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How To Rate Call Center Effectiveness


Founder & CEO at Millennial Services, a dedicated call-center services provider.

The essential elements of a call center—a solid back-of-house (BOH) team, competent management and highly skilled call center agents—keep call centers effective and productivity consistent. In my experience, the best way to achieve peak effectiveness and productivity is by understanding how to rate call centers. Positive customer experiences are directly tied to your agents’ performance.

How To Assess Call Center Performance

To assess your call center’s performance, you first need to choose which key performance indicators (KPIs) to track. Call center software can simplify real-time KPI tracking. However, as the founder of a company that can help track KPIs, I’ve found that the software you choose is only as effective as the metrics you choose to track. Below are some of the most common KPIs employed by the top call centers in the world.

1. Average Call Abandonment Rate

HubSpot reports 90% of customers with customer service questions say immediate responses are “important” or “very important.” Contacting a call center and automatically being put on hold can be incredibly frustrating. It can be so frustrating that some customers will hang up the phone before speaking with someone.

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When callers hang up while being placed on hold, these situations are categorized as “abandoned calls.” Track this number to reveal how many customers are not receiving the service you expect them to. While you may not be able to completely eliminate abandoned calls, agents can aspire to lower their average. Lower abandonment rates can translate into an improvement in customer satisfaction.

Typically, I’ve found an average call abandonment rate of 10% is considered too high.

2. Percentage Of Calls Blocked

The only thing worse than an abandoned inbound call is one that is blocked. Call centers that experience high call volumes may use a function that gives callers a busy signal rather than placing them on hold. This technique prevents inordinately long hold times once a specified number of callers are in queue.

It’s not ideal to refuse your service to your customers, but it may be less irritating than forcing them to wait. It’s important to measure the percentage of inbound blocked calls.

3. Average Call Wait Time

The average call wait time is the average amount of time that callers wait for representatives to complete tasks, are held in a call management system queue or hold for another agent to answer a call transfer. Tracking this KPI can help your call center decrease your customers’ time on hold, improving customer satisfaction.

4. Service Level

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This KPI gauges your capability to provide the quality of service you promised your customers in the service level agreement (SLA). An SLA is a call center’s pledge to maintain a certain level of service to your clients. Generally, the SLA specifies the promise to answer a certain percentage of phone calls within a given amount of time, for example, answering 70% of calls within one minute.

A service level KPI acts as an operative barometer of a call center’s current performance. If your service level KPI is fluctuating, let your team know immediately.

5. Average Speed Of Answer

The average speed of answer (ASA) KPI represents the average wait time of callers on hold in the queue, divided by the number of calls completed. I’ve found it’s one of the most tracked KPIs in the tech support industry, indicating a call center’s responsiveness to incoming calls. The ASA includes both live calls handled by agents and calls handled by interactive voice response (IVR) systems. However, ASA shouldn’t be mistaken for average response time (ART), which applies to live chat.

It’s so important that nearly anyone working in service and support has their ASA committed to memory. And since most call centers set ASA targets, it’s also often tracked to ensure SLA-level compliance.

6. Average Handle Time

The average handle time (AHT) KPI measures how long agents interact with callers. AHT starts the second customers initiate contact with a call center and ends the moment agents complete the tasks. This KPI is essential for ascertaining agent efficiency. AHT also includes the amount of time inbound callers spend on hold. The benchmark for AHT differs from one industry to another. Furthermore, AHT can be higher due to the complexity of certain calls.

7. After-Call Work Time

The after-call work (ACW) KPI is a series of requisite tasks that need to be completed when an agent finishes a customer interaction. This includes scheduling follow-up actions, updating the system, updating colleagues, as well as logging the reason for contact and outcome. ACW KPIs can vary between caller queries and resolution requests; thus, there isn’t usually a fixed yardstick for the duration. Nevertheless, it’s a KPI that affects AHT, so I suggest closely tracking it.

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8. First-Call Resolution

The first-call resolution (FCR) KPI is used to gauge the number of caller inquiries answered and problems solved on the first call. FCR is one of the most routinely measured KPIs in the call center industry. In theory, FCR represents no repetitious calls from the customer’s standpoint. This KPI defines a metric for both call centers and other contact channels.

FCR is commonly used alongside AHT and ACW to establish the performance of contact center agents. Nonetheless, FCR is generally preferred because of its statistical relationship between rates of follow-up calls and customer dissatisfaction.

The Overarching Takeaway

Customer service isn’t just about ensuring satisfaction, deescalating tense situations or giving away freebies. While we know these things are important, customer care solutions are intended to take things further. Call centers should strive to make emotional connections so customers feel valued—that’s what brand loyalty is all about.


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