2020. 12. 08.

Customer satisfaction during (and following) COVID: 6 KPIs call centers should focus on

There are many ways to measure the performance of call centers and customer services. Not all of these metrics are relevant all the time, but there are special periods when some of them become more significant.

Experts in this domain, like MetricNet count almost a hundred KPIs, and none of them can be labeled as superfluous. As mentioned above not all of these measurements fit every organization: they can decide themselves which are the most important customer service metrics for them. The most important conditions upon deciding are the development level of the customer handling processes and the channels used to receive requests. Though on the rarest of occasions, special periods like the pandemic can overwrite the rules.

The explosive entrance of COVID made waves in the ever action full call centers. Trip cancellations, quick credit requests, package complaints and so on – during this period the lines were busier than ever.

The smoke of burning lines is still inour nose

Voice security company Pindrop, conducted a research with their contact center and enterprise customers about the increase of voice traffic in recent times. After the outburst of the pandemic enterprise call centers experienced a volume increase of 300 percent in just a few days, followed by an 800 percent growth not long after…


Covid impact call centers

As the above graph shows, experts in the field are expecting twice as many calls, even after the pandemic. In other words the crisis caused by COVID will have reoccuring waves in the different sectors.

Pindrop measured a two-digit increase in the number of calls in their banking and insurance customer base. The reason for this is because small investors wanted to rearrange their savings. The numbers continued to grow until March, followed by another wave in April experienced by labor centers and social institutions, as people started to lose jobs because of the decreasing economy.

Tremors caused by COVID are unpredictable in the labor market and world economy, however one thing is for sure that customer service centers will feel its impact for a long time.

Online escape routes

Customer service centers had an unusual increase in calls also in Hungary and to make things more difficult operators had to be transferred to remote working in order to keep them safe.

There were companies who just gave up, while others tried to migrate the customers to self-service online platforms. At this time when pictures like below started spreading on LinkedIn.

covid digital transformation

It’s a fact that more and more companies started developing self-service customer channels, although how smooth they operate is a different question. We think that the majority of customers will still prefer voice customer service solutions, so it cannot be avoided completely by companies.

The continuous threat by COVID makes call and customer service centers rethink their most important metrics. Below we will point out what the experts think, and what we concluded at Comnica as platform developers.

1. Problem handling form start to finish: Average Handle Time

The average customer handling time or how many minutes it takes to solve a problem. We are talking about the whole process, which starts with the customer dialing, browsing the IVR and listening to the holding music. It also includes the time of the conversation as well as the solving and closure of the problem. According to estimations the overload caused by COVID the AHT can shoot out above 10 minutes from the global average of 3-6 minutes.

problem solving

Obviously this is just an estimation, the exact numbers will vary depending on industries and the different types of problems. However, the message is clear: it is not enough to install a smart call center system nor to have a well adjusted IVR. Companies need to put more emphasis on educating operators, improving problem management skills and expanding background support. In one word: there is a need for an all around reinforcement for customer administration processes.

2. The very first time: First Call Resolution

The steady increase of AHT draws to the conclusion that first call resolutions (FCR) will decrease. Call centers used to multi step problem handlings are forced to delay complex problem solutions to later steps because of increased traffic. This means that impatient customers will call again and again asking about the state of their request. Evidently first call resolutions will become second call resolutions and nobody gives 5 stars for that.

3. Stop the telephone DJ! Average Queue Time

Nobody likes to wait on the line, listening to the music, especially if their problem needs urgent solving. Nevertheless mass calls automatically attract longer holding times. Organisations also need to prepare for the waves of increased traffic due to the rhapsodically changing COVID situation and related measurements of the authorities.


4. Somebody please solve this instead of me! Transfer Rates  

Due to the pandemic a lot of companies reorganized their customer service processes and all of a sudden, the good old, familiar technologies were replaced by new, unfamiliar ones as well. Obviously new protocols cause more hesitation and uncertainties and operators are getting more likely to transfer problems to other colleagues or supervisors. There is also a chance that due to newly initiated call routings some of the less competent operators will be loaded with complex customer complaints. And this will further increase the transfer rate.

Every call transfer is a bump on a perfectly good road. During overloaded periods, high TR paired with high handle time causes significant delays in problem solving. If the organization does not have the means to train operators to manage different types of problems, call transfer processes and automated call allocations need to be fixed. For example by initiating Skill Based Routing, also referred as call transfer based on competence.

5. The end of the patience game: Abandonment Rate

The Abandonment rate shows the percentage of callers leaving the line before an operator is connected. The global standard value of AR is around 5 percent, even a good performing call center can be proud of in the virus-free everydays. Overwhelmed periods during the pandemic can increase the abandonment rate up to 10 percent according to experts. The sudden volatility of this metric can be stabilized by hiring more operators, but a more sustainable solution is a call center software with decent call handling automation.

+1. Undercover Home Office: Remote Working Flexibility

OK, we have to admit, there is no such KPI as Remote Working Flexibility, but actually we could imagine a measurement for that.

Although the performance of remote working (WFHP, Work From Home Performance) is tracked by various metrics, these KPI are no different from the above mentioned ones. They are mainly used to measure the operators’ work when being in HO. Which is pretty  important, but the real question is the adaptability of the organisation itself.


home office

For instance how quickly and smoothly can the whole company transfer to remote working, or mix home office with the standard office life. Are internal communication solutions a part of the company’s culture? Is there a cloud based, remotely accessible call center software at hand, which has the ability to monitor the whole customer service team? Do the employees have stable internet connection? Are there enough headsets and notebooks for remote working? How long does it take to move an employee to HO and build up the remote connection to coordinate her work?

The list of questions does not end here, but ultimately we are looking for the metric which shows us whether your customer can even notice that your whole call center has been moved to HO. A KPI tracking your superpower to operate your call center “from home” just as fine as from the office is probably the most important one during and after COVID.

Creative credit: 1. A to B – Medium Paul Burke 2. Car bump –  Youtube: Range Rover Evoque Stunt

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