inbound service level goals is one of the most important factors for
anyone responsible for the inbound call center function. Determining
the right inbound service level goal is not straight forward. A study
conducted by AT&T 30 years ago determined that 80% of calls should
be answered in 20 seconds or less. This was based off research that
indicated that many callers would hang up the call after waiting for 20
seconds. Referred to as the 80/20 rule, this began the foundation for
determining benchmarks for inbound service level standards. This study
was conducted before the majority of inbound call centers implemented
technology that is considered standard today, including Interactive
Voice Response (IVR) Priority Queueing for high value customers based
on the phone number they are calling from, In-Queue expected wait time
announcements and In-Queue self-service options.
if the 80/20 rule is appropriate is not black and white. To balance
efficiency vs providing a higher service level for your inbound calls,
here are some key factors to consider before determining your inbound
service level goals.
Know the Caller
your customer or prospect. If you have a good understanding of why the
customer or prospect is calling and how long they will typically wait
on hold is crucial. If the customer is willing to wait a bit longer to
speak to a representative because their issue or question cannot be
handled by any other means (such as self-service IVR, web, chat, or
email) then you may get by with less staffing and a lower service level
goal like 70% within 60 seconds.
your company offer any other methods for the customer or prospect to
contact your organization? In the last 10 years, most companies have
invested heavily in providing alternate channels like self-service IVR,
web self- service, chat and email to decrease the number of inbound
calls that the company receives. And most importantly, is your customer
or prospect likely to use these alternate contact methods? It comes
down to knowing your customer or prospect.
What is the Value of a Call?
is the value of a call? When determining what an Inbound Call Center
service level goal should be, it is also important to consider the
overall reason for the call and the value to your company. Is it a sale
driven call or a service driven call? If it is a sales call, the last
thing a call center manager wants is a customer hanging up and calling
a competitor because they could not get through to an agent (resulting
in lost revenue for the company). Most companies prioritize sales calls
using prompts like “Press 1 for sales” and “Press 2 for Service” to
easily identify sales calls and route them as a priority to the
available agents with a higher inbound service level goal for the sales
A Variable Goal May Make Sense
a variable goal make sense? As you evaluate volume patterns by day of
week, day of month, month of the year, or other seasonal volume
fluctuations, would it make sense to set inbound service level goals
that are variable? If the cost of adding staff to meet “peak season”
staffing requirements is extraordinary, it may make sense to establish
a lower service level goal for certain peak season days of the year and
then measure the results to identify if occasional lower service levels
hurt your customer satisfaction scores or result in an unacceptable
abandon rate (% of callers that abandon after 20 seconds is typically
the primary way to measure abandon rate). In my experience, most
inbound call centers work to maintain a less than 5% abandon rate.
What is Your Budget?
me the money! The staffing budget that an Inbound Call Center company
has is definitely an important factor that should go into determining
service levels. The higher the service level goal, the lower the
efficiency of the call center team, the higher the staffing costs. This
is because lower efficiency equals a requirement to staff more agents
to ensure the inbound service level goal is met.
What Matters Most?
matters most? Companies that sell a superior customer experience as
part of their brand promise will generally want to answer calls faster.
Companies that are in a regulated market (like utility companies)
generally do not need to deliver exceptional customer service, but they
also can’t afford to answer the calls so slowly that the customers
complain to the Public Utility Commission.
the above factors when determining what your magic inbound service
level goal should be is critical for a successful call center
operation. While the 80/20 rule is widely used, you should carefully
consider setting your inbound call center service level goals based on
all relevant factors.
is an Operations Manager for Quality Contact Solutions, a leading
outsourced telemarketing organization. Shannelle is a problem solver
with over a decade of experience in the contact center world,
specifically in contact center operations, training and quality
assurance. She prides herself on using her array of skills to think
outside the box for solutions to difficult problems and for providing
genuine, team-focused leadership. Shannelle is ambitious, goal driven
and a dot-connector. Shannelle can be reached at email@example.com or 516-656-4198.
first noticed the emergence of employee engagement as a top-of-mind
industry trend at the end of 2016. Employee engagement became a focus
of our research in 2017 and continued to be an important area of
industry exploration in 2018.
engagement goes beyond employee relations. Employee engagement implies
a connection between the employee and the company; almost a partnership
wherein the employee is not only enthusiastic about his or her work,
they are motivated to further the organization’s interests along with
their own interests. Beyond job satisfaction, employee engagement leads
to job and career fulfillment.
we conducted our third quarter 2018 research that looks forward to
important industry trends and issues for 2019, we asked about the
importance of employee engagement in the contact center’s overall
strategy for operational success in 2019. The results are illustrated
in the graph below.
graph above indicates that 97 percent of the industry finds some degree
of importance in employee engagement going into the year ahead. We
believe these and other results of our 2019 research are indicative of
a potential turning point in the global contact center industry.
We recently participated in a
NICE that is dedicated to the topic of employee engagement. In the
webinar, we talk about the important drivers behind the interest in
employee engagement and which solutions are proving to be most
effective in supporting an employee engagement strategy.
The webinar is available
and I encourage you to give it a listen and make sure you are up to
speed on employee engagement as an important strategic factor for
success in the year ahead.
In This Issue...
Determining Inbound Service Levels
Call Center Comics
Pearls Of Wisdom
"It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Reports From NACC
NACC has been burning
the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are sore to bring out
reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you are interested to
see what we are writing about, click on the links below and download the executive summary of each. If you like
what you see, join the NACC so that you can view these reports and
others that will be coming out soon on our website. These reports will
ensure that you know the latest trends in the industry.