Inbound customer service | Performance Metrics for your outsource SLA

Posted by John Drury


In my last blog we covered the due diligence steps managers can take when evaluating bids for an outsourced telemarketing contract. This time we look at outsourcing your inbound customer service operation. Here are a list of basic metrics for buyers and suppliers to consider when formalising their Service Level Agreement (SLA). There are a wide variety of performance indicators, some of which help senior management evaluate the efficiency and revenue of operations, others allow call centre managers to oversee the workloads and career paths of staff. However, for most buyers the level of service given to callers is the paramount concern, so in this blog we look at metrics for inbound customer service performance that focus on the quality of customer experience.


1) Service level - this is a speed-to-answer measure commonly set in SLAs. Defined as answering X percent of calls within Y seconds, for example 80% of calls in 20 seconds, the service level measures how accessible your organization is to your customers. An inbound customer service supplier will manage staff numbers and workloads in order to meet the service level goal.


2) Abandon rate - An important factor in calculating whether the service level has been met is the rate of abandoned calls. While abandons are affected by the average wait time in queue, there are many other factors beyond the control of the call centre that influence this number, such as individual caller tolerance, time of day, availability of service alternatives, and so on. The call centre will not want these factors to count against its performance. There are multiple ways to calibrate the service level and call abandon rate to your specific inbound customer service project, so this is an issue you will need to explore with your supplier when you set your SLA.


3) Blockage - another accessibility metric, this measures the percentage of customers who cannot get through to an agent at a given time due to a lack of network facilities, resulting in callers hearing a busy signal. If an SLA does not include a blockage goal, then the call centre could meet its service level target by simply blocking excess calls. The call centre would look to be performing well in managing the queue, while in fact it was doing a poor job in terms of customer accessibility and satisfaction.


4) Quality Scores - these monitor the overall caller experience and the conversations that agents have on inbound customer service calls. Scores are typically measured over between 5 and 10 calls per agent per month and look at agents’ communication skills and etiquette, as well as their adherence to procedures such as workflow processes or call scripts.


5) Customer Satisfaction - a measure of the percentage of callers that are happy with your inbound customer service experience, which is carried out through a variety of methods but most typically though a post-call phone survey or a follow-up email survey.


6) First Call Resolution (FCR) also ‘Best Contact Resolution’, this metric looks at how many times a customer needs to call to get a problem resolved. It can be a useful way of seeing call centre contact from the customer’s perspective but is quite difficult to measure due to the variety of factors that motivate repeat calls and the range of different issues these calls might be about. Common ways to measure FCR include monitoring calls to see if agents give a satisfactory answer so that the caller does not have to call back, and reviewing calling party numbers to see how many customers call back within a set period of time.


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Thinking of outsourcing your inbound customer service?


Then contact us to see how we can help with your project.


Authored by John Drury, Sales Director at Interaction Europe.



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