Call center agents are at the heart of a company’s business practices. Whether they are managing customer service, following up with leads, or working on debt collections, agents have a tremendous impact on a brand’s success and customer satisfaction. Certain key performance indicators, or KPIs, are important to measure for both inbound and outbound call centers. KPIs can show a business, for example, if their agents are achieving maximum productivity or if customers are not answering outbound calls at an optimal rate. Outbound call centers in particular have specific KPIs that should be monitored closely, as agents must be strategic when deciding how and when to call customers, and so address a certain service-level. Here are 11 essential KPIs to monitor for outbound call centers.
One of the most important KPIs for outbound call centers is the call pickup rate. This KPI measures the proportion of outbound calls placed by agents that are answered by customers. For example, if an agent calls 100 customers and 60 of these customers answer the call, the call pickup rate would be 60%. The higher the percentage, the better. A high number typically means that the outbound call center’s strategy is working well—the agent may be calling at optimal times when customers are likely to answer, and the call center’s phone number has not been identified or blocked by customers. A high call pickup rate translates to greater transformation rates and ultimately, a greater ROI, as agents help turn prospects into loyal customers.
This KPI, also monitored for inbound calls, refers to the average conversation time which takes place between an agent and a customer. A high average call duration means that an agent is spending too much time interacting with a customer. If this is the case, call centers must look closely to determine the problem. Call centers may need technology, such as a predictive dialer or a call center software solution that gives them greater efficiency, or a CRM that provides quick access to customer data. They may also find a need for additional agent training or better communication between agents in the call center for greater productivity. While agents should aim to offer quality interactions and not rush through a call, long interactions can also lead to customer frustration or churn if the agent is not finding an efficient solution or making an interesting sales offer. Ultimately, agents lose time that could be spent assisting other customers or driving sales.
The average handling time, or AHT, combines the average call duration with the time an agent spends post-call to finish the transaction. For example, the agent may hang up the phone but still need to consult with another agent or enter customer data into a CRM. This KPI allows call centers to understand the time needed to handle contacts across multiple channels. A long AHT can indicate that agents are spending too much time with customers or on post-call tasks and therefore lacking in productivity, for the same reasons the average call duration may be high.
This KPI allows outbound call centers to identify how often agents are connected with an answering machine rather than a person. This KPI is critical to understanding whether the phone numbers call centers use to call customers and prospects have a good reputation among customers online, such as on social media channels. If customers are choosing to let the call go to an answering machine, it may be a sign that the brand needs to rethink its outbound strategy. Knowing this KPI is also important for understanding when customers are available to speak, as they may simply not be able to talk. It is important to aim for a high Answering Machine Detection Rate. Indeed, the higher the answering machine detection rate is, the less your agents will be connected with an answering machine and the more value-added calls they will handle. Your goal is for your agents to have real interactions with customers.
The rejection rate refers to the number of calls which are simply not answered. Essentially, the customer or prospect refuses to answer the call. Outbound call centers may decide that the phone number being used should be changed if they feel that customers are bothered by the company and are choosing not to answer.
When outbound call center agents call customers, they need to prepare in advance. They typically consult a customer’s file to understand who is being called and for what reason. The agent may use a preview, predictive, or progressive dialing mode to view this information before making a call. An agent’s average wait time between two customers’ file corresponds to the average time elapsed between the closing of one file and the escalation of the next. The lower the wait time, the better, as agents need to be able to move quickly from one customer call to the next. If the Agent Wait Time Between Two Customer Cases is high, it means that your agent spent more time waiting for a case than processing one. When they efficiently move from one case to another, they will reduce handling time, gain productivity, and offer stronger service and a better customer experience.
This outbound call center KPI is essential to understanding how sales may be driven. Put simply, the conversion rate refers to the number of sales made out of a total number of calls. The higher the number, the better. When agents are able to convert in high numbers, companies can conclude that their outbound call campaigns are working well and resulting in high profitability. If the conversion rate is low, it may be necessary to look at aspects such as the time of day when agents call, answering machine detection rates, call script quality, and individual agents who may need additional training to sharpen their skills.
When outbound call center agents place calls, they may use an automated predictive dialer to do so. The predictive dialer may dial several phone numbers at once, calling more customers than there are agents available. The ultimate goal is to put the customer in contact with the first agent who becomes available. In this context, the hold time KPI refers to the time that elapses between a customer answering the phone and the agent responding. If this KPI is too high, an outbound call center may decide to dial fewer numbers at a time or increase the number of agents available to take the calls.
This KPI refers to the time a call center agent spends wrapping up a customer case post-call. The agent may make notes or updates to the customer’s file, such as noting the reason for contact, updating service or sales information, noting follow-up plans, communicating with other agents about the call. This rate should be as low as possible to ensure that agents can place more calls for maximum efficiency and service.
The agent occupancy rate calculates the amount of time agents spend on calls with customers, including hold times. This KPI is essential for managing call volumes properly. An agent that is not occupied enough may lack motivation, while an agent with a high occupancy rate may suffer from burnout and eventually lose productivity. Call flows must be adjusted to balance occupancy rates so that agents are not overworked and are able to offer service and contact prospects efficiently.
This contact center KPI simply refers to the time during which agents are not working on any customer case. While agents must have breaks to manage stress and keep focus, call center managers can look at this KPI to determine if time is being wasted. For example, agents may need to spend too much on manual tasks and then require longer breaks after long and stressful interactions. Offering agents the right tools and support is essential to keeping them comfortable, so that pause time does not become excessive.
Monitoring outbound call center KPIs is essential to helping agents perform at their best while ensuring a company’s long-term success.
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