February 20, 2020

Call Center KPI’s 101

Call Center Metrics

Readers come to us with questions that vary as greatly as their experience levels.  But, one trend in questioning has to do with key performance indicators for a call center. We’ve put together several KPIs that we think is very important when benchmarking the efficiency side of your call center and have broken them down into inbound and outbound KPIs.

Inbound KPIs

Total Calls Handled

You must know your historical data about how many calls are being handled at all times. With this data, you will be able to see where you have historical spikes in calls, whether that be certain times of the day or specific times of the year. In order to track these, create a spreadsheet with columns set at one-hour intervals and a row for each day. Then, in each cell, you tally how many calls came in for that interval.  You will see in one glance how your numbers fluctuate.

Talk time and Handle Time

What’s the difference between these two? Your talk time is literally the amount of time your rep is talking to the customer. Handle time is the whole time the rep is on the interaction. This starts from when the agent picks the call from the queue until after-call work has been completed. Handle time must be known for staffing purposes. If talk time is low but handle time is long, there might be a lot of wrap time or after-call work being done.

Average Speed of Answer

As part of your service level, you need to know how long customers are in the queue. ASA is the average time from when the call is started with your telephony switch until your agent begins. Industry-standard for service level is 80/30, where 80% of the calls are answered in 30 seconds or less. The quicker you need to answer, the more people are needed to answer those calls.

After Call Work

The time a customer is no longer on the phone but there is still work to be done is also called wrap time. The agent may have some type of account updating or memoing to do so the next time that person calls, we know what issues they’ve had previously. You have to understand your after-call work and use it to your advantage. Don’t tell agents they only have 5 seconds for after-call work, give them time to finish, breathe, and recalibrate for the next call.  


If you are overworking your agents and burning them out, you will have problems in your center. Your occupancy tells you how efficient your agents are being. To calculate this rate, divide your handle time by the total time an agent is logged in. For benchmarking purposes, we want our occupancy rate around 75-80%, meaning our agents are actively working around 45 minutes of every hour.

Longest Delay

When supervisors are looking at daily call metrics, they need to keep track of the calls that were in the queue the longest each day. Your staff works diligently to keep an 80% service level, but there was that one call in there that took 6:32 to answer. When you see that kind of number, you should be hearing sirens telling you that something is off. If there is a long delay during a certain interval several days in a row, you might need to adjust your staffing.

Call Back Percentage

Most of our clients like to offer virtual callbacks to their customers.  If a customer gets caught in the queue during a spike, they will be given the option to leave their callback number and an agent will call them back.  They don’t lose their spot in line, but they don’t have to sit on hold wasting their day. We track how many customers opt into that offer. We also track how many callbacks get abandoned because no one answers when we return the call.

Self-Service Usage

Through our tracking, we know how many calls get finalized with our IVRs. It is necessary to know how many are getting completed with positive outcomes and how many are getting kicked over to agents for further assistance. Tracking this lets us know if our IVR is maybe set up incorrectly or isn’t as helpful as it could be.

Shrinkage and Schedule Adherence

Your shrinkage will dictate how many extra staffers you need for each interval. At Expivia, we generally schedule with 10% shrinkage.  We know through tracking intervals that we need 20 people on staff at nine o’clock each morning. So, we schedule two extra people, allowing us to have a buffer to help cover when a staff member is off the floor.

Outbound Call Center KPIs


When looking at outbound calls, these KPIs are less about telephony and more about sales metrics. Again, you should be using hour-long intervals to benchmark and have metrics to compare your reps and your different programs. We look at sales per hour; or, if we are trying to collect a payment, we watch the method of payment per hour.

Dialing method

Whether you are using a predictive dialer or a power dial, you need to track the number of dials per hour. Make sure you have that benchmarked for your organization. That must be an attainable goal, and your reps need to adhere to it. Please be aware of TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) regulations for abandonment rate when using a predictive dialer, which dials more than one line at a time. As phones are answered, your dialer will give those calls to your agents. Those leftovers get abandoned, for TCPA your abandonment rate must be under 3%. 

Contact or Connect?

Be sure you know the difference between contacts and connections. Contacts are someone who is on the other end of the phone–someone actually answered the phone and said hello, even if it wasn’t the right person.  More important is your connect number.  If you are trying to reach Jane Smith, and you actually speak to her, that is a connection.


Connects can roll into a conversion, which will be either qualified or unqualified. Unqualified is the sales that we get from connects out of all the calls that we are dialing. You can qualify them off of the total. However, this will really only tell you if the file you are working with is any good.

Connect and conversion numbers will tell you if an agent can sell or not. If an agent got one yes and nine people said no, that agent has a 10% conversion rate that day. All agents can get lucky for a couple of hours, but, their long-term conversion rate will show what they are really capable of.

It is important for inbound and outbound calls to know your cost per call: add your expenses and divide by the number of calls. You can also figure costs per agent: add your expenses divided by the number of agents. Your upper-management team will be very interested in this number, as it helps to assure you are charging your clients appropriately.

If you know this core group of metrics, you should have a pretty good handle on how well your call center is going. You will know where from an efficiency standpoint you need to tweak some things.  Hardcore efficiency metrics are a must-have for any call center.

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