Call center managers are charged with a tough job, because supporting customers means constant revision to your process, so you move with their needs and deliver consistent quality. Understanding how your various KPI measurements work together to give you an idea about the balance of your services is an important first step to achieving success as a manager, and it is also the key to understanding when your call center is succeeding, so you avoid over-tweaking your process and overdoing change in the name of call center performance.
Understanding the Four Metric Categories
The four main areas of concern for call center managers are:
- Service Quality: Measuring service quality means looking at whether or not your call center meets customer needs efficiently, asking questions like: Do your employees have the knowledge and resources necessary to act decisively and solve problems? And how is customer feedback reflecting training efforts?
- Accessibility: These metrics allow you to track use of your self-service system, wait times, and call abandonment, and they tell you whether or not customers have a hard time actually reaching the point where service quality comes into question. Inaccessible systems tend to be rated more lowly on service quality, too, even when actual call center performance at problem solving is quite excellent, because accessibility issues affect the customer’s perception of the entire process afterward.
- Operational Efficiency: Metrics that cover call wrap-up time, forecasting accuracy, the average handling time for each call, and your employees’ adherence to their schedules are all designed to ensure that high quality, accessible work is also efficient enough to handle the call load your center receives.
- Cost: Last but not least, cost considerations ensure you operate within budget by measuring cost per call, agent attrition, and absenteeism to give you a full picture of your call center’s effectiveness.
Balancing the Metrics
Knowing what categories to measure and which KPIs are most important in each category is just the first step. To achieve the best possible call center performance, managers also need to understand how to balance the metrics, to achieve success in every area. Otherwise, cost effective and efficient call centers may still be hampered by training issues or accessibility problems that reduce their overall performance, and similarly, the best and most accessible service is unsustainable if costs are too high.
The issue is more complex than that, though, because some areas affect others in direct ways. For example inefficient but high-quality service typically means long wait times and less calls processed. This creates a situation where accessibility goes down even as service goes up, and the long run, that can lead to service quality measurement declines as customers who have been kept waiting remain dissatisfied and stressed even after receiving the service they desired.
The goal, then, has to be achieving success in all four areas without focusing too intently on one, unless that one happens to be lagging behind. Training efforts and organizational restructuring, as well as the investment in new resources, needs to be balanced to address the needs of all four categories at once, as well. That allows for better overall call center performance, and, more importantly, the kind of success that is sustainable into the future.