Call Center Strategy Presentation Assignment

Developing a comprehensive understanding of call center key performance indicators (KPIs), how to identify KPIs to measure as well as how to accurately measure them and act on the data is imperative to successfully managing a call center. It’s an added bonus if your call center software helps you monitor and measure these KPIs in real-time.

This blog post will help you do just that. It provides a definition of call center KPIs, gives examples of the most commonly measured KPIs in the call center, lists steps to measure these KPIs and suggests tools to help optimize the acquisition of KPI data.

Call Center Key Performance Indicators Defined

The first step to making data-driven decisions in the call center is to develop a comprehensive understanding of what a call center KPI is, as well as how they are used in the call center.

Call center KPIs are quantitative metrics that are used to evaluate constructs that are crucial to the success of the call center. They typically assess the performance of the agent, team, department and/or the call center as a whole. They can be used to determine trends and make data-driven decisions that will increase efficiency, optimize customer satisfaction, increase revenue and reduce costs. They can also be used in benchmarking efforts to measure progress towards goals and to compare the call center’s performance with an industry standard. Taken together, call center KPIs are metrics that provide information about how a call center is performing and can be used as a foundation to make strategic decisions that will help to drive results.

Now that you have a good understanding of call center KPIs, lets walk through an example of how you can measure certain KPIs to access your call center’s performance in one key domain – customer satisfaction.

Top 10 KPIs that Impact Customer Satisfaction

Knowing which call center KPIs to measure consistently can be challenging, especially for more novice call center managers. This section of this blog post is a great place to start. Below are the top 10 KPIs that impact customer satisfaction within the call center compiled from a study conducted with 512 call centers:

  1. First call resolution – The percentage of calls that the agent resolves the caller’s issue without having to escalate, transfer or return the call.
  2. Percentage of calls blocked – The percentage of callers that received a busy tone when they call.
  3. Average time in queue – The average amount of time callers wait in call queues before an agent responds.
  4. Average after call work time – The average amount of time an agent spends completing work related to the call after they finish the call.
  5. Service level – The percentage of calls answered within a specified number of seconds.
  6. Average abandonment rate – The percentage of callers who hang up before reaching an agent.
  7. Agent turnover rate – The percentage of agents who leave the call center.
  8. Average speed of answer – The average amount of time it takes for the call to be answered by an agent or the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD).
  9. Average handle time – The average amount of time an agent spends speaking with the caller, including hold time.
  10. Schedule adherence – A measure of an agent’s degree of compliance with their assigned schedule.

If you are looking for a starting point for evaluating your call center’s impact on customer satisfaction, the 10 aforementioned KPIs are a great option. Consistently measuring them over time will allow you to make data-driven decisions which will help to increase customer satisfaction.

Steps to Selecting Optimal KPIs

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of call center KPIs as well as commonly measured KPIs in the call center, it is time to select KPIs that will allow for an accurate assessment of your call center’s performance. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you do just that.

  1. Identify KPIs that are in line with your business objectives and corporate strategy.
  2. Identify and define the KPIs that will be measured.
  3. Decide which data points will contribute to the KPI calculation and how the data will be acquired.
  4. Define each KPI’s purpose and make sure that the purpose is clear to your entire team.
  5. Ensure that the KPIs are measuring different domains to gain a more comprehensive view of the performance of your call center.
  6. Set a specific, quantitative target, a range or both for each KPI.
  7. Define concrete steps that are required to meet each target.
  8. Develop a specific action plan if the KPI falls outside of the target or range.
  9. Continually review KPIs, interpret the data in a meaningful way and consider causes for any trends or outliers.
  10. Optimize the definition of the KPI, refine the data points included in the KPI calculation and select new KPIs to measure in an effort to constantly improve your approach to measuring your call center’s performance.

In order to effectively engage in call center benchmarking, evaluation and decision-making, managers must follow the steps outlined above to select the most relevant call center KPIs and make more informed decisions based on the acquired data.

Tools to Consistently Measure KPIs

The final step to optimizing your approach to measuring KPIs and acting on the data is to leverage the right tools. Below is information about tools to help you consistently measure call center KPIs so that you and your team can make strategic decisions that will have a significant impact on your call center’s performance.

  1. Call center software with integrated reporting – The first, and arguably the most important, tool in your team’s toolbelt should be call center software with integrated real-time and historical reporting. This will provide your team with the data they need exactly when and how they need it.
  2. Real-time metrics dashboard for agents – Agents should be provided with a real-time metrics dashboard so they are able to see KPIs like how many callers are in the queue, their colleagues’ agent status, longest wait time and average abandonment time.
  3. Real-time metrics dashboard for managers – Managers should have access to KPIs that are most helpful to them in making data-driven decisions. For example, their metrics dashboard should display service level, number of calls in queue, average abandonment time, longest wait time, etc., in real-time.
  4. Call monitoring dashboard – Call center managers and supervisors should have access to call monitoring capabilities to analyze interaction quality and obtain data for measuring first call resolution.
  5. Historical reporting – The entire team can engage in data-driven decision making when they have access to dashboards that display call center metrics such as call volume, service level, handle time, abandonment time, wait time, etc. from any time point.
  6. Workforce management software – Managers should leverage workforce management software to help them measure agent attrition and agent absenteeism.
  7. Backoffice tools – Managers should have access to backoffice tools to help them measure KPIs such as first call resolution, cost per call, customer satisfaction and interaction quality.

Consistently measuring call center KPIs is essential to gaining an at-a-glance overview of the call center’s performance and making informed decisions based on the results. As such, arm your team with the aforementioned tools so they can access the data they need to succeed.

Conclusions

Call center managers seeking to propel their call center ahead of the competition, wow their callers with an awesome customer experience, increase revenue and reduce costs should make an effort to identify relevant call center KPIs, measure them consistently and act on the results. Doing so will allow them to make more informed decisions that will have a measurable impact on their call center’s performance.

Shauna Geraghty

Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a love of call center software. When she isn't creating content, you can find her screening Talkdesk talent and playing with her labrador, Buster.

In our call center and contact center consulting practice, we are often asked this question. Johnson and Scholes (Exploring Corporate Strategy) define strategy as follows:

"Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations".

A strategy provides the organization with a goal and direction towards that goal that it aspires to realize through the conscious and determined efforts of its staff and stakeholders.

So is a strategy required for elements within the organization such as customer service or contact centers? I would suggest yes. A strategy or strategic plan is essential for the contact center to support the organization as it works to realize the corporate goal.

Companies in developing their strategic plans define who their customers are and their primary audience focus on how to create value that underpins the strategy. If the focus is on employees, it is often extrapolated to explain that happy employees will work harder and deliver superior service to customers. The reality is the contact centers are the most common communications channel between customers/consumers and the organization. The contact center plays a critical role in supporting the corporate strategy and influencing customer satisfaction.

First acknowledge that as contact center leaders we do not have a ‘blank canvas’ to work with. The corporate strategy has already been defined and is evident in the Mission Statement, Vision and Values documents. In reviewing these documents we can gain an insight into the strategy, the customers served, the manner in which value is created, the goal and objectives of the strategy and the values which are the touchstone for making difficult decisions. So the development of contact center strategy is completed in the context of the corporate direction.

Second we know that our role is to interact with the customers in a manner that supports the corporate strategy. Lastly we know what the Vision for the future is. We know where the company is going. Our challenge as contact center operators is to develop a roadmap and plan to support the evolution of the contact center in lock-step with the evolution of the company towards its Vision.

The key of an effective call or contact center strategic plan is to support and align with the overall strategy for the business. Implementing this sounds fairly straightforward but can be fraught with challenges and problems. For example what is the appropriate service level target for the defined primary customer group versus a secondary customer group, who, while not primary is still a significant source of revenue? How can you reduce the costs to serve one customer segment while increasing resource allocation and delivering superior value to another?

The first undertaking that the center operator must complete is to ensure that they understand fully and in detail the corporate strategy. Too often contact centers launch initiatives to improve customer satisfaction, or reduce costs only to discover later that the corporate goal wasn’t an across the board CSAT improvement; or that the cost reduction initiatives undermine revenues and repurchase from the primary customer segment. Sit down with the management and review the mission, vision, values statements and any additional detail and specifics that the manager can provide.

In the context of the two examples cited above what is meant by customer satisfaction? In which segments of the customer base should satisfaction be improved, why and how? Is the CSAT of the remaining segments to remain unchanged, decline or increase? What is the budgetary impact anticipated with these changes?

Alignment is critical. Without both strategic plans being in synch, they can be working in opposite directions, and the attainment of both of the plans objectives and goals can be compromised. As the primary communication channel between customers and the organization the call or contact center can have a disproportional impact on the overall performance of the company in attaining its stated goals and objectives.

How can an operator embrace an Employee First strategy in an ‘always on’, high change and structured contact center environment? What do we do with our existing metrics? Is Average Handle Time (AHT) an effective or even an appropriate metric in this environment; or does it simply encourage representatives to feel conflicted. For example "Does the company want me to satisfy the customer or get off the phone quickly?" Such conflicts are not aligned to employee satisfaction (ESAT).

The steps outlined so far focus on immediate operations in the center: how the center has to change on a call by call basis. But what about a long range view. How do these changes impact on the incoming demand in terms of volumes of calls, emails, chats and self service? The operator needs to make and challenge assumptions regarding how these changes affect and impact demand. This is important. It is the forecasted demand, along with service level and AHT that determine the labor costs and budgets.

In concert with reviewing the demand the operator also needs to revisit other key aspects of the center operational model: people, process, technology and methodology. Aligning to the corporate strategy impact requires changes in how the center operates. The wise operator looks at how the operations of the center can be changed to improve overall alignment.

Structural change is almost certainly required to align and support the attainment of the results set out in the corporate strategic plan. Albert Einstein said that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If what the contact center was doing today delivered the results sought by the strategic plan then the strategic plan would not have been created.

To review, there are 7 steps that must be completed before a contact center strategic plan can be developed:

  1. Understand fully the corporate Strategy,
  2. Understand customer segmentation and priorities,
  3. Identify the impact of customer segments and priorities on queuing management,
  4. Understand applicable boundaries,
  5. Examine your metrics and KPI’s
  6. Review and revise your demand forecast
  7. Examine you operational methodology for structural changes

With the 7 steps created you can articulate a contact center strategy with the knowledge that it will support the business goals; and move the organization one step closer to the realization of the corporate strategic plan.

This is an excerpt from the full length article, 'Is a Strategy for the Contact Center Necessary,' by Colin Taylor.

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