call center life

Call Center Metrics and Tech Support KPIs: How They Affect Call Handling

Friday, August 14, 2009

call center metrics call handling

As a technical support representative for Dell, I hardly receive calls about inquiries on computer specifications or upgrade information. Most of the calls I get starts in verbatim with, "I have a problem with my computer." These calls were often about their system crashing or computer freezing up.

Although we get irate customers who resort to screaming, cussing and swearing, it is not an everyday scene. However, majority of calls we get are from frustrated customers. I guess that is normal for every technical support segment of any industry.

Dell outsourced its technical support department to companies like E-Telecare, now Stream which established its hub in Cebu IT Park. BPOs set certain standards for their agents so they can hit corporate targets for clients like Dell, making the callcenter industry a highly metricized one.

Call Handling Time

For instance, there is this handling time metric which is given a value equivalent to the allotted time you can spend in a call with a customer. This time constrain is expected to be met by the support agents and is given an equivalent point in your performance scores which in turn will be used as an assessment whether you'll still have this job or not. 

Following this metric may compromise certain aspects of customer call handling. Building rapport may not be so much on the plate anymore. It may also force some representatives to cut calls short with their customers, either by not ending the call properly; ending with no resolution or worst, blatantly disconnecting a call.

QA Compliance

Compliance with quality assessment can somehow delay the callcenter agent's call resolution. An agent is required to verify the account and get the name, email address, and telephone number of the customer before moving to actual support part of the call. This process, at times, would cause annoyance to the customer but it is necessary to prevent this kind of callcenter blunder. Another part of this assessment is making sure the call is within the agent's scope of support which means the customer's account must fall within the business segment their computer system belongs to -Small Medium Business, Corporate or Consumer, and some sub-segments as well. This will cause a lot of transfer rates and even more frustrated and angry customer. For instance, an agent in Small Medium Business segment for a client with a Dell Dimension computer pulled up a service tag for Corporate segment even with the same type of computer may still need to transfer the customer to the Corporate department. For compliance with the quality assessment, transferring the customer is customary and may also help the agent in lower his/her average handling time.

Dispatch Resolution

The dispatch resolution rate is unique to the Dell account or at least to any vendor with parts replacements. This is a metric that rates the resolution of the part replacement that were sent by an agent in a condition that no dispatches were sent for that same system within 7 days. This means that agents will have to ensure that no other part replacement must occur after the dispatch they processed. This means that agents will also be forced to be meticulous in complying with the logical troubleshooting flow to ensure the computer problem is diagnosed properly and that all steps has been performed by the customers to ensure whether part replacement is necessary or an onsite technician must be deployed. 

Some customers may have no time or patience to do the same steps with the agents during the call and  do the things they themselves already did prior to the call. Some customers will find most of the troubleshooting steps required of them to be redundant and pointless. Other customers felt like following the steps were a waste of their time.

I am always in a dilemma whether I will help a customer sincerely or I perform my calls in a way that leans towards what the company is expected of me. Sometimes I feel like quantifying every detail of being a good technical support agent in our company's view is crippling my sanity. Sometimes, I feel like I just wanted to help the customer regardless of anything they have put the limits on through all these key performance indicators.

Read: Call Center Life: New Brand of Culture

Customers may seem stupid at times, but most of the time they have a point.

Customers may seem illogical at times, but most of the time we were the ones who defied logic because of these scores and rules we follow.

Customers may be impatient at times but I don’t believe it's always going to be that case if service is prompt and efficient. I may put my Avaya phone on mute at times, and swear under my breath in frustration from how obnoxious, illogical, stupid, the customer was, but at the end of the day, I do feel that they didn't deserve what they have to go through to have their issues resolved or their concerns heard.

I also see the efforts that our company and our client (Dell) are working so hard on. I haven’t seen anybody in the team of managers sitting around doing nothing. These group of people and the rest of the people I worked with in this industry were the most industrious people I’ve ever seen in my entire life. 

There is no perfect formula in giving the best customer service. I’ve seen everybody’s efforts in working together to achieve the quality service that were expected from us, but don’t you think we might have overlooked one thing?

Do you think service can be better if a callcenter agent is not crippled with some of these metrics?

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