By Richard Lawrence-Allen
In every contact centre around the world different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are monitored to ensure that they are offering clients and customers alike the best possible service they can provide. It is of course up to each individual contact centre to discuss with their clients which KPIs they choose to monitor.
There are of course obvious KPIs that most contact centres will always look to, and these will depend on whether you are monitoring an inbound or outbound campaign. For outbound campaigns, most will typically monitor file penetration rates; this is how many of the files received can be closed in the specified campaign time, usually resented as a percentage of the overall number of files received. Outbound sales work also will look at sales statistics. Many different sales statistics can be looked at and can give great feedback on what areas need to be improved upon on any individual campaign. Statistics that are often monitored include, but are not limited to: the number of sales achieved per hour (SPH), the average order value (AOV), the amount of revenue accrued per hour, and the conversion rate of people who make a purchase expressed as a percentage of the over number of DMCs (Decision Making Contacts).
Analysing these statistics is incredibly useful for a contact centre. For example, a low penetration rate can indicate problems with the data received, such as incorrect numbers and contact details that are no longer in use. Furthermore, a high SPH versus a low conversion rate can be indicative of a need to train agents further in the importance of objection handling and making the most of every phone call. Equally, a high SPH against a low AOV can show the need to concentrate further on upselling.
On the other side, for inbound campaigns wait times are clearly necessary to evaluate, along with percentage of calls lost or abandoned. Long wait times a sure-fire way to damage a customer’s experience and in turn a company’s overall reputation for high quality customer care; moreover, the longer that a customer is left waiting, the more likely they are to disconnect the call before an agent has spoken to them. Response times should be monitored not for just calls alone, but also for email and live online chat and social media contact as well. However, different forms of contact do warrant different speeds of response. Calls should offer the fastest response time, followed by live chats, followed by social media comments, and emails come last in this priority chain. Nevertheless a timely response should be offered to all customers regardless of the way that they choose to contact a company and so careful monitoring of these figured is needed.
One telephony focused KPI that we have yet to look at, which can apply to both inbound and outbound campaigns, is average handling time (AHT). Many contact centres look to AHT as a vital figure to monitor staff productivity and efficiency, hoping to keep this figure as low as is possible. However, this is perhaps an oversimplification and can in fact be a false economy. While it is true that calls should be kept concise and clear to avoid wasting customer and agent time alike, placing too much pressure on staff to reduce their AHT can create more long-term issues as agents start to rush through their interactions to move on to the next customer.
An alternative, or at least additional, KPI that can be viewed to monitor overall contact centre efficiency at a wider scale is first contact resolution (FCR). In the case of inbound customer service calls, achieving a high FCR percentage will naturally benefit the efficiency seen within the centre; however, this may lead to a trade-off between reaching these desired high FCR rates and seeing an increase in total AHT. Taking the extra time to listen to a customer’s needs and to fully explore the customer’s problem/question as opposed to offering a quick ‘one-size fits all’ stock response will invariably take a little more time. Nevertheless, this approach will reduce the customer’s need to call back with further queries at a later time, reducing your total call volumes, improving total contact centre efficiency.
A high FCR rate can also be looked at in terms of outbound sales as well. Taking the time to fully inform the customer about the product or service and answering any questions they may have in that initial call will improve a customer’s confidence in their decision to buy as they will feel fully informed in making this decision. This means that, while the call may take a little while longer, the customer is more likely to buy during that first phone call, without the need to go away and think further about the offer presented to them, requiring the agent to call back at another time. This is also likely to lead to slightly fewer problems and order returns as customers will be more informed about the product(s) that they are receiving, reducing customer care volumes as well, further improving overall efficiency.
Taking more time with each customer, in both inbound customer service and outbound sales, will also make these customers feel more valued and so is likely to improve customer satisfaction and hence repeat custom.
This is not to say that AHT should not be monitored at all, as mentioned it is still necessary to make sure that calls remain clear and concise and that customers are not inundated with unnecessary or irrelevant information, taking more time out of their day than necessary. Nevertheless, looking at AHT in the wider context of FCR and other holistic statistical analysis is vital to truly understand a contact centre’s productivity and efficiency levels.