It becomes more clear with each passing year.
Delivering an optimized and rewarding customer experience is critical for almost any brand’s success. In fact, McKinsey & Company recently reported results of a customer care survey that confirmed customer service is now a strategic focus for companies.
But, take a closer look and you might find that what an organization prioritizes may differ from what customers care about most.
For instance, we know that tracking the time it takes to resolve a customer issue is important to most companies. Meanwhile, the quality that the service customers get is extremely important to them. It sounds like common sense, but this just confirms that your customers care more about whether their issue is resolved than the time it takes to resolve it.
Deloitte explored a question that sums up this dilemma in a recent survey of their own. They asked if we are focusing on the right customer satisfaction performance areas.
Based on responses to their survey, the areas cited as frequently used to measure agent and team performance included:
• 73% Quality of service/contact/fulfillment
• 51% Time taken to resolve an issue
• 44% The number of issues solved in a given period
• 40% First contact resolution (FCR)
These kinds of call center agent performance metrics are crucial for measuring the effectiveness of your agents and the team as a whole. What you measure matters; by analyzing these indicators, organizations can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance the customer experience.
The metrics most critical for you to track may depend on your strategy or the industry you compete within. But focusing on the set of metrics most aligned to your business objectives can also result in the customer agent behavior you would most like to see.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 critical agent performance metrics you should know about.
First response time (FRT)
First response time refers to the time it takes for a customer to receive the first response from a customer service agent after submitting their query or request. It’s typically measured in minutes or hours and serves as an indicator of how quickly and efficiently customer inquiries are addressed. The shorter the response time, the better. Longer first response times can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among your customers, so organizations should aim to keep response times as low as possible.
A first contact resolution rate measures the percentage of customer inquiries or issues that are resolved during the initial contact with a customer service agent, without requiring any further follow-up or escalations. A higher number here indicates better performance.
In fact, a high FCR rate generally indicates that an agent is knowledgeable and able to resolve customer issues. And that should lead to higher rates of customer satisfaction.
It’s important to emphasize that CS agents won’t always be able to resolve all inquiries on the first try. However, in many cases, making a “next best action” available to suggest can help to improve FCR rates. When an agent offers customers a clear action plan that outlines steps the customers can take to resolve their issues quickly, it’s usually appreciated. By proactively providing customers with the next best action, agents can help ensure that follow-up interactions are as efficient and effective as possible.
Rate of answered calls
The rate of answered calls refers to the proportion of incoming calls that are answered by agents, divided by the total number of incoming calls, expressed as a percentage. The metric indicates how effectively an agent is managing the volume of incoming calls and ensuring that customers are not left waiting for extended periods.
If you believe your agents need to improve their rate of answered calls, there are a number of steps you can take. Call routing technologies can distribute incoming calls evenly among available agents so some agents don’t get overwhelmed with calls, while others have fewer. You can also evaluate your call scripts and processes to identify areas where they can be improved or streamlined.
Average handling time (AHT)
Average handling time is a metric used to measure the average time it takes for an agent to handle a customer interaction — from first contact until its completion. A lower average handle time generally indicates that a customer service agent is able to handle interactions more quickly and efficiently, but the whether or not the customer’s issue was resolved is also key to consider here.
If you’d like agents to improve their average handle time, there are many actions you can suggest. For instance, your agents should have a comprehensive understanding of the products and/or services they support. This will enable them to address customer inquiries more swiftly and accurately, reducing the need for prolonged research.
Agents can also improve their performance here with the assistance of knowledge bases. Having a comprehensive knowledge base or internal FAQ resource readily accessible can significantly reduce research time and improve AHT.
After-interaction work (AIW)
Simply put, after-interaction work measures the time and effort an agent spends on tasks related to a customer interaction after the conversation or interaction has ended. Perhaps one of the best ways to improve on this metric is to practice taking comprehensive, accurate notes during all interactions. When your agents can document relevant information, updates, and actions taken during the customer interaction itself, it reduces the need for extensive post-interaction documentation and ensures accurate and timely record-keeping.
Overall resolution rate
Overall resolution rate is a key performance indicator used to measure how effective customer service agents are in resolving customer issues. If an agent needs help improving their overall resolution rate, a more active listening approach can help. Paying attention to details and asking clarifying questions can help ensure a more comprehensive understanding.
Agent adherence to schedule
This metric measures how well customer service agents adhere to their scheduled working hours or shifts. Evaluating this KPI can provide insights into an agent’s punctuality, availability, and compliance with their assigned work schedule.
Quality assurance score (QA)
Another critical metric for measuring agent performance is quality assurance scores. QA scores measure how well agents adhere to company guidelines during customer interactions. Factors that can be tracked might include tone of voice, level of politeness, and product knowledge. QA scores are often determined by a team of quality assurance analysts who evaluate recorded calls or chats to ensure that agents follow the correct procedures and provide high-quality service.
Organizations can use QA scores to identify areas where agents may require additional training or support. By regularly monitoring these scores, businesses can ensure that their agents provide consistent service that aligns with company values and standards.
It’s important to note that while high QA scores are desirable, they should not be the sole focus of an organization’s efforts. Organizations must balance the need for high-quality service with the need for operational efficiency. By using a combination of metrics, including response time, FCR rates, CSAT, AHT, QA scores, and agent adherence to schedule, organizations can develop a comprehensive understanding of their customer service team’s performance and make data-driven decisions to improve it.
Agent churn rate measures the rate at which customer service agents leave or discontinue their employment within a given period. This metric can provide insights into the turnover or attrition of customer service agents within an organization. A higher agent churn rate indicates a higher turnover of agents, which is usually not ideal.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
Customer satisfaction is another critical metric for measuring agent performance. CSAT measures how satisfied customers are with the service they received. This metric is often measured through customer surveys or feedback forms. A high CSAT rate indicates that customers are happy with the service they receive, while a low CSAT rate indicates that improvements are needed.
Summary & takeaways
No doubt, agent performance metrics are crucial for measuring the effectiveness of a customer service team. But many of these are also useful for agents themselves to be aware of. CS agents need to be able to see the value they bring to the organization, so they feel they make a difference.
By analyzing these metrics, organizations can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance the customer experience.
Some of the most important metrics include response time, first contact resolution, overall resolution rate, and customer satisfaction. Organizations should aim to improve metrics like these to ensure that their customers are satisfied and loyal.
You can read about our recommendations for what you should measure in your contact in our previous articles Rethinking Contact Center KPIs – Part 1 – and Rethinking Contact Center KPIs – Part 2.