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Is Average Call Time a Useful Call Center Metric?

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Is Average Call Time a Useful Call Center Metric?

February 25, 2013
By Jacqueline Lee
Contributing Writer

Many call centers evaluate their agents using average call time as a metric. Traditional thinking says that if an agent spends too much time on a call, increased wait times keep other customers from getting the service they need.

According to ZCorum, call centers need to toss out traditional thinking. Their customer satisfaction surveys found that 99 percent of those who call ZCorum call centers find the representative helpful and courteous.

They also reported that 93 percent of those surveyed rated agents as helpful and knowledgeable, and said they would recommend ZCorum service to others.

So how is ZCorum obtaining these sky-high satisfaction numbers? According to Jason Young (News - Alert), vice president of Call Center Services, the company has thrown out the average call time metric.

“We attribute a lot of our success to a focus on live customer service, as well as staying on the phone with the customer until we’ve resolved their issue,” Young explained. “Plus, we don’t take average talk time into account when evaluating our support reps.”

Company president Julie Compann suggests call center managers evaluate customer surveys every day. “If we happen to get a negative survey, a supervisor calls the customer back to see if we could have done anything differently, and whether there is anything further we can do to resolve their issue,” said Compann.

“When we’re done, we send another survey, and quite often we’re able to turn a negative survey into a positive one.”

ZCorum doesn’t send customers through a series of self-service prompts. The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) says that call centers that do employ self-service often forget to evaluate how the self-service mechanism treats their customers.

In other words, call centers don’t always evaluate how many customers start a self-service transaction and then require an agent to finish the transaction. Also, many centers fail to record IVR and self-service transactions to check for glitches that may cause a customer to hang up or to request an agent for a basic service.

ICMI says the customer’s call center experience is all about balance.

“Basing an entire service strategy on the number of calls handled per hour or on average handle time will inevitably damage contact quality; but quality metrics that aren't balanced quantitative and efficiency measurements can have an adverse effect on the customer experience.”

Edited by Braden Becker
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