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What is the Most Important Contact Center Metric?

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 09/19/2016

metrics2I presented at the ICMI CC Expo last month in Long Beach. It’s always a great conference, and I look forward to it each year.

In the afternoon after my journey mapping workshop I attended a Justin Robbin’s session on metrics. Justin began by asking attendees the most important metric they tracked.

Think about it for a minute. Of everything you look at, which is the single most important item?

The first respondent said, “ASA [Average Speed to Answer],” whereas another followed up with “productivity.” This was followed by “response time,” “commission” and “occupancy.”

Do any of these resonate with you? If so, then you need to rethink your approach.

Going Beyond the Metrics

Of course, each of these metrics matter. Your ASA and Response Time have a real impact. It will be hard to engage customers if they wait on hold for two minutes before answering. I spoke with one customer experience leader who took over a call center with an average of 40 minutes of hold time. So there are specific instances where these items certainly matter.

But are they really your most important factors? Productivity and Occupancy have impact. You only have so many resources with which to work.

But again – are these your most important metrics? If so, you’re probably fighting the wrong battles. Stop for a minute and ask yourself: what would your CEO say?

Peter Drucker argued persuasively that the purpose of a business is to get and keep customers. While a slow response time will certainly hurt, a quick response is no guarantee of success. A bad experience served quickly helps no one.

It’s easy to see why these call centers managers came up with these answers. ASA is easy to measure. Productivity can be counted. Even commission – while likely not your most important measure – has easy dollars and cents to count. Counting is good.

After hearing these, Justin wisely recommended that your most important metric should tie to your strategy. What are you as a company trying to accomplish? Then use this to determine your most important metric.

Eventually, we got closer. The 7th and 8th responses at the session were better – customer satisfaction and employee engagement. These hopefully match your company’s strategy more closely. Ideally, your company is focused on either gaining customers or in creating a great employee experience to drive your customer experience.

What you select as your most important metric matters. “What gets inspected is expected,” was Justin’s comment – not substantially different from another famous Drucker quote “What gets measured gets managed.”

Take a fresh look at your measurements.

Have you determined one most important metric?

We’ve all seen our share of scorecards that are so littered with measurements that you can’t actually tell if you’re improving or getting worse. If everything is important, nothing is.

Focus is Key

Look first to your company’s strategy. Use that as your North Star.

Once you have the strategy, look at what you are doing to help achieve this strategy. If the answer is, “what we’re doing doesn’t really tie into the company’s strategy,” then you should be very, very afraid.

But assuming that your efforts link to your company’s strategy, use this to find your most important metric. And there should be just one. Base your communications, your scorecard, and your coaching around this metric – and, more importantly, the strategy behind it.

And if your company’s strategy truly is to maximize commissions? Then start looking for either a new strategy, or maybe even a new company.

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