Practical Metrics for a Call Center

Updated: April 30, 2009

What will your company's call center cost? Is it cost-effective ? Why should you have a call center and spend money on office space, supplies, employees and training when you'd rather spend money on good salespeople to go after new customers? Perhaps your company already has a call center and wants to know how to track its cost-effectiveness.

First, is it an inbound or an outbound center? Is your business using a virtual call center ? The way to measure the call center's cost will vary according to its type.

Outbound Call Centers

If your company has an outbound call center, it is probably involved in telemarketing, sales or customer-information verification. Cost-effectiveness of these centers is calculated simply on how much revenue is generated versus the call center's overhead. How many calls must be made to gain or retain a customer? In this case, the efficiency and skill of call-center personnel will be key to its success.

Inbound Call Centers

Inbound call centers will entail more complex measurements involving customer retention and satisfaction, as well as generation of new business. These types of centers are likely to be related to help desks or customer inquiries. Metrics may reflect increased sales, customer retention or the opportunity to identify customer concerns.

Types of metrics you may find of interest include the following:

Response Time: A reasonable response time will offset any customer frustration and present a professional attitude.

Call-Abandon Rate: Related to response time, this metric reflects bad customer relationships. A customer might be so frustrated that he or she won't bother to call again. Perhaps a customer is just too busy to hold, but the problem remains unsolved until there is time to call back.

Length of Calls: Calls that can be resolved quickly and effectively impress customers, making the call center ever more valuable and allowing agents to work on more calls in the same amount of time.

Repeat Calls: Are there several calls about one issue from the same customer? By different customers? Track your company's ability to resolve problems, and you will have a good indication of overall customer satisfaction.

Number of Call Transfers: How many times must the customer repeat his or her concern to "just one more person" before someone owns the problem? Tracking this statistic helps you define the effectiveness of your company's business model.

These metrics can allow you to make judgments about some otherwise difficult-to-quantify aspects of call-center operations, such as:

Employee Knowledge of Product : The metrics that best reflects employee skill are the length of calls and the number of repeat calls. Employee training is key. It's a necessary expense and requires frequent updating.

Effectiveness of Provided Solutions: This factor reflects the effectiveness of training and of solutions provided by development or support personnel. Repeat call metrics will help here.

Efficiency of the Database: Help-desk employees need to be able to retrieve information immediately. Make sure that your company's database software serves it well; analyzing factors like call-abandon rate and length of calls can show whether the database helps or hinders agents.

Virtual Call Center

A virtual call center is exactly the opposite of the brick-and-mortar center, yet all of the above metrics apply. But costwise, a virtual call center is a great benefit to your enterprise because it can hire any number of part-time employees to work any shift from any location. Often the location is their home, but some companies provide satellite offices that are convenient to several employees.

Whatever type of call center your company uses, the metrics will profile your ROI in terms of revenue, customer loyalty and expanded markets.

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