Measure Activity and Results

Inbound Call Center Metrics*

The adage, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it is mercilessly true in call centers. The following are key metrics typically used for inbound call centers. Use these metrics thoughtfully each hour, day, week and month to keep your operation running at a high level of performance.

  • Service Level

Service level is expressed as ___% of calls handled in ___ seconds. An example would be 80% of calls handled within 60 seconds. Service level is a goal, and call centers track the percentage of time that they meet service level, such as 90%, 94% etc.

The time frame within which service level must be met should also be defined. Meeting service level hourly is most challenging. If a call center manages service level on an hourly basis, it is possible to meet the goal daily on most days. An hour or two in which the contact center falls short can be offset by hours in which it exceeds the goal. Achieving a weekly goal consistently is practical if one manages it hourly and daily. Some operations set their sights more conservatively, and require meeting service level monthly. However, service is better if the goal is met more frequently. So meeting an 80% in 30 seconds goal weekly usually results in better and more consistent speed-of-answer service than meeting an 80% in 25 seconds goal monthly. Meeting service level daily is ideal, but is rather ambitious for many operations.

Service level is set in the ACD phone system and tracked using its reports.

Please note that if your callers get an IVR menu first, your telephone system likely begins measuring service level after an IVR selection is made.

  • Tri-level (enhanced or tiered service level, developed by Mitchell Lieber)Typical service level goals account for 80% of all calls, such as 80% of calls handled within 45 seconds. Don't the other 20% of callers matter? Is it acceptable if a customer waits 5 minutes (300 seconds) without their call being answered and hangs up exasperated? This can occur to any caller and your call center can still "look good on paper" and meet its 80% service level goal.

Tri-level has 3 tiers of goals, such as:
80% of calls handled within 40 seconds;
98% of calls handled within 90 seconds;
100% of calls handled within 150 seconds.
(150 seconds is the longest wait time allowed).

Abandoned Calls

Abandoned calls, sometimes called lost calls, are callers that hang up before answer. These are expressed as a percentage of total calls offered, such as 2% or 4%. If a call center's abandoned call rate is high but it meets service level 100% of the time, the service level goal may need to be more rigorous to lower the abandon rate.

Productivity Indicators

The following metrics are employed to measure staff productivity in most inbound call centers. All are expressed as a percentage of sign-on time and in minutes. These are compiled by the ACD telephone system for individual reps and the entire operation. Reports are typically printed for each day, week and sometimes for the month. Hourly reports may also be available.

  • Talk Time
    Time spent talking on calls.
  • After-Call Work or Wrap-Up Time
    The rep has completed the call, but is reviewing computer screens, filling out forms or doing other after-call work.
  • Handle Time
    This is the sum of talk time and after-call work time. AHT, average handle time, is the averages this for all calls being measured.
  • Available Time
    The rep is not on a call, but is available to accept one.
  • Occupancy
    The total percent of rep sign-on time spent: talking on calls + performing after call work or wrap-up + available for calls.
  • Idle Time or Unavailable Time
    The rep is not on a call, and is not available to accept on. This mode is typically used for breaks.
  • Sign-On Time
    The total duration of time the rep is signed onto the call center phone system.

Quality Indicators

The quality of interactions that take place on the phone are crucial. Scoring systems for call monitoring should be clear and objective, with provisions for immediate feedback and coaching.

*These are general recommendations. Specific strategies and tactics should be based on a review of your needs, market and operation. For outside support contact Lieber & Associates.

Graphs and charts of inbound call data

If information is data entered during calls there should be a keying error goal, such as not greater than 3%. Data entry should be consistently monitored to track it versus the goal.

Customer satisfaction may be tracked with after-call surveys. These can be conducted by text, e-mail or by a third party service (or IVR) at the end of a sample of all calls. Whichever medium is used, the customer satisfaction survey must be brief. L&A recommends a limit of one to three questions on the phone and no more than five via text or e-mail.

Associating e-mail surveys with a drawing for a free gift may increase the response rate and provide a better sample, resulting in more accurate metrics. Tale care to make sure that any drawing`s are compliant with sweepstakes laws, which vary state to state in the U.S. Similarly, texting must comply with Federal and State Laws, and use of e-mail with Federal Can-Spam laws in the U.S. Laws in Canada, Europe and other jurisdictions may be less or more restrictive.

Media ROI Indicators

The most expensive part of inbound sales, order and lead calls is causing the phone to ring, i.e. the advertising. Tracking advertising costs is essential. Here are standard ways to do so.

  • Number of Inquiries/Media Source or Insertion
  • Number of Sales/Media Source or Insertion
  • Cost/Inquiry for Each Media Source or Insertion
  • Cost/Sale for Each Media Source or Insertion
  • Revenue ($$)/Sale for Each Media Source or Insertion
  • Cost/$100 Sold or $1000 Sold for each Source or Insertion

Search engine advertising on the web is paid on a per-click-through basis, and social media advertising costs are reported on a per action (click through, like, etc.) basis.

Sales Indicators for Sales-Oriented Inbound Call Centers

Inbound call centers that make sales or take orders often use some or all of these metrics to manage staff performance and staffing hour-to-hour and day-to-day.

Conversion Ratio - Sales/Calls
Revenue ($$)/Sale
Revenue ($$)/Call
Revenue ($$)/Hour

Customer Service Indicators

Call centers devoted to customer-service may compile and monitor these key indicators.

Customer Complaints / Sales Ratio
Customer Issues and Counts of Calls for Each One
Resolution Percentages - Overall and Per Issue
Time to resolution (usually vs. a time to resolution goal)
- Customer Will Buy/Buys Again
- Customer Satisfied
- Customer Lukewarm
- Customer Unhappy

              Knowledgebase Menu      Blog      Home      Contact Lieber & Associates