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Call Center Metrics – Lies, Dammed Lies and AHT

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Call Center Metrics – Lies, Dammed Lies and AHT

Business thrives on metrics.  Because numbers remove ambiguity and allow for clinical decisions.  Now, of course numbers can be misused (“lies, damned lies, and statistics”¹), but for now, let’s sidestep that and talk about numbers being used for good.

Finance Does Metrics Right

Finance metrics all boil down to “how much did this cost and how much did I make?”  Very simple.  Since money is involved, you had better believe that the backup is there to not only support those numbers, but help point to how to improve them.

As we get away from finance, things are not so clear.  We want metrics that unambiguously tell us what’s going on with our operation, much as profit and loss do for finance. In fact, we want metrics that can, in some way, eventually correlate to profit and loss.  And I would submit that most of them aren’t very good.

This is particularly true in customer care.  Don’t get me wrong – the standard call center metrics absolutely have their place, and I’ll talk about that later.   But they correlate very poorly to customer satisfaction, real cost and true agent performance.  What’s worse is that they are frequently misused to drive bad and costly practices.

The industry attempts to address this problem have been poor.  The mantra is that “we are swimming in data”, and through the magic of better organizational tools, the problem will be solved.  We’ve had better charting of the same numbers, data warehousing, Business Intelligence tools, and now Big Data².  Yet I still see the struggle for actionable information virtually everywhere I go.

What Questions Do You Want Metrics To Answer?

From what I see, we’re going about this backwards.  We are delivering metrics without first considering what QUESTIONS we want answered.

Given that the entire raison d’être of a call center is to address a caller’s concern, the #1 question to answer is “Did we solve the customer’s concern?  OK, First Call Resolution almost3 answers that, and is pretty well understood (if not used) by most call centers.

And the follow up is, “If not, why not?” Now it gets tougher.

Zooming out further, what about the most obvious question?  How about “Why did they have to call in the first place?  This information – the tracking of call drivers – is rarely done well if at all.

With those three questions, I’m sure most of you could figure out what kind of information you would have to collect, and even come up with metrics that you could use.  But, I’ll help more in future posts.

As a final note, ACTIONABLE is the important word.  Your metric can be useful, but if the backing data doesn’t point to how you can improve, well…


¹ Mark Twain is usually given the credit for this quote. However, it was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, dammed lies, and statistics”.  Mark Twain liked the quote, and attributed it correctly.
² This article popped up on my feed literally as I was writing this:  Big Data – Why the Boom is Already Over
I say ALMOST because, once a call is deemed “Not FCR”, the call provides no more utility. And those calls tell us more about how to improve than the FCR ones.

By | 2017-04-03T19:12:06+00:00 October 13th, 2016|Business, Call Center, Customer Care|Comments Off on Call Center Metrics – Lies, Dammed Lies and AHT