Call center metrics to track for success

Tracy Martinez


When it comes to delivering superior customer experiences, your contact center is your frontline. In 2022, 80% of consumers feel more emotionally connected to a brand when customer service solves their problems. However, the business landscape for customer service, support, and sales is no longer a call center filled with ringing phones. Today, brands need a more robust solution to help them meet customer expectations, ensure customer satisfaction, outperform the competition, and thrive in a digital age.

So what exactly would that look like? A modern contact center handles inbound and outbound customer communication through multiple channels and aligns people and technology to build a digital-first service funnel.

But before we cover how modern contact centers produce better customer experiences, we first need to understand how traditional call centers measure success, as those same metrics remain relevant today.

What are call center metrics?

Call center metrics are quantifiable measures that assess how effectively and efficiently call center solutions achieve business goals. Contact center managers use these metrics to measure things like agent productivity, performance, and progress towards improved customer experience. Today’s contact centers can leverage advanced technology to help resolve customer issues, track customer engagement, and capture interaction and performance data.

Call center metrics to hit your KPIs

The most successful businesses understand that metrics should evolve over time. But the first step is getting benchmark data for a contact center, then working to improve against those metrics.

Note that there are many different types of contact center metrics, and varying roles within the business may need to monitor different metrics based on their job function. For example, a call center operations manager needs specific metrics to analyze agents’ productivity data and address the issues and opportunities that arise in everyday operations. Executives, on the other hand, need metrics that provide insight into critical performance trends. Customer experience management (CEM) professionals would monitor metrics that quantify the success of each customer journey.

Call center metrics tend to fall into four particular focus areas:

  • Call center metrics for agent productivity

  • Call center metrics for call initiation

  • Call center metrics for operational efficiency

  • Call center metrics for customer experience

In the next sections, we will dig into each of these.

Call center metrics for agent productivity

1. Average handle time (AHT):

Measures the average amount of time it takes to handle a call, from start to finish. This helps set benchmarks and highlights agents who may need more training.

2. Adherence to schedule

Measures how well an agent’s actual daily activities match their planned work schedules. This metric is a useful indicator of productivity and performance predictability. 

3. Agent utilization rate

    The number of hours the agent worked divided by work capacity. Agent utilization patterns can help businesses maintain high customer satisfaction levels while keeping costs in check.

    4. Average speed of answer (ASA) 

      Measures the average time an agent takes to answer inbound calls, including time while the agent's phone rings, but not time the caller spent in IVR systems or in the queue. Tracking this metric helps set company thresholds for contact centers.

      5. Calls answered per hour: 

      Divides sixty by the agent's average handle time and measures performance outputs across different shift times that receive different call volumes. This traditional metric does not focus on quality, but can help ensure your contact agents are productive. 

      6. Call transfer rate (CTR)

      The percentage of total calls transferred from one agent to another agent or resource. 

      7. Average after-call work time

      The average time it takes an agent to finish tasks related to the calls they handle. This can include post-call processing, data entry and updates, scheduling follow-ups, and other requirements. This metric can help identify the need for improved agent workflows and tools.

      Call center metrics for call initiation

      1. First response time (FRT)

      The average amount of time taken for an agent to provide an initial response to a customer inquiry or support ticket. Keeping this metric low helps show customers that you care about their issues. This metric also allows leaders to gauge whether they have an appropriate number of agents working.

      2. Average call abandonment rate

        This metric is determined by the number of abandoned calls divided by the total number of inbound calls. This counts when the customer hangs up prematurely, either before an agent can answer their question, or as an agent is trying to help them. Companies should keep track of the abandonment rate whether they use virtual numbers or traditional phone numbers.

        3. Active waiting calls

          Measures how many calls agents take against how many are on hold (volumes in real-time). This metric helps show how well agents can cope with call volumes.

          Call center metrics for operational efficiency

          1. Calls handled

          The number of calls answered by call center agents without being blocked or abandoned. This helps show calls handled by a particular call center agent and the number of calls handled by other systems.

          2. Cost per call (CPC)

          Divide your total call center costs by the number of calls answered to get an average amount it costs you to handle each call. This offers insights into how effective operations are and helps drive resource allocation decisions.

          3. Call arrival rate

          Counts how many calls are being handled or put on hold during a particular period of time. This metric is used to identify incoming call trends over time.

          4. Peak hour traffic (PHT)

          The time period which receives the most calls. This is helpful in forecasting staffing needs.

          5. Longest hold time rate

          Measures the longest amount of time a caller was on hold before a call agent was able to connect with them. This helps monitor long hold times during high traffic hours.

          6. Average call duration (ACD)

          The average amount of time an agent spends on each phone call. This metric gives insight into the average length of calls over a given period and helps set expectations to better handle workloads.

          7. Average age of query

          Measures the length of time unresolved issues stay open when they’re not resolved on the first attempt. This metric can give a contact center insight into how long it is taking agents to resolve complex queries.

          8. Callback messaging

          The number of callback requests during a specified time. This KPI helps with assessing staffing requirements and improving overall efficiency.

          9. Repeat call rate

          This metric shows the percentage of calls related to a specific issue. Tracking repeat call rates and soliciting customer feedback helps determine and resolve recurring issues.

          Call center metrics for customer experience

          1. Customer effort score (CES)

          Measures (on a scale) how much effort a customer has to exert when interacting with a business to get an issue resolved. Being transferred, having to repeat information, or having to switch channels increases effort and can lower customer effort scores.

          2. First call resolution (FCR)

          Also known as first contact resolution and measures customer inquiries that are resolved on the first call with a representative. This helps assess which agents are adequately solving issues.

          3. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

          This indicates how satisfied a customer is with customer service. CSAT scores are measured by conducting a customer survey where companies ask for customer feedback on whether an agent has adequately solved an issue.

          4. Net promoter score (NPS)

          This metric helps gauge loyalty and customer experience. It typically takes the form of a single survey question asking respondents to rate, on a scale of 0-10, the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or service to a friend or colleague.

          5. Customer retention rate (CRR)

          A metric that measures the percentage of customers a company retains in a specific time period. This is a primary metric for understanding and improving customer loyalty.

          6. Channel mix

          This metric shows the number of incoming tickets that come in through various service channels such as voice, SMS, chat, and more.

          Challenges for contact centers

          Today, customers have so many different options for getting in touch with a brand that some may think call centers aren’t important. But this isn’t the case. While they’re often treated as an afterthought, call centers that are properly integrated into contact centers are a vital part of most organizations. In fact, voice is still the primary way that customers communicate with a business and can help to resolve customer problems with a more human connection. To improve call centers, let’s first look at the challenges they come with:

          Lack of access to information

          Most of us have had that experience where a customer service agent can’t answer our specific question because they don’t have access to the right information. Brands often pass callers around to various departments or leave them on hold for long periods. This can leave customers frustrated and confused.

          Having to be reactive, not proactive

          A lot of time in a call center is spent reacting to problems in real-time, rather than proactively addressing them. This can be a staff issue or a customer-based problem. No matter the situation, it involves trying to fix an issue while the issue is happening instead of proactively making the first move to help your customers before they feel they need to reach out for help.

          High-stress environment

          Not only is a stressed call staff more likely to lead to poor performance or even call center attrition, but customers can also tell. Common causes of stress in a contact center include:

          • High call volume

          • Angry customers

          • Lack of resources

          • Outdated tools

          Learn new ways to limit agent attrition in your digital contact center.

          Over-reliance on scripts

          A good call script makes sure that the customer gets all the necessary information, as well as encourages a consistent brand voice. However, over-reliance on scripts can prevent agents from reacting appropriately, making judgment calls, or truly getting to the root of the problem. Agents should move away from robotic customer service and instead implement more emotionally intelligent tactics to improve the call center experience.

          Focusing on the wrong metrics

          There are so many things that you can track in a call center, and choosing the right ones can be a challenge. Some call centers try to measure everything, which leads to information overload with no effective strategy. A better approach is to think thoroughly through the problem and choose a handful of key metrics to allow for more detailed levels of measurement.

          Why should you use call center metrics?

          The right mix of call center metrics and KPIs are important to a company's objectives and overall growth. Using call center metrics enables organizations to set and track goals that align with their business strategy. When important metrics can be improved, this helps teams understand how to take action.

          Learn more about how a digital contact center can keep your agents happy

          How to improve call center metrics

          Successful businesses realize that a high-quality customer experience is vital for overall success. Here are some proven tactics call centers can use to boost efficiency and enhance their call center customer experience.

          Automate call center tasks and use call deflection.

          This helps to ensure your customers receive the information they are looking for in the most efficient and effective way. It also helps your contact center eliminate repetitive, complicated tasks, and allow human agents to work better.

          Coach your agents in multiple skill sets

          This continuous, ongoing process should cover many areas, like specific contact center software training, customer interaction training, and soft skill development.

          Learn to anticipate customer questions

          Contact centers are logical places to collect voice of the customer (VoC) information. Reduce the time you spend dealing with support queries by being proactive; studying support queries, and identifying the most common questions customers have at key points. With this type of proactive support, you’re also able to anticipate possible problems and give customers access to the information they need to resolve their issues before they even arise.

          Give your agents the right resources

          This helps to ensure your agents have all the tools they need to succeed, including the right technology to deliver memorable customer support. This can include access to a knowledge base containing information about the company, products, and other relevant information.

          Provide an omnichannel communications platform

          This helps to let customers reach out to you on the channel that’s most convenient for them at any given moment. Customers should be encouraged to use these different channels, but never at the expense of the user experience.

          Use skills-based agent routing and bots. This helps to strategically route customers to agents with the most relevant skill for specific concerns. Skills-based routing makes bots the first point of customer contact. The bot can identify the required skills and then transfers the customer to the next available agent that matches their needs.

          Learn more about contact center best practices.

          Modernizing your call center

          Digital channels are taking over contact centers — and that’s a good thing

          Digital channels are quickly closing the gap on traditional customer care. Now, consumers expect a variety of digital channels to communicate with brands and call centers must adapt to this change in expectation. A challenge for any brand’s contact center is how to deliver a great customer experience without breaking their business or budget. Especially when digital channels are multiplying. Leaders must apply the principles of traditional contact centers, which include efficiency and satisfaction, to asynchronous digital channels, and align these metrics with their larger contact center. Brands must also track agent utilization, productivity, and efficiency in an asynchronous environment.

          How Khoros can help

          In order to be successful, you need to keep track of key metrics and learn what can be improved. It’s a much different challenge to support a large number of asynchronous digital channels than running a traditional call center. Khoros helps brands serve customers on their digital channel of choice with unmatched operational insight to boost customer satisfaction and reduce costs. By unifying multiple channels in a single workflow, Khoros gives agents the ability to engage across touchpoints and authentically connect with customers throughout their journey.

            Would you like to learn more about Khoros?