Trying to determine the best metrics for the contact center is not an easy project. There are many questions in the way of determining the best metrics for your reports.

  • Who needs the report(s)?
  • What are your objectives? Is the metrics for the entire contact center or specific groups within the center? Senior Management or possibly just for you and your management of the call center?
  • Are you looking for data to show performance? Costs? Revenue?
  • Is the metrics for a short term or long term?
  • Real-time or historical for the day?

The metrics that you are looking for are directly related to your objectives.  The more detailed the objectives the more select your metrics should be.  So avoid general reporting objectives and concentrate on very specific objectives so you can narrow down the metrics that you need.

Factors that will help determine the metrics that are included in your reports.

  • Audience: The audience that is reading the metrics will narrow the focus of the metrics.  Metrics for the customer of the outsourced call center will be different than the metrics for the agents, supervisor, and manager.
  • Goal: What is the goal(s) for the metrics? The goal should change the metrics that are included in the reporting. From a pure business point of view, the business should be looking to increase revenue, decrease costs or a combination of both. The metrics that should be included in the reporting can be determined by the goal.
  • Challenges / Problems: The reporting content should change with the goals in mind.  What challenges or problems are being tracked and therefore shall change the metrics?
  • Real-time or historical data: Are the metrics to be used so agents, supervisors, and managers can do their jobs actively?

Industry standards, according to many professionals, do not match across industries. Furthermore, even within the same company different groups (departments) have different metric standards.  For example, a group covering sales (incoming revenue) has a strong need to see the abandon calls and rates across intervals.  However, within that same company is another group, that handles product returns (decreasing revenue) do not have the same level of urgency to see the abandon calls and rates.  So metrics that matter shall vary not only by industry but also within the business itself.

Objectives (Goals):

Focus on the objective of the report so that metrics can be determined.  If you find that you need a lot of metrics it is possible that your objectives are too wide and need to be narrowed down.  As an example: A Spectrum customer has over 1000 agents and the senior manager wanted to know how all of the agents were performing.  When she realized the number of metrics and KPI’s she would be reading she knew it would never work.  So she then asked changed her dashboard to show the Top Five and Bottom Five agents based on the number of calls taken and Average Handle Time per interval.  This massive report went from something she knew she would never be able to read to something that all of her Supervisors now have as well.

Challenges / Problems

Just like the Chicken or the Egg,  what comes first identifying the problems or setting the goals?  At a call center seminar, the audience was asked how many problems do they face on average on a daily basis.  “Raise your hand if it is over 20.”  More than 75% of the crowd raised their hands.  Having a lot of challenges on a daily basis in the contact center is not unusual.  However, managers should be trying to resolve the problems that are reducing revenue or increasing production costs.  Define those problems and the metrics required shall begin to diminish.

Not all problems can be resolved.  Certainly, we need to review staffing issues, budgets and outside influence that is causing challenges on a daily basis.  But senior management will not give you an open checkbook so work on the problems you can resolve or reduce.


The people that will be reading the report will have a great impact on the metrics that are included.  The goals may be similar, “Show Total Performance for the Day” but the metrics will change if the audience is an agent or senior management level.  A supervisor responsible for a single group of agents versus a manager overseeing all agents.

Agents: They need to see the real-time critical KPI’s (See Real Time Table below) and the Agent States information for their group.

Supervisor: They need to see the real-time critical KPI’s,  Agent States, Agent Data, for the group they manage. Historical Metrics would be very helpful as well.

Manager: They need to see both real-time and historical for the entire contact center.

Metrics may also include data that is outside of the ACD. Metrics such as CRM, Customer Service Tickets, WFM, IVR and internal data may also need to be combined.  This is when defining the audience and the problems help reduce the number of metrics needed for your reports.

Do not forget that if your reports are shown on wallboards anyone can see them.

Real Time vs Historical

Real-time metrics are included if the goal is to help the agents, supervisors and managers to improve immediate performance. The metrics that are considered to be highly critical are usually not needed in a historical report.  For example Compare the top five real-time vs historical metrics:

Real-Time                                                                    Historical

Calls Waiting                                                              Calls Offered

Longest Wait Time                                                     Calls Accepted

Agents Available                                                        Agents Staffed

Agent State                                                                 Service Level

Agent State Time                                                       Abandon Rate

Please note that Emails and Chats are included in these metrics.


Yes, you can have more metrics in your report but what is the goal?  If you are trying to improve real time performance why do you need to see data that has no effect on real time performance?

Some Real Time reports will include data such as Average Speed Answer, Percent Abandoned, Service Level, and Total calls accepted.  So the question is what is the goal of the report?

Customer Experience

In an ideal situation the goal for most call centers today is to improve the customer experience. It does not matter what business the department handles as long as the overall customer experiences continues to improve.

Customer satisfaction through a positive experience is only possible with an agent that is motivated.  If the agent is enjoying their job and are happy when working with a customer that can improve the customer experience.  Agents that are challenged internally in a negative fashion will take it out on the customer creating a negative customer experience.

Having too many metrics can add to the problem of not being full aware of the goals of metrics.  Certainly all data has value but some is on the low value end of the curve and should be left off of the report metrics.  Focus solely on the high end data that is critical to the success of resolving the total awareness of the contact center performance. If the data has little value to add to the outcome then do not include it in the metrics.  Having site of the metrics that point directly to resolution of the problem is the goal.