Benchmarking customer service

To Benchmark’ something simply means to measure or judge it against a known standard. This is an extremely simple definition for a process that, when applied to a customer contact operation (call and/or web center), is anything but simple. Here for your benefit are benchmarks to use as guidelines and ways of structuring your thinking: Every customer contact operation functions through the complex inter-relationship of a dizzying range of continuously fluctuating variables. If you think that was hard to say you should know that it’s even harder to manage. The foundation of a well-constructed call center management program includes clearly defined and realistic goals supported by a team that understands how to drive their performance metrics from current levels to the goal.
Benchmarking allows you and your team to know where you customer contact operation stands today. This creates an understanding of how your operation rates as compared to other call centers and also provides a baseline measurement against which future changes can be compared. A handful of the Key Performance Indicators that most call centers track are provided below for your review. Remember that a thorough BPSI benchmarking audit will consider the impact of these variables on your organization and customize them to meet your needs.
Customer Service Benchmarks:

– Total Calls: An internal metric for all calls presented to the center including blocked, abandoned, and handled. This number may include all inbound and outbound calls and should also separately report total inbound and total outbound calls.

– Calls Offered: Total number of calls sent by the phone company to the call centers. This count is normally presented as a total and then broken down by line and generally comes from the phone company in regular reports.

– Blocked: The number of calls that were offered but not accepted by the call center phone system, or a specific line, due to technical or capacity issues. This number usually comes from the phone company in regular reports and should be reported on daily and tracked both weekly and monthly. The goal is always ZERO.

– Answered: At the call center level this number will represent the total number of calls accepted into the call center phone system. If calls blocked equals zero then the number of calls accepted should equal the number of calls offered. The goal is to answer (accept) all calls offered.

– Abandoned in IVR: A call that terminates prior to having had the opportunity to complete routing to or listening to a complete FAQ recording. The goal is to have zero calls abandoned in the IVR system.

– Calls Placed in Queue: An internal metric which is simply the number of calls placed in the queue (hold) to wait for a live agent. This number is generated by the call center phone system.

– Average Answer Delay: The average length of time (in seconds) a caller must spend waiting before the ACD can find an available agent to take the call. This number is not the equivalent of Average Speed of Answer as it includes only those calls that actually experience a wait. Also known as average time of delay. An average queue time of less than 30 seconds is considered exceptional.

– Average Speed of Answer (ASA): Equal to the total time in queue divided by the total number of calls answered. This data is available from the ACD. This number is generated by the call center phone system. 20 seconds or less is a common ASA goal for world-class operations.

– Abandoned: The number of calls that are terminated by the caller while waiting for a live agent. The goal is zero.

– Abandon Time: An internal metric for the average time (seconds) a caller waited before abandoning a call.

– Calls per Hour: The average number of calls that an agent handles per hour, and is equal to the total calls handled during on working shift divided by the total time logged into the telephone system. This number is generated by the call center phone system.

– % Service level: (Calls answered in less that X seconds) / (Offered calls *100). A typical representation of this goal is 80/30 where the objective is to answer 80% of the calls within 30 seconds. World class operations typically push service level expectations to 90/20 or better.