By Chris Grothe, Vice President of Operations
Back in the early ’90s, as a college student, I found myself working in an inbound call center, which at the time was an industry that many didn’t fully understand or appreciate. I was an agent taking inbound calls for vehicle rentals alongside 199 other agents. Little did I know that working in the inbound call center industry would become a lifelong endeavor and passion of mine.
Interestingly enough, even though it wasn’t as clearly defined for me at the time, it was my goal-setting that led me through a steady progression of my career through this industry. I set goals for myself to set me apart from the other 199 agents, and it’s obvious now that my goal setting early on brought me to where I am now.
I learned very quickly that a person (or project) without goals is like a sailboat drifting in the ocean without a sail….it may or may not get to its destination, but you radically increase your chances of success with a sail.
Fast forward now almost 30 years, and goal setting has not only been an obsession of mine, but something that I know drives us all forward both professionally and personally. Goal setting plays an integral role in determining how to implement an inbound call center program successfully.
Goal setting & metrics for the inbound call center
First, you must determine the most crucial goal that will drive your business’s satisfaction and, more importantly, your customers. Is it first call resolution %, service level %, the average time to answer, etc.? There are many KPIs to measure, but if you look close enough, one should jump off the page as your wildly important goal (WIG).
The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Franklin Covey suggests focusing on less in order to accomplish more. Start by selecting 1 wildly important goal, or WIG, rather than a dozen goals. To help get clarity on defining a WIG, identify where you are now, where you want to be and by when. Said differently, define a starting line, finish line, and deadline.
Service levels: Most often, one of the most critical KPIs that you will measure is defined as the percentage of calls answered within a predefined amount of time (your target time threshold). The most common service level used is 80% of the calls answered within 20 seconds. However, depending on call volumes and how cost-effective you want the program to be, this metric could also look like 80% of the calls answered within 120 seconds. Staffing levels (and the associated cost with staff) play a direct role in setting this goal.
First call resolution (FCR): Another essential aspect of any inbound call center campaign is first call resolution. Simply put, it measures the number of inbound support queries successfully resolved the first time. First call resolution is a vital aspect of any inbound call center campaign in that FCR will directly be tied to providing the customer a good experience. Diligence in product/service training and overall quality assurance is key to successfully meeting goals set for FCR. Industry standards for FCR typically fall between 70-75%, depending on your specific application.
Other KPIs to consider, but may not be your number one wildly important goal are: abandon rates, the average time to answer, total handle time, cost per call, customer effort scores, etc.
When preparing to launch an inbound call center campaign, once a client identifies their WIG, this is where I know our operations team thrives. From that point, we set our agents up for success by clearly communicating a client’s primary goals and developing internal teams and individual goals to support the broader vision by using a client’s wildly important goal and developing actions plans that may include:
- ongoing product training
- focused quality assurance goals
- incentives to meet attendance and scheduling needs
- post-call wrap-up goals and much more.
Everything starts with assisting our clients with identifying their wildly important goal for their inbound call center campaign.
Chris Grothe is the Vice President of Operations for Quality Contact Solutions. With nearly three decades of call center experience, Chris is a proven professional with in-depth knowledge of inbound and outbound operations. As an industry pioneer, Chris’s expertise and attention to detail enable him to identify opportunities and executing new strategies help his clients achieve and exceed their goals. Chris leads by example and dedicates himself to teaching his team how to develop successful for their clients. Chris can be reached at Chris.email@example.com or 516-656-5121.