Featured Image for the blog: 13 Contact Center Metrics: Definitions & Calculations

Contact centers have a mismanaged relationship with KPIs and metrics. Current state, your contact center metrics act as the single point of reference when measuring success for your team.

Agents know they have to hit certain metrics, and if they don’t, they’ll be punished for poor performance. And really, some agents don’t even know what metrics they’re supposed to hit or why they matter.

Contact center managers know they have to push agents to maintain (and improve) certain metrics each month. But, many managers train their agents to whatever set of KPIs was passed on to them rather than unpacking metrics and then strategically creating KPIs to help reach larger company goals.

Download Now: Use data that lives in your contact center to build actionable strategies for a better CX

The live-by-the-numbers, die-by-the-numbers game creates a lack of clarity around what contact center metrics actually mean for performance. And why each one is specifically important to your company.

A deeper understanding of metrics and how to calculate them helps you set targets and hit goals to support the mission and vision of your company. Then, you can consistently track performance and see where to improve processes and training to help your agents do better.

Plus, when agents have clarity surrounding goals and metrics and know how they’re tracking toward goals, they’re more engaged with their work and empowered in their roles. Companies with more engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by 202% and have customer retention rates 18% higher.

We’ve created a list of contact center metrics and calculations that you can keep on hand for review and to share with agents. Share them when you coach your agents to provide clarity on what you measure and why it’s important.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

What it measures: The average time it takes for a customer to reach a live agent. The time a customer spends actively navigating through an IVR typically isn’t included in this calculation.

Why it’s important: It tells you how alert your contact center is to inbound interactions. It’s a metric that looks at the responsiveness of your agents. It allows you to dig into what your most responsive agents are doing and replicate it. Or, you can keep a pulse on the experience of agents who drag their feet a bit. Then, you can give them more resources and coaching or a morale boost to fix it.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate Average Speed of Answer

Call Abandonment Rate

What it calculates: The percentage of customers who connect and/or start navigating through your IVR but terminate the interaction before reaching an agent.

Why it’s important: A high call abandonment rate can signal several issues that have a negative impact on service levels. A few issues to keep on your radar: your IVR is too cumbersome or confusing for your customers, your IVR doesn’t have options that match your customers’ needs, your agents aren’t quickly answering the calls once the customer gets through the IVR, or your agents are frantically working at their maximum capacity and you still have too many customers waiting in queue.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate call abandonment rate

[Read Next] Build personalized reports to watch metrics like Call Abandonment Rate in less than 2 minutes

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

What it calculates: CSAT is the average satisfaction score that customers give to a specific experience they had with your organization.

Why it’s important: This incredibly important metric should be prioritized in your contact center. It measures a customer’s sentiment toward your brand, and it plays a crucial role in determining a customer’s loyalty and lifetime value to your company. Don’t sacrifice this metric in an effort to increase efficiency. If CSAT is low, it’s a tell-tale sign that larger issues like agent burnout, operational inefficiencies, or lack of agent empowerment exist in your contact center.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate CSAT

[Read Next] The 5 business costs of a low CSAT score

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

What it measures: First call resolution measures the rate at which your customer’s inquiry or problem is resolved in a single contact.

Why it’s importantThe first call resolution metric is one of the industry’s top KPIs for customer experience because it looks at both efficiency and effectiveness. Companies with high first call resolution scores see higher customer satisfaction scores. In fact, for every 1% boost in FCR companies see a 1% boost in CSAT, too. Plus, companies who focus on this metric have lower operating costs and higher employee satisfaction.

Use a consistent, concrete formula to accurately measure first call resolution over time. Formulas may differ between companies, but here’s a basic framework.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate FCR


Agent Utilization

What it measures: The percent of an agent’s time spent handling customer interactions.

Why it’s important: This metric digs into how your agents spend their time. For example, you may find that your agents only spend 30% of their time handling customer interactions. Or, you might see a few agents operate at 95% capacity and have no time for lunch or quick breaks. You can see how each of your agents operate. Then, you can know where to adjust their workload and boost agent and customer satisfaction.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate Agent Utilization

Agent Engagement

What it measures: This metric looks at your agents’ overall well-being and how connected they are to their roles at work.

Why it’s important: Engaged employees are more productive, less stressed, and have lower turnover than employees who aren’t engaged at work. Keeping a pulse on agent engagement lets you look for ways to improve their overall experience and keep them in their seats. How efficient, effective, and empowered are your agents? Are they engaged with their work? How satisfied are they in their roles? Are they empowered to hand out unique resolutions to customers?

When you measure engagement (then fix it), your customers and your bottom line see the benefit. Companies who work to actively engage employees have customer loyalty rates 233% higher than those who don’t.

Defining Agent Experience

How to calculate it:

The quantitative way. Use eNPS surveys to ask your agents direct questions about their satisfaction. Additionally, look to other metrics like your escalation rate and training investment per agent to see where pieces of the agent experience fall flat.

The qualitative way. Have regular 1:1s with your agents to see how they feel about their roles and their connection to their peers and company. After that, send out anonymous engagement surveys with multiple choice and open-ended questions on workload, environment, peer relationships, feedback, and professional development.

[Download Now] Learn the 9 ways a better agent experience improves customer experience and contact center returns

Average Handle Time

What it measures: The total time it takes an agent to handle an interaction. Depending on the needs of your contact center, AHT can look at talk time or talk time plus post-interaction wrap-up.

Why it’s important: We like to think of this metric like the check engine light in your car. It’s important to gauge because if this number is high, it can point to larger issues in your contact center. While on the surface it’s an efficiency metric, but it can also point to problems like low agent empowerment, agent burnout, or an overburdened staff.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate average handle time

Cost per Contact

What it measures: How much your contact center spends every time an agent makes contact with a customer.

Why it’s important: Using cost per contact, you can measure how your agent’s interactions directly impact your bottom line. That means you’ll be able to better forecast for future budgets and share numbers cross-functionally to improve company-wide operations.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate cost per contact

IVR Containment Rate

What it measures: The percentage of inbound interactions your IVR or routing system resolves without the need for a live agent.

Why it’s important: By tracking IVR containment rate, you can optimize your self-service options and make sure changes to your IRV and interaction routing don’t cause hiccups in your contact center. You can determine if changes to your IVR help or hurt costs, your operational efficiency, and your customer’s satisfaction. Self-service options are continuously noted as preferred methods to resolve customer cases, meaning that a high IVR containment rate will likely lead to higher CSAT scores, too.

How to calculate it:

how to calculate IVR containment rate

Daily Agent Absenteeism

What it measures: The percentage of agents who don’t show up for their shift or have an unexcused absence on any given day.

Why it’s important: High agent absenteeism can have an extremely negative impact on your overall service levels. First, it means you may not have enough agents to handle your inbound interactions. And because of that, agents who do come to work won’t be able to focus on quality over speed. They’ll have to knowingly sacrifice performance in some areas to make up for the unexpected short-staffing.

By watching this metric, you can see if it’s impacting other metrics, too. If your agents aren’t showing up for their shifts, they’re not happy with their jobs. And, they aren’t comfortable enough talking to you about circumstances affecting their ability to come to work.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate absenteeism

[Read Next] Learn 6 strategies for better workplace engagement and lower absenteeism

Agent Turnover

What it measures: The percentage of your agents who stop working in your contact center for any reason, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Why it’s important: Measuring agent turnover means you’re keeping a pulse on your agents’ experience and the success and happiness of your contact center. If agent turnover rate is high, which given the industry epidemic of high agent attrition it likely is, then there are underlying issues to uncover and address. Agent turnover is a symptom of poor training, infrequent coaching, low engagement and empowerment, and an overall poor agent experience. This metric is one of the most impactful to the inner-workings of your contact center. It affects your team’s morale and your company’s bottom line.

How to calculate it:

How to calculate agent turnover

[Read Next] 7 ways to optimize the agent experience

Escalation Rate

What it measures: How often your agents hand interactions up the line to supervisors or managers for help.

Why it’s important: The number one factor impacting an agent’s experience at work is the empowerment they feel to offer customers unique resolutions. When agents are constantly escalating interactions, they lack the empowerment that drives a good agent experience.

A high escalation rate tells you that your agents are missing the training or autonomy to problem-solve for customers without leadership intervention. Further, this lack of empowerment or training can signal larger problems in your contact center, tank other metrics, lead to agent burnout, and even heighten turnover, too.

How to calculate it: 

Escalation Rate = [# of interactions escalated/ total # of interactions handled ] x 100

Reporting and analytics shouldn’t be cumbersome or hard to understand.

Your insights should work for your business, and your metrics should help you reach your goals. Tailor everything you measure to fit the needs of your business.

In short, use these 13-defined metrics as guidelines to create a strong strategy for developing, managing, and tracking KPIs that matter to YOUR business.


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We originally wrote this post on November 10, 2017, and we updated in on February 20, 2020.