The Customer Experience Series: Ditch the Antiquated Call-Center Metrics!


Okay, you’ve got an empowered customer service team, but their average call times are still too high!

What the heck? Average call times? You’re measuring average call times for a customer service team that’s supposed to be solving issues? Is this 2017 or 1967?

If you’re like a lot of the call centers that I work with, you’re managing and rewarding the wrong metrics. You’re likely rewarding metrics that deal with speed instead of quality – and thinking like that will guarantee the already pissed off customers remain pissed off. The customer service call centers that still emphasize old school metrics such as average call time completely miss the fact that solving the issue is the goal; not quick customer calls.

But Steve, we need our team to be efficient!

You’re striving for efficiency? That’s excellent to hear, because quality is not the enemy of efficiency and speed is not efficiency’s friend. Being efficient means being able to accomplish something competently with the least amount of wasted time and effort. All customer service positions should be judged on their efficiency; that is, how competently and quickly they solve issues.

If you’re running a customer service center, average call time is meaningless. You truly shouldn’t care if an issue takes five hours to solve, so long as the customer issue is solved. Your empowered team should care about resolution; they should care about happy customers; they should care about customers for life.

Given this, you’re better off measuring resolved versus escalated issues; and rewarding your team on this same metric, instead of trying to keep their calls under two minutes. Moreover, you cannot empower your team to solve issues and then create artificial barriers (like paying bonuses for short call times) to solving those issues.

Remember Why You Empowered the Frontline

Why would anyone empower their frontline to solve issues? It’s not enough to just reduce the amount of time managers are forced to deal with simple issues, empowering your frontline also creates a better overall experience for the customer.

Customers with issues don’t want to be transferred. When you escalate or deflect their problems to another department, you are compounding the issue. According to Zen Desk, when asked what made a customer service interaction poor, 72% of consumers blamed having to explain the problem to multiple people. That’s an issue that can be solved by simply empowering the first person your customer speaks with.

Just make sure they’re empowered to truly solve issues and not just to handle calls quickly.

Last in the series: The 7 Traits of a Great CSR

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Why Does Good Customer Service Matter?)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at