Power your contact center with the right KPIs

Raghavendra Rao

Sravani Gade

April 26, 20237 min read

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Contact centers, in this digital-first world, are overwhelmed with a hoard of siloed point solutions. This point-solution chaos often means data coming from many disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. Forrester famously calls it the problem of plenty. Most large organizations sometimes have 50 to even 200 individual metrics they use to measure CX success. Picking metrics that matter from many disjointed systems is a messy and challenging process. 

On the other hand, some businesses only track a single metric to gauge their overall effectiveness. This is a dangerous scenario too. An American multinational insurance company, to keep pace with their rapid growth, focused on a single metric — average handle time. Their aim to reduce the average call time meant incomplete resolutions especially when the query was complex. This exacerbated the customer problem further by forcing the caller to make repeated contacts. Eventually the company witnessed an extraordinary level of contact volumes and an unprecedented level of agent burnout and attrition.

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Pick meaningful metrics, the ones that REALLY matter

As per V. F Ridgway, “what gets measured gets managed — even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organization to do so.”

The key is to know that not every metric needs to be chased: prioritizing certain metrics gives you clarity and helps you make strategic decisions. The objective should be to prevent data overload and gather actionable insights which can move the needle in the right direction. 

Many companies get into the mode of pursuing vanity metrics. These can burn your critical resources. Picking the right contact center KPIs should be a trial-and-error approach. It requires research, detailed analysis and asking the right questions.

While setting KPIs, ask these three questions:

  1. What is the current benchmark and the desired end goal?

  2. What’s a suitable timeline to achieve it?

  3. What processes and tools will I need to monitor the KPIs?

Answering these three questions will clarify how to chart your progress via data visualization and share it with other stakeholders.

Next, evaluate the finer details of your operations like:

  • How many agents do we need to handle the contact volumes for each channel and segmentation? 

  • What is the operational expense of managing the whole contact center?

  • Are you delivering quality ensuring every query gets resolved the first time, everytime?

  • Do you have a better quality score which is an ideal outcome reflecting on your CSATs and NPS?

Your answers to these questions should help you gain a better understanding of what are the few metrics that really matter to your contact center. 

The four-step KPI framework

Based on our years of experience in helping businesses make their customers happier, we suggest a simple four step framework that will help you unleash the power of KPIs for your contact center: 

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Traditionally, contact centers have tried out a bunch of metrics that may or may not have yielded the right outcomes. For example, chasing average handle times (AHT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) as isolated yardsticks may not provide accurate results. Sure, they may have helped in identifying trends but chasing AHT alone can sometimes pressurize your agents to close an interaction faster than needed. In some cases, an NPS score that decides customer loyalty and satisfaction based on a single question, could often leave out deeper insights into customer issues or preferences. From here, contact centers typically drew an action plan to filter what metrics may have actually worked, analyzed that data and arrived at the exact ones to measure. 

When ideally, this should be the other way around.

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Let’s explore what these four steps are:

  1. Measure - Identify the right metrics and measure them continuously. Understand what metrics impact your business more. Is it the average handling time of a call or agent training time or maybe both. Categorize your range of metrics into cost, quality, strategy, efficiency and similar buckets to effectively gauge contact center performance.

  2. Analyze - Analyze the data from these metrics to understand customer and agent behavior. You can get clear insights into what areas you are performing well and where you need improvement. Based on your findings, you can adjust your strategy. For example, if sales drop for a particular product, you can fix your sales by revamping your marketing efforts. 

  3. Prescribe - Arrive at an action plan that addresses the gaps in customer service. When you measure the same KPIs over a stretched period, you can detect certain trends over time. These trends could be leveraged to predict and prescribe your best quarter or when business would be slow. Or what are the skills that your workforce needs to be equipped with to stay on optimum productivity levels.

  4. Implement - Execute the action plan to achieve CX success. Once you have measured, analyzed, and prescribed, all that is left is to implement. If your KPIs indicate your organization’s quarterly performance has been top-notch, find out the reason for the peak and sustain it. Or if there is a new product idea or an innovative way to solve customer queries. Test it with a set of customers, use the KPIs to validate the idea, and implement it.

The balancing act: cost vs quality 

A contact center typically measures a wide range of metrics. AHT, cost per contact, Average Speed of Answer (ASA) are some of the common ones. While there are many other input metrics, the two key output metrics that are essential to measure the growth of your contact center are cost and quality.

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Most contact centers struggle to strike a balance between cost and quality. Compromising on costs often means outsourcing talent or technology, both of which may not have favorable outcomes. Hiring talent can mean significant onboarding and training costs. Outsourced technology can lead to security and reliability issues that can put customer data and the overall contact center at risk.

The sweet spot would be to provide superior quality of customer service with a reasonable amount of operational spend. The top right spot of the quadrant. To achieve this, you must identify what drives cost and impacts quality within your contact center. We call this the 80/20 (Pareto) rule.

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Cost is non-negotiable and so is quality. Maintaining a balance between expenses, product and service excellence and employee experience is crucial for survival. Adopt a strategic metric that can track both employee and customer satisfaction. Efficiency metrics to track the number of agents and the kind of schedule they adhere to are equally essential. The higher the efficiency, the lower the costs.

The inter-relation of cost and quality still does not provide a holistic view of the contact center’s performance. A combination of strategy, agent efficiency and accessibility metrics are required to get a comprehensive view. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) or employee satisfaction can be easy metrics to know if the contact center strategy is effective. Agent attrition, schedule adherence or absenteeism are some other metrics that can indicate how productive your agents are. Accessibility is the ease with which your agents are able to resolve their queries on the wide range of channels they use to interact with your business.

Distill these five categories i.e., - cost, quality, productivity, strategy and accessibility, of contact center metrics and you will arrive at one aggregate number that will indicate how well your contact center is doing. This number forms your balanced scorecard. A balanced scorecard breaks a contact center strategy into four components: People, customers, financials, and process. The metrics you choose must cover all the four components and the aggregate will confirm if you are going in the right direction. For instance, you can pick a combination of agent utilization, customer satisfaction, cost per call and first contact resolution rate that cover the four components to arrive at an aggregate to know which aspect needs to be prioritized and which to be revisited.

Decoding the balanced scorecard 

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The first step is to identify critical KPIs, not necessarily the same ones we showcased above. But something that aligns with your business objectives and client needs.

The second step is to finalize the parameters and benchmarks you want to achieve. Give a specific number for your KPI to achieve.

The third step is recording the highest and lowest performance for a particular KPI, like drawing comparisons between the best case and worst case scenarios. You will get a much needed clarity on how to manage the KPI.

The fourth step is recording the current performance. Following these four steps will help you with a balanced scorecard. Leverage it to mix different KPIs and you will get an understanding if you are moving in the right direction. Once the analysis is done and you have your scorecard, set the right benchmarks balancing quality and costs. 

Also read: Important call center KPIs to track

Measuring KPIs with Sprinklr Service

Accessing and connecting all the data from across your different contact center point solutions can get complicated — and makes gathering actionable insights difficult for agents and managers throughout your organization.

Sprinklr Service provides a single point of truth for contact center intelligence and analytics, unifying data from across 30+ channels to deliver real-time insights with fully integrated dashboards that help to improve your customer service metrics. 

Using Sprinklr's Unified AI engine, your organization’s teams can access insights — including your top contact drivers and predicted CSAT scores — that will empower them to make more informed decisions, discover new opportunities, optimize customer service and meet customer expectations at every stage of the resolution journey.

Talk to our experts who can help you choose the right KPIs for your contact center. Explore the benefits of Sprinklr Service first hand by requesting a demo.

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