What is the difference between call center metrics and KPIs?

Julie Pearl Published on May 28, 2014 Last updated on October 20, 2023

Call center metrics and KPIs are used interchangeably, but did you know that there’s a key difference between them? Read more to find out.

Distinguishing between call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial for effective operational evaluation in outsourcing firms. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they carry subtle distinctions that impact how organizations gauge and optimize their call center performance.

This blog aims to provide a comprehensive guide to differentiate between call center metrics and KPIs, outlining their significance in the context of customer service metrics and overall business objectives.

The Importance of Quantifying Call Center Output

A successful call center management hinges on the ability to quantify performance, providing organizations with the necessary insights to make informed decisions and drive improvements. This quantitative approach involves the meticulous use of call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Enhancing Overall Call Center Performance

    Outsourcing firms utilize these metrics and KPIs to identify areas for improvement, refine processes, and enhance overall call center performance. For instance, if average handle time is identified as a critical metric, efforts can be directed towards training agents to efficiently handle customer interactions without compromising service quality.

  • Continuous Improvement Through Measurement

    One aspect of effective call center management is continuous improvement. Regularly assessing call center metrics and KPIs enables organizations to adapt to changing customer needs, industry trends, and internal dynamics. This process of measurement and enhancement ensures that the call center remains agile and responsive.

  • Strategic Decision-Making

    Quantification of call center output is not just about evaluating past performance; it’s about informing future decisions. Organizations can make strategic decisions based on data-driven insights, allocating resources effectively, optimizing workflows, and aligning operations with overarching business strategies.

What is Benchmarking?

Before delving into call center metrics and KPIs, it’s essential to explore benchmarking. This practice forms the foundation for effective measurement strategies, contributing to a continuous improvement cycle that elevates call center performance.

Here are some areas where benchmarking is used, aside from call center metrics and KPIs:

  • Comparative Assessment: Evaluating their performance against industry standards or peers allows call centers to gain valuable insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • Identifying Best Practices: Analyzing top performers in the industry enables call centers to pinpoint strategies, processes, or methodologies that lead to superior call center performance.
  • Setting Realistic Targets: Instead of arbitrary goals, call centers can establish performance benchmarks based on proven industry standards.
  • Adaptation to Industry Changes: Benchmarking facilitates the adaptation to industry changes by providing a real-time understanding of how other call centers are adjusting their strategies.
  • Continuous Improvement Cycle: Regular assessments against benchmarks enable call centers to track their progress, identify emerging trends, and make timely adjustments.

What are Call Center Metrics?

Call center metrics are the measurable values that quantify the performance and efficiency of operations. Each metric serves as a unique data point, offering insights into specific facets of call center performance.

Let’s take a look at some examples of call center metrics:

  1. Call Volume

    Call volume refers to the total number of calls handled within a specified timeframe. This metric, provides a foundational overview of the workload and helps in workforce management planning. A high call volume may signal increased demand, requiring strategic staffing adjustments for optimal efficiency.

  2. Average Handle Time (AHT)

    Average handle time measures the average duration a call center agent spends on a customer interaction. This metric encapsulates the efficiency of issue resolution and customer service delivery.

  3. First Call Resolution (FCR)

    First call resolution measures the percentage of customer issues resolved in the initial interaction. High FCR rates correlate with positive customer experiences and streamlined operations.

  4. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

    The customer satisfaction score is obtained through direct customer feedback. This metric provides a tangible measure of customer sentiment, offering insights into the effectiveness of call center interactions.

  5. Abandonment Rate

    Abandonment rate represents the percentage of callers who hang up before reaching an agent. A high abandonment rate may indicate a need for adjustments in call center processes to enhance customer accessibility.

What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

Unlike specific call center metrics that focus on individual aspects of operations, KPIs are carefully selected to align with strategic goals and provide a comprehensive view of how well an organization is meeting its objectives.

In other words, all KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. For instance, AHT, FCR, and CSAT are considered key performance indicators but call volume is not usually considered as such. Here are some more examples of KPIs:

  1. Service Level

    Service level is a fundamental KPI measuring the percentage of calls answered within a specified time frame. It directly reflects the efficiency and responsiveness of a call center, ensuring that customer needs are addressed promptly.

  2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

    NPS assesses the likelihood of customers recommending the company to others. It provides insights into overall customer loyalty and the potential for organic growth through referrals.

  3. Agent Utilization

    Agent utilization measures the percentage of time agents spend on productive activities. Optimizing agent utilization ensures that resources are efficiently allocated to meet demand.

  4. Occupancy Rate

    Occupancy rate evaluates the amount of time agents spend actively engaged with customers. Balancing occupancy rate is vital to prevent agent burnout while maintaining optimal productivity.

Aligning Metrics and KPIs with Client Goals

Needless to say, the alignment of call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) with broader client goals is crucial for success. This fusion ensures that every metric measured is purposefully contributing to the overarching objectives of the client. Let’s explore the practical implications of this alignment:

  • Strategic Interconnection: Connecting specific call center metrics and KPIs with the broader goals set by the client transforms metrics into strategic tools driving the fulfillment of larger objectives.
  • Operational Decision-Making: Understanding how each metric contributes to call center performance provides valuable insights for management, guiding adjustments and improvements where needed.
  • Fulfillment of Business Goals: Metrics are integral components to achieve client goals. For instance, if a client aims to enhance customer satisfaction, metrics like first call resolution and response time become pivotal in measuring progress.
  • Operational Efficiency: For businesses valuing operational efficiency, metrics like AHT and agent utilization become focal points for assessment and refinement. This focus on efficiency directly contributes to the larger goal of streamlined operations.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Practical examples highlight the significance of alignment in real-world scenarios. For instance, when a business prioritizes customer growth, NPS and customer retention rates become crucial indicators reflecting service effectiveness.

Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

A specific subset of call center metrics focuses on customer experience. Evaluating these customer service metrics provides a nuanced understanding of how customer-centric operations contribute to overall call center performance.

Let’s delve into the implications of some call center metrics on customer experience:

  • First Contact Resolution (FCR): A high FCR implies that customers are getting swift solutions, leading to a positive and hassle-free experience.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): A high NPS indicates not only satisfaction but also the potential for customers to become advocates, actively promoting the brand to others.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Organizations can use CSAT scores to tailor their approach to better align with customer expectations.
  • Customer Retention Rate: A high retention rate implies that the call center isn’t just solving problems but fostering loyalty and ongoing satisfaction.
  • Average Handling Time (AHT): Prolonged interaction times can lead to frustration, signaling potential inefficiencies. A streamlined AHT ensures that customers receive prompt and effective assistance.

Call Center Metrics and Customer Loyalty

Examining the relationship between call center metrics and customer loyalty unveils a crucial facet of effective operations. Beyond gauging efficiency, specific call center metrics play a role in shaping the loyalty of customers.

  • Service Level: Meeting or exceeding service level expectations demonstrates responsiveness, which positively impacts customer satisfaction and, subsequently, loyalty.
  • Abandonment Rate: High call abandonment rates can frustrate customers. Monitoring and minimizing this rate contribute to a positive customer experience, showing that the call center values customers’ time and concerns.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES): CES measures the ease with which customers can get their issues resolved. A seamless and effortless experience contributes significantly to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • First Response Time (FRT): In scenarios where multiple interactions are required, FRT measures the time it takes for the first response. Timely initial responses contribute to a positive customer perception and, consequently, loyalty.

Call Center Metrics and Employee Satisfaction

Examining the connection between call center metrics and employee satisfaction reveals the crucial impact of metrics on fostering a positive work environment. Some call center metrics play a pivotal role in shaping a workplace conducive to employee satisfaction, a key element in sustaining optimal call center performance.

  • Agent Performance Metrics: Monitoring metrics such as AHT, FCR, and CSAT provides tangible insights into an agent’s contributions, facilitating targeted support and recognition.
  • Employee Feedback Metrics: Metrics like employee satisfaction surveys and feedback response times gauge the workforce’s sentiments, allowing for prompt addressing of concerns.
  • Work-Life Balance Metrics: Metrics assessing average work hours, overtime, and adherence to break schedules provide insights into employee well-being. Achieving a balance ensures sustained job satisfaction and call center performance.

Call Center Metrics and Multichannel Communication

Specific call center metrics take center stage in evaluating the effectiveness of multichannel communication, contributing to the overarching goal of sustaining optimal call center performance.

  • Customer Satisfaction by Channel: Analyzing customer satisfaction scores in relation to the channel utilized offers a targeted approach to enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Channel Utilization and Preference: Metrics that track the utilization of each channel and customer preferences provide actionable data for optimizing resource allocation and refining multichannel strategies.
  • Resolution Rates Across Channels: Metrics focusing on resolution rates in specific channels offer insights into the effectiveness of communication methods, guiding adjustments to improve overall call center performance.
  • Cross-Channel Customer Journeys: Metrics that map the cross-channel journeys of customers help identify potential pain points, enabling call centers to streamline communication pathways for a more cohesive customer experience.

Challenges in Metric and KPI Implementation

Despite a clear comprehension of these essential tools, the effective incorporation of call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) into daily operations poses distinct challenges. Recognizing and overcoming these hurdles ensures a seamless integration that contributes to enhanced call center performance and optimized customer service metrics.

  1. Data Accuracy and Consistency

    One prevalent challenge lies in the accurate and consistent collection of data required for meaningful metrics. Discrepancies or inaccuracies in data can distort the interpretation of call center performance and hinder the reliability of customer service metrics.

  2. Aligning Metrics with Business Goals

    Another hurdle is aligning the chosen metrics and KPIs with overarching business objectives. The disconnect between measured outcomes and strategic goals can impede the effectiveness of customer service metrics.

  3. Employee Resistance to Metrics

    The implementation of metrics may face resistance from employees who perceive them as tools for scrutiny rather than improvement. This challenge requires a shift in organizational culture, emphasizing the constructive use of customer service metrics for professional development rather than punitive measures.

  4. Integration with Technology

    As call centers adopt advanced technologies, integrating metrics into these systems becomes a challenge. Compatibility issues and the need for seamless integration with existing technology infrastructure must be addressed.

  5. Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment

    Metrics and KPIs require constant monitoring and adjustment to remain relevant. Failure to adapt to evolving operational dynamics can undermine the effectiveness of call center performance metrics.

Continuous Improvement Strategies Through Metrics Analysis

Leveraging the insights derived from call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), organizations can strategically implement targeted strategies to enhance their call center performance continually. This ongoing commitment to refinement is crucial for staying attuned to evolving customer needs and industry trends.

Let’s look at some areas where analysis of customer service metrics can contribute to continuous improvement for call centers:

  • Data-Driven Decision Making

    The foundation of continuous improvement lies in data-driven decision-making. Analyzing call center metrics allows organizations to identify trends, patterns, and areas requiring attention. This informed decision-making becomes a catalyst for implementing precise strategies that directly impact call center performance.

  • Identifying Bottlenecks

    Metrics analysis goes beyond surface-level observations. It delves into the identification of bottlenecks and inefficiencies within call center processes. Pinpointing these challenges enables organizations to streamline workflows, reducing delays and improving overall operational efficiency.

  • Adapting to Changing Customer Dynamics

    Customer expectations are dynamic, meaning it needs a flexible approach. Through continuous metrics analysis, organizations can adapt their strategies to changing customer dynamics. This agility is instrumental in maintaining a high level of customer service metrics and overall satisfaction.

  • Employee Training and Development

    Metrics analysis highlights areas where additional training and development are beneficial. This is particularly vital in enhancing the skills and capabilities of call center staff. Addressing specific performance metrics can lead to a more skilled and motivated workforce, positively impacting overall call center performance.

  • Optimizing Technology Integration

    As technology evolves, so should the integration of tools and systems within a call center. Continuous improvement involves assessing the effectiveness of existing technologies and identifying opportunities for optimization. This ensures that the technological infrastructure aligns seamlessly with call center metrics requirements.

  • Feedback Loops for Improvement

    Establishing feedback loops based on metrics analysis creates a continuous improvement cycle. Regular reviews, discussions, and adjustments based on performance data create an environment where enhancements become an inherent part of the call center’s operations.

Regulatory Compliance and Metrics

Maintaining a delicate balance between regulatory compliance and optimizing call center performance is imperative for the seamless operation of any call center. Let’s now dive into the relationship between regulatory compliance and the use of call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Alignment with Legal Standards

    Call center metrics and KPIs must align seamlessly with legal standards and industry regulations. This alignment guarantees that the data collected and analyzed adheres to privacy laws, data protection regulations, and any other relevant statutes governing call center operations.

  • Data Security Measures

    In the context of regulatory compliance, ensuring robust data security measures is the number one priority. Call centers handle sensitive customer information, and adherence to regulations demands the implementation of stringent security protocols. This includes encryption methods, access controls, and regular audits to safeguard customer data.

  • Transparent Reporting

    Transparent reporting, facilitated by call center metrics and KPIs, is a key element of regulatory compliance. Clear and accurate reporting mechanisms enable organizations to demonstrate their commitment to compliance, providing regulators and customers with a comprehensive view of how data is handled and protected.

  • Audit Trail Documentation

    Maintaining a meticulous audit trail is crucial. This involves documenting every step of the process, from data collection to analysis. An audit trail provides evidence of compliance efforts and serves as a valuable resource during regulatory audits or inquiries.

  • Employee Training on Compliance

    Employees play a pivotal role in ensuring regulatory compliance. Providing comprehensive training on compliance-related matters, including the correct use of call center metrics and KPIs, ensures that the entire workforce is aligned with legal standards, reducing the risk of unintentional non-compliance.

  • Regular Compliance Reviews

    Regulatory landscapes evolve, and it’s essential to conduct regular reviews to ensure ongoing compliance. Periodic assessments of call center metrics and KPIs against the latest regulations enable organizations to proactively address any gaps and adapt to changes in the legal environment.

  • Ethical Use of Customer Data

    Beyond legal requirements, ethical considerations should guide the use of customer data. Ensuring that customer service metrics align with ethical standards is not only a regulatory necessity but also a reflection of a call center’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of customer trust and satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

Call center metrics refer to measurable values that quantify the performance and efficiency of operations while key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that are more aligned with strategic goals.

Simply put, the main difference between call center metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is this: all KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs.

Here are some more takeaways from the topics mentioned above:

  • Aligning call center measurement practices with overarching business objectives is crucial, as it showcases the symbiotic relationship between metrics and KPIs.
  • The exploration of customer experience metrics, their impact on loyalty, and the connection between metrics and employee satisfaction provides valuable insights.
  • Addressing challenges in implementation and embracing continuous improvement strategies emphasizes the ongoing nature of call center management.
  • The integration of technology offers real-time insights and precise measurement capabilities.
  • Navigating regulatory compliance ensures ethical practices in the pursuit of optimal call center performance.

Keeping track of customer service metrics and key performance indicators can be dizzying. Why not partner with Open Access BPO instead to ensure top-quality customer support?

Through the years, Open Access BPO has led the outsourcing industry in terms of multilingual and multichannel customer service. Our expertise in keeping track of call center metrics and KPIs makes this possible.

What’s more is the quality of our output remains consistently high because of the excellent collaborative work of our diverse talent pool. Open Access BPO remains committed to employee empowerment, and our highly experienced workforce is proof of that.

Start a partnership with Open Access BPO today by clicking here.

Did you know that call center metrics are not necessarily KPIs? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two terms to help you choose the right KPI for your business.

business team studying outsourcing metrics

The terms metric and KPI (key performance indicator) are commonly used by people and companies in the call center outsourcing services industry. These are sometimes interchanged and given the same meaning, but doing so is actually wrong because metrics and KPIs are different in several ways.

Call center metrics measure anything about the businessโ€”from the time spent by each agent on the phone, to the number of customers dialing during a certain hour. KPIs, on the other hand, measure something more significant, which is the company’s success and progress. In a sense, KPIs are considered metrics, but not all metrics are necessarily KPIs.

How does a metric qualify as a KPI?

An organization can have many metrics, but only a few of those can be used as KPIs. Key performance indicators are metrics that matter most. They are actionable metrics that help you achieve your business goals. In other words, a metric can qualify as a KPI if you can modify it with specific actions.

Here are other characteristics of a metric that can make it a KPI:

  • Outcome-oriented
    Totals and averages such as the number of available agents and the number of customers on hold can be KPIs if they are tied to an objective. Merely counting them gives you metrics, but if they are measured so that you can reach an outcome, like determining the right staff size for each shift, then the counter numbers are KPIs.

    call center team leader helping customer support agent
  • Target-based
    If a metric has a time-sensitive target, then it can be a KPI. A good example is the average answer time, as call centers aim to keep this number at the lowest to pass customer service standards.

  • Rated or graded
    A metric can be a KPI if it is graded based on the difference between the target and the actual value. For instance, if a contact center’s average hold time is one minute (target), and some agents are able to get back to the customer in 40 seconds (actual value), then this metric can indicate the performance level of agents.

Businesses and their workforce can’t perform to their maximum without metrics and KPIs. You can measure a multitude of activities and resources, but only those that indicate your level of performance can truly be used as vehicles for success. Thus, evaluate your metrics wisely to choose which among them could truly guide you to your goals.



OABPO-Julie Author
As one of Open Access BPO's content writers, Julie Pearl shares her BPO knowledge through her blog posts, research papers, and other resources. She writes about outsourcing news and call center management tips and insights.
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