Are you putting too much pressure on your agents to move a host of KPIs? Or do you go easy when it comes to call center reporting metrics?
Leaders, like you, are in a battle to figure out what to measure and how to keep agents accountable to those metrics. And then, you’re left scratching your heads on how to put them into action so you can actually create a better customer experience. Your KPIs have become the pernicious beast of your contact center. They’re always there, stalking over your shoulder, waiting to destroy your effectiveness (and sanity) all in the name of efficiency. Or vice versa.
You’re working to keep your productivity metrics sky high and increasing every month. But if you put too much of a hard-and-fast focus on numbers, you risk forgetting the humanity of your agents. Pressure to meet impossible KPIs pushes agents to burnout. Or, they’ll pay too much attention to numbers instead of customer needs.
Either way, an intense focus on your call center reporting metrics has the opposite effect of what they were designed to do… which is to make your customer experience better.
A recent HBR article, Don’t Let Metrics Undermine Your Business, outlined the adverse effects of giving metrics too much weight.
“Here’s a common scenario: A company selects “delighting the customer” as a strategic objective and decides to track progress on it using customer survey scores. The surveys do tell managers something about how well the firm is pleasing customers, but somehow employees start thinking the strategy is to maximize survey scores, rather than to deliver a great customer experience.”
– Michael Harris and Bill Tayler
So, how do you place the right attention on your call center reporting metrics without going overboard?
The answer lies in your agent-focused metrics. A recent Google search escapade led us to a common question managers, like you, are asking: What KPIs would you use to rate your customer service agents?
Turns out, contact center leaders are looking to individual performance metrics and a personalized agent experience as a way to up-level contact center performance.
Today, we’re looking at KPIs through the lens of agent experience. Get the KPIs you need to gauge agent performance and prioritize your team’s development and satisfaction. Because if you’re not thinking beyond daily performance management and investing in agent development, too, your customer experience will fall flat.
What KPIs would you use to rate your customer service agents?
First up, we’re digging into four metrics that, together, give you a better view of your agents’ productivity and problem-solving. The following four metrics focus on your agents’ efficiency and effectiveness.
They give you a glimpse at how well agents handle customer interactions. But, they’re strictly dedicated to performance management.
1. Average Handle Time
How long, on average, does each agent spend handling a single customer interaction and doing their post-call work? This metric looks at the number of minutes your agent dedicates to a single interaction.
When it comes to customer service, solving customer problems quickly is incredibly important to customers. In fact, 69% of customers judge the quality of their service experience on how quickly they get to a resolution. And, if a customer has to take time out of their day to reach out to your team of agents, chances are high they’re already frustrated. Stalled resolutions or lengthy conversations only heighten those frustrations.
This metric ensures you have a pulse on how long it takes each agent to wrap up each interaction. Don’t use it to hold your agents to sky-high standards and make sure they’re churning through calls. Instead, use this metric to see where your agents could benefit from new resources or training to speed up conversations that drag on.
2. Average Time on Hold
How long does a customer wait on hold before speaking to a live agent? Managers measure this to see how long each agent takes to answer an interaction once it enters their queue.
Did you know, for 60% of customers, waiting on hold for even one minute is too long? (I plead guilty.) Measuring average time on hold ensures that your agents answer customer interactions in a timely fashion. When they wrap up one interaction, they swiftly move to help the next customer without letting the interaction lag in their queue.
And if you find this isn’t the case for some of your agents, you can dig into why. Maybe Susan had several customers who needed lengthy explanations, and her handle times spiked, causing her queue to back up. Or, maybe your skills-based routing was handing off too many interactions to Jonathan, a rockstar agent, even though he was crazy busy. This metric gives you a kick-off point to jump in and learn the daily flow of each of your agents.
Pro tip: Remember, while looking at efficiency metrics like AHT and ATH, it’s critical to remember that hasty resolutions aren’t permanent ones. If agents have a few interactions that drag on, listen to those calls or view transcriptions to diagnose why. Agents might have taken longer because they were searching for the root issue rather than patching the customer’s problem with a short-term Band-Aid. (That kind of work should lead to acknowledgment of a job well done rather than a slap on the wrist for a missed metric).
Efficiency metrics are important to customer satisfaction in today’s fast-paced, attention economy, but pressuring agents to fix problems fast, no matter what, isn’t how you create lasting customer loyalty. Watch these metrics, but use them for context, not outcomes.
3. Customer Satisfaction Score
Are customers happy with their most recent service experience? This metric, through the lens of your agents, breaks down your average CSAT score and looks at how well each agent provides knowledgeable and friendly help to customers.
Are customers satisfied with the service they get when they reach out to Colleen? What about Kim? And Tyler? Examine CSAT scores segmented by agent to see how your customers feel about their interactions. If Colleen gets consistently high scores, you know she’s delivering positive experiences for customers with every interaction. But, if Tyler gets ranked with all ones or twos, he’s clearly missing the mark. With that info on hand, you have the intel to review a handful of his interactions and see where he needs help.
If customers dish out a few poor scores here and there, it’s highly possible they went rogue or entered into an interaction already beyond the point of repair. But if you can tie consistently low CSAT scores to specific agents, chances are high it’s a behavioral pattern or empowerment issue you can jump in and fix.
Coach and train your agents for empowerment to improve your customers’ satisfaction. Get the tactics and methods you need to be a better coach.
4. Quality Assurance
Are your agents sticking to internal processes and procedures (with wiggle room, of course)? Do they understand what’s expected in terms of quality? Along the same lines, do they understand why it’s expected?
Keep a close watch on quality and your contact center’s outlined best practices. Make sure each agent follows guidelines to ensure every service interaction meets customer expectations.
For example, do you have processes in place to explain when an interaction should be escalated or handed off to a subject matter expert? What about when a case should be marked as closed or when it should stay open after the first interaction? Get a better view of how well each agent problem-solves for customers. If problems pop up, address them in your 1:1s and offer up more frequent training to get the agent back on track.
Next up, these three metrics look at your agents’ development and job satisfaction.
Without a watch on developmental metrics like these in addition to the traditional measurements listed above, you’ll never get a full pulse on how your agents are doing.
5. Employee Net Promoter Score
Do your agents enjoy working in your call center? And, how likely is it that they’d recommend your company to a friend based on their experience at work?
Like your customer NPS, your eNPS gauges what your agents really think about their roles, peers, and your leadership. Satisfaction metrics like this one step beyond daily performance and help you resolve deeper problems in your contact center. No matter how great Natalie once was at her job, if she isn’t happy in her role, it will eventually show in her performance.
With 92% of customers saying an agent’s perceived mood impacts their service experience, your customers suffer when your agents aren’t happy. The only way to make sure your agents stay satisfied is to stay in-the-know with how they feel about their experience. This metric gives you one avenue to do just that.
6. Training Investment per Agent
How much time and budget do you invest in coaching and training each of your agents? This metric makes you take a step back and put a number to each of your agents’ development.
Calculate this figure in terms of both time and monetary costs for you. On average, how long do you spend making training materials for each of your agents? How much time do you spend in 1:1s with each team member? And, how long do you spend reviewing and coaching each agents’ interactions?
Then, factor in budget. How much money do your ops leaders delegate to training and coaching tools for your contact center? And, how often do they upgrade those tools?
Looking at this metric gives you a window into how you’re progressing your agents to meet their personal goals and the goals of your contact center. From what we’ve seen in the typical contact center, the time and budget dedicated to agent training is subpar, at best.
Without development plans and investments in your agents, your customer experience can’t progress. To keep pace with modern customer needs, your agents need to master new skills and feel like they’re growing in their roles.
7. Escalation Rate
How often are your agents passing off interactions to supervisors or managers?
This measurement tells you if your agents are empowered to make decisions when resolving customer issues. If specific agents always pass interactions up the line, they’re struggling to help customers while flying solo. And, this struggle tanks their overall experience. Turns out, the number one factor impacting an agent’s experience at work is the empowerment they feel to offer customers unique resolutions.
The agent could feel like they don’t have the knowledge needed to solve complex problems. Or, they could fear the pressure of missing efficiency metrics to work on a lengthy problem. Even worse, they may have reached the point of apathy. They simply don’t care enough anymore to try.
Whatever the case may be, it all boils down to agent empowerment. Look to your escalation rate to see which agents are handing over calls. Then, work with them individually to find out what they need from you to feel empowered to solve problems on their own.