Apr 30 2012
Metrics for measuring call center performance have received a lot of attention over the years, with most metrics focusing on how an answering service can generate maximum ROI for its investment. However, the ways in which an organization can measure the effectiveness of its third party call center relationship is an equally important and often neglected area. In this post we will look at some of the key metrics to measure the effectiveness of your third party call center relationship.
Today, call centers have evolved into customer contact centers with most organizations preferring to outsource multiple channels of service delivery such as email, fax, live-chat and phone to a single vendor. While keeping operational costs low is primarily the concern of the call center, the organization is often more interested in maximizing customer service, and rightly so. The measurement metrics from the perspective of an organization can be broadly classified into two buckets – operational and strategic.
These include broad aggregate metrics and the day to day operational metrics from the call center. I believe the following 3 points are more important than the call center which may measure average handling time of a call or agent utilization.
- First Call Resolution: This is a key parameter from a customer service point of view. No matter what technology your call center uses, you have to monitor how often they are able to handle your caller service requests effectively the first time. In fact, it would be a good idea to incorporate this as well as the other metrics that we discuss today, as part of your Service Level Agreement with your call center.
- Maximum Waiting Time: While most call centers measure the average waiting time for callers, what is perhaps more relevant is the maximum waiting time. Averages are often a deceptive statistic, and even if a few of your customers have to wait for an inordinately long time before they are serviced, then your reputation is likely to suffer. Remember, that studies have shown that a disgruntled customer is nearly ten times more likely to spread the news than a satisfied one.
- Number of Menu Navigation’s: If your call center employs an IVR system, you need to monitor the number of menu navigation’s that a caller has to make before obtaining the service. Even well designed IVR menus would need constant tweaking as the customer profile varies or when new products are offered. A caller should be able to obtain a resolution with minimum menu navigation’s and without having to repeat authentication information more than once during the call.
A third party call center relationship has to be strategically managed and here is a list of metrics that can help in evaluating whether the call center that you have chosen is the right one. Strategic metrics by nature are more qualitative, but it is important to evaluate these on a periodic basis to decide whether it is time to switch to a new call center service provider. Switching call centers can sometimes be a bit of a pain but can be a necessity in cases where they are not applicable to your needs any longer (i.e. either you have outgrown them or they are not performing up to your expectations any longer).
- Technology Maturity: This does not mean that your call center must incorporate the latest automation technology in the market. In fact, technology maturity is an indicator of how well your call center is able to analyse the pros and cons of technology and adopt what is best. Ask for the methodology that your call center uses to evaluate a potential technology upgrade and this will give you a clear idea of how robust and clued-in they are.
- Training and Tweaking: Whether it is live agents or speech recognition engines, training and tweaking are an integral part of a call center’s success. Ask for training calendars and training syllabus. If you are an organization dealing with complex products, check whether there is a product specific training program for every agent who handles your account. Speech recognition engines must also be tweaked to include vocabulary specific to your products and services. You must also ask your call center for the typical profile of their agents, as ultimately an agent-customer interaction is a person to person interaction which is most likely to succeed when the profile of the agent matches that of your caller in terms of accent, age and geographical location.
- Operational Management: While this is the headache of the call center, you should look at the various steps that they are taking to keep operational costs low. This is important, as you do not want your call center to cut costs at the risk of lowered customer service. At the same time, you do not want high operational costs that directly translates to a higher cost for your company.
Remember that while there is intense competition in the field of third party call centers, not all of them offer high quality service at affordable rates. You have to do your homework before you choose your vendor. Even after a vendor is chosen, it is important to constantly work with your vendor to offer the best customer service experience for your callers.