25 tips for optimizing your contact center's QA practices
Quality assurance does more than ensure regulatory compliance, it helps contact centers deliver the best outcomes for customers. Read our blog for tip...
The Team at CallMiner
October 11, 2018
From essentials like average handle time to broader metrics such as call center service levels, there are dozens of metrics that call center leaders and QA teams must stay on top of, and they all provide visibility into some aspect of performance. Given the sheer number of metrics and KPIs that call centers could track, it’s no surprise that some metrics tend to go overlooked. In other cases, managers and QA teams are so overwhelmed with other tasks that they don’t utilize important metrics to their full potential, thus losing out on valuable performance and quality insights. Fortunately, there are valuable tools that can help you gain deeper insights, such as speech analytics, to better leverage your data and boost call center performance.
If you’re ready to better leverage your data to improve agent performance, it’s time to take a look at some important call center metrics that you might be overlooking. To gain some insight into these commonly-overlooked and often-undervalued metrics, we reached out to a panel of call center pros and business leaders and asked them to answer this question:
Meet Our Panel of Call Center Experts & Business Leaders:
Read on to learn what our experts had to say about the call center metrics you might be overlooking and how you can better leverage them.
Kaye Chapman is the Learning & Development Manager at Comm100, a global provider of AI-powered digital customer conversation software. She has a wealth of experience working alongside contact centers,
improving processes and delivering engaging, effective and fun learning and development solutions.
“First contact resolution (FCR) measures might be…”
Standard as a single metric on synchronous channels, but FCR measures are hugely undervalued as a metric that can be used across channels from a consistency perspective, especially in relation to self-serve and automated channels. FCR measures on a bot-led service provide the ability to measure results from the customer’s perspective. FCR measures on KBs could indicate if certain articles are missing and give insight into whether KBs are causing people to give up and speak to an agent. FCR on social/text needs to be amended to first conversation resolution as customers rarely provide all info needed to resolve a query upfront, but measuring this provides a benchmark you can use against other channels.
In an omnichannel/multichannel environment, many organizations struggle with consistency across channels, so leveraging FCR across channels provides a great metric to ensure that customers are getting real resolutions, regardless of channel.
Nate is the Marketing and IT Manager for Maple Holistics, a company that provides all-natural and cruelty-free personal care products. Nate specializes in digital marketing as well as data curation and protection. Nate is from Riverdale, NY.
“It’s no secret that many people can’t stand call centers…”
But if there is a single sore point: it’s the often-ridiculous wait times. Between waiting for the initial answer and getting transferred, the elevator music is anything but calming. The expectation of waiting is so ingrained in our expectations as customers that we are shocked when we don’t have to wait. If you give your operators clear guidelines to solve commonly occurring problems things will run more smoothly, wait time will be cut down, and best of all, your customers will be very pleased.
Ben M Roberts is the Head of Marketing for a SaaS startup called Talkative. His role at Talkative sees him work closely with call centers to improve their inbound call efficiencies and conversion rates. Ben and his team are on a mission to enable and enrich human interactions, not replace them
“At Talkative, we’ve found that one of the most commonly under-valued metrics in a call center is…”
Post-call work time. This is the time it takes agents to finish up all the admin and follow-up details before they can begin a new call. We’ve often found that this metric is often looked at but rarely ever looked into with detail to discover how to reduce the time taken. Usually there is a bigger focus on improving the number of calls made per agent per shift, without addressing some of the root causes.
Call center managers need to understand that a streamlined post-call process will lead to more calls being made, or decreased average wait times for inbound calls. Post-call work time isn’t a stand-alone metric; it affects many other KPIs. Therefore, it is imperative the process for completely finishing a call is monitored and recorded as it will affect the entire call center.
Cristian Rennella is the CEO & CoFounder of elMejorTrato.com.ar.
“The most under-valued call center metric is…”
The time that elapses since we received the lead on our website until the customer is called. In the past, this time was 22 minutes. That is, we received a lead on our online landing page and 22 minutes later, we contacted the client. Four months ago, we started taking initiatives to improve this metric. We went from 22 minutes to an average of 4 minutes and our results improved by 41.2% (yes, awesome!).
Why? Because when you contact the client in less than 5 minutes, the problem is top of mind and the client typically still has the time and dedication to surf the Internet to find a solution (and listen to your proposal). On the contrary, if you delay in calling those leads, then perhaps the client has already closed his computer and is in a meeting or maybe driving his car (and at this point, it is too late).
Bryan Weinstein is the VP/Business Development and Chief Compliance Officer for Call 4 Health, a medical call center headquartered in Delray Beach, FL, with two additional call centers in Spring Hill, TN and Linthicum Heights, MD.
“Without question, our most important metric is first call resolution…”
We consider our ability to assist our callers with their need with one call – however involved it may be or however long it takes – to be our absolute most critical priority, and the cornerstone of our corporate vision.
This cannot be overlooked if a company hopes to have long term relationships and loyalty with their clients, and it is the most critical statistic when evaluating customer satisfaction. The folks we interact with are more than happy to share their experience with friends, family, and on social media – and we do everything it takes to ensure that experience is a positive, efficient and successful one.
As the CEO of TeleDirect, Smitha is responsible for running all facets of the business and has a proven executive management track record. Smitha obtained her license as CPA in 2007 from the California Board of Accountancy. With more than 15 years of experience in business, finance and accounting, Smitha is also responsible for implementing financial controls and processes. She is also responsible for organizational improvements and streamlining business operations that drive growth, increase efficiency, and bottom-line profit.
“The single most undervalued/overlooked call center metric which is not tracked by most contact centers is…”
Employee engagement. However, it is extremely important for customer satisfaction since call center agents are the key to creating and retaining customers. Call center agents work in customer-facing roles and, therefore, can make or break the company’s reputation in an instant. Employee engagement can be tracked by conducting surveys with quantitative and qualitative questions and having individual conversations with employees. Whatever the chosen metric, it is important to pay direct attention to how your employees feel about working for you.
Cory Peace is the Head of Operations at Simplr, where he helps customer service specialists provide top-notch customer service to high growth companies. He has led operations teams for start-ups and well-established organizations. Cory previously led regional operations at OrderUp, a Groupon Company, where he helped launch several new city markets and managed high growth in the driver operations. Cory holds an MBA in Logistics and Finance from the University of Tennessee.
“The most undervalued and commonly overlooked call center metric is…”
Agent Redundancy Rating. It is the percentage of customer questions that could/should be handled in self-service by the customer. The best way for a company to improve upon this metric is to teach the customer how to access their self-service pages, such as checking their own order status. In fact, many customers prefer self-service over waiting on a call or email for basic inquiries – they just don’t know how to do it. Educating on self-service results in a better customer experience. In the future, it will prevent customers from having to call or email, therefore reducing a company’s customer service cost. Measuring your Agent Redundancy Rate and decreasing it will improve your customer experience while also reducing your costs over time.
One way of reducing Agent Redundancy Rate is to use technology to immediately provide customers with information, links, and resources while they are waiting for an email/chat response from a human. If these resources solved the customer’s problem, the tool allows the customer to close the ticket themselves. Two examples of tools that help reduce Agency Redundancy Rate are Zendesk and Intercom. Zendesk offers this feature built-in out of the box, and Intercom allows you to do this with an Intercom operator.
Mark Paetz is the Director Of Strategic Partnerships at EduMaximizer.
“One of the most undervalued call center metrics is…”
Return rates. This metric offers a wealth of information for inquiry generation call centers, since it is a measure of which leads a client deemed invalid. Call centers can better leverage this data with on-demand access to a Detailed Returns Analysis. This means users no longer have to reach out to third parties to learn why a lead was returned. Was it an agent error or a technical error? Companies are more empowered and in more control of their leads. When users can review return details on a dashboard and drill down as deeply as needed in the moment, they can more quickly navigate issues as soon as they arise, reducing compliance risk and ensuring higher quality leads.
Sam Fernandez is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Student Matching Service, a state-of-the-art contact center focused exclusively on enrollments, recruitment, and better outcomes for colleges, universities, and Higher Education.
“One of the most undervalued call center metrics is…”
Back-end conversion rates. From dials to lead submissions, front-end conversions are often the main focus. Call centers don’t always look lower down the funnel for conversions, which can offer a more robust view of agent performance. In the EDU space, application and enrollment rates can indicate how well agents are matching leads to the right programs and schools.
Back-end conversion rates are best utilized when partners share lead detail conversion data with call centers. In our industry, this would include student enrollment data being shared from higher education partners (colleges and universities). It’s a simple and strategic way to properly optimize funnels. In addition to closing the loop with conversion data, call centers can further leverage back-end conversion rates through robust technology that offers a view into the full lead lifecycle from end to end. Fully transparent lead funnels are not only critical to conversions, but also compliance.
Brian Dooley is the founder of Independence Digital, a medical practice marketing agency. Previously, he was the Director of Marketing and Customer Care for Urology San Antonio where he oversaw call center operations.
“Sure, call volume and handle time are important, but…”
Call-type tracking is also important. Understanding the types of calls you receive will increase your effectiveness with hiring, training, and staffing. With smart-routing, companies can also boost employee morale. How? Everyone likes being the expert and no one likes talking outside their area of expertise. Using data on the types of incoming calls ensures the best experience for the customer and the employees.
Rowan Hanning is a 10Xfive Client Support Center Agent. He is a veteran in the call center, understanding the importance of customer interaction and how to build the value of products or services over the phone. He knows that good customer service helps your business’ bottom line, but more importantly helps make the world a less frustrating place.
With all of the white noise that exists out there, it’s easy to lose focus of the things that actually matter. With that said, the most frequently overlooked metric to be measured in a call center environment is, without a doubt, Quality. I’ve been working the phones for one company or another in some capacity for about 5 years now, and regardless of the nature of the conversation you’re having with someone… Quality will always keep them calling back.
A lot of companies would argue that “Quality” as a whole isn’t overlooked. They track it, they have quality analysts, they have quality standards in play that are supposed to fill in the blanks… But all too often, their call center agents still miss the mark. Why is that?
A number of factors come into play here, but there are a few main culprits effecting quality. Training comes to mind when I think of a call center that has poor quality performance. First and foremost, you need to set – and keep – the precedent within your organization that giving customers a quality experience over the phone is a MUST. You also need to provide some sort of incentive to your agents to follow that standard to the best of their ability. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, you need to create and instill a good reason as to “Why” your agents do what they do.
One of 10Xfive’s biggest clients is ShelfGenie, and the “Why” for us is two-fold. On a client level, the “Why” for our agents is helping local franchisees build their small business, keep people employed, and empower them to help people in their community. At a customer level, the “Why” for us is being able to help people get the accessibility and organizational tools needed to improve their quality of life. When an agent knows “Why” they are doing something, when the job becomes more than just going through the motions and collecting a paycheck, then your overall Quality scores across the board will increase.
When call and customer service quality is at an all-time high, even delivering bad news becomes an easier conversation. When you develop good rapport with your clientele, if they trust and believe you’re trying to take care of them, and for the right reasons, then the only way you can go is up.
Shawn Breyer is the Owner of Breyer Home Buyers.
“Your best metrics are…”
Leads per a certain time frame and leads per number of calls. Lead intake is a leading indicator. Most people track the company’s profit at the end of a quarter or year, but if the numbers are bad, then it’s too late to make up for it. That’s a trailing indicator. However, if you know that it takes 27 leads to get a deal that’s going to make your company $13,000 in profit, then you are able to make adjustments to change the tide of your income. If you didn’t get 27 leads last week, then you know that you need to help your team generate more calls. Maybe that’s cutting out a step in the sales process that slows them down or buying a power dialer for them to use, like MOJO. Whatever the problem, you’re able to address it today instead of in a year from now
Jane Goodayle is the Marketing Director at secure payments provider PCI Pal.
“For contact centers that have a solution in place that doesn’t allow the agent to stay in contact with the customer through the payment process…”
There is a high chance there will be issues and the payment will fail. Abandoned payments is a unique issue for a call center MOTO payment environment but very common for e-commerce measures. These abandoned payments are often not measured, although they should be, as it can demonstrate how well a payment solution is working. If a company has an adequate payment solution, this rate will be low and in turn, high rate indicates the need for improvement.
Eugene Aronsky is a Marketing Specialist with Unymira. He is an expert on knowledge bases and is KCS certified.
“The most overlooked call center metric is…”
How frequently call center agents use knowledge to resolve customer queries. To leverage this metric call centers should rely on the reporting data that is provided by the knowledge base solution they are using. Agents who rely on the knowledge base to get answers are able to give more accurate answers to callers.
Osiris Parikh is a certified inbound sales professional and SEO strategist. He also holds educational technology certifications from Apple, Microsoft, and Common Sense Media.
“One of the most important metrics in a call center that is simply overlooked and undervalued is…”
Operational efficiency, particularly focusing on caller forecasting. Call centers who do not utilize data to understand popular calling times to their center become overworked. This, in part, leads to longer wait time and less caller satisfaction, which negatively impacts a customer’s experience. By leveraging caller forecasting, call centers will have a better understanding of when customers call, and be prepared to be staffed appropriately to handle customer requests.
To put it simply: Caller forecasting equals success!
Jakub Kliszczak is a Junior Marketing Specialist at CrazyCall where he learns awesome stuff. He’s a football junkie, loves reading non-fiction, improving himself, and spending time running and flexing at the gym.
“I would say the most undervalued call center metric is…”
Contact Rate. Why is that? Companies often tend to care about the quantity over quality, while it should be the opposite. Contact Rate is a pretty straight-forward indicator. It compares a total number of actually performed conversation to the total numbers of calls made. As the result, Contact Rate shows the quality of your contact list. It also shows how well did your team do the research on the leads you want to call to. As I’ve mentioned before, companies decide on making more calls instead of preparing a better contact list that would require fewer calls and still would bring the same or better results. Increasing the contact rate can boost your call campaign by miles. If you take proper steps, then you can achieve the same results with 100 calls as you would previously do with 1000 calls! It literally can be a 10x boost to the efficiency of your call campaign. That is how important contact rate is. Even though companies are aware of this fact, they still tend to choose big, random databases with people that they know literally nothing about.
To leverage Contact Rate, there are certain steps that a company should take. Firstly, it is necessary to do a proper research on your leads. Thanks to that, you can adjust your call campaign to your leads’ timetable and other factors that may result in them picking up the phone. Also, if your agents know who they are calling to it will make it easier for them to relate to the people over the phone and thus close the deal. One of the most obvious ways to increase contact rate is to use a certain countries’ phone number. Studies show that people are much more likely to answer the call when they see a familiar number. Again, it requires certain research on your leads. Lastly, you should use the best contact list possible.
Companies often use big databases that contain random people that are not even close to their perfect match lead profile. It happens as people tend to think that more people (contacts) equals more calls and that should equal more deals, right? Of course, no. Prioritizing the quality of your contact list will make it much more likely that your leads will actually pick up the phone.
Nathan is the Chief Commercial Officer at both FM Outsource (a customer service outsourcing business) and Gnatta (a customer service software platform). Nathan has been involved in the customer service software space and the outsourced contact center space for over half a decade now, and has seen the emergence of automation and artificial intelligence being utilized in these spaces.
“The most overlooked and undervalued call center metric is…”
Quality. Well established businesses should be tracking quality across the center, and not just the individual agent. Incentivizing agents to deliver top quality customer service can also have a positive impact on other metrics such as FCR – agents providing top-quality responses will be providing customers with everything they need to complete their journey. That in turn boosts customer satisfaction. Offering refresher training, quizzing your agents, and creating a quality-focused bonus will help keep your business delivering high-quality customer service.
Reuben Kats is the COO, Web Design Sales Engineer, and Customer Service/ Account Manager at GrabResults,LLC.
“One of the most undervalued call center metrics is…”
Tracking the inbound calls. One must create a custom dashboard where they can see which call goes to which business if one operates multiple businesses within one establishment. In order to get the right person answering the phone one needs to create a label tag on the IP for that phone system. Adding another IP address will create a new business line, which can now be differentiated by the title of the call. A business can definitely lose out on leads by having random people just answering the phone, so you should try to add more IP addresses to get the right person answering the calls.
Veterans United Call Center Manager, Ed Schnedler, manages a 45-person team that is responsible for multiple channels of customer service. The team interacts with over 40,000 Veterans a month nationwide. They recognize that they are uniquely positioned to assist veterans with things beyond loan pre-qualification. Ed is passionate about his time developing leaders on his team and the opportunity he has to help others.
“I believe the biggest metric that is undervalued in call centers is…”
People. Sometimes leaders in call centers focus so much on the numbers and metrics that they totally miss the people part. Don’t get me wrong, metrics are important and needed to a certain extent, but if you focus on what makes your employees tick and creating an environment where people genuinely enjoy coming to work every day, it can truly make a big difference and create a great experience for both the customer and the employee involved. Our team focuses on intentional time together, whether that be team meetings at work, taking a walk to catch up, or getting out of the office to celebrate. Each and every meeting has an element of fun! During our monthly meetings, you may see us building car ramps. Occasionally T-Rex shows up for work, and we do things like putting a star on someone’s desk to show them they are appreciated for the job they do and recognize exceptional customer service.
Jesse Silkoff is the Co-founder and President of FitnessTrainer.com.
“Even if the connect rate is highly valued within an organization…”
I still feel like it can’t be valued enough. I believe this because actually connecting with the person you are calling is where the whole call flow starts. If this metric is not perfectly optimized you are already starting behind the eight ball. In my experience, low connect rates are usually a result of reps calling the wrong people, or trying to call the same person too many times. Both of these problems are easy to correct, but just need to be identified.
How will you leverage these metrics to improve call center performance? Leave an answer in the comments.