Call Center Statistics

Call center management involves using call center metrics to measure and guide the performance of call center agents or representatives. Call center software provides opportunities to gather call center statistics, generate call center reports, and provide regularly scheduled feedback to call center employees.

A well-functioning call center is critical to business performance. Call centers help companies resolve customer issues, retain customers, convert calls into leads, and maintain a positive reputation. Call center statistics generated by call center management software and third-party services can help companies to better manage their customer relationship management (CRM) call center, providing customers and prospects with the best possible support. Call center statistics can help companies set recommended benchmarks for an optimal, productive CRM experience.

How Call Centers Help (by the Numbers)

Call centers are often viewed as an aging relic of the CRM process, given the evolution of newer, more exciting technologies (namely, the Internet). Consequently, call centers are receiving less and less of the corporate focus and, more importantly, the corporate budget.

Many CRM consultants, however, think that modernization and more appropriate metrics are the key, as call centers remain one of the most influential — and far-reaching — components of customer retention strategies. Forrester Research, for instance, estimates that a well-managed call center can hold its own with the most aggressive ad campaign, noting that 3,000 agents averaging 50 calls per day has more than 54 million contact points with the customer base in a year.

Call centers also influence other business metrics. For instance, studies show that when a customer's problem is resolved on the first call, only 1% are likely to try a competitor, compared to 15% when the problem is not sufficiently addressed.

Call Center Statistics

Call center statistics give call center management insight into pure call center functionality. Call center performance metrics capture the basic mechanics of problem-solving and customer interaction, usually by focusing primarily on speed and mixing in proficiency metrics with post-incident questionnaires.

Call center reporting metrics generally focus on the quantitative more than qualitative:

  • Time-to-answer
  • Average call handle time
  • Talk time
  • Idle time
  • Non-production time
  • Adherence to the script

Some also measure more subjective elements such as:

  • Pleasant tone
  • Personal flair
  • Demonstrating active listening skills

Changing the Focus of Call Center Statistics

Currently, call center statistics focus on things such as average handle time (AHT). However, many call center companies are moving away from such metrics, because the number doesn't indicate whether the issue was adequately handled to the customer's satisfaction. Call center consultants and customer experience gurus suggest that call center statistics need to provide meaningful metrics that focus on success rather than call volume.

As a result, some call centers are dropping the QA checklist, which can result in misdirected CRM focus, in favor of self-scoring reviews or other tools. Others are redirecting the focus from AHT to first-contact resolution. Some companies who have dropped the emphasis on AHT have seen call time increase, but have also witnessed a significant decrease in repeat calls.

Additionally, simple speech analytics are starting to incorporate more advanced features such as emotion detection. Long a tool of call center management to gauge performance, speech analysis based on factors such as word frequency or pairing is increasingly seen as insufficient because it fails to account for tone or other emotional cues. ("Yeah, the service was great," could be a sarcastic response on a post-incident survey, for instance.)

Emotion detection, on the other hand, can measure subtle nuances overlooked by a transcript, such as pitch, tone, hesitations, sighs, and laughter. These verbal and emotional cues can provide a more holistic picture of the interaction — and when used in real-time, emotion detection can help identify a potential situation and even alert a supervisor. Another new tool being incorporated in call center management software is talk-over analysis, as crosstalk is generally an indicator of frustration (and sometimes a source of it, as well).

Forrester Research and other call center consultants recommend ditching the call center script and providing a general guide instead. Flexible formats allow customer service representatives to adapt to the needs and requests of each caller, and increase the likelihood of a positive customer experience. Other suggestions are changes to the call center culture overall, focusing on employee satisfaction and motivation rather than an overbearing emphasis on time management.

Quantitatively, the CRM focus has begun to shift from measuring discrete time segments to the quality of the interaction. Some call center managers have shifted their focus to soft skills training rather than technical training, even setting aside time for one-on-one coaching sessions.

Multi-Channel Analytics

Another shift in CRM is the focus on multi-channel analytics (converged analytics). Enabling customers to reach companies through their "channel of choice" ensures that customers are always heard.

Multi-channel analytics incorporate input avenues beyond the more traditional contact methods of phone and email. At least five types of social media channels have reached more than 50% penetration in call center management:

  • web-based technical forums/discussion boards
  • live video conferencing
  • SMS/texts
  • live chat
  • social media

The Aberdeen Group notes that best-in-class companies using multi-channel analytics distinguish themselves from other companies with:

  • 89% retention (compared to 70%)
  • 87% first-contact resolution (59% for others)
  • 12% in annual reduced support costs (compared to 2%)

More advanced and engaged call centers are also incorporating a unifying single database that gives call center representatives access to all of a customer's interactions with the company, whether by Twitter, email, or phone call. Known as the 360-degree view, this call center solution gives all CRM representatives a "consistent view of the customer" regardless of the entry point. For example, iRobot reports an increase of 10% in customer satisfaction since using the RightNow Cloud Monitor CRM software.

Statistics about Call Centers

It seems equally useful to look at call center statistics from a different perspective. Rather than looking at the role of call center statistics in call center reporting metrics, what about call center statistics related to industry best practices?

Call Center Technology

In late 2011, Forrester Research partnered with CustomerThink to survey 75 call center professionals about the role of technology in call center management and performance. In modern business, call center technology in the form of call recording, skills inventories, feedback and call center reports are fundamental to successful call center management.

The Forrester Research survey yielded a basic set of call center technologies that are the heart of call center management and responsive CRM (beyond managing customer calls, email, and chat). The most prevalent call center solutions were:

  • IVR or self-service speech technology (62%)
  • Workforce management solutions (58%)
  • Case management solutions (53%)
  • Chat solutions (50%)
  • Quality monitoring (48%)
  • Email response management systems (44%)

Additionally, survey respondents were asked who made the purchasing decisions regarding their company's call center technology. In this capacity, business leaders outnumbered IT professionals 57% to 15%, indicating that it is business functionality and purpose (rather than concerns about integration, system functionality, etc.) that drives the decisions behind call center management software or outsourced call center solutions.

Social Media and Call Center Management

The Forrester Research/CustomerThink study also indicated that social media as a communications tool is just as useful in call centers as it is in any industry. Where call center representatives have relied on the chat-call-email trifecta to communicate with customers in the last decade, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have also been slowly integrated into call centers as a means of establishing contact, resolving issues, and maintaining relationships.

Whether passively or actively used, social media offers call center representatives a new channel for monitoring and managing customer complaints, perceptions and experiences. Social media is another call center solution for reputation management as well as brand and product evangelism.

According to Forrester Research:

  • 47% of respondents use customer communities
  • 42% use Facebook, Twitter or similar outlets for customer service
  • 39% use social listening tools (software or third-party services)

New Frontiers in Personalized Service

Call center management seeks to provide the best in call center CRM, and that involves solving problems efficiently, effectively, and professionally. Increasingly, it also means personalizing the connection and the CRM experience using call center technology: For instance, matching callers with call center representatives more experienced with that particular issue, connecting agent desktops for expedited service transitions, and providing real-time assistance.

Forrester Research notes that personalized CRM is a key driver in competitive call center technology and call center quality assurance:

  • 55% of responding companies use knowledge management
  • 35% use real-time decisioning (an additional 40% are seriously considering its implementation)
  • 34% use unified workspaces for CRM agents


See also

Created by: jarnold, Last modification: Thu 26 of Jul, 2012 (08:14 UTC) by admin
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