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Beyond Metrics: How Call Center KPIs Impact Customer Experience

August 1, 2023

Blog

Beyond Metrics: How Call Center KPIs Impact Customer Experience

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Business Process Management

 

Good customer experience is a key factor that fosters loyalty and generates higher revenue. Likewise, call center KPIs influence satisfaction and caller experience simultaneously. For call centers, it is often challenging to manage the conflicting KPIs, but it is the best bet to optimize the overall performance.

In a word dominated by customer experience that continues to be the major contributor to business growth and success, call center KPI metrics are the cornerstone.

Priority for Business

According to a Salesforce study, 96% of customers suggest that brilliant customer service is the foundation for trust.

Another study shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for excellent customer experience.

That clearly makes customer service and experience a deciding factor for choice. To understand how your call center agents are performing, it is important to measure each call and identify the key improvement areas.

Metrics and KPI in call centers range from tracking the total number of calls taken per hour to the time spent on a call. Organized data can be analyzed to understand the latest trends and make necessary improvements.

What Is Call Center KPI?

Call center KPI is best defined as a metric that managers leverage to determine the quality and performance of calls and agents. Using KPIs, managers set realistic performance goals and guide employees towards professional growth and development, set business financial goals and measure the efficiency of the business.

When the reports are collated and combined, it becomes an integral part of the call center’s KPI report.

Call center KPI metrics answers some of the following questions:

  • How easily can customers contact your call center?
  • How efficiently and quickly are issues resolved in the call center?
  • Are customers happy with the experience?
  • What are the scope and areas of improvement?

To track call center KPI metric, you can use software or quality assessment (QA) tool. These tools are designed to monitor the quantitative (number of answered calls, active call waiting) and qualitative (customer sentiment and effort) aspects of calls.

Without measuring calls, it is impossible to find the scope of improvement. As you measure calls, you can also compare the results of the past, present, and future performances.

Commonly Used Call Center KPIs and Their Purposes

  1. First Call Resolution (FCR): FCR measures the percentage of customer inquiries or issues resolved during the initial contact with the call center. A high FCR indicates that agents can effectively address customer concerns without requiring additional follow-up calls, leading to improved customer satisfaction and reduced operational costs.
  2. Average Handling Time (AHT): AHT represents the average time an agent spends on a customer interaction, including talk time and any related tasks after the call. A shorter AHT generally signifies efficient call handling, but it is crucial to balance it with the quality of service to avoid rushed interactions.
  3. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: CSAT is a direct measure of customer satisfaction based on post-interaction surveys. Customers rate their level of satisfaction typically on a scale from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. Monitoring CSAT helps call centers identify areas for improvement and gauge overall customer sentiment.
  4. Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS is an indicator of customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend the company to others. Customers are asked to rate their likelihood of recommending the company on a scale from 0 to 10. This KPI helps assess overall customer loyalty and advocacy.
  5. Service Level (SL): The service level call center measures the percentage of calls answered within a specified time threshold, often expressed as a percentage (e.g., 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds). Maintaining a high SL ensures minimal customer wait times and better customer experiences.

Some More Call Center Metrics In Use

Customer ExperienceAgent PerformanceCall InceptionCall Center Operations
CSAT ScoreActive waiting callsAverage first response timeCalls handled
QA ScoreAgent effort scoresAverage hold timeCall arrival rate
NPS (Net Promoter Score)Average speed of answeringCall abandonment rateCPC (cost per call)
CES (Customer Effort Score)Wrap up timeService level rateAverage age of query
FCR (First Contact Resolution)Missed & declined calls Peak hour traffic
 Total resolution time Repeat call rate
 AHT (Average Handle Time) Callback messaging
 Average talk time Blocked calls percentage
 Schedule adherence  
 Call availability  
 Transfer rate  
 Types of calls  

 

How Call Center KPIs Affect Customer Experience?

Call center KPIs are essential to track the overall performance of voice communication to ensure your business reaches its goals. In addition, KPI in call center also provides deeper insight into the experience of callers and CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores. This metric is used to measure customer interactions on a few parameters having profound impact.

James Wilkinson, the CEO of Balance One Supplements, emphasizes the profound connection between call center KPIs and customer satisfaction. He highlights that a significant impact can be observed in scenarios where agents struggle to resolve customer inquiries on the initial call, leading to lower First Call Resolution rates. This, in turn, may cause prolonged wait times or necessitate multiple follow-up calls, ultimately resulting in reduced customer satisfaction levels.

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How Call Centers Use KPIs to Monitor Agent Performance and Overall Efficiency

Call centers utilize KPIs to evaluate agent performance and the overall efficiency of their operations. Here’s how KPIs are employed for these purposes:

  • Agent Performance Evaluation: By tracking call center agent KPI like FCR, AHT, CSAT, and NPS, managers can identify high-performing agents and those who may need additional training or support. KPI data enables targeted coaching and recognition to improve agent skills and motivation.
  • Quality Assurance and Training: KPIs such as CSAT and FCR are vital for quality assurance efforts. Analyzing customer feedback and monitoring call recordings help identify opportunities to enhance agent communication and problem-solving skills through tailored training programs.
  • Resource Allocation: KPIs like SL and AHT help call centers determine the required staffing levels to meet service targets. Proper resource allocation ensures that customer demand is adequately met, minimizing wait times and customer frustration.
  • Process Improvement: KPI data reveals areas of inefficiency within call center processes. By analyzing AHT and SL data, call centers can identify bottlenecks and streamline workflows for improved overall efficiency.
  • Benchmarking and Goal Setting: Call center KPI benchmarks for setting realistic and achievable goals. Call centers can compare their performance against industry standards or best practices, driving continuous improvement and fostering healthy competition among agents.

The Link Between KPIs and Customer Experience

Exploring the Customer-Centric Approach in Call Centers

In today’s customer-centric business landscape, call centers are increasingly recognizing the importance of customer experience. A customer-centric approach revolves around understanding and fulfilling customer needs and expectations. Call centers adopting this approach focus on building meaningful, personalized interactions, and resolving issues efficiently to create a positive lasting impression on customers.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 88% of organizations consider customer experience as a top strategic priority. This shift in focus has led call centers to redefine their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and align them with customer-centric objectives.

Source: Deloitte’s Customer Experience in Call Centers Survey

Identifying KPIs that Directly Influence Customer Experience

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: CSAT is a vital call center KPI that directly measures the satisfaction level of customers following interactions with call center agents. It typically involves post-interaction surveys where customers rate their experience. High CSAT scores are indicative of positive customer interactions and successful issue resolution.According to a study, 94% of customers who rate a company “very good” for CX are most likely to advocate that company.Source: Qualtrics XM Institute, ROI of Customer Experience
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures customer loyalty and the probability of recommending the company to others. Customers are asked to rate their willingness to recommend a business on a score of 0 to 10. Customers who rate 9 or 10 are considered promoters, while those giving lower scores are detractors. NPS is a strong indicator of customer loyalty and brand advocacy.A research study by Bain & Company revealed the NPS scores highlighting that retail promoters usually spend 3.5 times more than the distractors.Source: Bain & Company’s Findings

How KPIs Help Call Centers Align Their Objectives with Customer Expectations

  • Performance Tracking and Accountability: Customer-centric KPIs provide clear and measurable goals for call center agents and management. Monitoring these call center KPIs helps identify areas for improvement and holds agents accountable for delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Empowers Agents with Insights: Equipping agents with real-time access to customer-centric KPI data empowers them to make informed decisions during interactions. Agents can tailor their responses and solutions based on individual customer needs, ultimately enhancing satisfaction levels.
  • Continuous Improvement and Training: Customer-centric KPIs offer valuable insights into agent performance and customer feedback. Call centers can use this data to implement targeted training programs and coaching sessions that focus on improving the customer experience.
  • Customer Feedback Integration: By integrating customer feedback into KPI analysis, call centers can gain a holistic understanding of customer sentiment. This integration enables call centers to proactively address emerging issues and adapt their strategies to meet evolving customer expectations.

The Impact of KPIs on Agent Behavior

The Psychological Effect of KPIs on Call Center Agents

KPIs not only serve as a crucial tool for call center management but also significantly influence the behavior and mindset of call center agents. The fact that their performance is being constantly measured against KPI targets can have both positive and negative psychological effects on agents.

The Positive

  • Motivation and Focus: Call center agent KPIs can be powerful motivators, driving agents to excel and achieve their goals. Knowing that their efforts directly contribute to customer satisfaction and the success of the call center can instill a sense of purpose and dedication.
  • Clear Goals and Feedback: Call center agent KPIs provide agents with clear performance goals and real-time feedback on their performance. This clarity helps agents understand where they stand and what improvements are needed to meet targets.

The Negative

  • Pressure and Stress: Excessive emphasis on call center agent KPIs can lead to increased pressure and stress among agents, especially if targets are challenging to achieve. The fear of not meeting KPIs might affect agent confidence and well-being.
  • Tunnel Vision: Overemphasis on certain KPIs, such as Average Handling Time, might lead to agents rushing through interactions to meet targets, potentially sacrificing service quality and genuine customer interactions.

Balancing Productivity and Customer Service Quality through KPIs

The balancing act is a delicate challenge for call centers. On one hand, call centers strive for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, while on the other hand, they aim to provide exceptional customer experiences. By selecting the right mix of KPIs, call centers can strike this balance effectively.

Examples of Balancing KPIs

  • First Call Resolution (FCR) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): FCR emphasizes resolving customer issues promptly, which aligns with customer satisfaction goals. By measuring both FCR and CSAT, call centers can gauge whether fast issue resolution positively impacts overall customer experience.
  • Average Handling Time (AHT) and Quality Scores: While AHT measures efficiency, quality scores assess the level of service provided. Agents should be encouraged to find a balance between handling calls efficiently and delivering high-quality interactions.

Creating a Customer-Centric KPI Framework

Building KPIs that Reflect Customer Needs and Expectations

To establish a customer-centric KPI framework, call centers must align their metrics with customer needs and expectations. KPIs should go beyond the traditional efficiency-focused metrics and encompass factors that directly impact customer satisfaction and overall experience.

  • Customer Journey Mapping: Understanding the customer journey is critical in identifying touchpoints that significantly influence customer satisfaction. Use this information to create KPIs that track performance at each stage of the customer journey.
  • Customer Feedback Analysis: Analyze customer feedback, complaints, and suggestions to identify recurring themes and pain points. Develop KPIs that address these issues to actively improve customer experience.
  • Benchmark Against Industry Standards: Research industry benchmarks and best practices to set realistic targets for customer-centric KPIs. This helps call centers gauge their performance relative to competitors and make informed improvements.

Incorporating Customer Feedback and Sentiment Analysis into KPI Assessment

Customer feedback is a goldmine of information that can be used to refine call center KPIs and make data-driven decisions. By incorporating customer feedback and sentiment analysis into KPI assessment, call centers can gain a deeper understanding of customer sentiment and improve their services accordingly.

  • Post-Interaction Surveys: Implement post-interaction surveys to collect immediate feedback from customers. Analyze survey responses to gauge satisfaction levels and identify areas for improvement.
  • Sentiment Analysis of Customer Interactions: Leverage sentiment analysis tools to evaluate the emotional tone of customer interactions. This helps identify patterns of dissatisfaction or areas where agents excel in creating positive experiences.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Monitor social media platforms for customer feedback and comments related to the call center’s services. Positive or negative mentions can offer valuable insights for adjusting KPIs.

Implementing a Balanced Scorecard Approach to Call Center KPIs

Balanced Scorecard Approach to Call Center KPIs

A balanced approach ensures that call centers consider a range of metrics, both quantitative and qualitative, to evaluate their performance comprehensively. This aligns with the overall business objectives while keeping the customer at the center of the evaluation process.

  • Balancing Efficiency and Quality: Include call center KPIs that measure efficiency (e.g., AHT, FCR) and KPIs that assess quality and customer satisfaction (e.g., CSAT, NPS). This ensures that agents focus on both speed and issue resolution effectiveness.
  • Agent Development and Training: Incorporate call center KPIs related to agent training and development, such as the number of coaching sessions attended or the proficiency in using customer service tools. This encourages continuous improvement and professional growth.
  • Incorporating Employee Satisfaction Metrics: Delighted and engaged agents are more likely to provide exceptional customer experiences. Include employee satisfaction metrics, like agent turnover rate or employee engagement scores, to ensure agents are well-supported and motivated.

A customer-focused KPI framework empowers call centers to create lasting and positive relationships with customers, positioning them for long-term success and growth in a competitive marketplace.

Striking the Balance: KPIs and Customer Experience

How to Find the Right Balance Between Operational Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction

Finding the right balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction is crucial for call centers. While efficient operations are essential for cost-effectiveness, exceptional customer experiences build loyalty and brand advocacy. Here’s how call centers can strike this delicate balance:

  • Segmentation and Personalization: Implement personalized service strategies based on customer segmentation. High-priority customers may receive faster service, while complex issues might be routed to specialized agents. This approach ensures efficient handling of interactions while catering to individual customer needs.
  • Empowering Agents: Equip agents with the authority to make decisions that prioritize customer satisfaction, even if it slightly affects efficiency metrics. This empowerment fosters a customer-first mindset among agents.
  • Flexible KPI Targets: Set call center KPI targets that reflect realistic operational goals while considering the broader customer experience. Continuous monitoring and adaptation of targets allow call centers to respond to changing customer expectations.

Continuous Improvement Strategies Based on KPI Analysis and Customer Feedback

Continuous improvement is the backbone of customer-centric call centers. Analyzing call center KPI data and customer feedback allows call centers to identify areas for enhancement and implement targeted strategies to elevate customer experience.

  • Root Cause Analysis: Use KPI data and customer feedback to perform root cause analysis for recurring issues. Identifying underlying problems helps address systemic issues, leading to lasting improvements.
  • Quality Assurance Programs: Establish comprehensive quality assurance programs to evaluate agent interactions regularly. Feedback from quality evaluations can be used for agent coaching and process refinement.
  • Benchmarking and Best Practices: Call center KPI benchmark performance against industry leaders and best practices. Learning from successful organizations provides insights into potential areas for improvement.
  • Incorporating Emerging Technologies: Embrace emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to enhance customer experiences. Implement chatbots, sentiment analysis, or speech analytics to gain deeper insights into customer interactions.

Creating a Culture of Customer-Centricity in the Call Center

Building a customer-centric culture within the call center is fundamental to delivering exceptional customer experiences consistently. It involves aligning values, processes, and behaviors around the customer’s needs.

  • Leadership Buy-In: Ensure that call center leadership demonstrates a commitment to customer-centricity and emphasizes its importance to all employees.
  • Agent Training: Train agents not just in handling calls but also in empathy, active listening, and problem-solving. This equips them to provide personalized and meaningful interactions.
  • Customer-Centric Rewards: Recognize and reward agents based on customer satisfaction and customer-centric KPIs. Celebrating customer success stories fosters a culture that values exceptional customer experiences.
  • Encouraging Customer Feedback: Actively seek customer feedback and involve agents in analyzing and responding to feedback. Engaging agents in the feedback process reinforces the importance of customer-centricity.
  • Share Customer Success Stories: Share positive customer experiences with the entire call center team. These stories inspire agents and reinforce the impact of their work on customer lives.

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Future Trends in Call Center KPIs and Customer Experience

Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on KPI Measurement and Analysis

The future of call center KPIs and customer experience is closely intertwined with the advancements in technology. Emerging technologies are poised to revolutionize how call centers measure and analyze KPIs, leading to more accurate and insightful assessments.

  • AI-Powered Analytics: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can process vast amounts of data quickly and derive meaningful insights. AI-powered analytics will enable call centers to analyze customer interactions in real-time, identify call center trends, and predict customer behavior.
  • Speech and Sentiment Analysis: Call centers will increasingly leverage speech analytics and sentiment analysis to gauge customer emotions during interactions. By understanding customer sentiment, call centers can adjust their approaches and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Omnichannel Integration: With the rise of omnichannel customer service, call centers will integrate data from various communication channels (phone, email, chat, social media) to create a unified view of the customer journey. This comprehensive data will enhance KPI analysis and decision-making.

Shifting Customer Expectations and the Evolution of Relevant KPIs

As customer expectations continue to evolve, call centers must adapt their KPIs to align with these changing demands. The future of KPIs in call centers will focus on providing holistic and personalized customer experiences.

  • Customer Effort Score (CES): CES measures the ease with which customers can resolve issues with a company. Call centers will emphasize reducing customer effort, ensuring quick and effortless issue resolution, and using CES as a key indicator of success.
  • Personalization Metrics: In the future, call centers will implement metrics that evaluate the level of personalization in customer interactions. These metrics may include data on personalized recommendations, agent knowledge of customer history, and the ability to anticipate customer needs.
  • Customer Journey Metrics: Metrics that assess customer satisfaction and experience at different touchpoints of the customer journey will gain importance. Call centers will focus on KPIs that track customer interactions across channels and evaluate the overall journey.

Predictions for the Future of Call Center Management and Customer Experience Optimization

  • Proactive Customer Service: Call centers will shift from reactive to proactive customer service. AI-driven technologies will enable call centers to predict customer issues, preventing problems before they arise.
  • Real-time Customer Insights: The integration of real-time analytics will empower agents with immediate customer insights during interactions. Agents can access relevant customer data and adjust their approach to cater to individual preferences.
  • Empowered Agents with AI Support: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants will provide real-time support to agents during interactions, offering suggestions and solutions based on customer data and historical interactions.
  • Hyper-personalization: Call centers will aim for hyper-personalized customer experiences, tailoring interactions to each customer’s preferences, past behavior, and individual needs.
  • Emphasis on Emotional Intelligence: As AI handles routine tasks, human agents will focus on building emotional connections with customers. Emotional intelligence will be a key differentiator in customer experience.

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Wrapping Up

While call center KPIs are invaluable tools, they should not be viewed in isolation. A holistic approach to call center management considers the interplay of efficiency and customer satisfaction. Striking the right balance between operational metrics and qualitative feedback ensures that call centers consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Recognizing the limitations of metrics alone, we explored the importance of incorporating customer feedback, coaching, and continuous improvement strategies. By fostering a customer-centric culture and empowering agents with the tools and knowledge to excel, call centers can elevate customer experiences to new heights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which KPIs directly influence customer experience in a call center?

Several call center KPIs have a direct impact on customer experience. Key ones include Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score, Net Promoter Score (NPS), First Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handling Time (AHT), and Service Level (SL). These KPIs reflect customer satisfaction, issue resolution efficiency, and overall service quality.

How KPIs improve customer service?

Call center KPIs for customer service give insight into the perception of customers. It elucidates how customers visualize and feel about your brand, products, or services. It further allows businesses to detect problems and concerns earlier and create better opportunities for smart decisions. 

What are the key benefits of call center KPIs?

KPIs provide several benefits to business. They help you track performance, detect issues, and maintain reporting. Furthermore, they also motivate employees, align business objectives with the strategy, and improve decision-making. 

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