Yes, you have a customer contact centre but is it working as hard – and well – as it could be, to advance the interests of your business? 


After spending several years in the space, I’ve learnt companies generally fall into one of two camps: they produce an inordinate number of reports on every aspect of their contact centre’s operations, or they don’t measure anything at all.

The former is any easy trap. One of the beauties of digital solutions is the plethora of data they generate; data which can be analysed to extract a wealth of insights. It can also lead to information overload; a situation whereby an abundance of data makes it harder, not easier, to make decisions. If you need 48 reports a day to tell you if there’s a problem with your contact centre, then there’s a problem with your contact centre.

Conversely, taking a laissez-faire approach to what’s likely to be your primary interface with suppliers and customers isn’t smart either. The modern contact centre can be a powerful engine that drives efficiency and growth, and creates customer experiences that turn one-time customers into loyal advocates for your brand. If you don’t know whether yours is achieving these ends, or delivering a ho-hum standard of service, then you’re missing a valuable opportunity to improve the way you do business.

Measuring what matters

So, what are the metrics that matter, for businesses committed to making their contact centres the best they can be? 

If the focus of your centre is on inbound traffic, meaning its main purpose is to receive calls and messages from customers not to instigate contact with them, then, ipso facto, you’re running a service desk. The emphasis should therefore be on delivering that service as efficiently and effectively as possible.

That’s why it makes sense to look at average speed of answer and call abandonment rates, average handle times and percentage of first call resolutions – the number of enquiries which are resolved “on the spot” without having to be referred to another member of staff.

Digging deeper, it can be insightful to examine your volume of calls and what’s generating them. It may be there’s an issue in the business which could be addressed or improved, if management is made aware of the problem.

In outbound call centres, the duration of the contact is less important. Of greater interest is the percentage of calls which are connected, and the conversion rate once this has occurred.

Productivity is understandably a focus in all contact centres. No business leader likes the idea of agents sitting idle but, in my experience, it pays to keep expectations realistic – and to avoid delving too deeply into the details, if those expectations are consistently being met. A team which is on the phone, or active on other communication channels, around 85 per cent of the time is working hard. Pushing agents to increase this figure can result in angst and ill feeling; counterproductive emotions which won’t serve your business well.

Finally, there’s little point deciding on the metrics you’ll use to gauge performance if you don’t share them with the individuals responsible for the outcome: your contact centre supervisor and agents.

Ensuring your contact centre is an asset

In today’s uncertain business environment, the contact centre is increasingly being recognised as the heart of the business. Understanding how yours is tracking will allow you to maximise the return on your investment in this area. Focusing on metrics that matter – and discarding those that merely add to the digital noise – makes it easier to effect improvements that can contribute to productivity and competitiveness.

Daniel Harding, director – Australia operations, MaxContact