call center benchmarking

Managers must constantly research, interpret, integrate and internalize new data from their industry in order to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. Benchmarking to determine the best business practices in the industry has become essential for the success of any call center. Call center benchmarking is a “structured and analytical process of continuously identifying, comparing, deploying and reviewing call center best practices worldwide to gain and maintain a competitive advantage” [1].

Call center benchmarking allows companies to:

1. Identify areas that need improvement

Benchmarking allows your company to identify inefficiencies and practices that are ineffective. When focusing on performance related to call center effectiveness, compare the following metrics: caller satisfaction, percent of “first-time-final” calls, percent of calls that result in a complaint, percent of calls that result in a sale, average sale value of a call, average sales value generated per agent per year and the percentage of calls that give rise to up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

2. Pinpoint areas for cost reduction

Comparing your operations costs to industry standards will allow you to understand if your costs are above, below or average given your product and size. Other costs comparisons that may be useful are costs related to: human resources, network provider, computer hardware and software, telecommunications equipment, real estate and corporate overhead.

3. Assess performance objectively

When focusing on performance related to call center efficiency, compare the following metrics: average speed of answer, average talk time, average after call work time, average abandonment rate, average time before abandoning, percent of calls blocked, sales per hour and the number of inbound and outbound calls made per agent per shift.

4. Test the effectiveness of improvement initiatives

Call center benchmarking will allow you to assess the effectiveness of new initiatives. This will strengthen the call centers competitive advantage by maintaining and enhancing practices that were effective as well as encouraging innovation.

5. Accelerate improvement

By evaluating successful and unsuccessful launches in your industry, you can accelerate improvement by capitalizing on the experiences of others. Additionally, new ideas that have been proven successful in other companies can be adopted in your own company to help accelerate improvement.

6. Motivate employees to change

By showing a measurable gap between your company’s performance and that of your competitors, you can identify a need for improvement and increase motivation.

The premise behind call center benchmarking is that the most effective way to implement changes is by learning from positive experiences that others have had in the past. It encourages striving for perfection, out-performing the competition and innovative thinking. It provides you with a better understanding of your industry, how your company ranks within the industry and how you can gain a competitive advantage. Benchmarking must be at the forefront of your strategic initiatives in order to progress within a cut-throat market.

[1] Anton, Jon and Gustin, David, “Call Center Benchmarking: How Good Is” (2000). Purdue University Press e-books. Book 1.