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Customer Service by the Numbers: Average Call Duration Peggy Carlaw

When busi­nesses want to improve cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, they often think of improv­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills of their front-line rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills is crit­i­cal, but it's equally impor­tant to take a look at the num­bers, or call cen­ter met­rics, behind your oper­a­tions to see how they affect both cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and profits.

For exam­ple, cus­tomers like to have their ques­tions answered or their issues resolved quickly. So if you can improve the call han­dling skills of your agents so that the calls are shorter, that would be a good thing. In addi­tion to hav­ing hap­pier cus­tomers, you'd save money as well. Right? Maybe, and maybe not.

Let's think this through. Bench­mark­Por­tal reports that the aver­age call dura­tion across all types of call cen­ters is 5.97 min­utes. Let's say you're right in that neigh­bor­hood but think you can do bet­ter so you imple­ment an ini­tia­tive to reduce your aver­age call dura­tion to 10% below the bench­mark rate. If your cen­ter fields 50,000 calls per month at a cost of $3.50 per minute, then you're sav­ing around $105,000 per month. Looks great on the bot­tom line!

But what if by shav­ing off that 10%, your reps are not giv­ing com­plete infor­ma­tion or telling the caller what to expect next. That might mean expen­sive call­backs and less sat­is­fied cus­tomers. If reps know there's a big push on reduc­ing call time, they may not take the extra time to add value by giv­ing addi­tional infor­ma­tion, advis­ing the cus­tomer of self-service options, or offer­ing a com­ple­men­tary prod­uct to increase the value of the order. That means just aver­age ser­vice, expen­sive call-backs for future prob­lems, or lack of rev­enue. So as you can see, when look­ing at met­rics, you have to con­sider not only the pos­i­tive effects an improve­ment might make, but also the oppor­tu­nity costs of mak­ing that improvement.

When mak­ing judg­ments based on met­rics, it's impor­tant to know where you stand vis a vis your peers. Call cen­ter bench­mark­ing is a place to start. Here are some things to keep in mind when benchmarking:

  • Bench­mark against com­pa­nies with sim­i­lar types of trans­ac­tions and vol­ume of calls. You may want to know how you stack up against your com­pe­ti­tion, but if you only pro­vide cus­tomer ser­vice and have a large vol­ume of calls while your competitor's cus­tomer ser­vice func­tion includes up-selling and they han­dle a small num­ber of calls, bench­mark data may not be meaningful.
  • Bench­mark against com­pa­nies who use sim­i­lar processes and mea­sure­ments. For exam­ple, if you define aver­age call dura­tion as includ­ing only the time the agent is talk­ing with a cus­tomer, you want to bench­mark with com­pa­nies who define it the same way. Com­par­ing your­self to com­pa­nies that include talk time and post-call admin­is­tra­tion in their def­i­n­i­tion of call dura­tion will not pro­vide you with an accu­rate benchmark.
  • Bench­mark not only within your indus­try, but out­side it as well. While it's impor­tant to know how you stack up against your indus­try peers, it's also impor­tant to com­pare your­self to other indus­tries in order to deter­mine which new ideas, processes, and tech­nolo­gies can help improve your performance.

Keep in mind that the heart of cus­tomer ser­vice is a bal­ance between per­for­mance on the peo­ple side of the equation-and per­for­mance on the profit side. What is the appro­pri­ate bal­ance for your com­pany given your own unique ser­vice strategy?

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
3 Customer Service by the Numbers: Average Call Duration
Peggy Carlaw
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  • http://webtechenhancers.com/gurtaz32/salesimprovement/5-call-center-management-mistakes-to-avoid/ 5 Call Cen­ter Man­age­ment Mis­takes to Avoid | Sales Improve­ment Group

    […] aver­age call time in con­tact cen­ters is reported to be just under six min­utes, so on an aver­age day an agent could the­o­ret­i­cally take 80 calls. With that num­ber of calls, it […]

  • http://www.onereach.com/blog/?p=1729 Smart and Fast Fixes for Your Busi­ness, Part 3 — Save Money and Reduce Hold Time With Chan­nel Pivot — OneReach Blog

    […] effi­ciency. Accord­ing to Bench­mark­Por­tal, the aver­age call cen­ter call dura­tion is 5.97 min­utes. In addi­tion, a call cen­ter study at the […]






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