Promoter Score
As we’re learning today, managers who only look at their most common call center KPIs and focus on the expected metrics could be missing the forest for the trees.
Specifically, managers could mistake efficiency for effectiveness.
For example, what if call center KPIs showed amazing results but didn’t add up when compared to the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS)?
Here’s where a manager must sift through the data and take a nuanced approach.
An agent could have the highest first call resolution (FCR) and the shortest AHT, but what if customers came away from the conversation satisfied enough but not wowed?
Feeling like the agent didn’t care that much despite them sufficiently answering their question?
This situation could affect a company’s NPS.
One article is calling NPS into question, citing its potential to “incentivize undesirable behavior.” They also mention that it doesn’t account for younger people leaving more reviews. However, if they wouldn’t refer, they wouldn’t refer. Stick to this metric!
They do, however, make a valid point that NPS measure intention and not known behavior. However, customers know what these surveys are for and dole out their ratings accordingly!
Our experience in the world of fielding calls is that customers have no quid-pro-quo benefit to gain from leaving an unwanted (or begged-for) positive review.
6. Speech Analytics
Speech analytics is an essential but overlooked call center KPI in a manager’s tool belt. It helps to flag unacceptable language, emotional queues, dead silence (eek!), and words that should automatically trigger a manager review of the call.
But speech analytics can also be used to research and go in-depth on agent’s other KPI scores. Let’s say an agent is suffering in other KPIs but top-notch in their disclosures department. In passing, that agent appears to be losing the call center money.
In reality, that same agent could be saving the call center money through their diligence in maintaining compliance.
This applies perfectly in a sales environment. If disclosures and compliance processes around agreeing for a sale, addressing concerns, etc. aren’t fully handled – sales team managers are cringing before the end of this sentence – that means the manager likely has to cancel the sale, call the customer back and manually refund their money.
All closed sales should have a speech analytics review to ensure the sale is legit and followed all legal department compliance requirements.
This goes twice for medical!
Switch to Cloud-based Call Center Software to Unleash Agent’s Superhero Powers
Call center managers who stay on top of their call center KPIs give their agents and operation the best chance of success.
But managers who track agent KPIs using inefficient on-premises call center systems will soon be left behind.
Whether it’s due to its relatively low cost and extraordinary capabilities, cloud-based systems are the present and future for all call center operations.
Gathering and analyzing KPIs is just the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, TCN’s offers one of the best cloud-based software suites in the industry. For call centers anywhere, it’s like purchasing a one-way ticket to tripling their profits and productivity.
Even better: the TCN software suite requires no contracts and no equipment beyond a computer with a headset.
So learn how to ditch that old, bloated, inefficient on-premises system and upgrade to a cloud-based solution in our free case study, “Using TCN to Triple Profit.”
Download the free case study today and discover all call center possibilities!