Handling inquiries, complaints, and requests on a large scale are made through call centres. Call centres are used in almost all the present-day industries we could think of. A call centre is of two types: Inbound and Outbound. A company instils an inbound call centre for product and service inquiries from consumers. An outbound call centre is used for telemarketing, research, debt collection, law and order purposes, and emergency notifications from authorities.
A call centre is run by call centre agents who handle all the communication, primarily working in an open space. A call centre could be independently operated or networked with additional centres, often linked to a corporate computer network, including mainframes, microcomputer/servers, and LANs. The voice and data gateways in the centre are connected through an emerging technology called computer telephony integration. Call centres have been in use since the 1960s, entering into the mainstream in the 70s with multiple corporates in the banking, airline, and telephone industry setting up their call centres to handle customers and contacts.
The toll-free services which we benefit from today began coming into service in the 1980s. Call centres truly boomed in the 90s, expanding globally and becoming a significant source of income for millions of agents worldwide.
Call centre services hugely influence the profits and losses of any organisation. In a survey recently:
- 60% of consumers confirmed to have stopped transactions after poor support service.
- The dependence on voice support is also expected to drop steeply to 47% from around 65% currently with more use of Artificial intelligence.
- More than 50% of consumers think that customer service is an important factor influencing their choice of a brand.
A call centre productivity monitoring is done on a number of metrics. These performance metrics give an in-depth analysis of the overall productivity of a call centre. Some of these metrics to monitor a call centre’s productivity are:
- Average Call Abandonment Rate
- Percentage Of Blocked Calls
- Average Queuing time
- Service Levels
- Average Answering Speed
- Average Handling Time
- First Call Resolution
A comprehensive report including an overall study of these factors helps in reaching short and long term objectives.
What is a call centre service?
A call centre service is any query, complaint, or booking service which the agent may provide customers. Call centre services are spread across all industries, from phone bankers to healthcare to the hospitality industry.
Various Service levels of a call centre
The simplest way to understand service levels is the number of services a customer may receive in under a minute. It is a crucial metric to identify the productivity level of a call centre. Service level is a contentious topic with no set rules of the ways to determine the service levels. However, service levels are still the leading metric to assess whether agents quickly address customers regarding their query or complaint despite the contentiousness.
Ways of calculating call centre service level
Determining the metrics can be tricky. How does one calculate service levels and set expectations?
- Classification: Organizations have to classify abandoned calls, determine real-time intervals for every step of the customer experience. Call centre software with advanced reporting helps in tracking these metrics and recognises improvement areas for the management.
- Adaptability: With increasing customer demands for speed and quality, call centre service levels must meet needs at a realistic and reasonable pace with the highest possible quality.
- Simplified Approach: Defining the service levels can be done with simple formulae (such as x per cent of calls answered in y amount of seconds), but tracking each call centre representative’s performance against those measures requires the use of accurate and powerful software. Meeting the service level can help a call centre improve customer satisfaction by responding quickly and enhance lifetime customer value by increasing the odds of a repeat customer.
Defining the desired Service Level is more important than simply choosing X percentage of calls to be answered within Y seconds. Realising and constantly delivering on this is vital for growth. The majority of call centres stick to the industry standards of service level, which is to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds.
Call centre service benchmarks
There are a few benchmarks set when it comes to call centre service levels. These are measured on several metrics listed below:
A) First Contact Resolution: This is the ability of a call centre to resolve customer issues in the first call itself. The set benchmark for First Contact Resolution lies between 70-75 %. Knowledge base for Customer service can help in improving FCR.
B) Average Handling Time: The average duration it takes for a call centre to handle one customer is the average handling time. The industry benchmark for an excellent Average Handling Time lies around 6 minutes. Decision trees for customer service can helps in reducing AHT at call centers.
C) Service Level and Response Time: 80/20 is the benchmark set for call centre service levels which means 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds. The ideal response time varies according to the communication channel; for emails, the benchmark is 100% in four hours. 80% answered for live chats within 20 seconds, and 80% of messages responded within 40 seconds.
Why call centre service levels are a concern
Countless call centres and experts have put forward the point against strictly following service levels. The standard explanation given is focusing too much on optimisation of service levels can be detrimental for other aspects of the centre. Most call centre take the service level number as the only source of truth and performance which could be detrimental. Most agents believe that Customer Satisfaction, First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Advisory Satisfaction rank way up than Service levels as a metric for call centre productivity. This thought is leading to companies experimenting more with the 80/20 rule with relaxed target answer time and stricter satisfaction and resolution percentage.
Suggestions to meet the targets of service level
To do a thorough analysis of any organization’s service levels, one has to balance the company’s desire to deliver customer satisfaction against the budget. Some suggestions to meet the targets of service level are:
- Customers of tremendous potential and value could be prioritized for prompt and quick response.
- Studying the impact of increased Abandonment Rate on customers’ satisfaction could also give in-depth insight.
- Another approach organizations could take following the standards guides published by COPC, which some in the industry use as benchmarks.
- Understanding customer needs is of paramount importance. Successfully learning and identifying customer issues could go a long way in an enhanced customer experience.
- Constantly seeking customer feedback could help identify key areas which might need attention while setting up and communicating clear service standards helps internal teams maintain a certain level of productivity in line with the company’s standards.
- Personalizing Customer Service could also help in giving a unique experience to the consumers and building trust.
Choosing the right call centre is a crucial business decision for organisations. Get in touch with us today for comprehensive coverage of your call centre or contact centre requirements.
The author Dennis P. Reed possesses a vast experience in the IT industry, especially in the domains of website and mobile app development and digital marketing. He writes on topics encompassing the above mentioned domains and is considered a maven in his chosen field – Information Technology.