Wednesday, May 23, 2012

KPI's amd Metrics for the Call Center Agent

Three years ago I wrote an article titled “KPI’s and Metrics for Agents, Team Leaders, Managers and Senior Management”  That article has been well received and continues to be the most requested article for reprint.  Earlier this year I wrote about new and experienced agents and the KPI’s and Metrics they should be receiving.  This month I am combining and updating this information for more details about agent metrics.

The question that is on every Spectrum customers mind is what KPI’s and Metrics should my agents see? Unfortunately there is no single right answer for every call center.  Each center has unique properties and therefore what works for one will not work for another.  However, there are ways of narrowing down the KPI and metric options. Here are some qualifiers that need to be reviewed. Please note I use call center and contact center interchangeably.
  1. Is you call center in house or outsourced (BPO)?
  2. Is your call center classified as a Utility?
  3. Is your call center government run or mandated?
  4. Are you a Customer Service (Help Desk) call center? Do you charge for support? Internal corporate support or external support? Outsourced?
  5. Are you a revenue producing call center?
There are many more types of call centers and in some cases your call center maybe two or three of the types listed above.

Out sourced call centers, utilities and some government mandated call centers have SLA’s that they must achieve and maintain throughout the day. If the SLA’s are not met fines, charge backs and lost revenue will occur.  Keeping these SLA’s top of mind with the agents is paramount.  Some of the KPI’s that are mandated for these call centers include:
  • Service level (for calls and trouble tickets)
  • Abandon Rate
  • Transfer Rate
  • Oldest Call Waiting (Wait Duration)
  • Adherence
  • Calls Handled
  • AHT
A real time reporting solution should display these KPI’s on the agents desktop so the agent is aware of these metrics and can respond accordingly.  The fines levied on the call center by the government or client of the BPO will be much more significant than the investment of a real time reporting solution for the agents.

Newer agents need as few distractions as possible and should see minimum metrics.  Whatever the top two or three SLA metrics the company is measured by should be displayed to the agent. As the agent becomes more experienced additional content including those listed above should be displayed.

Revenue producing call centers have a to balance providing quality service to the customer, service levels and handle times.  This is never easy to manage and adding in the component of new versus an experienced agent the metrics  can vary by agent. Below are two columns of metrics: Requested and Suggested.  The requested column is what our customers ask for and the suggested column is what Spectrum suggest the agents see.

    Requested                                           Suggested
    Calls Waiting                                       Calls Waiting
    Oldest Call Waiting (Wait Duration)     Oldest Call Waiting
    Abandon Calls                                    Abandon Rate
    AHT                                                   Service Level
    Adherence                                          Occupancy
    Calls Handled                                      Revenue
  • The difference between the Abandon Calls and Abandon Rate is subtle. Seeing the number of calls abandoned may give the agent a false sense of success.  1 call abandoned does not look so bad but 10% abandon rate is different. Focus on the rate of abandoned calls not the number.
  • AHT can be a poor indicator of success or failure.  If the AHT is high but the revenue and CSat scores are outstanding then the agent is performing well and should not be reviewed poorly.  Service level is a better indicator of an agent reacting to work load.
  • Adherence to schedule and Occupancy are difficult to agree on.  Some want the agents to adhere to the stated schedule so calls are handled without long wait times. Others look at Occupancy (how long the agent has worked) as more important. And of course if the agent adheres to their schedule the occupancy rate will be fine. The problem that we see here is agents taking breaks at inappropriate times. If the phones are busy with incoming revenue producing calls should an agent take a break?  According to the schedule they should.  But if that agent ignored the schedule and continued to take calls and later on took a break wouldn’t that be better?
  • Calls handled can be a good indication of revenue the agent is going to produce.  The bean counting approach says more calls equals more revenue - churn and burn.  However the sales and marketing side of me says, to a certain degree I do not care how many calls the agent has handled as long as the revenue produced is on target. Many call centers, do not allow the agents access to revenue numbers.  
New agents are easily distracted and cannot multi-task like the experienced agent. The new agent should see two or three metrics including Calls Waiting and Wait Duration. More than this distracts the agent for the main goal of taking the order and increasing the revenue on the order. And newer agents should focus on adherence whereas the experienced agent should focus on occupancy goals.  If available and allowed showing an experienced agent their sales for the day is a motivating tool many contact centers use.

Customer Service (Help Desk) call centers need to focus on support tickets and events. However, the type of customer service center you are will determine the metrics the agents should see.  There are too many variables to address in this article so I will focus on the main items.

Many contact centers do not track FCR (First Call Resolution) and if your call center is one of them you should determine a way to put FCR tracking in place. In addition, CSat ratings are important to track.  Agent metrics for the Customer Service Center call center:

Free Support / Internal Corporate        Chargeable / Outsourced Support
Calls Waiting                                       Calls Waiting
Calls Handled                                     Oldest Call Waiting (Wait Duration)
Tickets Offered                                   Tickets Offered
Tickets Closed                                    Tickets Closed
Service Level                                      Service Level
FCR                                                   FCR
Adherence                                         Average Handle Time
CSat                                                  CSat

  • Calls Handled is an indication of the work load for the agent.  The need to balance the number of calls taken per day is important or risk agent burnout.
  • Oldest Wait Time is important for the chargeable / outsourced Customer service center because paying customers will not remain customers if they wait as long as a free support call.
  • If FCR and CSat ratings are available they should be displayed to the agent.  This shows the agents level of knowledge and how well they are able to understand the problem and resolve it quickly and professionally.  However be careful not to read too much into the CSat scores.  High scores are given to problems resolved first time and lower scores to repeat callers.  A quality score could help understand lower CSat scores.
  • Adherence in a free support center is important. This prevents burn out.  In an outsourced center the focus should be on AHT.

Newer agents should have a minimum of metrics on their desktop. They should be reminded of new tickets, tickets open and calls waiting.  With experience they can advance and see more of the KPI’s listed above.  Many Spectrum help desk customers use Excel as their ticketing system. Capturing raw data from a spreadsheet(s) is possible and is helpful to the agents.

Conclusion: The list of metrics and KPI’s that customers request is as varied as the number of calls centers in the world today. Managers continue to ask for more and more content to display on the agents desktop without knowing that sometimes less is better. The key is to focus on what is right for the type of call center and type of agent.  As the agents become more experienced the KPI’s that are displayed should be updated and advanced.

Agent KPI’s should start with the basics that are either required due to SLA tracking or help the contact center reach their goals and objectives.  Then considering the type of agent new versus experienced increase the number and type of KPI’s and metrics.  The most experienced agent can also have multiple screens of metrics which will help their performance.

Spectrum is a leading provider of Unified Contact Center Reporting.  Contact Spectrum today to discover how we can help you determine the most appropriate metrics for your agents.

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Dan Boehm
VP Sales and Marketing
+1 713 986 8839

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