Live from NCOF: Developing and Applying Multichannel Contact Center Benchmarks

May 02, 2007 2:36 AM  By

Schaumburg, IL–We all know the importance of benchmarking: It sets a standard by which to measure your performance and build a baseline from which you can improve. But with so many metrics in the multichannel contact center, which ones should you be measuring?

According to Joseph “Tocky” Lawrence, vice president of consultancy F. Curtis Barry & Co., costs, service levels, handle times, and call abandonment rates are all important metrics. In his Tuesday afternoon session, “Developing and Applying Multichannel Contact Center Benchmarks,” he said that it’s important to measure those key metrics weekly, monthly, or annually.

Lawrence also advocated benchmarking with a peer company or group but noted that the best organization against which to benchmark is your own. “That’s the only way to determine where the improvements need to occur.”

Lawrence released numbers for attendees to use as a yardstick. For example:

* Call abandon rates of 2%- 2.5% are considered very good. If 3% or more of your incoming calls are abandoned, you need to figure out why and remedy the problem. Interestingly, if fewer than 2% of calls are abandoned, it could signal stellar service, but it could also signify that you’re overstaffed.

* An average service level is having 80% of your calls answered in 20 seconds or less. Some companies are experimenting with 70% in 20 seconds or less. The average speed of answer is generally 30 seconds or less.

* The average handle time—defined as talk time plus after-call work—is typically around 4 minutes for multichannel companies.

* Productivity, or call-to-order ratio, which measures calls answered to orders taken, averages 1.2 calls to each order.

As for e-mails, there is not yet an industry standard, Lawrence said. “I’ve seen e-mail responses take anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours. It really depends on how your company views the channel and what is important for them.”

The same goes for productivity with chat sessions. “The larger multichannel companies have embraced it,” Lawrence says, adding that agents average no more than three chat sessions at a time, depending on the complexity of the question. “Any more than that, you tend to lose sight with whom you’re speaking.”