Maximizing efficiency and providing consistently positive customer experiences is the top-level goal of every contact center. In order to be successful, contact centers need to track, measure and act on the right set of metric across all contact channels.
Contact centers are not short of metrics to choose from. To really optimize the contact center, stakeholders need to identify the metrics that align with their goals and environment.
To determine which are the most important metrics, an organization must first ask itself: For whom are these metrics important? Each set of personnel has their own priorities and thus their own set of metrics to get the insight they need. For example, agents need to know if they're where they're supposed to be and whether their particular queue, or queues, are building up. Supervisors want to know where their staff members are, where they should be and whether they are meeting daily objectives. All the while, managers need to keep an eye on overall queuing conditions, longest contacts in queue and whether it's time to adjust their staff to meet current demand.
While audience is the first consideration, there are a few other overarching principles that apply when determining contact center metrics. Specifically:
- Simple is better - Contact centers today can find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available, and can waste a huge quantity of time while obscuring the important points.
- Know your environment - You'll need to be aware of the type of environment your contact center is currently operating under and your current teams' ability to adopt and use performance metrics. And, if necessary, determine the kind of changes you will need to implement going forward.
- Timing matters - Contact center personnel at every level need real-time metrics to maximize performance. Day-before planning is valuable for setting the stage for success, but agents, managers and supervisors need the ability to monitor and react to situations as they evolve.
- Context required - On its own, a number is a number and will have some meaning, but put into context, it can tell you more. Examples of context are comparing current results to historical trends, an action marker or a predetermined goal, or to another team or, division
- Action is necessary - To be impactful, metrics need to be actionable. Processes must be in place to allow agents, supervisors and managers to learn immediately when metrics are out-of-compliance and there is a problem. Well-structured reaction plans must also be in place so personnel can take action proactively to mitigate the negative impact.
- Looking ahead - Evolution is constant in the contact center, and the contact center itself is becoming increasingly central to achieving organizations' goals. This means that metrics need to be seen and applied with a view toward both today and tomorrow.
"Contact center personnel need real-time metrics to maximize performance."
With all that in mind, there are five key real-time metrics that are broadly applicable throughout the contact center, and will remain important in the months and years to come even as the best practice use of these metrics evolve. These metrics, when used effectively, can have the biggest positive impact on contact center performance.
1. Contact Volume
Real-time visibility of queue volume across channels is a must in contact centers. With real-time, contact volume can be proactively monitored and managed, avoiding long queues and wait times.
While call queue visibility is today's standard, many contact centers will soon be monitoring volume across all contact channels in real-time and have a reaction plan in place for each. Contact volume metrics can also focus on social volume, broken down by complaints, praise, product/service comments and so on. As social becomes increasingly important in contact centers, this insight will become critical. Additionally, contact centers can use contact volume metrics in a historical context to recognize trends and areas for improvement.
2. Real-time Adherence
Real-time adherence is a logistical metric that indicates whether agents are where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, according to their scheduled queues and skill groups. This metric needs to be monitored in real-time and is one of the first metrics managers should check when service levels aren't being met. Typically a call queue metric, real-time adherence will be monitored more and more across other near real-time channels such as chat.
3. Service Level
What percentage of contacts are answered in a given time? This metric should be monitored in near real-time (no less than every 15 minute interval). Noticing that service levels have crashed for longer periods could lead to the implementation of costly over-staffing strategies in an attempt to 'catch-up' and meet the daily goal. In the traditional view, this will reveal an accurate measure of how quickly calls are being answered. Looking ahead, though, this metric can be applied to varying objectives among all channels and groups.
4. Transferred Call Percentage
What percentage of calls are transferred to another person, skill group or department? This is an under-measured and -reported metric, but it provides insight into both the customer experience and individual agents' skill levels. Going forward, it can also shed light on the effectiveness of increasingly complex routing designs, and help leaders develop agent skilling matrices.
5. Conversion/Close Rates and Revenue
Finally, contact centers should focus on production metrics that determine the percent of contacts that end in a sale or conversion. This offers the straightforward and important benefit of determining whether the contact center is meeting top-line goals, and also provides insight into agents' effectiveness. Contact centers can go even further, too, breaking down this information by contractor type, social influence, geography and so on. This can help with long-term strategizing, as well as immediate course corrections to maximize revenue.
Taken together, these five metrics have the potential to provide unparalleled and invaluable insight and guidance for the contact centers of both today and tomorrow.