Demystifying Contact Center Metrics: A Guide to Boosting Customer Satisfaction

Demystifying Call Center Metrics: A Guide to Boosting Customer Satisfaction

Confused by contact center metrics? This comprehensive guide explains key metrics, industry standards, and how to leverage data for better customer experiences.

The Gist

  • Elevating customer expectations. Today’s customers have significantly higher service expectations, demanding quick, accurate resolutions.
  • Critical performance metrics. Contact center metrics are essential for gauging service efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.
  • Analytics benefits. Tracking contact center metrics can significantly improve customer interactions and operational efficiencies.

Today’s customers have high expectations. In fact, according to a Talkdesk report, 58% of consumers polled said their customer service expectations increased. And 84% said they expect their questions or concerns to be solved quickly and accurately. That’s where contact center metrics come in.

Contact center metrics help organizations better understand and respond to customer needs. But which metrics should organizations track?

What Are Contact Center Metrics?

Contact center metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure various aspects of a contact center’s operations and performance. These metrics are crucial for understanding the efficiency, effectiveness, and overall quality of the customer service. These KPIs can also help organizations gauge how happy or satisfied their customers are and the likelihood of them becoming loyal customers or recommending the brand to others.

How to Monitor Contact Center Performance

Using contact center metrics to measure performance effectively boils down to three phases:


Collect as much applicable data as possible from all channels, and avoid siloes by ensuring each department shares data with other departments. For instance, contact center agents often can’t track resolution rates. However, centers can use customer relationship management (CRM) or analytics software to provide that data.


Data by itself is just data. Organize and present it in a way that makes it easy for your team to understand and act on. Contact center analytics software often includes templates you can use to create visual reports.


Take your contact center metrics calculations and use them to improve the performance of your agents and fill gaps in your customer response plan. Consider each metric you want to use to improve your contact center and think about how to get the most benefit from it.

Top Contact Center Metrics

Many different factors can impact a customer’s experience with your contact center. Every organization should track key industry standards and metrics for contact center management.

Average Time in Queue

Callers wait in line for an average of ten minutes before getting connected to a service agent. A lower average time in queue indicates more efficient contact center operations.

Average Call Abandonment Rate

The percentage of calls abandoned by the customer before reaching an agent. Callers typically abandon a call if they’ve been on hold for too long, which can lead to dissatisfaction and even prompt customers to move on to a competitor.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

The average time it takes for an agent to answer inbound calls indicates the level of customer accessibility of the service.

Percentage of Calls Blocked

The percentage of people who call the center but receive a busy tone or are routed to leave a voicemail or callback number. A high percentage of calls blocked can frustrate customers and indicate to companies that they may need to reconfigure staffing levels during certain days or times.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

Average handle time is the average duration of a single transaction, including talk time, hold time, and time spent on related tasks after the call ends. Many businesses allow flexibility in this metric, as some problems are more challenging than others.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

First contact resolution is the percentage of calls resolved during the first interaction between an agent and customer without requiring follow-up.

Occupancy Rate

The percentage of time agents spend handling calls or completing work related to calls versus waiting for calls to come in.

Average After-Call Work Time

The average amount of time an agent spends on post-call tasks after a conversation with a customer. These tasks might include updating customer records, entering transaction details, sending follow-up emails, or other administrative or documentation work.

Contact Center Customer Experience Metrics

Many contact center metrics can help organizations pinpoint what type of experience their customers have when they call in and interact with agents.

First Contact Resolution

The first contact resolution mentioned above measures the percentage of calls resolved during the first interaction between an agent and a customer. A high first-contact resolution is a sign of excellent customer service and one of the most important ways to ensure customer satisfaction. A high number also indicates a well-trained and knowledgeable team of agents.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The customer effort score specifically measures how much effort it takes a customer to accomplish a specific task or find an answer to their query. A CES survey is typically deployed at the end of a call and might ask the customer, “Do you agree or disagree that [brand] made it easy for you to handle your issue?”

Customer effort score is one of the most critical metrics for measuring how a customer feels about the brand. Customers are often satisfied when they can resolve a problem without much effort. Conversely, if a caller has to put in a lot of work to do something simple, it often leads to frustration and a poor experience.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The customer satisfaction score is a metric that measures how satisfied a customer is with the service they receive. This score is often gauged through post-call surveys, which may ask callers to rank from 1 to 10 or 1 to 5, where 1 indicates the person is “Very Unsatisfied” and 5 or 10 means they are “Satisfied.”

Time on Hold

This metric measures how long a caller waits on hold before they speak to an agent. A high time on hold could mean people are likelier to abandon the call and move on to a competitor. Combining this metric with the call abandonment rate can help you determine if agents are answering questions efficiently and point to potential staffing issues.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net promoter score gauges how likely a person is to recommend the company to others. NPS is calculated based on the response to a single question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

Based on their ratings, respondents are classified into three categories:

  • Promoters (Score 9-10): Loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others.
  • Passives (Score 7-8): Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (Score 0-6): Unhappy customers who may spread negative word-of-mouth.

NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. The score can range from -100 to 100.

Contact Center Agent Productivity Metrics

Agents are at the heart of the contact center and the front line of customer interaction. Various metrics can help organizations determine how agents are performing and pinpoint any problems that may need to be addressed.

Service Level

The percentage of calls answered within a predetermined amount of time indicates an agent’s productivity level. This metric is often set as a target, like answering 80% of calls within 20 seconds.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

The average time it takes to handle a call, from speaking to the caller to the end of after-call tasks. Many companies want agents to resolve calls as quickly as possible. And shorter AHTs tend to point to answering customer queries quickly and efficiently. Still, the danger with promoting short AHTs is that some agents intentionally keep calls short of hitting the desired standard without solving customer problems.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

This metric determines how long it takes an agent to answer inbound calls. Higher ASA times signify a greater risk of customer dissatisfaction and possible agent problems. It can also point to efficiency and accessibility issues.

Active Waiting Calls

This metric is the number of calls in the queue waiting to be answered by an agent. It’s a real-time indicator of the contact center’s incoming call volume versus its capacity to handle calls without making customers wait too long.

First Contact Resolution

FCR is the percentage of calls resolved by an agent during the first interaction with the customer. It is a critical metric for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the agent’s customer service efforts.

Agent Utilization Rate

The percentage of time agents spend handling calls or performing call-related work compared to the total logged-in time. It’s a measure of how effectively an agent’s time is utilized for productive work, with a high utilization rate suggesting agents are actively engaged in work and a low rate indicating idle time or inefficiencies.

Peak Hour Traffic

Peak hour traffic measures when contact center agents receive the highest incoming calls. This metric helps companies determine when to schedule more agents to answer calls quickly and efficiently.

Contact Quality

A measure of the effectiveness of an agent’s communications and interactions, which assesses factors like adherence to scripts, product knowledge, and communication skills. Supervisors often evaluate this metric through call monitoring and scoring.

Contact Center Performance Metrics

Understanding and optimizing key metrics is crucial for ensuring operational efficiency. Let’s examine the essential KPIs that drive contact center performance.

Number of Calls

The number of calls (inbound and outbound) handled by an agent or the contact center during a specific timeframe. This metric helps companies understand the volume of calls and is fundamental for workforce planning, forecasting, and assessing the overall demand for customer service.

Call Arrival Rate

The frequency at which calls are received in the contact center within a given timeframe, typically expressed as calls per hour or minute. It’s a crucial metric for understanding call volume patterns throughout the day or week.

Average Call Lengths

The average duration of the call, including talk time and hold or transfer time, is an indicator of how quickly agents can handle customer inquiries or issues.

Repeat Calls

The number of times a person calls back about the same issue within a certain timeframe after the initial call. A high number of repeat calls can indicate issues with first-call resolution, customer satisfaction, or the solutions provided by agents.

Cost Per Call (CPC)

The total operational cost divided by the total number of calls handled is one of the top contact center efficiency metrics, used to help determine whether the organization is operating cost-effectively.

Average Age of Query

The average time elapses is when a customer calls, or a ticket is opened until it’s resolved. A lower average query age indicates a quicker resolution time, which typically contributes to higher customer satisfaction.

Callback Messaging

Some contact centers allow customers to request a callback rather than waiting on hold until an agent becomes available. This metric tracks the number of callback requests received, the average time before a callback is made, and the potential customer satisfaction associated with the callback service.

Agent Turnover Rate

The rate at which contact center agents leave and need to be replaced. A high turnover rate can indicate employee dissatisfaction and impact the quality of service provided to customers.

What Are the Industry Standards for Contact Center Metrics?

Understanding and adhering to industry standards for contact center goals and metrics is crucial for achieving operational excellence and customer satisfaction. These benchmarks are a compass for setting realistic objectives and gauging performance against industry norms.

 Contact Center Metric Industry Standard
 Average Handle Time (AHT)  6 minutes and 3 seconds
Average Speed of Answer (ASA)  80% of calls within 20 seconds
First Contact Resolution (FCR) 70% to 75%
Call Abandonment Rate  12% to 20%
 Service Level  80% of calls answered in 20 seconds
 Occupancy Rate  85% to 90%
 Net Promoter Score (NPS)  Above 20%
 Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)  75% to 85%
 Agent Turnover Rate 30% to 45%

How to Improve Contact Center Metrics

Improving contact center performance can help organizations meet and exceed customer expectations and streamline operational efficiencies. What steps can companies take to improve essential KPIs?

Prioritize First Call Resolution

A high FCR rate is a critical goal for contact centers because it directly impacts customer satisfaction and efficiency. To improve FCR, ensure your agents have access to comprehensive training, up-to-date knowledge bases, and the tools to resolve customer issues quickly during the first interaction.

Enhance Agent Training and Support

Investing in continuous training and support for your agents can significantly improve their ability to handle calls. Focus on developing their product knowledge, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. Regular feedback and coaching sessions can also help identify areas for improvement and boost overall performance.

Implement Advanced Call Routing

Advanced call routing can help direct customers to the most appropriate agent or department based on their needs. This technology reduces wait times and increases the chances of first-call resolution, improving customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Monitor and Analyze Contact Center Metrics

Regular monitoring and analysis of contact center metrics are crucial for understanding performance levels and identifying trends. Employing contact center metrics analytics and reporting tools can provide valuable insights into areas that require attention and help in making data-driven decisions to enhance performance.

Focus on Customer Feedback

Listening to customer feedback provides direct insights into where service could be improved. Implementing regular surveys and feedback mechanisms can help organizations understand customer satisfaction levels and pinpoint specific areas where your contact center metrics could be enhanced.

Encourage a Customer-Centric Culture

Fostering a customer-centric culture within your contact center encourages agents to go above and beyond in providing exceptional service. Recognizing and rewarding agents for high performance in customer satisfaction metrics can motivate the entire team to strive for excellence.

Pros of Using Contact Center Analytics

Analyzing calls, texts, emails, and surveys — any form of communication you receive from a customer — will allow you to make needed changes to your contact center and achieve consistent customer service. Some benefits provided by contact center analytics include:

Quantifiable Measurements

Data is much easier to quantify than what your customer service representatives might glean from customers’ attitudes. Focus on the essential metrics you can collect and interpret.

Consolidated Data

Most good contact center software offers built-in analytics. Even small businesses can use data from customer interactions. Plus, your service representatives won’t need to develop coding skills or learn to use a system such as structured query language (SQL) to extract the critical data they need.

Achievable Goals

Metrics should help improve customer interactions and allow agents to achieve desired results. When you select the most appropriate metrics for your business, those metrics should also be the ones your service agents have significant control over.

Cons of Using Contact Center Analytics

While it might not seem possible, contact center analytics can have some downsides, including:

Impersonal Interactions

It would be nice if employees solved customers’ problems quickly. However, that’s not always possible, and you should be wary of metrics discouraging agents’ communication with customers. For instance, don’t use the amount of time handling a call to stifle employees’ meaningful interactions with customers.

Take a story from online retailer Zappos as an example. One employee handled a customer service call that lasted 10 hours and 43 minutes, only taking one break during the call to use the restroom.

From a metrics standpoint, that call length might seem like a bad thing, and it’s not feasible to do it with every single caller. But there are exceptions. In this instance, the customer had a genuine interaction with an employee, a memorable (in a good way) experience, and even bought a few products.

Manipulative Tactics

On the other hand, not every store has the kind of customer service Zappos offers, and some call service representatives learn how to game the system.

For example, if a company has a strict rule about call handle times, such as a goal of keeping calls under three minutes, some representatives will cut calls short at the expense of resolving a customer’s problem. Call handle times will look great if this issue continues, but satisfaction and retention rates might drop significantly.

Inattention to Detail

Sometimes, the calls that come into a contact center don’t reach far beyond the center itself. If company executives aren’t paying attention, they will never understand what customers are trying to tell them or why customer satisfaction rates are dropping.

The key is to focus on the numbers and metrics most important to your company and to train your team to respond with the right behaviors. Provide your agents with feedback about performance and give them training if needed.

Improve Customer Experience With Contact Center Metrics

Contact centers are no longer just organizational afterthoughts. Changes in how people shop and look for information have transformed contact centers into critical elements of any business operation. The better your contact center, the happier customers will be and the more likely they’ll remain with your company and buy more of your products or services.