Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Measuring What Matters in the Contact Center

September 02, 2014

Managing a contact center is a bit like metal detecting. The manager has a reasonably good idea what he or she is looking for—valuable metal, which easily represents sales—but not only is its location somewhat unknown, so too are the means by which to get it. It's commonly buried under several layers and difficult to spot. But how should contact center managers respond to this difficulty?

A study undertaken on LinkedIn asked a simple question: what are the top three metrics to track? The answers were surprising to say the least, and will likely offer up some welcome insight for those unsure where to start digging.

Managers have several metrics that can be measured when it comes to the contact center; everything from service level to abandon rate, from first call resolution to average speed to answer. It's possible, given current technology, to monitor all of these metrics, but which ones actually should get the monitoring, and which are less likely to produce the desired results?

The LinkedIn study found that service level was a very commonly tracked metric, with many respondents studying this point. Service level is simply a percentage value and a time period measured in seconds, which means that a certain percentage of calls should be answered in a certain number of seconds. But figuring out just what kind of service level a contact center even can generate in the first place—it's easy to say that a service level of 100 /10 is desired, but can it even be done?—takes a lot of analysis and some careful planning.

Others, meanwhile, suggest combining numbers. Solarwinds, for example, combines several metrics to produce a better overall picture of just what's happening in the contact center. For instance, in the above example, it's clear that service level and average time to answer combine well. Solarwinds, also combines things like rep productivity and product complexity. The latter is something to consider since a complex product will take longer to work with, and thus, fewer cases overall will be worked with in a day. Plus, focusing on rep productivity can yield insights since reps may stay away from complex products since dealing with such issues will put a drag on their numbers.

However, one point is perhaps most important: customer satisfaction. If customers are satisfied with a five minute hold that produces first call resolution almost all the time, then the contact center has done its job. If customers are satisfied with a five second hold that results in a lot of bouncing around between departments, same thing.

Realities are that while the metrics matter the customer matters more than the metrics, as metrics don't commonly pay bills. Focusing instead on first call resolution, quality of the solution, and the empathy the agent presents can pay substantial dividends, even if other parts of the equation don't quite live up to standards.

It may be the most important point to get out of this study; while there are plenty of metrics to consider in terms of call center performance, the only one that really counts is the one in fact the ones that have significant impact on the bottom line. If the customer is satisfied, the contact center is doing its job. If not, it's not. While there are different definitions of satisfied for each customer, keeping a focus on making the customer happy in the end is likely to do the job better than any metric can measure.

Edited by Peter Bernstein