Call center analytics uses data about how your call center agents are doing their jobs, overall customer satisfaction, and product or service performance to identify trends and patterns in call center performance.

The purpose of this data is to help you optimize your call center’s performance. By understanding your call center’s analytics, you’ll get valuable insights into the areas where your call center is doing well and where it could use some improvement.

Call Center Analytics Sounds More Complicated Than It Is

Whenever there’s a promise to improve performance based on data, people tend to keep expanding the data bucket to include anything that even remotely resembles a number or other statistic. It quickly becomes information overkill, and the realm of call center analytics is not immune from this trend.

Many people believe that unless you include everything but the kitchen sink, you won’t get a complete picture of how your call center is doing. Anything that can be measured is considered a valuable analytic, from voice, speech, and text to multi-channel, self-service web, and customer satisfaction data.

This is mostly nonsense.

The truth is, analytics has gotten so watered down over the decades that it has become a catch-all for anything that includes data of any kind. The problem with this is that if you try and study everything, you usually end up without a clear picture of anything.

So how do you know what to include in your own call center analytics? The key with data is understanding that different types of data help you understand different types of things.

You have to start by pinpointing what it is you want to measure.

Before you put a single data point into your call center analytics bucket, be crystal clear on the key metrics you want to monitor. Then choose the data points that will help you understand only those metrics.

The rest of “analytics” is just noise. Once you tune out that noise, studying and understanding your own call center analytics gets a lot easier.

A Better Framework for Call Center Analytics: Ongoing vs. Deep Dives

There are two kinds of call center data to think about when organizing your own analytics program. The first is the daily data that helps you measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). KPIs are how you measure progress toward a specific goal.

Every call center must have a well-defined, core set of KPIs to guide its performance and growth. If you don’t have any KPIs, you have no goals to work towards.

Most organizations focus on three to five KPIs. Some businesses dial it down to one. Your business goals will determine what’s right for your organization.

Once you have KPIs decided, only the data that supports your KPIs should go into your call center analytics bucket. This becomes your ongoing analytics and is the data that will help you stay on track day-to-day.

The other type of call center data is more broad and reserved for times when you need to take a deep dive into the data for a specific purpose, like an issue that cropped up unexpectedly. You won’t look at this data every single day, but you’ll have it on hand when you need to go in-depth to solve a problem.

Deep-dive data consists of things like text transcripts of conversations and call recordings. This data is not meant for measuring your KPI on a day-to-day basis, and it shouldn’t go into your daily call center analytics bucket.

Instead, keep this deep dive data separate. The whole point of deep dive data is that it’s available when something goes wrong and you need to understand why. When you identify a problem, you can comb through this data to look for patterns.

If your business is going through a rough time, you may study this data every couple of weeks until you get things back on track. If your call center is running smoothly, you might look at this data once a month or once a quarter, just to see where you can fine-tune processes and procedures to optimize already good performance.

The Ideal Ongoing Call Center Analytics

The focus on call center analytics should be on improving the performance of your call center and its agents. When you are crystal clear on this, determining the right metrics to measure regularly becomes much easier.

To keep call center performance on track and identify areas where small tweaks could be made to optimize performance, you’ll want to consider these metrics. All are based on common KPIs in the call center industry.

  • Average Wait Time – Monitoring how long a customer has to wait to be connected to an agent is a good way to understand if your center is appropriately staffed. Long wait times lead to customer frustration. The call center industry standard follows the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of calls are answered by agents within 20 seconds. Whether you choose to follow this rule or strive for something different depends on your own business needs. Whatever ratio you settle on, it starts with understanding wait times.
  • Number of Missed Calls – Knowing how many customer calls go unanswered gives you good insight into your team’s performance. It also provides a view into company growth and the performance of any current marketing campaigns. A sudden influx of calls means something has changed. Looking at this data on a daily basis can quickly help you know when you need to expand your team. Sharing the data with your team can also help them understand call center needs and encourage them to strive for optimal performance.
  • Customer Call Review Scores – While you could spend days reading call transcripts or listening to call recordings, a faster way to understand how each agent is performing is to look at review scores left by customers after a call is complete. Sudden changes in ratings could indicate an agent has an issue you should address. Long-term poor ratings could indicate an agent who isn’t a good fit for your call center. Customer ratings are a quick way to gauge performance on a daily basis and identify issues before they become bigger problems.
  • Service Level – This tells you how productive each agent is in real-time. It calculates the percentage of calls answered within a specific amount of time. Studying agent productivity on an individual level helps identify high-performers and understand which ones might benefit from additional training and resources. Keeping your whole team at–or exceeding–acceptable service levels is key to overall call center excellence.
  • First Call Resolution – When an agent can resolve a caller’s issue without having to transfer, escalate, or return a call, you have a more satisfied customer. Keeping an eye on this metric helps you quickly identify pain points for your call center team. If most agents struggle with a specific issue, it may be time to intervene with more training or additional resources.

Call Center Resources for Deep Dives

There will be times when problems arise that aren’t quite as easy to diagnose as measuring a data point against a KPI. In those situations, a call center manager must dive deeper to diagnose the underlying problem.

This is when bigger categories of data, like call transcripts and recordings, become invaluable.

But proceed with caution. The adage “less is more” is very applicable here. Diving too deep into too many pools of data can create a situation where you lose sight of why you’re swimming in the first place.

And while hot technology tools like AI and machine learning can quickly gather and parse large amounts of data to provide insights, they aren’t always the answer.

Speech and text analytics tools incorporate this technology and are great at identifying broader trends. They aren’t so great at understanding nuance.

Sometimes, listening to ten customer calls from start to finish will give you more insights on how to improve your call center than the latest, greatest technology. It is usually the raw, unedited data that is the real gold.

Text Transcripts

Reading through the actual text of calls between your call center agents and customers can reveal nuances that technology tools simply cannot reveal. Whether you have a concern that relates to a single agent or a broader problem about a product or service, reading transcripts from a number of actual calls can reveal a lot.

You can then take that knowledge and formulate plans to resolve your concerns.

Call Recordings

Listening to the back-and-forth audio conversation between your call center agents and customers will reveal more than reading a text transcript of the same call. Voice tone, pitch, and speaking patterns cannot be captured in a transcript.

When you listen to a conversation, you hear the meaning behind the words. This is invaluable when trying to figure out a problem that isn’t spelled out in a transcript.

Customer Reviews

Be sure to keep an eye on third-party review sites like G2, Trustpilot, and Google. There are many such sites out there, some more industry-focused than others. Customers love to leave reviews about their good and bad experiences with a company.

If you see a problem arising, you can often find it mentioned and trending on these sites. Interactions between customers and call center agents happen to be one of the biggest things noted in many reviews, both good and bad.

You don’t need to read these review sites every single day. But browsing them periodically will give you honest insights you won’t find elsewhere.