Lower Call Center Costs with the Right Metrics

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

You need to determine how your call center costs affect your customer service. Your call center software's analytics play an integral...

The average call center inbound call costs $5.90.

US call centers receive 45.4 billion calls per year, which means that the cost of all inbound telephone customer service in the U.S. costs nearly $267 billion each year. And the ramifications of poor customer service costs call centers even more.

However, 79% of customers still consider a phone conversation with a call center agent as their preferred means of accessing customer service (Zendesk).

Related: Search our listings for inbound and outbound call centers

When you work in an industry that generates that much in costs every year, you need to find ways to determine exactly how those costs relate to the effectiveness of your customer service. Your call center software's analytics play an integral part in this equation.

Average Handle Time

Your call center's average handle time (AHT) is easily tracked by your call center software. It refers to the total amount of time that an agent spends on the phone with a customer. The lower the AHT, the more customers an agent can serve per hour, and the lower each call costs the call center. A low AHT implies that your agents are dealing with customer issues quickly and efficiently.

Related: Comparing Call Centers: 8 Things You MUST Look At

  • A low AHT also indicates that your call center's processes are streamlined, saving you money in operating costs. Quick resolution of their problem makes customers feel more satisfied with the experience as well.
  • Ways to decrease your call center's AHT include providing agents with templates or scripts that address commonly encountered problems or issues. You should also train employees on how to deal with lesser-known issues that are not addressed in the FAQ script. Nothing irritates a customer more than asking a question and receiving a scripted answer that does not address their particular concern. IVR systems can help to route customers to the best agent to help with their problem.

First Call Resolution

On the other end of the spectrum, your call center should also track your first call resolution rate (FCR). This is the number of times a customer needs to contact your call center before their problem is fixed or resolved. This metric is more difficult to measure than AHT. You may need to utilize a phone, web, IVR, or end-of-call survey to ask customers whether the call resolved their problem. You can also monitor calls to determine from the context of the conversation whether the customer felt the issue was resolved, or use your CRM software to monitor whether the customer calls back again in the near future.

Related:The 7 Coolest New Add-ons to Call Center Software

FCR is another means of assessing whether your call center's processes are effectively geared toward customer satisfaction. The implication is that if a customer has to call your center more than once for the same problem, then your customer service is lacking in some way.

  • The goal FCR is 100% - one call per issue or question.
  • A low FCR has a negative effect on your customers' level of satisfaction. It can also drive up costs, by increasing the volume of calls your call center receives. After all -- it's cheaper to have one 5-minute conversation with a customer than three 2-minute conversations.
  • For the average customer contact center, a 1% improvement in first call resolution would result in a $276,000 reduction in annual operational costs (Bluewolf).

Depending on your call center's customers and goals, you may find it more effective to concentrate on AHT more than FCR, or vice-versa. Consider how you can maintain positive levels of customer satisfaction while decreasing overhead costs in your call center utilizing your call center metrics.

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