Wait time, handle time, first contact resolution rate, and abandonment rate are all common stats customer services teams monitor and strive to improve- but what makes one metric more important than the others? And when do they indicate the need for an outsourced call centre?
Wait Time and Outsourced Call Centres
Wait time is more important than other metrics because it is the data-point that is most within your control.
Handle time and first contact resolution rate are impacted by the nature of the customer’s inquiry or service request. Abandonment rate is a function of customer patience as much as it is of your team’s bandwidth. However, wait time is a direct reflection of how well-equipped your company is to provide customer service. Because of this, you should pay close attention to it as one of your key metrics.
In terms of the need for outside support, if your call centre is experiencing severe wait times, and you do not have the budget, equipment, recruitment resources, office space, etc. to bring on the additional staff, you should strongly consider utilizing an outsourced call centre to manage some of your call volume. There can be no excuses for bad wait times, it is 100% within your control.
Handle Time and Outsourced Call Centres
Handle time is more important than other metrics because it represents the biggest risk of wasted money.
By not paying attention to how long it’s taking your representatives to bring different types of calls to completion, and comparing those stats against whatever reasonable benchmarks you have established for those particular types of calls, you’re opening the door for wasted time, which in a call centre translates into wasted money.
Improving handle time is usually an issue of training – but if that isn’t a feasible option, an outsourced call centre will usually have a competitive handle time. When working with an outsourced call centre, be sure to ask them for handle time reports and spot-check the results, to ensure they aren’t misrepresenting their performance to you (and as a result overcharging you). Be suspicious of handle times that seem “too good to be true”, as they may be trading speed for accuracy. Their first contact resolution rates should capture that (see below).
First Contact Resolution Rate and Outsourced Call Centres
First contact resolution (FCR) rate is more important than other metrics because, when measured correctly, it represents whether or not your customers actually got what they needed from your customer service team.
The challenging part of measuring FCR is that management needs to pay close attention to whether or not “resolved” cases get re-opened or a new case is created for an existing, “resolved” issue – it can be easy to get complacent and assume the reported number is accurate without checking for problems like this.
In addition to the obvious customer satisfaction issues captured by FCR, there’s also the matter of efficiency. If an issue was not resolved the first time, there will need to be follow-up and additional conversations- this translates into additional money/resources being dedicated to the same issue. When coupled with handle time, FCR can actually give you a pretty complete picture of how well your customer service organization is doing. However, be aware that some calls will need to take longer than others, and some issues will require further investigation and cannot be resolved in the first interaction with a customer. Unlike bad wait times, there are sometimes good reasons for “bad” handle times and FCR rates.
As mentioned above, an outsourced call centre that has a good handle time may not have a good FCR, and vice-versa. You need to pay attention to both to make sure your customers are getting what they need in a highly efficient manner.
Abandonment Rate and Outsourced Call Centres
Abandonment rate is more important than other metrics because it captures customer behavior. Unlike wait time, handle time, and FCR- abandonment rate captures information about what your customers do rather than what your customer service staff does.
Abandonment rate is a secondary metric that often corresponds with wait time, for reasons that are probably obvious: if you keep a customer waiting, they will abandon their attempt to reach out to your company for assistance. That’s not a good way to retain customers.
If you are finding that your wait time has gotten so bad that it’s begun to negatively impact your abandonment rates, you should strongly consider working with an outsourced call centre to help you manage the volume of inbound customer service requests.
For more information about customer service metrics that can help you improve efficiency and advance customer service, specific to live chat, check out this ICMI article from November “Improving Your Live Chat ROI: 10 Key Metrics.”
This guest blog was written by Chris Frascella of Velaro, Live Chat Software.
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