CallTalk Caramels: Service Level Best Practices

February 5, 2014 – 12:13pm

CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore.  “Caramels” distills key points from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.

Service Level is the granddaddy of call center metrics. Traditionally, answering 80% of calls in 20 seconds was considered a best practices goal.  While some remain attached to this metric, experts increasingly see this as a metric that needs to be put into context with other metrics, i.e. Caller Satisfaction, Average Handle Time, Rate of Call Abandonment, etc.  When evaluating Service Level goals, you should understand the real impact it has on overall customer satisfaction. This allows for balanced management of KPI’s in relation to Service Level expectations, and managing the overall caller experience. Here are three points to consider:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the cost of answering calls more quickly?” This will help you understand the costs and benefits to the organization of staffing to answer calls faster.
  2. Does the customer really value a marginal reduction in time to answer? E.g., do tests in which you compare satisfaction at your current service level, with satisfaction at a level that is, say 20% worse.  Naturally, this requires a good caller feedback system.
  3. For inbound sales centers, calculate the average revenue generated during a specific period, then divide by the total number of calls handled during that same period. This provides an average value per call that may be applied towards all calls within the mixed environment (of sales and customer service calls). Measure several times and use averages as this value may change due to daily peaks and lows in call volume and numbers of agents staffed.

In sum, Service Level should not be the single North Star of your center.  Rather, it can be one metric of several which are used to guide your performance decisions.

Tip of the week: Try to understand the impact your Service Level has on overall customer satisfaction. In some cases, customers are willing to wait those extra few seconds. This can be a big cost savings to the center.

CallTalk™ Caramels: Sweet Snippets from BenchmarkPortal’s Best CallTalk Episodes
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb.  It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Adam Cincoski, entitled “Service Level: Does the Old 80/20 (80% of calls handled in 20 seconds) Still Apply to Everyone?”
To listen to the entire episode click play below:

 

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