12 call center metrics to track (and how to improve them) (2023)

With the rise of new support channels such as live chat and messaging, you might expect the number of phone calls to decrease. But this isn’t the case. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, phone volume increased by 24 percent over the past year. And many customers still prefer to contact customer support by phone.

Efficient inbound call centers are the backbone of excellent phone support. Managers can use call center metrics to track the productivity of agents and the quality of support customers receive. From there, teams can identify concrete ways to meet call center goals and showcase wins to higher-ups.

Depending on their company size and industry, call center managers may measure different metrics and KPIs. In general, though, they will track call center metrics in three categories:

  • Customer experience
  • Agent performance
  • Call inception

We’ve broken down the 12 most important call center metrics to track across these categories so you can evaluate agent performance and improve the customer service experience.

Customer experience metrics:

1. CSAT + QA
2. Customer Effort Score

Agent performance metrics:

3. Agent effort score
4. Average speed of answer
5. Average talk time
6. Wrap-up time
7. Missed and declined calls
8. Total resolution time
9. Transfer rate

Call inception metrics:

10. Average first response time
11. Average hold time
12. Call abandonment rate

What are call center metrics?

Call center metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the success and efficiency of a call center. Call center metric examples include time to resolution, number of tickets solved in a day or a week, average handle time, schedule adherence, and talk time.

Customer experience metrics

A support agent may feel like they had a good phone call with a customer, but you can’t fully gauge the experience from their opinion alone. Send customer surveys regularly to better understand and assess the quality of your customer support.

1. CSAT + QA scores

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores indicate how satisfied customers are with the support they received.

CSAT is calculated using customer satisfaction surveys. Questions could be framed in different ways, such as:

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  • Were you satisfied with ___? (Yes/No)
  • On a scale of 1–10, how satisfied are you with ___?
  • How would you rate your satisfaction with ___? (Unsatisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Very Satisfied)

To find your CSAT score, divide all positive responses (e.g., “somewhat satisfied” and “very satisfied”) by the total responses received. Then, multiply that result by 100.

12 call center metrics to track (and how to improve them) (1)

While helpful, this metric on its own doesn’t give you enough information to understand the root cause of poor customer experiences or customer churn. This is where QA scores come in handy.

Quality assurance (QA) scores measure the quality of an agent’s interactions against a QA scorecard. The call center manager listens to an agent’s conversation with a customer and then fills out the scorecard to grade different aspects of the interaction.

“QA is like a meta-metric,” says Isaac Lee, demand generation manager at MaestroQA. “The health of each metric you choose to track shows up in your QA scorecard. When one of them falters, you immediately know where and how to fix it because a QA analyst has identified that area of opportunity and flagged it.”

To determine QA scores, managers assign points to specific questions related to customer interactions on the scorecard. The final score is a percentage of the total points an agent earns.

After collecting CSAT and QA scores, review customer interactions to see if your agents met internal support standards. For example, did the agents use proper grammar? Did they speak to customers in the right tone of voice? How fast did they solve customer issues?

Managers who view specific CSAT ratings in tandem with QA scores can pinpoint areas of improvement in their call center operations. Sarah Reed, former call center leader and now senior director of content and event marketing at Zendesk, says combining both metrics can help you “clearly correlate your agent expectations to the needs of the customer.”

How to improve CSAT and QA scores

Numerical ratings have their limits. An 8 out of 10 is a good rating, but what holds the customer back from answering with a 9 or 10? Consider leaving an optional text box in the CSAT survey so customers can explain their answers.

If you’re not receiving the anticipated number of CSAT survey responses, try reminding the recipients that the surveys are anonymous. This can make customers feel more comfortable taking the survey. You could also incentivize them with a 10-percent discount on their next purchase if they respond within a certain time frame.

To raise QA scores, consider giving your agents improvement goals. For instance, if an agent has an average score of 6 for their customer service, see if they can increase their score to an 8 after 30 days. When they reach their goal, acknowledge their achievement by giving them a gift or reward. Make one-on-one coaching a priority for agents who are particularly struggling.

2. Customer Effort Score (CES)

As Reed puts it, “Customer Effort Score indicates how hard it is for a customer to get their needs achieved—be it because of process, product, or tools.” For call centers, CES shows how much effort customers put in to reach a support agent and get their issue resolved.

Research suggests that customer effort has a direct impact on customer loyalty. Gartner’s Customer Value Advantage report found that only 37 percent of consumers remain loyal to a brand after a “high-effort resolution,” whereas 61 percent stay loyal after a “low-effort resolution.”

Only 37% of consumers remain loyal to a brand after a “high-effort resolution,” whereas 61% stay loyal after a “low-effort resolution.”

To determine CES, begin by conducting a survey to ask customers about the ease of their interaction. The response choices should range from “very easy” to “very difficult.” It’s also a good idea to include space for optional comments. The optimal time to send a CES survey is after a purchase, subscription sign-up, or customer service interaction.

Once you have the survey results, add up the ratings and divide the sum by the total number of responses.

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A high CES may point to a problem with your team’s communication processes or tools. Customers might have to jump through hoops and listen to endless voice prompts before reaching an agent.

How to improve Customer Effort Score

To lower your CES, make it easier for customers to reach agents by offering contact options beyond the phone, such as live chat, email, and messaging. Providing self-service resources—including an FAQ page, knowledge base, and chatbots—empowers customers to solve basic issues on their own and also reduces the effort they must expend.

Additionally, you and your support team can work together to answer questions like:

  • What processes or obstacles get in the way of reaching resolutions quickly?
  • What resources, workflows, or skills help enable faster resolutions?
  • Do agents have the tools and training they need to effectively find solutions?

Agent performance metrics

To evaluate a call center agent, you don’t just want to answer the question, “Are they doing a good or bad job?” Agents face various issues and deal with different types of customers, so it’s better to adopt a more holistic approach. Evaluate how much effort agents put in and how they resolve customer issues by monitoring these metrics.

3. Agent effort score

Agent effort score (AES) is a call center KPI that reveals how easy it is for agents to provide support for their customers.

According to Reed, AES pinpoints where agents meet challenges that hinder them from delivering top-notch support experiences. It’s the only call center metric that gives insight into agent performance from the agent’s perspective.

To calculate AES, carry out a survey asking agents to rank how easy it is for them to support customers. Then, add up those scores and divide the sum by the number of respondents.

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12 call center metrics to track (and how to improve them) (3)

How to improve agent effort score

Speak with agents to understand which tasks or processes are the most time-intensive for them. Then, take action based on their responses and the trends you’re seeing.

For example, agents might not be able to track customer information because they don’t have access to those details. In such a case, investing in customer service software can set your team up for success. With a centralized workspace and customer data at their fingertips, agents will have the context they need to provide high-quality support and personalized experiences.

4. Average speed of answer

Average speed of answer (ASA) measures how long it takes support agents to answer inbound calls, starting from the point callers are placed in the queue.

To calculate ASA, divide the total amount of time customers spend waiting in the queue by the total number of calls answered.

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According to research by Call Centre Helper, the call center metric industry standard is to answer 80 percent of calls in 20 seconds or less. A high ASA might indicate that agents lack the training or knowledge needed to answer calls promptly. It can also suggest that your call center is understaffed. If average talk time is low but ASA is high, the call center may not have a sufficient number of agents needed to answer the volume of calls coming in.

How to improve average speed of answer

If agents are struggling to meet this call center KPI, consider the following solutions:

  • Hire more agents. Though expensive, expanding your team will allow you to handle more customer inquiries in a shorter amount of time.
  • If hiring more agents isn’t possible, enhance the agent onboarding process or provide ongoing call center training programs.
  • Perform an audit of your IVR (interactive voice response) system. You might learn that you need to increase its call threshold.

Customers who experience long wait times in the queue often become frustrated and impatient, so it’s crucial to monitor ASA consistently.

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5. Average talk time

Talk time refers to the number of minutes and seconds that elapses between an agent answering the phone and hanging up. Although sometimes confused with average handle time, talk time is different in that it doesn’t account for hold time or time spent following up after a call ends.

To calculate average talk time, divide the total amount of time spent talking to a customer on the phone (in minutes and seconds) by the total number of calls handled.

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Average talk time helps managers gauge their team’s ability to handle different types of customer service scenarios. For example, say a manager is analyzing the performance of an individual support agent whose average talk time is five minutes or less. But this month, the agent had a few calls that lasted more than 10 minutes. By reviewing the recordings of those lengthier calls, the manager can learn which issues the agent might be struggling with. Or, they may discover a bigger problem, such as an underlying issue with the product or service.

But keep in mind, a high talk time isn’t always a bad thing. Take retail and lifestyle brand Magnolia, for instance. Approximately half of the calls are from fans who call simply to talk or share stories. Drawn in by the company’s relatable founders and TV stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines, these callers feel a strong connection to the brand and want to chat for extended periods of time.

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The lesson: Call center KPIs should always account for the unique qualities of the business.

How to improve average talk time

Knowledge base resources and targeted training can help agents handle customer support calls in a reasonable time frame. Agents can also study call scripts in their team’s knowledge base, and they can develop their ability to think under pressure by role-playing with their manager or another support rep.

6. Wrap-up time

When an agent ends a call with a customer, it doesn’t mean their job is done. They still have to carry out some tasks to ensure that the customer is fully satisfied or that the problem is completely resolved. These activities may include:

  • Documenting the outcomes of the conversation
  • Assigning tasks to other departments
  • Escalating complaints
  • Sending resources to customers
  • Sending follow-up emails

Wrap-up time is the amount of time it takes an agent to finish these activities after a call. To calculate this metric, subtract total hold time and total talk time from the total amount of handle time. Then, divide that result by the total number of customer calls.

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A high wrap-up time suggests that agents are unavailable to take incoming calls, which negatively impacts performance metrics.

How to improve wrap-up time

Reduce wrap-up time by automating post-call activities, such as logging customer information, with a CRM. You can also create FAQ pages and other resources that agents can quickly send to customers after a call.

7. Missed and declined calls

When an agent misses or declines a phone call, the customer is sent back to the queue. A large number of missed and declined calls naturally leads to low customer satisfaction scores.

Many call center software tools, including Zendesk, will automatically track missed and declined calls for the overall team and for individual support agents.

How to improve missed and declined calls

The two primary reasons for a high number of missed and declined calls are understaffing and inefficient call center software.

If spikes in missed and declined calls occur during specific shifts or hours of the day, there might not be enough agents available during high-volume call times. Hire more agents and/or create an online community forum where customers can get information and support from other users.

If staffing isn’t the root cause, it’s possible that your system isn’t equipped to handle the volume, leading to a high number of declined calls. Consider upgrading to the next membership tier or switching to another provider.

8. Total resolution time

Total resolution time measures the average length of time it takes for support agents to resolve a customer issue. According to Reed, this metric shows whether agents are “efficiently responding to customers with correct answers.”

To calculate total resolution time, divide the total time of all resolved interactions by the total number of tickets solved.

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When faced with a high total resolution time, investigate what may be slowing agents down. Are they having a series of back-and-forth conversations? If that’s the case, agents might not have enough customer details, or there might be problems with your product or service.

How to improve total resolution time

If your agents are scrambling to find the customer information they need to resolve issues quickly, consider investing in contact center as a service (CCaaS) software. This tool will pull customer interactions from various channels and present them in a unified view for the agent, saving them time and effort.

High resolution times might also result from defective products or services. A customer may be calling because they can’t figure out how to use your product, but the reality is that the product was faulty when they received it. Design a series of questions that can help the agent make this determination.

9. Transfer rate

Transfer rate is the percentage of inbound calls that agents end up transferring to another team member or department.

To calculate this call center statistic, divide the total number of calls transferred to another department or agent by the total number of calls handled. Then, multiply the result by 100.

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How to improve transfer rate

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A high transfer rate could indicate that callers are reaching the wrong first-touch agent. In this case, the call center’s internal routing system may be the problem. At the end of a call, encourage agents to ask the customer whether they found the IVR system confusing or challenging to navigate. If so, reducing the transfer rate could be as simple as reworking the IVR menu options to make the system more user-friendly.

But if the IVR is working properly and the transfer rate is still high, measure the average transfer rate across the entire call center. Look for any outliers—agents who routinely surpass the average percentage—to identify employees in need of additional training or resources. You might learn that your agents simply aren’t fully aware of each department’s function.

Call inception metrics

A customer’s perception of a brand begins before the agent even answers the phone. Track call inception metrics to ensure you’re making a good impression on consumers during that critical period between them contacting and speaking to customer support.

10. Average first response time

Average first response time (or average first reply time) measures how long it takes a support agent to respond to a customer once a call triggers a ticket.

Calculate this metric by dividing the total of all first response times by the total number of calls. Make sure to exclude calls that come in after business hours, though.

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According to Reed, average first response time shows whether “you are getting to customers quickly—and not [sending] a canned generic response.” Providing speedy, helpful responses shows customers that you care about them and prioritize their needs.

How to improve average first response time

A high average first response time could suggest that there are too many calls for agents to handle. Consider increasing the number of agents available during peak hours to provide faster support to callers.

An alternative option is to introduce a chatbot that presents pre-written answers to common questions. This can help reduce the number of placed calls. If the chatbot fails to resolve the issue, it can connect the customer with a live agent. Customer service software—like Zendesk—allows the customer to place a call directly from their web browser, too.

11. Average hold time

Average hold time (AHT) is the average amount of time customers spend waiting on the phone before connecting with a support agent.

Calculate average hold time by adding up all customer wait times and then dividing that number by the total number of calls.

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It’s best to keep your call center’s AHT to the bare minimum—customers don’t like to be kept waiting, so long hold times can spell disaster for your brand image.

Donovan Steinberg, director of customer success at BombBomb, says: “The amount of time customers wait has a direct impact on the support experience.”

How to improve average hold time

If your agents are overwhelmed with work, beefing up your customer self-service options may help reduce the number of calls you get. This move can ease agents’ workloads, enabling them to assist customers more quickly. Ask your agents to identify frequently asked questions or common customer issues, and update your knowledge base accordingly.

Look at individual agents’ average hold times, too. If one agent’s time is particularly lengthy, they may need additional training. Hiring more agents can also move the needle in the right direction.

12. Call abandonment rate

Call abandonment rate is a call center KPI that reflects the total number of customers who hang up while waiting to speak with an agent.

Calculate this metric by dividing the total number of abandoned calls by the total number of inbound calls.

How to improve call abandonment rate

Give customers the option to request a callback. Customers keep their place in line without remaining on hold, and an agent calls them when it’s their turn.

Some call center software also allows agents to automatically create tickets from abandoned calls (provided a callback number is available). They can potentially salvage poor experiences by following up with customers who left the queue.

Boost your customer support by tracking key call center performance metrics

The phone is still a popular customer support channel, so improving call center performance should be a priority for any business. Use the metrics outlined above to gain the big-picture insights needed to transform your call center.

As you may already know, manually tracking these metrics isn’t feasible for most call center managers. A robust CCaaS system can automatically track them for you, saving you precious time. Integrate the platform with your existing customer service software to gather accurate analytics and insights so you can improve your customer support and increase customer retention.

FAQs

What are call center metrics that needs to track? ›

Here are some popular call center performance metrics to track:
  • Average Call Abandonment Rate. ...
  • Percentage of Calls Blocked. ...
  • Average Time in Queue. ...
  • Service Level. ...
  • Average Speed of Answer. ...
  • Average Handle Time. ...
  • Average After Call Work Time. ...
  • First Call Resolutions.

How do call centers improve metrics? ›

Tips for how to improve call center customer service and metrics
  1. Use real-time metrics. ...
  2. Add features like pop-up chat windows. ...
  3. Quantify customer feedback for continuous improvement. ...
  4. Watch user session replays. ...
  5. Identify and prioritize low hanging fruit. ...
  6. Pinpoint problems with anomaly detection and quantification.
13 Jul 2021

How can I improve my call center performance? ›

How to Improve Call Center Agent Performance
  1. Use IVR to segment customers. ...
  2. Eliminate avoidable calls. ...
  3. Implement continuous training. ...
  4. Monitor calls and share best practices. ...
  5. Empower your agents with the best technology. ...
  6. Monitor and re-examine your metrics. ...
  7. Reward successful agents. ...
  8. Make data-driven changes.
5 Dec 2018

How do you measure the effectiveness of a call center? ›

To measure agent productivity and performance, call center directors should keep track of these seven key metrics to see where agents need to improve and where they thrive.
  1. Average handle time. ...
  2. Quality monitoring. ...
  3. Customer satisfaction. ...
  4. Schedule adherence. ...
  5. Dial transfer rate. ...
  6. Unavailable time. ...
  7. Agent occupancy.
27 Jul 2021

What metrics do you need to measure to run a successful call center support organization? ›

Call Center Agent Performance Metrics Measure Success
  • 1 – Customer Satisfaction. ...
  • 2 – First-Call Resolution. ...
  • 3 – Service Level. ...
  • 4 – Average Handle Time. ...
  • 5 – Abandon Rate. ...
  • 6 – Cost.

What is quality metrics in call center? ›

Quality Assurance, or QA, metrics refer to the data that is tracked and used to quantify contact center agent performance. While they vary by industry, QA metrics typically focus on conversation-handling efficiency and creating a better omnichannel customer experience.

How do you identify outliers in a call center? ›

Look for any outliers—agents who routinely surpass the average percentage—to identify employees in need of additional training or resources. You might learn that your agents simply aren't fully aware of each department's function.

Why is performance important in a call center? ›

Contact center leaders care about their agent performance metrics for many reasons. Employers depend on their agents to deliver a quality consumer experience with each interaction, resolve problems, offer advice, and answer questions to the high standard buyers expect.

How is call center KPI calculated? ›

In order to track this KPI, use the following formula: The number of customer issues/inquiries resolved in a single call ÷ the total number of incoming calls that have had their issues resolved.

How do you analyze data in a call center? ›

Analyze Your Cloud Call Center Data: 6 Methods
  1. Watch Your Call Detail Records. Call detail records list down all incoming and outgoing business calls. ...
  2. Track Call Center KPIs. ...
  3. Study Customer Preferences. ...
  4. Make Quality Assurance a Priority. ...
  5. Key into EX Metrics. ...
  6. Collect Customer Feedback through Surveys.
27 Oct 2020

What is call center Matrix? ›

The call center matrix is a group of metrics used to measure call center performance. These metrics are all interrelated; in our experience, improving one almost certainly improves another.

What is the key to success in a call center? ›

The building blocks of a successful call center are well-known: (1) The team that makes the work happen, (2) the technology that supports them, and (3) the customers they interact with. Here's why putting these three elements first leads to increased success.

How do you improve call quality? ›

How To Improve Call Quality While Using Your Android Phone?
  1. Check your microphone and earpiece for obstructions.
  2. Enable high quality calling settings.
  3. Try Wi-Fi calling.
  4. Use apps to make voice calls over the internet.

What are the three 3 critical metrics in an inbound customer services channel? ›

Speed of answer, average handle time and after-call work time are key performance indicators in this area. Your inbound call center metrics can be a rich source of insight into your overall operational efficiency.

What is efficiency in call center? ›

Call center efficiency is the technical implementation of the annual targets set by contact centers to support customers. Eliminating inefficiencies and improving overall performance are the ultimate objectives for any contact center and proper steps can be taken to reach it.

What is accuracy in call center? ›

5. Call forecast accuracy. Call forecast accuracy is a call center efficiency metric that measures how accurate call volume forecasts -- a key input for staffing and scheduling purposes -- are during specific time intervals.

What is the most important KPI in a call center? ›

#1 Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

One of the most important call center KPIs is the customer satisfaction rate. If it's high, then it means your customers are delighted with the service you provide. But if it's not, then it's high time to have a look at potential issues inside your call center.

How do you evaluate a call center quality analyst performance? ›

There are two primary areas to address when evaluating the effectiveness of a call center quality analyst or coach: 1) Determine if the coach has performed the one-on-one training sessions that they were supposed to deliver. 2) Determine if the coach is effective at providing constructive and actionable direction.

Are KPIs metrics? ›

What are KPIs? KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are the metrics by which you gauge business critical initiatives, objectives, or goals. The operative word in the phrase is “key,” meaning they have special or significant meaning. KPIs act as measurable benchmarks against defined goals.

What is a good average speed to answer in call center? ›

What is the industry benchmark for average speed of answer (ASA)? The typical average speed of answer as per industry standards is 28 seconds. Is the contact center short staffed and the workforce optimized?

What is average speed to answer in a call Centre? ›

The average speed of answer industry standard is generally 28 seconds. Longer ASA can translate directly to worse customer satisfaction and increased agent burnout.

How do you calculate average speed of answer in call center? ›

Just take the total waiting time for calls that were answered and divide it by the total number of answered calls.

What is ramping in call center? ›

Ramp-up time – otherwise known as agent proficiency – measures how long it takes for new contact centre agents to reach an “acceptable level” of performance. Contact centres can safeguard customer satisfaction by reducing ramp-up time, keeping handling times low, and increasing agent confidence.

How do you rate a call center agent? ›

1. How do you measure the performance of an agent?
  1. Average call handling time.
  2. Average call abandonment rate.
  3. Average waiting time.
  4. First call resolution rate.
  5. Customer satisfaction score.
  6. Service level.
  7. Occupancy rate.
  8. Average after call work time.
28 Apr 2021

How do you measure first call resolution? ›

First Call Resolution Formula

To calculate this number, you divide the number of cases resolved first time by the number of cases handled by agents in total. You can multiply the number by 100 to get a percentage. For instance, if 150 calls out of 400 were handled first time, your FCR rate is 37.5%.

What KPIs are most important in a call center? ›

Best KPIs to use in your call center
  • #1 Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • #2 Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • #3 The number of blocked calls.
  • #4 Call Arrival Rate.
  • #5 Average wait time (AWT)
  • #6 Average Time to Abandon (ATA)
  • #7 Average Handle Time (AHT)
  • #8 Average After Call Work Time (ACW)
5 Jan 2021

What are the three 3 critical metrics in an inbound customer services channel? ›

Speed of answer, average handle time and after-call work time are key performance indicators in this area. Your inbound call center metrics can be a rich source of insight into your overall operational efficiency.

What is the required metrics for managing the IVR? ›

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) When measuring the success of an IVR, it's vital that you get feedback from customers. KPIs that measure the objective performance of the system are useful, you also need to know how customers feel about your IVR setup. Customer Satisfaction is the most useful metric in this respect.

How is KPI measured in call center? ›

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

This KPI is all about measuring how happy your customers are with the service they've been given. CSAT is usually measured by asking customers directly what they thought of your call center's service. They'll be asked to rate their experience, and then given the option to leave feedback.

How can customer service KPI be improved? ›

There are 3 specific ways that companies can improve their customer service KPIs:
  1. Hire More Human Agents. To decrease resolution time and first response rate, companies can simply hire more agents. ...
  2. Outsource Customer Service. ...
  3. Bring AI Into The Organization In The Form Of Virtual Agents.
31 Aug 2021

What makes a call Centre successful? ›

Call centers need people with a natural ability for customer service, good listening skills, effective communication skills, an excellent memory, and an enthusiastic attitude. It's the intangibles like enthusiasm and ability to listen that often make the best employees.

What are Key Performance Indicators? ›

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are targets that help you measure progress against your most strategic objectives. While organizations can have many types of metrics, KPIs are targets that are “key” to the success of your business.

What is accuracy in call center? ›

5. Call forecast accuracy. Call forecast accuracy is a call center efficiency metric that measures how accurate call volume forecasts -- a key input for staffing and scheduling purposes -- are during specific time intervals.

How do you identify outliers in a call center? ›

Look for any outliers—agents who routinely surpass the average percentage—to identify employees in need of additional training or resources. You might learn that your agents simply aren't fully aware of each department's function.

How do you measure first call resolution? ›

First Call Resolution Formula

To calculate this number, you divide the number of cases resolved first time by the number of cases handled by agents in total. You can multiply the number by 100 to get a percentage. For instance, if 150 calls out of 400 were handled first time, your FCR rate is 37.5%.

What is the use of performance measure for an employee who works in a BPO industry? ›

Performance metrics illuminate how your contact center's workforce is performing as a whole and offer organizations a quick bottom-line report card on the effectiveness of a BPO's people and processes.

What is IVR call flow? ›

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a system of automated call flows that lets customers select what they need from a menu of options, collects any needed information from them, and then routes their calls to the appropriate destination.

What is IVR completion rate? ›

Definition. Measures the rate at which calls entered in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system are completed within the IVR.

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