5 key call center metrics underestimated by e-commerce business owners

The top e-commerce players worldwide do not show a high interest in displaying on their homepage a call center number, nor do they rely on assisted sales. When I’m saying “e-commerce players” I’m referring only to those types of business that rely only on their website to sell their products. Though, business models that require phone assistance for their customers should set up from the beginning a clear procedure to monitor call center metrics.

Here is a matrix to explain the eight multichannel distribution strategies adopted by online retailers worldwide:

call-center metrics

As you see, Amazon and Zappos use an “online only/in-house supply,” while IKEA, Walmart and other retailers use as a distribution channel brick-and-mortar stores.

Small and medium sized e-commerce businesses usually rely on sales when it’s coming to measuring success. And that’s a good thing if someone is monitoring the website’s performance by tracking key indicators such as conversion rate, cart abandonment rate, revenue per visitor. But these are just the basic metrics that could give an overview over the website’s performance. The truth is that they do not help marketers to predict repeat purchases, sales, profits or churns.

The measure of performance varies wildly from one industry or business model to other. Furniture, for example, is not as easy to be sold only online as shoes, electronics, books and other similar products are. Thus, retailers have to consider call-center services and, more important, they should focus on recruiting experienced strategists or managers who will measure and monitor their team’s results.

The 5 call center metrics that you should care about

First call resolution Rate – is the percentage of completed transactions within a single contact-call from the total number of calls. This indicator is a measure of quality, because it relies on the person’s skills to give all of the required information and to convince customers to complete the purchase.

The customer’s perception over the quality of a company’s services is highly influenced by his interaction with the call-center. Regardless the quality of the products and the website’s offers, the customer’s perception over the company’s brand is influenced by all of the factors that may appear during a completed purchase. Thus, call-center managers should always recruit experienced hands. The alternative is to train the recruits, but the opportunity cost is the one that will decide for the most suitable approach for the company’s benefit.

Call center - measure time


Time is rare!

Forecasted Average Handle Time vs. Actual Average Handle Time

Firstly, the average handle time is the total amount of work hours related to calls. It involves the Average Talk Time and the Average After Call Work Time. It is important to understand the need of including the after call work time in calculating this indicator due to the well-known fact that time is the most precious resource. No matter how good your team is at closing a deal at the phone, you should know the after call work time because it will determine the workforce required.

Comparing the forecast of the average handle time with the actual time is a measure of performance both for the call-center team and the manager. The manager is the one responsible for his team’s motivation level and results. Thus, the comparison is the second most important to determine the appropriate workforce required.

Cost per contact – is probably the most popular indicator within many industries. In pay-per-click campaigns, its equivalent is the Cost per Click, while lead generation marketers name it Cost per Lead. Therefore, do not confuse “contact” with “customer acquired within a phone call”. Calculating the cost per contact does not take into account if the call ended up with a conversion or not. In this case, conversion is the successful attempt of the company’s employee to close up the deal.

Customer satisfaction – is the measure of the overall satisfaction with the customer’s interaction with the call-center. Not only that measuring satisfaction involves getting feedback from the company’s customers, but it also gives insights on improving either the products, the offers or other aspects that could determine or maintain a competitive advantage.

Measuring customer satisfaction is not an easy task, because of the difficulty to scale and measure attitudes, opinions and behaviors  marketing research. The time invested into getting feedback from customers and analyzing their suggestions and complaints is more valuable than investing in online marketing campaigns meant to drive more traffic to the website. Keeping an existing customer satisfied counts for 7 new acquired customers. It is clear now why this indicator plays a vital role in achieving success on the tough competitive retail market.

Service Level – is the percentage of calls answered within a specific period(in seconds). It is often reported daily or weekly, due to its importance regarding the customer experience. The average value for this indicator is 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds.

Managing an e-commerce business is not an easy thing to do, and everyone involved in this industry knows it. Regardless the fact that the focus should go on the 20% of the business resources that drive 80% of sales, the company’s brand is more valuable on the long run than sales. Thus, make sure to hire professional people for your call center and pay attention to every communication that your company is addressing to its target audience.