As with any industry, a business process outsourcing (BPO) call center’s greatest asset can also be its greatest liability: call center agents. A BPO can have hard-working, conscientious agents, but if the key performance indicators (KPIs) in the BPO aren’t met, or the agents feel disengaged from the team and/or process, this group of valuable assets can quickly become liabilities. Key to maintaining this powerful asset lies within aligning teams with the call center metrics and ensuring that each agent is set up for success. But this is easier said than done—how can BPO managers ensure that agents understand, and are aligned with, their call center metrics?
The BPO industry is incredibly fast-paced and swimming in data. BPO call centers take a high volume of calls and have a number of KPIs to meet. Factor in a high attrition rate, and you could say that BPO managers have their hands full. But managers also have an opportunity to lead an efficient and productive frontline team that meets (and perhaps exceeds) their call center metrics.
In this guide, we will cover the following:
- The “why” behind BPO KPIs
- Common KPIs in the BPO industry
- Aligning BPO employees with their KPIs
- How Centrical helps BPO managers align teams to meet their KPIs
Business Process Outsourcing and Their KPIs
When outsourcing customer service (and often sales) to business process outsourcing call centers, enterprises will put certain metrics in place to measure the productivity and efficiency of the BPO call center, as well as customer satisfaction and retention. This data is also helpful to BPO call center managers as an indicator of where agents need additional training or coaching to meet their call center metrics.
While enterprise employees aren’t handling these communications, the interactions will affect the enterprise’s business. Therefore, in addition to the day-to-day management of the call center and its agents, BPO managers must ensure best practices are followed, and that agents are trained, coached, retained, and meeting each unique customer’s KPIs. Essentially, when customers are retained for the enterprise, the enterprise business is retained for the BPO, and that is on the manager’s shoulders. Success starts with aligning the team to understand and fulfill the KPIs.
BPO Call Center KPIs
BPO call centers must meet a range of KPIs. In this section, we have outlined some of the most common call center metrics. While these metrics indicate the level of performance of individual agents, teams, and the overall call center, it is important to note that the KPIs below each tell part of the story; therefore, each KPI should be measured as such. We also strongly recommend communicating with agents to determine nuances that might affect each KPI outcome as focusing on certain KPIs can have an impact on others (e.g., reducing handle times could impact CSAT).
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Indicates the overall level of satisfaction a customer has with a BPO call center.
This KPI reflects the alignment of the time worked by contact center agents and the time they are scheduled to work. This includes elements such as call time, time available to receive calls, time spent on non-call-related work (such as meetings, training, etc.), and break time. This is calculated as a percentage, and is an important KPI for BPOs, as it is used as part of the overall contact center performance and schedule compliance overview.
Your new contact center agent has accepted your offer – but never showed up.
Average Speed of Answer
This metric indicates the length of customer wait time before an agent answers the call. The lower this number, the better.
This KPI measures the average length of calls and serves as an overall indicator of how quickly issues are resolved. However, some calls may take longer than others based on the nature of the customer inquiry and considerations around resolution.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
This KPI indicates how much effort a customer had to expend to reach a BPO agent and is typically calculated after the call. A high CES score indicates a low amount of customer effort. Which is a Very Good Thing.
Cost Per Call
This metric indicates the average cost of a call, helping leaders determine and manage budgets.
Reflects the length of time agents are spending time on (or are occupied) calls or post-call updates. A high rate indicates a good agent/work ratio.
First Call Resolution (FCR)
The higher percentage of incoming calls resolved during a single interaction, the higher customer satisfaction.
Average Handle Time (AHT)
With the help of average handle time, you can reduce costs, plan staffing levels, and analyze employee performance. It is also an effective metric for establishing benchmarks or new customer service goals. To calculate AHT for a phone channel, divide the sum of your total talk, hold, and follow-up time by your total number of calls. Follow-up time includes the time it takes to get back to a customer if the case isn’t resolved on the initial call
When agents struggle to keep up with the flow of inbound calls, customers will hear a busy signal. This KPI can help BPOs identify pain points (such as lack of staffing during peak call times) or opportunities for agent training.
Call Abandonment Rate
When agents may need to contend with a large influx of calls. Customers may need to drop off during the wait time; when they hang up, this is recorded as an abandoned call, with the KPI measuring the number of hang-ups in a set amount of time.
Customer Churn Rate
This call center metric measures the number of customers who opt to no longer do business with the company over a certain amount of time and can indicate a need for additional coaching and training for agents.
The service level KPI indicates the percentage of calls answered by an agent over a set time period and serves as an indicator of agent (and overall BPO call center) efficiency.
Agent Utilization Rate
This KPI measures the percentage of time a call center agent spends on customer calls. A score of 50-60% indicates that individual agents are equipped to handle a large volume of calls without burnout. A lower score let’s call center managers know that there is room for improvement.
Average After-Work Time
When calls are completed, agents will take a few minutes to update databases and notes, file reports, discuss calls with teammates, and perform other related tasks before moving to the next call. A high score for this call center metric might indicate that the agent needs more training or is perhaps overwhelmed.
Agent Turnover Rate
Turnover in the BPO industry is high. Agents leave call centers, both voluntarily and not, for a variety of reasons. Most often, these reasons involve underperformance, which usually stems from a lack of regular training, not feeling recognized or appreciated, or not having a clear path to advancement.
Related to agent turnover is first-day ghosting. This is when a candidate accepts an offer but doesn’t show up for the first day. This is a tremendous challenge for BPOs, affecting recruiting time, costs, and agent turnover rates.
How Can Managers Keep BPO Employees Aligned with Strategic Business Goals and KPIs?
We’ve just outlined the major KPIs for BPOs. But BPO call center managers aren’t so much fulfilling KPIs as they are managing the teams that are on the front lines to meet those call center metrics. Below are a few elements to consider:
A positive onboarding experience raises the likelihood an agent will perform well and stay with the BPO. Onboarding should include a thorough introduction, level-appropriate training, and an understanding of the KPIs set for the BPO. It is also important that their manager stays close with them during the nesting period of their journey. Nesting, sometimes known as the transition stage, is the point at which new call center hires are finished with their classroom training and are beginning to take some calls, but their onboarding is still incomplete, and they need quite a lot of observation, guidance, and feedback.
Agent training does not end with the completion of the onboarding process. They need continuous, personalized learning to be part of their day-to-day journey. Do your agents have personalized interval training on best practices and core elements of their KPIs? If not, this can lead to underperformance and contribute to turnover.
The Coaching Experience
Can managers easily identify areas for employee improvement? Or do they need to sift through spreadsheets and endless call center performance metrics beforehand? Managers should be able to easily see the data that pinpoints where agents may need additional or ongoing training and evaluate and coach agents regularly, not just during quarterly or yearly reviews.
Attrition happens for many reasons. Managers must empower employees when it comes to their career path through personalized training, feedback, and creating a career roadmap to where the agent can grow and thrive.
Does the team share a sense of purpose and camaraderie? Aligning team members personally is just as important as aligning them with their call center metrics. Why? A unified team is a motivated and engaged team, and more likely to fulfill the KPIs for their BPO.
Exceed BPO Call Center KPIs with Centrical
Even with the most capable teams, BPO call centers can fall victim to underperformance and high attrition. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Centrical acts as a partner to help transform frontline teams across industries, helping them meet their KPIs and grow professionally from onboarding and beyond through:
Delivering personalized, gamified learning modules with core training elements as part of the daily workflow helps agents continually learn, and better retain knowledge than with traditional training methods. The Centrical AI engine further personalizes the learning experience by triggering modules based on identified performance gaps and opportunities for growth.
Real-Time Performance Management
Centrical keeps employees motivated to hit their targets and grow professionally with gamified, real-time performance visibility. Actionable insights and feedback on progress enable agents to own their success; managers can recognize achievements, growth opportunities, and knowledge gaps across performance segments, and offer the right support to drive continuous improvement.
Coaching shouldn’t be a reactive exercise. Centrical enables managers to proactively support their teams with AI-powered insights driven by performance and learning. This personalized, just-in-time approach to coaching includes daily employee performance insights, wellness indicators, and guided actions to enable a continuous and effective feedback loop.
Gamification and Competitions
Gamification applies elements from gameplay (such as rewards, recognition, and friendly competition) to the business. Gamifying the employee experience leads to a better-connected, motivated, engaged, and retained team.
As a result of incorporating these elements and gamification into their workflows, Centrical clients have experienced:
- 50% faster onboarding
- 15% increase in CSAT and FCR scores
- 30% reduction in attrition
- 12% increase in productivity
Change the Game
The thought of BPOs meeting, and even exceeding, KPIs isn’t dreaming the impossible dream. Call center managers have a tremendous opportunity to do just that while retaining an efficient, unified, and high-performing frontline team. Below are a few key takeaways:
A Data Baseline
KPIs in the BPO are in place to gather insights into call center efficiency and productivity as well as to provide data on agent and overall team performance, and the factors affecting performance.
Aligning agents with their call center metrics, and frontline teams with each other, helps BPO call centers meet and potentially exceed the KPIs for the BPO.
Turnover is (Mostly) Preventable
Call center managers can greatly reduce turnover by keeping agents motivated and engaged with regular feedback and coaching and creating opportunities for career advancement.
Centrical partners with BPOs and enterprise call centers and contact centers across the globe – watch Centrical in action and start your team transformation today!