By McKay Bird

The call center industry inherently depends on customer experience, so delivering a consistently positive experience is crucial. The truth is that it takes work to maintain that consistency. Not having positive customer experiences can pose a bigger problem for call centers than most realize. 42 percent of Americans are likely to abandon a brand after a poor customer service experience entirely. As customer experience continues to impact the bottom line, call centers need to be able to quantify their ability to meet this demand. Businesses prioritizing customer experience and engagement can drive revenue growth rates up to 8 percent higher than their competitors, highlighting the direct impact of positive customer experiences on financial outcomes.

The crucial tool many call centers may overlook is Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can elevate call center operations to new heights and ensure positive customer experiences. To establish a better pattern of positive outcomes with their customers, they need to step back and find a robust strategy that implements KPIs specific to their operations.

Why are KPIs relevant to a call center’s customer satisfaction?
KPIs are essential to call center success because they establish parameters by which they can measure strengths and weaknesses and improve customer satisfaction with an informed strategy. KPIs are a compass for continuous improvement and performance optimization in call centers. Regularly monitoring and analyzing KPIs allows call center managers to identify bottlenecks, track progress and implement targeted improvements. Whether it involves refining agent training programs, optimizing call routing systems or adopting innovative technologies, KPIs provide the necessary feedback loop to drive ongoing enhancements and raise the bar for customer experiences. By carefully establishing and monitoring these performance metrics, call centers can unlock the potential for enhanced customer satisfaction, increased efficiency and improved overall business outcomes.

The first step in utilizing KPIs effectively is aligning call center goals with customers’ ever-evolving expectations. For example, if the average hold time was 14.6 minutes, a KPI can be established based on the data from hold times that aim to improve them. By identifying and understanding what truly matters to customers, call centers can design KPIs that focus on delivering value and meeting their needs by identifying and understanding what truly matters to customers. Whether it’s reducing call waiting times, increasing first-call resolution rates, or enhancing agent productivity, aligning KPIs with customer expectations lays the foundation for positive experiences.

In addition, allowing agents the opportunity to make adjustments based on feedback from the customer can significantly impact satisfaction with customer service and overall success. Utilizing the call center data can provide helpful information about the customers’ experience with the agent and help identify ways to increase satisfaction and improve agent training.

Call centers may run into these challenges when establishing KPIs
While establishing KPIs will bring about significant improvements, the undertaking will be challenging. Call centers should first pick the right KPIs unique to their operations because they are not “one-size-fits-all.” KPIs must also be comprehensively measured to set realistic goals; when they’re not updated or revised, it’s time to challenge the “why” behind them. Like sales goals, they should be constantly assessed and adjusted as company goals and customer needs shift.

Additionally, not linking KPIs to the overall goals or strategy can lead to conflict within the call center. There will be misalignment if agents have KPIs that don’t match the overarching company goals. Meanwhile, not acting on insights gained or learned from the success or failure of agents to attain KPIs can undermine their intended purpose. To avoid these pitfalls and set themselves up for success in reaching their goals, managers should first research suitable call center tools to measure and achieve their unique KPIs.

KPIs that measure call center customer satisfaction
For call centers, KPIs are vital in ensuring managers and agents are held accountable for customer interactions. With proper oversight, these metrics also ensure that call centers maintain a quality brand and that customers receive a consistent and positive customer experience, regardless of whom they talk to.

Here are some examples of effective call center KPIs:

  1. Call Arrival Rate: The number of daily calls and the particular high-call times. Tracking this metric helps identify the average amount of calls received in a day and when more agents are needed to handle busy times.
  2. First Call Resolution (FCR): Measuring whether a call was successfully handled, the issue was resolved on the first call, or if the inquiry requires additional follow-up phone calls. Customers are happiest when they get the help they need quickly. Tracking this data identifies best practices for resolving issues during the first call and specific agents more skilled than others at resolving concerns.
  3. Average Handle Time (AHT): The amount of time it takes for an agent to complete a call. Tracking this data helps identify agents or common issues that have caused calls to take longer — allowing you to improve coaching or interactive voice response (IVR) options.
  4. Right Party Contact Rate (RPC): The total number of outbound calls that successfully reached the right person the agent was trying to contact. Knowing how many calls have gone to the correct person helps track account progress.
  5. Revenue per Successful Call: Calculating how much revenue was made from a successful call will reveal a campaign’s success.

Best practices for call center KPI monitoring and management
Like sales or any other aspect of the business, it’s essential to set realistic adherence goals for agents. Look for trends in average handle time to build goals and be consistent with the entire team. Further, call centers can make agent schedules as close to production as possible. Doing so will save time having to redo schedules altogether if an increase in call center volume hits unexpectedly. It’s also essential to allow for flexible schedules to help increase agent engagement and productivity while promoting a positive work-life balance. Call centers can consider turning agent overtime and time off into an advantage to help mitigate times when contacts are high or even slow — this can save thousands of dollars. Review goals and metrics annually and make improvements based on feedback from agents and managers. From there, call centers can implement a workforce management and optimization tool to boost performance and improve overall operations.

KPIs can drive call center success into the future
Establishing KPIs in a call center will profoundly impact brand reputation, customer loyalty and revenue. KPIs ensure that customer interactions are handled efficiently, leading to improved brand perception and customer trust. Since brand reputation and customer loyalty are built upon consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations and resolving issues promptly, call centers can leverage this specific KPI data to hone in on the agents’ performance, boosting the bottom line.

This approach fosters customer loyalty, and those satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and advocates for the brand. Furthermore, call centers can identify opportunities to increase sales and drive revenue growth by focusing on KPIs tied to revenue generation, such as upselling or cross-selling rates. Ultimately, the strategic use of KPIs in a call center enhances operational efficiency and customer satisfaction and positively impacts brand reputation, customer loyalty and revenue generation.

McKay Bird is the Marketing Director of TCN. They offer scalable and customizable cloud-based software solutions to meet the needs of large and small call centers.

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