The Ultimate Guide to Contact Center KPIs

8 Contact Center KPIs Add to your Management Tool Box

Metrics aren’t everything. But, your contact center KPIs are an important piece of creating a happy team and happy customers.

You need powerful analytics to monitor, measure, and manage your agents and your interaction data during the day. Plus, you need a high-performing, empowered contact center.

It can be hard to manage. But, don’t feel burdened to track the dozens of KPIs in your contact center.  Instead, customize your KPIs based on your business and contact center needs. When you invest in your agents and the performance of your contact center, you’re guaranteed to see a return on investment. So, start with KPIs to shape your performance management and build a plan to reach your goals.

This guide digs into some of the essential contact center metrics to look out for, so you can pick and choose which ones need your focus.

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Call Quality

Call center KPIs give insight into your agents’ interactions with customers. They help you see if customers can reach you quickly and if they get their most-pressing problems solved fast (and well). Looking into the quality and efficiency of agent’s calls gives you a lot of helpful data, so you know where to improve performance.

1. Service level

Service level is a fundamental metric. Your service level tells you how accessible your contact center is to your customers.It’s a metric that helps you evaluate customer demand and staff appropriately for their needs, and it’s a great place to start when you look at KPIs. Consider it a bird’s-eye view of your customer experience and how your agents deliver on your SLAs.

Are your agents meeting essential targets in good time? Are your agents using their energy and resources well? Did you and your WFM managers staff your call center appropriately? Are agents showing up for their shifts, or is your absenteeism high? Service level helps you dissect the details of your call center.

Find your service level by calculating the number of interactions your agents handle in a certain amount of time. With this formula, you can track your service level manually if you don’t have analytics that auto-calculate it for you:

Service Level = [Number of calls answered within the service level threshold] / [Number of calls offered] x 100.

how to calculate service level

2. Active Contact Resolution

In the past, contact centers have considered First Contact Resolution a critical metric as it measures your contact center efficiency and effectiveness. FCR is when an agent takes a single interaction to resolve an issue with a customer. You can also call these one-touch cases. 

You typically measure it by plugging calls into this formula:

First call resolution % = (# of issues resolved on the first call ÷ total # of issues) x 100

how to calculate FCR

The thing is, this view devalues the success of the agent and views success instead through the eyes of your customer. We’re all for a great customer experience, but when managing your agents, you want to support them in whatever means possible. 

A fresh take on this metric is to instead measure the percentage of your agent’s interactions that don’t require a customer to call back within a given time frame, like one, two or three days. We call this Active Contact Resolution, or ACR. ACR takes into account the reality that many of your customers may reach back out with an issue and get a different agent. When measuring FCR, that means the second agent to answer the call is doomed from the start. They can’t solve the interaction on the initial contact because they’re already the second person in line to help. 

Tracking ACR still assesses the quality of your agents’ work. You want them to fix a customer’s problem on the first interaction. No one wants to play phone tag when seeking a resolution to a problem. If your customers know they can get an answer without wasting more time, it’s inevitable they’ll be more satisfied with your service. 

Optimize for better ACR by intelligently routing calls to agents with the right skillset. And, ensure your agents have interaction history and customer data on-hand to inform their conversations.

3. Call abandonment rate

We’ve all been there. It’s been two hours and that hold music has repeated countless times. You’re sure you’ll hear it in your dreams tonight. As customers, we don’t have all day to wait on a call with customer service. Often, customers will hang up before even reaching an agent. This is called abandoning a call. 

What’s the problem with call abandonment? Abandonment signals to the customer a variety of issues — staffing shortages, ineffective care, etc. Call abandonment can lead to higher repeat calling, which lowers both ACR and, of course, customer satisfaction. 

The longer callers are on hold, the more likely they are to give up and leave frustrated with your service. To track your abandonment rate, divide your number of abandoned interactions by your total inbound interactions.

how to calculate call abandonment rate

This metric gives you insight into a few pieces of your contact center performance:

A high abandonment rate can mean your agents need to reduce their average speed of answer, or it can signal that you need to use WFM to better predict your busy periods. This metric can even mean that your IVR is too confusing, causing customers to give up before reaching an agent.

No one likes sitting on hold for too long, or sending those “hello, is anyone there?” chats. Avoid long hold times and make sure your IVR is clear so your customers don’t get lost on their way to a human. Think through all the possibilities and look for patterns using other metrics to help you pinpoint trends.

Are your customers abandoning mid-IVR sequence? Maybe it’s too complex. Or, maybe it doesn’t have the option they need and there’s no escape route to a live agent.

Are your customers hanging up while in the queue? Watch your agent’s efficiency, and see if they have the tools they need to maintain pace with customer demands and keep wait times at bay.

Don’t put too much pressure on your agents for this metric, though. Sometimes you can’t control the abandonment of an interaction. It might be a crazy day, or your metric might shift by mistake with spam interactions. If your abandonment rate remains low, between 2 to 5%, consider yourself in the clear.

>> Read Next: Keep Abandoned Calls from Ruining your Contact Center’s Customer Satisfaction

4. Average Agent Hold Time

This one is tricky for agents. You don’t want to compromise giving every customer the best service just to be more efficient. But, waiting on hold after you’ve already started talking to an agent can be a major friction point for your customers. 

The American Express Customer Barometer Survey says 13 minutes is the cutoff before people abandon calls (and likely never call back). And, as many as 60% of customers aren’t willing to hang out on hold for more than a minute. We give popcorn more time to pop in the microwave! 

What’s the max amount of time people justify waiting on the line? 

With only one minute of hold time before abandonment, you want to track how frequently your agents put customers on hold. The average agent hold time tracks the length of time agents actively put customers on hold after answering the interaction. If you’ve got agents pausing interactions a lot, you may have some coaching to do. 

Here’s how to measure it: Average time on hold = (total initial wait time of all interactions)/ (# of interactions handled)

How to calculate average agent hold time

Team and Agent Performance

5. Agent turnover rate

Contact centers are notorious for their agent turnover rates. In fact, contact center turnover is more than double the average for all occupations in the U.S.

With high turnover comes lots of problems. You suffer from high costs to hire and train new employees, inconsistent service, staffing shortages, low team and agent morale, the list goes on (and on).

Keep an eye on agent turnover, and calculate it often, so you can improve it.

how to calculate average turnover rate

This metric will guide you, manager, to know where training, employee engagement, and empowerment need to improve. Agents seek clear priorities, direction and feedback from their managers. They want paths to advancement and connection to a larger purpose. Once you know where you stand on employee turnover, you can implement changes in those key categories to fix it.

6. Average Transfer Rate

Do your agents frequently escalate interactions and hand them off to you to course correct? How often are your agents transferring calls because they’re unable to answer the customer’s problem or feel ill-equipped to handle their emotions? If your agents are transferring calls instead of handling them themselves, it’s likely they need more training and coaching

Keeping a watch on an agent’s transfer rate gives you insight into how empowered your agents feel. If Jenny always passes interactions up the line, she’s likely struggling with feeling prepared to help the customer independently. She might feel like she doesn’t have the knowledge or resources she needs to solve tough problems. Or, she might not feel the support she needs from you, manager. Low empowerment can even exist when an agent struggles to fit in with the rest of your team.

Empower your agents or performance struggles

And when it hits, it impacts an agent’s entire performance.

Lack of empowerment at work tanks confidence, lowers productivity and performance, and leads to burnout. Turns out, an agent’s empowerment to offer unique resolutions to customers is the number one factor impacting their experience at work.

Track your transfer rate and pay close attention to who is handing off interactions. Then, check in with that agent in your 1:1s to see how you can help them take ownership and feel comfortable with more autonomy in their role, so they can solve problems without phoning a friend.

>> Learn More: Improve metrics like Transfer Rate with Sharpen Performance Tiles (or your money back)

7. Interaction scoring

Interaction Scoring is more of a method than a KPI, but it still gives your agents a target percentage to aim for. It’s incredibly valuable to both you and your agents. Interaction scoring assigns a percentage to your agents’ interactions, letting them see a summed-up grade on how they handled an interaction.

Look at individual interactions agents have with customers so you can pinpoint exactly where there’s room for improvement and where your team excels. Then, score them based on a system of feedback and questions you develop ahead of time.

Here’s an example agent scorecard to give you an idea of what criteria to track:

How to score an agent interaction with a scorecard

Review agent interactions with an agent scorecard in hand. Create a point system and check your criteria: How did they greet the customer? How fast did your agent find the details needed to solve the problem? What was their tone in doing so? Did they stick to protocol when documenting the interaction? How did they end the phone call? As you create your agent scorecard, ask these questions to narrow your standards:
The Do’s and Don’ts of Agent Scorecards

Customer Experience

8. Customer satisfaction

This metric is mission-critical to your contact center, your customer loyalty, and the ROI you deliver for your company. If you want to improve your customer satisfaction, first, you need to measure it. Sometimes called the Happy Customer KPI, your CSAT score is the first step to happy customers. This metric guides you to understand what is (and isn’t) working in your contact center.

Outline your goals for CSAT surveys and create a survey process. Ask your customers to rate their satisfaction on a linear scale. Whether it’s measured 1-3, 1-10, or poor to excellent –– pick the scale you think is best for your team. Think up an open-ended question as a follow-up, too.

Then, consider how you want to deliver this survey. What’s its trigger and timing? And can your team respond to feedback in a timely manner? 

Here are 3 strategies to help you get more responses from your customer surveys:

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We originally posted this article on November 16, 2016. We updated it for accuracy and tone on June 24, 2021.