A Call Center’s Pathway to Achieving High-Performance Standards

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Published:  January 27, 2012

As a call center expert, researcher and academic a common question I receive (probably two or more times per week) is “What are the correct metrics to use my call center?” My answer to each person asking these questions is the same, “What are the goals of your call center?” and “Do you hire the right people to achieve these goals?”

Metrics are just a measuring tool, not an end in itself. An old saying was, “How long should a piece of string be?” and the response was, “As long as it needs to be to meet the need.” The call center environment is no different. You need to have the right metrics and the right people to meet those metrics for the call center to be successful in meeting performance standards.

With only one of these in place call center operations will not meet its potential in performance. With the right people and the wrong metrics the employees will be frustrated since they cannot meet the metrics. With the right metrics but the wrong people, the employees will likewise be frustrated. Only by combining the right metrics unique to your center and then hiring the right people to meet those metrics will everything be in balance for success.

How do you set your metrics correctly? It all depends upon what you are attempting to achieve. If you are looking for the calls to be handled as fast as possible that is a different metric than attempting to keep repeat customers of a product or service.

In the first example average handle time (AHT) is a key metric that needs to be examined while in the second example first call resolution (FCR) is critically important and average handle time is less important. Though both metrics can be used in each center, one must be given prominence to send a message to the agents on what the goal the center is attempting to achieve for the company.

Once the metrics are established correctly, you need the correct people to meet those objectives. The type of agent you hire to have a lower AHT is a different type of agent than one where you are trying to achieve FCR. For a low average handle time you need an agent who controls the call quickly, has solid knowledge of the common call issues can end a call rapidly.

In the second example, an agent that can ask the caller the correct questions to diagnose the dilemma and get to the heart of the issue is critical. This means there must be a level of empathy to be sure the caller is completely satisfied before the call is ended. Only then do you decrease the chances of a repeat call on the same issue.

Creating the correct metrics for your call center followed by hiring the right people to meet those metrics, is the pathway to high levels of success and performance in your center.