Contact Center Trends

How to Benchmark Speed to Answer in Your Industry

By Alison Jarris

0 min read


The post is an examination of a Call Center KPI from Talkdesk’s 2018 Contact Center KPI Benchmarking Report. To view more content like this, download our latest report (2020 edition).

Average Speed to Answer is a commonly used metric that allows call center managers to evaluate their team’s efficiency and ability to effectively satisfy customers. Though it’s one of the most commonly cited contact center metrics, many managers find Average Speed to Answer difficult to define. Below is the definition we use and benchmarks across industries to help you level set your contact center performance.

The Average Speed to Answer is the average time the agent took to answer inbound calls. This includes time while the agent’s phone rings, but does not include the time the caller spent in the IVR or waiting queue. This KPI is associated with efficiency and accessibility and is a contributor to customer satisfaction.

In Talkdesk, this metric is easily accessible within the Agent tab, as well as the Scheduled tab in the “Agents” and “Calls” reports. The Average Speed to Answer for Talkdesk users was 8.97 seconds in 2017. Here’s what the inbound contact center KPIs looked like by industry:

Contact center KPIs by industry

Among Talkdesk customers, the industries with the lowest average Speed to Answer are manufacturing and healthcare, pharmaceuticals & biotech. When someone calls a hospital, there is often an urgency to the issue that means the call must be addressed immediately and the person on the line needs to provide clear directions (e.g. we are sending an ambulance or scheduling an appointment) without much time to identify the right solution.

On the high end of Speed to Answer are travel, recreation & leisure and computers & electronics. Customers calling these contact centers often have more ambiguous issues that require creative problem solving or additional information for the agent to provide a solution.

Once you have determined your Average Speed to Answer, it’s important to understand what that number means to understand how it may be impacting your business.

High Average Speed to Answer could indicate:

  • Insufficient staff training
  • Inaccurate call volume projections
  • Excessive After Call Work time
  • Poor call forecasting

Low Average Speed to Answer could indicate:

  • Sufficient staff training
  • Accurate call volume projections
  • Appropriate amount of after call work time
  • Adequate call forecasting

There are numerous ways having a high Average Speed to Answer can adversely impact your business, some which are not immediately evident. Customer satisfaction suffers, but with that often comes reduced agent satisfaction as stress increases. Call center costs can increase as well, as frustrated callers typically increase handle time and are more likely to demand escalations to management.

To reduce the Average Speed to Answer, utilize after call work scheduling so that agents have a short window of time to complete work associated with the previous call before receiving additional calls. Using Talkdesk, you can also automate many of the common after call work tasks, which increases productivity. You can also train agents on the importance of having a low Average Speed to Answer and provide them with a dashboard that empowers them to make data-driven decisions to keep this KPI within an acceptable range. Finally, it falls on the shoulders of the supervisor to ensure agent scheduling is optimized and call forecasting is as accurate as possible.

To learn more about Abandonment Rate and the other metrics in Talkdesk’s 2018 Contact Center KPI Benchmarking Report, click the button below.

2020 Talkdesk Contact Center KPI Benchmarking Report

2020 Talkdesk Contact Center KPI Benchmark Report

Download now to learn more about:

  • The role and value of contact center KPIs
  • 5 most relevant inbound contact center KPIs and how to establish benchmarks
  • 10 steps to define your contact center KPIs


Alison Jarris

Alison was Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Talkdesk. When she's not writing and editing she's probably running in the Presidio or reading Haruki Murakami.