call center metrics map

13 Call Center Metrics You Need to Track and What They Mean

Call center metrics are a map for your team. They show where you’ve been and can help you figure out how to get where you want to go. Similarly, those numbers may give you a direction, but figuring out the best route may be quite challenging

Just like using a map to navigate a large city, there’s a lot to pay attention to when using call center metrics to inform decisions. You need to pay attention to the different performance metrics of your agents. You may need to look at outbound calling metrics and inbound calling metrics.

It’s a lot of data and it’s not always obvious where you should focus your energy. So, with all this complexity, you may be wondering how you should approach or improve metric tracking for your call center. In this article, we list the 13 most important call center metrics you should be aware of and what each is measuring. 

The Best Call Center Metrics to Measure

1. Average Wait Time

This is a very straightforward metric. It measures how long it takes for a caller to get in touch with an agent when they call. Obviously, wait times can vary based on time and day, so you’ll want to be sure to break down those times further to address any potential issues.

According to a study done by Arise, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they wouldn’t wait on hold for more than two minutes. More alarmingly, one in three customers will never call back if they hang up due to frustration. With all that in mind, it’s a metric you should have at the top of your list. 

2. Customer Satisfaction

There are lots of call center metrics that can give you insight into the customer experience. That said, none are quite as direct as customer satisfaction. It’s generally measured by sending a CSAT survey and, typically, is done directly after the interaction with the agent so the experience is fresh. 

Though it doesn’t tell you everything about an interaction, it does give you insight into how your customers experience your call center staff. It can, more or less, act as a “canary in the coal mine.” If you see your CSAT go down, it’s a pretty strong signal you need to start digging to get to the exact cause. 

3. First Call Close

This metric can be a very strong indicator of efficiency. It’s measuring how many calls are solved within that one conversation, meaning the customers don’t need to follow-up, nor does anyone from your staff need to contact them later. 

Similar to customer satisfaction, if this number is low it acts as a signal that there are some other things off. In fact, 12% of customers who have to call more than twice to resolve an issue will stop doing business with that company. Maybe you need to review your training program. It could also mean that your agents don’t feel empowered and able to make their own decisions.

4. Call Abandonment Rate

Call abandonment rate refers to how often a customer hangs up the phone before they talk to an agent. The only way your staff can be effective is if they talk to the customer. So, if they’re having trouble getting through, then that’s a serious problem. 

If you see a high abandonment rate then it may signal that you’re not properly staffed. That could mean you don’t have enough overall agents. It could also mean that you need to rework how you schedule staff to meet call volumes effectively. No matter the case, it’s worth looking into. 

5. Self-Service Usage

When you track self-service usage you’re effectively looking to see how effective your IVR (interactive voice response) is. It’s important because the stronger those self-service options are, the more it will free up staff for more complicated issues. It also helps customers get their issues resolved faster. If you notice your self-service usage is low, then you might want to adjust your IVR.

6. Forecast Accuracy

You’ve most likely heard the term “forecasting” before. Just as a weather forecast is meant to help you prepare for the outside world, forecasts in your call center help you understand staffing needs and volumes. If those estimates aren’t accurate, it can be a big problem. 

Think about it this way, if the local weatherman predicts blue skies and then there are severe thunderstorms, that can be problematic. The same is true in your call center. Being accurate in your predictions means being more prepared and better able to serve customers. 

6. Average Handle Time

This metric is referring to the average amount of time an agent spends resolving a customer’s issue. It doesn’t only look at the amount of time an agent spends on a call, but also takes into account the other work they may need to do – notate an account, follow-up, etc. – to resolve an issue. 

Like a few of the other call center metrics mentioned, it’s really looking at efficiency. If your average handle time is high, there could be some knowledge gaps or your team may not have all the tools they need to do their best work. Though you do want a good handle time to be sure you’re handling cases efficiently, it shouldn’t ever come before providing quality service. 

7. Blocked Calls

Anytime a customer gets a busy tone, or something similar, when trying to contact you that would be a blocked call. If customers aren’t able to get ahold of you for support it can be very frustrating. In fact, it’s such a hot topic that PCMag wrote an entire article listing customer support numbers for a number of top companies. 

If a lot of calls are being blocked it might be a strong signal that you’re understaffed. As with a few of the other metrics, you may need to get a little more granular to see where trouble spots are. With that in mind, you’d usually look to see what percentage of calls are blocked overall, then break it down to specific days, or hours of certain days, to really address the issue. 

8. Cost Per Call

Cost per call is exactly what it sounds like. It’s measuring how much money, on average, each call is costing you. To calculate cost per call, take into account the agent’s pay and then also the cost of resources used during the interaction to come up with the total. 

9. Agent Turnover Rate

Staffing a call center can be very difficult. If you have a high turnover rate it makes it that much more difficult. Not only can it impact scheduling, morale, and efficiency, it also costs a lot of money. On average, for an hourly-wage employee, it costs 16% more to hire a new employee when compared to retaining a current employee. Agent turnover rate is calculated by measuring the percentage of agents who leave the company over the year. 

10. Transfer Rate

Sometimes you’ll need to pass a customer along to another team or department. It’s most common in complex cases where a team member with more specialized knowledge needs to take over. Though getting transferred generally isn’t an issue, 89% of customers said that having to explain an issue more than once is frustrating. So, do your best to do “warm transfers” where the agent passes on the customer’s information and history to the next agent to save any frustration for the customer. 

11. Average Talk Time

This is another very straightforward metric. It refers to the average amount of time an agent spends talking to a customer. Unlike average handle time, it does not take into account the other work an agent may need to do to fully address a customer inquiry. 

12. After Call Work Time

While the previous metric measures the time spent on a call, this metric solely refers to the amount of time spent on a case outside of the call. So, this is the amount of time an agent spends doing things like notating an account, or other activities they may need to do to wrap up a case.

Prioritizing Call Center Metrics

Running a call center is a large task with a ton of moving parts. With so many different call center metrics you could focus on, it can almost feel paralyzing trying to decide where you should start. On the front end, it probably makes the most sense to start with metrics that encompass a few different things.

For example, maybe you want to focus on CSAT, average handle time, forecast accuracy, and agent turnover. Each encompasses a few different areas that could give a pretty good picture of the health of your operation. As you grow and have more resources, you can start focusing on more specialized metrics to really dial in your efficiency. 

There is no one way to do it and there will be some trial and error involved. All you can do is make sure you’re committed to staying on top of the metrics you decide on to make sure they’re providing you, and your team, value. Stay focused, be open, and you’ll be on the right path. 

Learn how TextExpander can help your call center team improve their key metrics.