Effective Performance Measures for
Your Contact Centre
Stuart Payne, May 2012
CHOOSE YOUR MEASURES CAREFULLY
There are five main principles to consider when defining effective measures:
1. Keep them simple: They should be easy to communicate and understand
2. Drive the right behaviour: Encourage everyone to behave as you want them to
3. Reliable data: You need to have access to accurate data to make measurements meaningful
4. Accountability associated with control: Don't hold someone accountable for something they cannot control
5. Support wider business goals: Align your measures to support high level business objectives of your organisation
It is important to decide which measures matter to your business and your customers. What matters is setting logical,
realistic targets that are specific to your contact centre.
It is important to ensure that your individual measures do not conflict with one another. For example, if decreasing costs is a
primary business objective, you may meet this need by targeting a shorter average handle time and increasing productivity
targets. However, if customer satisfaction is also a primary objective, a conflict may arise. These two measures may drive
different behaviours. Agents who are tasked with handling a high volume of calls may not take the extra time to build a
rapport with callers or may cut corners trying to achieve acceptable productivity performance.
To avoid conflicts, you mustn't focus on measurements as the only objectives. The high level strategy of your organisation is
your primary objective and your measurements act as a guide to get you there.
USE THE RIGHT DATA IN THE RIGHT WAY
Once you have identified which measures are most important to your business, the next step is to decide how you will
measure. This is more complicated than it sounds as everyone defines and calculates differently. Take Agent attrition as an
example. Most contact centres have some idea of their Agent attrition but exactly how is this calculated? Should you count
non-regretted (internal moves) and regretted (resignations) attrition? What about new joiners who don't make it through
training, should you count them too? You need to determine how you will define your measurements to best serve your
Every contact centre is different, with unique objectives and targets based on different experiences and expectations.
However, it is useful to be aware of what other centres are doing. Benchmarking surveys can be extremely detailed and it's
important you only pay attention to the lessons that relate to your own business objectives. You should not feel compelled
to mirror another organisation's suite of measures or strive to achieve a goal that doesn't matter - it only costs money.
The key to good measurement is consistency. You must review your internal policies and procedures that guide contact
handling behaviour and the associated measurements to make sure everyone is working the same way. For example,
consider the use of wrap. Agent `A' completes all work related to the call they are taking with the customer on the phone
and after terminating the call immediately makes himself available to accept a call. Agent `B' however, completes the same
call but performs the majority of the transaction in wrap after the call has terminated. This procedural difference results in
very different statistics for the individuals and skews the group averages. To maintain consistent measurements, Agents
must be trained on the correct processes and procedures, be given realistic targets to aim for and be given regular and timely
performance reviews. Without proper and consistent use of tools and procedural guidelines, the associated measurements
are meaningless. How you measure is just as important as what you measure.
GET THE MOST FROM THE INFORMATION YOU HAVE
By carefully analysing the measurements that reflect the objectives of your organisation, you can learn a great deal about
how the contact centre is performing. You need to present information in a clear, concise and visual format. It's important
to consider the differing audiences of the information too. Just because one format works for one person doesn't mean it
will work for everyone.
Measurements are used by different people for different things, so it is important to clearly communicate the goals and
measurements to everyone they effect. The key is to convey the message that everyone has a responsibility for the high-
level business objectives that are reflected in the measurements.
Individuals in other departments need to know what's going on in the contact centre too. People in marketing, product
development and other areas will understand the contact centre better and work more closely with it when they are
Finally, there may be times when the targets just can't be met - they were unrealistic to start, staffing is low or other hurdles
exist. It is important you assess and refine measures, rather than continuously operate in an environment where targets
can't be met.
Stuart Payne is a contact centre specialist with over ten years of operational, strategic,
resource planning, customer experience and outsourcing management experience.