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Mastering Call Center Metrics: Your Definitive Guide to Improved Performance

This article was updated on July 1, 2024

Call center metrics are key to unlocking the actionable, real-time insights you need to optimize customer experiences, maximize call center efficiency, and reduce operational costs,  But what are the most important call center metrics to track? And how can you leverage call analytics to create better agent and customer service experiences at scale?

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What Are Call Center Metrics?

Call center metrics are quantifiable measurements that can be monitored to evaluate call center performance. They consist of key performance indicators (KPIs) like average handle time, call volumes, agent occupancy rates, and more.

Using these KPIs, call center managers can measure everything from agent performance and cost-efficiency, to customer experiences. They can then use this information to inform their strategies moving forward.

Call Center Metrics vs. Contact Center Metrics: What’s the Difference?

A call center isn’t the same as a contact center (although they’re very similar, and people often use the terms interchangeably).

A call center provides customer support via a single channel — phone calls. A contact center, on the other hand, provides support across multiple channels, including calls, email, SMS, and social media.

It’s this key distinction that makes call center metrics and contact center metrics different.

Call center analytics platforms track and analyze phone call data — call volumes, call abandonment rates, and so on. This data is used to assess how effectively and efficiently telephone agents are meeting customer needs for high-quality customer support.

Contact center analytics platforms track and analyze metrics across various channels. As well as phone calls, they collect data from your emails, live chats, social media, and more.

If phone calls are your primary channel, focus on utilizing call center analytics to optimize call center performance. If you use a range of channels, you’ll need to monitor other KPIs. Some, however, apply across the board — such as CSAT or NPS (more on those later).

Why Do Call Center Metrics Matter?

Everything from the customer experience you provide to how cost efficient your tactics are relies on the insights gleaned from call center metrics. Let’s take a look at the main reasons why call center metrics matter.

Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are performance metrics that provide insights into how efficiently and effectively your call center is running. By tracking them in real time and over specific periods, you can establish whether you’re meeting your goals.

Gaining Accurate Insights

Call center software collects metrics from every corner of your call center, presenting you with accurate data and reliable insights wrapped up in visual reports. These insights empower data-driven decision-making, which is much more accurate than relying on guesswork or gut feelings.

Increasing Customer Satisfaction

Customers want fast, painless, and personalized service experiences — but how do you know whether you’re meeting their expectations?

Call center metrics like customer satisfaction scores and customer effort scores provide the feedback you need to establish how happy customers are with your service.

Plus, you can leverage metrics like queue times, abandonment rates, and handle times to pinpoint weaknesses and make targeted improvements that boost satisfaction.

Improving Efficiency

Using call center metrics, you can identify and eliminate inefficiencies like disorganized routing, slow manual processes, and poor scheduling.

For example, high call volumes and lengthy queue times can lead to agent turnover, burnout, and low customer satisfaction. With insights into these metrics, you can implement strategies to boost efficiency, such as hiring more employees or refining your routing rules.

Empowering Agents

If agents are blindly working toward unachievable goals, they’re going to become unmotivated. Metrics help you set realistic, measurable goals that drive agents to succeed.

As an added bonus, call center metrics uncover opportunities for improvement. Say your call queues are mounting because agents are stuck completing time-consuming after call work (ACW) activities. This might inspire you to implement automatic call logging, relieving the burden and empowering agents to meet customer needs.

Reducing Costs

Issues like lengthy wait times, hold times, and transfers increase customer churn and skyrocket cost-per-call. Call center metrics shine a light on costly operational and performance inefficiencies, allowing for targeted improvements.

Plus, metrics provide insights into customer needs, preferences, and pain points. Sales agents can use these insights to personalize sales strategies and drive conversions.

15 Call Center Metrics Examples & KPIs To Monitor

There are lots of call center metrics and KPIs that you could track — but which ones are the most important? Here’s our list of the top metrics to track, sorted into three distinct categories: customer experience metrics, agent performance metrics, and call inception metrics.

Customer Experience Metrics

Customer experience metrics are — as the name suggests — all about the customer. They focus on how effectively you meet your customers’ needs, unlocking insights that help you optimize the customer journey.

1. First-Call Resolution (FCR)

First-call resolution measures the percentage of customer calls that agents manage to resolve during the customers’ first outreach. It tells you how effectively you solve customer issues without transferring, escalating, or returning calls.

Why does this matter? Well, 23% of customers surveyed by Document360 find it infuriating when their issues don’t get resolved during the first call. And 28% hate having to repeat themselves to multiple agents; it directly impacts customer satisfaction and can highlight critical flaws in your call center experience, such as poor routing or a lack of agent expertise. 

How to measure first-call resolution rate:

First-call resolution rate = Total resolved calls / Total number of calls

2. Average Time in Queue

Average time in queue measures how long customers wait in your virtual queue before their call is answered by an agent.

The longer your customers have to wait, the more frustrated they’ll become, leading to poorer experiences. It’s likely you’ll notice a link with another KPI: The higher your average time in queue metric, the higher you should expect your call abandonment rate to be.

Tracking queue times can help draw attention to other issues that affect customer experiences, such as high call volumes or lengthy call handling times. This could be resolved by hiring more agents, providing real-time agent coaching, or implementing self-service capabilities.

How to measure average time in queue: 

Average time in queue = Total time customers spend in the queue / Total number of calls answered

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3. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT measures how satisfied customers are with their customer support experience. It’s one of the most accurate ways to determine this, as it’s based on direct feedback from your customers.

Unlike many of the other metrics listed here, this one relies on surveys sent directly to your customers, typically immediately after the call. The surveys ask customers how satisfied they are on a scale of one to five, with one being completely dissatisfied and five being completely satisfied. For a customer to be considered satisfied, they’d need to give a four or five-star rating.

Monitoring CSAT scores is vital for establishing a baseline and maintaining high satisfaction levels. Should you notice a dip, it should prompt you to investigate the root cause and make improvements before it causes your reputation to fall.

How to measure customer satisfaction scores: 

CSAT = Total number of four and five-star responses / The total number of responses collected

4. Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES measures how much effort customers need to put in to resolve their support issues. Surveys are sent to customers at the end of their service interaction, asking them to rate how easy it was for them to get their issue resolved.

A high effort score means that your customers aren’t getting their problems resolved quickly and efficiently, lowering satisfaction levels.

Let’s say that a customer calls you to request a refund. If they have to jump through multiple transfers or callbacks to resolve their issue, they may never buy from your company again. But if they’re able to receive their refund with minimal obstacles, they’ll have a positive experience and consider shopping with you again. 

How to measure CES: 

Customer effort score = Combined total of your customer effort scores / Total number of survey responses

5. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS tells you how likely customers are to recommend your brand to others. And, on a deeper level, it measures customer satisfaction and loyalty by tracking the overall sentiment that customers hold about your brand.

Like CSAT, this also relies on customer surveys. In this case, you ask one simple question: “On a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”.

Customers who have overall positive experiences with your brand will rate you either nine or 10, making them “promoters.” “Passives” give a rating of seven or eight, while “detractors” rate you between one and six. 

Knowing how many customers fall into each category can help you improve your customer service to increase long-term brand loyalty and advocacy. It also highlights customers at risk of churn, allowing you to proactively reach out to them to rectify negative experiences.

How to calculate NPS: Once you’ve categorized customers into detractors, passives, and promoters, subtract the percentage of detractors from the promoters. This will give you an overall Net Promoter Score.

Agent Performance Metrics

The productivity and efficiency of your agents directly impacts call center performance, so it’s vital to stay on top of it. Here are the most important agent performance metrics to track.

1. Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

Average speed of answer is an agent performance metric that measures how long it takes for agents to answer inbound calls. For call centers, you should be looking at a time between 20 and 30 seconds.

A high ASA is a sign of poor agent productivity. It means that agents are taking a long time to answer calls, lengthening queuing times and reducing the volume of calls that agents are able to respond to.

By tracking ASA, you can take steps to meet the industry benchmark, such as hiring more staff or using tools like an AI virtual assistant so that basic questions can be resolved via self-service.

How to measure average speed of answer: 

Average speed of answer = Total waiting time of answered calls / Total number of answered calls

2. Agent Utilization Rate

The agent utilization rate calculates how long call center agents spend actively performing productive work-related activities. This includes all work, not just the time they’re actively on calls — so training sessions, meetings, etc. are counted. This is then measured against their total shift time.

Measure agent utilization to verify that employees are maximizing their productivity at work. Just make sure you set reasonable targets — if it’s too high, you risk burning out your agents. And if it’s too low, it can lead to boredom and frustration, eventually demotivating your workforce.

How to measure agent utilization rate: 

Agent utilization rate = (Agents’ total time spent on work-related activities / Total shift time) x 100

3. Average Handle Time (AHT)

Another useful metric is average handle time, which describes the amount of time that agents take to resolve customer calls from start to finish. It includes hold times and, generally, any after-call activities.

AHT is a useful metric for identifying whether agents are spending too much time — or too little time — resolving customer issues. 

A high AHT frustrates customers who want quick resolutions. It also reduces how many customers agents have time to help. High AHT may point to agent skills gaps, data silos, or complex technologies.

On the other hand, an overly low AHT may mean that agents are rushing through calls and, as a result, not delivering high-quality service experiences. This is especially obvious if low AHTs are coupled with high volumes of return calls, poor CSAT scores, and low first-call resolutions.

The goal is to establish an AHT baseline that results in positive customer experiences. From there, you can strike a balance between quality and speed.

How to measure average handle time: 

Average handle time = Total sum of your talk, hold, and ACW times / Total number of calls

4. Occupancy Rate

Agent occupancy rate measures how much of your agents’ time is spent on call-related activities, specifically talk time, hold time, and after-call work. Unlike agent utilization rate, it doesn’t include training, meetings, or any other activity not directly related to calling customers.

Essentially, occupancy rate measures how busy your agents are. You can see how long agents spend on productive call-related activities versus being idle but available to handle calls.

Like utilization, low occupancy rates limit agent productivity, while high occupancy rates burn them out. By continuously tracking occupancy (and actively comparing it to utilization to make sure you’re not counting off-call activities as idle time), you can make informed decisions about staffing, scheduling, and break times. 

How to measure occupancy rate: 

Occupancy rate = Total handling time / Total logged-in time

Call Inception Metrics

Call inception and operational metrics tell you how effective your internal setup is. When combined with the other two categories, you can build a complete picture of exactly where your weak points are.

1. First-Response Time (FRT)

Your average first-response time tells you how quickly agents reach out to customers who submit a ticket.

For a call center, this could be the length of time between a customer requesting a callback and an agent making the response call. For a contact center, this could include email, live chat, and social media response times.

Low FRTs signal operational efficiency. It shows that you have enough staff to meet customer expectations for speedy service. This is important, as Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report states 65% of customers expect immediate responses from customer service agents.

How to measure first response time: 

Average first response time = Total sum of all first response times / Total number of calls

2. Call Arrival Rate

Call arrival rate tells you how many incoming calls you receive during any given time period. This could be per hour, per day, per week, etc. This metric offers insight into call volume patterns, helping you identify peak and off-peak periods for accurate resource optimization.

Let’s say your call center receives 1,000 calls over 10 hours. This would make your call arrival rate 100 calls per hour, letting you know approximately how many staff you might need. But, if a huge volume of these calls were received during, say, 3 pm and 6 pm, then you’d need to schedule more staff between these hours to handle the increased volume.

How to measure call arrival rate:

Call arrival rate = Total number of incoming calls / Time period

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3. Active Waiting Calls

This metric offers real-time insight into how many callers are waiting in your queue at any given time. It’s measured against your current call volume to help call center managers evaluate how efficiently agents handle call volumes at any time.

High volumes of active waiting calls typically point to operational inefficiencies or poor agent performance. By looking at this in combination with other information — for instance, agent occupancy and average speed of answer — managers can work out where the problem lies and take steps to fix it. This might involve hiring more staff or utilizing an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system so basic questions can be resolved without needing an agent.

How to measure active waiting calls:

Active waiting calls = Number of calls on hold / Total number of current calls

4. Percentage of Calls Blocked

If a customer receives a busy tone or is sent to your voicemail when they call you, it’s known as a blocked call. This happens if your call queues are full or you haven’t set up call queues yet.

Needless to say, it’s incredibly frustrating for your customers and can incite them to cut contact with your brand indefinitely.

For a full call center, an ideal call blocked percentage is 0%, but keeping it below 2% is a more realistic goal. This might be higher if you’re a small operation without dedicated call staff, however. By tracking this metric, you can uncover potential operational flaws (such as an inadequate phone system or a lack of available agents). 

How to measure percentage of calls blocked:

Percentage of calls blocked = Total number of calls that fail to reach agents / Total number of calls

5. Call Abandonment Rate

How many customers hang up before they speak to an agent? This is known as the call abandonment rate, and it tells you the percentage of customers who make a call to your service team only to hang up before getting connected to an agent.

Long wait times are often the main reason for high call abandonment rates. Resolving this issue empowers customers to connect with agents quickly and painlessly, resulting in better first impressions and overall customer experiences. Of course, there’ll always be some calls being abandoned — dropped calls happen, after all — but you want to reduce the amount as much as possible.

How to measure call abandonment rate:

Call abandonment rate = Total number of abandoned calls / Total number of inbound calls

6. Cost Per Call (CPC)

CPC tells you, on average, how much money it costs to handle a single phone call. It involves gathering all the costs generated from your operational expenses (labor, overheads, technology expenses, etc), and dividing the total sum by the total number of calls.

The goal is to reduce CPC as much as possible to optimize your budget. A high CPC indicates various underlying inefficiencies — expensive technology maintenance, lengthy manual processes, overstaffing/understaffing, and a host of other issues.

That said, cutting costs too much can reduce the quality of the service you offer to customers. It’s all about balancing cost reduction and customer service quality.

How to calculate cost-per-call:

Cost-per-call = Total cost associated with handling calls / Total number of calls

How To Improve Call Center Metrics

So, you’ve gathered all of your metrics — what can you do to improve them? 

Get Real-Time Insights

With access to a steady stream of up-to-the-minute data, you can glean real-time insights into your call center’s performance.

The best call center software will have an easily accessible analytics dashboard that displays metrics through graphs and charts. You can monitor metrics in real time and make data-driven decisions in response to current performance issues.

Leverage Automation

Call center automation streamlines workflows and operations, empowering agents to deliver better customer service experiences.

For example, automatic call distribution (ACD) is a feature that automatically distributes incoming calls to agents based on your predetermined rules. This ensures that calls are optimally routed to the best available agent, minimizing wait times and transfers and increasing first-call resolutions.

Other metric-improving automation features include chatbots, which can deliver automated replies to customer questions, and workflow automation, which can handle post-call activities.

Set Achievable Goals

When goals are realistic and achievable, they motivate your team to maximize their productivity. So, analyze historical metrics and industry benchmarks like speed of answer, handle time, and customer satisfaction to establish current performance and set future goals. Improving gradually is a much more sustainable approach than setting too-high targets and burning your team out.

Regularly Track Your Progress

Your call center strategies should be flexible enough to adapt to changes. Whether you need to refine scripts, adjust schedules, or integrate new technologies, regularly monitor your progress to assess the impact that changes have on your metrics. 

Follow Call Center Metrics Best Practices

Keeping up with call center best practices helps you remain competitive and meet customer expectations. Some best practices to follow include:

Integrating your call center software with a CRM: This centralizes data and calling capabilities, delivering features like click-to-dial and automated call logging. In turn, you streamline workflows and elevate the agent experience to new levels. Depending on your industry, there are other integrations that might help — for instance, tools that allow you to send follow-up quotes or track job applicants.

Share feedback and achievements with your team: Low morale breeds low performance, harming your metrics. When agents meet targets, outperform benchmarks, and receive positive CSAT scores, let them know — and reward them! —  to boost morale and motivation.

Focus on key metrics: It’s impossible to track every single metric without drowning in data. Focus on the ones that matter most, specifically ones that measure customer experience, agent performance, and call inception.

Support and Train Agents

Effective agent training can improve call center metrics by building skills and expanding knowledge. But how do you know which areas to focus your training programs on?

KPIs like customer satisfaction scores, handle times, and first-call resolution rates offer insights that uncover potential opportunities for individual and team development.

If certain agents are struggling to resolve issues quickly, for example, you might leverage personalized service and sales coaching strategies like call whispering. Or, you could devise a training program based on call recordings to increase communication skills and knowledge.

Track Call Center Metrics Today for Informed Improvements Tomorrow

Call center metrics ensure that accurate, actionable data guides every improvement and enhancement you make. By leveraging the right customer experience, agent performance, and call inception metrics, you gain a holistic view of your call center performance and unlock insights that guide future improvements.

But it can’t be done without the right software. Interested? Schedule a conversation today to see how Vonage can help you improve your call center.

Still Have Questions About Call Center Metrics?

In a call center, metrics refer to measurements that track call center performance in real-time and drive targeted improvements. They can be used to observe everything from customer satisfaction to agent performance and operational efficiency.

Different call center metrics have different benchmarks depending on various factors (company size, industry, etc), but there are some universal ones. The benchmark for call abandonment rate, for example, is around 2-5%.

Regardless of your industry, the most important call center KPIs are the ones that track customer experiences, agent performance, and call center efficiency. This includes metrics like customer satisfaction scores, average handle times, and first response time.

If you’re using call center software, it should automatically gather data for you. You’ll be able to view real-time metrics on your online dashboard and receive in-depth reports with data visualizations.

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