February 12, 2021

Call Center Quality Vs Quantity – Which Is Your Priority?

vCall centers are the epicenter of any large business with customer service call lines. Whether inbound or outbound calls, there will always be a huge volume of calls to deal with. Of course, the more calls you deal with daily, the more “likely” you are to get a sale, right? Well,  this article is looking at Call Center Quality Vs Quantity. What if we told you that there is a huge difference between call center quality and quantity?

Call Center Quality Vs Quantity

The truth is that the difference is so large that if you increase your quality, your quantity can drop significantly, and you still get the same results. Productivity and efficiency are the main goals that all call centers strive for, and the only way to do that properly is to separate quality and quantity.

Call Center Quantity In Customer Service

We all know what call center quantity is: Call volume that we measure in time increments of hourly, daily, every fifteen minutes, etc. The choice of how often to monitor your call volume is up to you. However, as we said in this blog post’s opening, call quantity is one of the call centers’ main focuses.
There is a lot to be said for call quantity, though. You can gauge and improve on many metrics when you understand how many calls you can handle and how many you need to. For example, one of the most significant ways to understand your call center efficiency through volume is the cost per call.

Cost Per Call

The cost per call is a relatively simple formula that you can do, providing you some valuable insight into how you can expand your team and capabilities. As with most metrics, you will need to spend some time analyzing your customer service team and their performance. It would help if you were looking for the following:

  • Average pay per hour
  • Average call volume per hour

The longer that you monitor those statistics, the better the result will be. However, that can be a drain on resources and slow the process down. Here we will look at an example of cost per call:

  • The average pay is $12 per hour.
  • An average of 16 calls per hour.

You can see that 12 (average pay per hour) ÷ 16 (calls per hour) = $0.75 per call.
Therefore, if you are running at full capacity, i.e., no idle agents, you know that to increase your call volume by 1,000 calls a month, you need to increase your budget by $750 a month.
You may be wondering why that matters when you are looking at call center quantity vs. quality. The simple answer is that if you increase calls without adding employees, you will strain the customer service team.
Of course, the more strain you put onto the customer service team, the more your quality will drop.

Call Center Occupancy

Call center occupancy is another major metric that you need to look for. That is how well you plan the number of staff you have in work to the call volume you have in place.
For example, if you have 1,000 hours of call time in a week and 1,000 hours of human resources (25 agents at 40 hours per week), you run at 100% occupancy. While that may sound like the perfect ratio to aim for, it might not be.
In terms of quality, with 100% occupancy, you are pushing your workforce to the limit every single day. That will lead to higher attrition rates, both voluntary because they are pushed too hard and involuntary as you see failings in people who cannot keep up.
Keeping your occupancy around 70-80% gives them time to interact with the other employees and lets them recuperate between difficult calls to maintain focus on the next.

Call Time Metrics

There are other metrics that you need to consider when you are thinking about call time and quantity. They are:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT) – The sum of ATT + ACC.
  • Average Talk Time (ATT) – The average time that a customer representative talks to a customer.
  • After Call Work (ACW) – The average time spent on a customer call after the call has ended.

There are many different time variations that you can add up to work out the AHT; each call will be different. For example:

  • If you have one person who spends 300 seconds on a call and then 30 seconds filling in forms, they have an AHT of 330 seconds.
  • Another customer service rep spends 240 seconds on a call but takes 90 seconds to fill in forms and complete the call; their AHT is 330 seconds.

AHT is one of the newer Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and it is certainly not something that we should overlook. However, the question is; which of the two call center agents provided the best customer experience.
While more metrics can change call center quantity, these are some of the primary factors people look for, or at least they should.

Call Center Quality

Call center quality aims the focus on two of the three key points above. Although there is a lot more to quality assurance than that, we will look at how quality can affect those points.

AHT Quality

As you saw with the call time metrics, you will need systems to monitor them before adjusting the AHT to match customer satisfaction.
There are many ways to reduce Average Handling Time, and that is one of the main goals, along with first call resolution, which directly affects AHT in the long-run. Quality and AHT may not seem to fit together too well. However, the quality of AHT can improve by understanding why the customer service team takes time. The success rate of calls and the system that they follow directly relate to handling time quality.
Some of the best ways to improve the quality of AHT are:

  • 100% Call evaluation.
  • Target coaching and personal development through proper training. 
  • Goal setting and tracking.
  • Better processes and workflows.
  • Knowledge base training

Not all of these are achievable for the average call center, especially not with an in-house QA team. However, those are certain things that you need to consider if you want to increase your quality.
We will look through each of them in a little more detail here:

100% Call Evaluation

This is something that has probably given some of you a little bit of anxiety. How can you monitor every customer service representative and all of their calls? Well, first of all, let’s look at why you should.
We have run through some of the use cases of our own dashboard here. However, an actual look at a screenshot of our dashboard may give you a better idea or why we need to monitor such a high quantity of calls:

The image above shows ten interactions that a single person has completed in just over a week. This is a demo account, so the figures are not accurate to what you might see, but the point is still relevant.
If you have a QA team that monitors 10% of calls, you may get lucky and listen to the call that scored 86%, but you may also only see the 100% scored calls.
The other, more difficult challenge is that if you have in-house QA, they may listen to that call and ignore it, as they are friends with the call center operators.
When you monitor your interactions with all of your staff every minute, you will not miss anything.

Target Coaching And Personal Development Through Proper Training

Monitoring every interaction gives you the ability to ensure quality through every aspect of your need’s performance metrics. You can pick up on every issue that arises in real-time.
When you have those insights and views at a much deeper level, you can coach on those specific issues. Going back to the cal log above, we can now see where that call went wrong:

During that single call, you can see that they missed five items. Furthermore, you can see what they missed to drop the score. Now, although that person has a high success rate of six out of ten full marks, you can see where they went wrong with this individual client and coach specifically on that basis.
That single call may have resulted in a less than happy customer, and that can do your reputation a lot of damage.

Goal Setting and Tracking

Contact centers are a lot more complex than looking at one person, and the demands are extremely high. So, you may think that spotting that single bad call is going to take a lot more than a few minutes. However, the truth is, it shouldn’t. Success relies on seeing the times that calls are bad through simple key performance indicators.
You are unlikely to get everyone with spotless records. However, consistent, maybe monthly reviews from managers and team leaders will create better performers. When you have the right systems, you can see everyone who is falling behind in minutes.
Coaching them on those points is going to be the basis of quantity and quality.

Above is a screenshot of the top missed points of that same agent. Now you have the ability to coach them specifically on the points that they miss the most, while you do not train for the things that they consistently get right.
Seeing who scores the lowest for which points means you can set up group coaching to get even more efficiency out of your training sessions.

Better Processes and Workflows

When you understand your contact centers’ top missed points, you can really see where you need to change the processes and workflows to incorporate the downfalls.
There is a huge correlation between quality and accurate procedures. However, getting there is often the difficult part. When you have quantitative metrics that you can go against, though, that becomes easier. You can adjust scorecards to make it easier to follow, or you can incorporate or remove sections to create better performers while still meeting your own requirements.

Knowledge Base Training

When you change the workflow or scorecard to change the performance goals, it can be tough to train all employees to make real changes on all of their customer service calls. While you may think that a newsletter may help, that is well behind the times, and they are often ignored.
That is where a central knowledge hub can help. You can use some of your super-stars to show the rest of your team how to create a combination of quantity and quality.
Furthermore, you do not have to set personal or work times aside to train individuals on single points. You can send them to the video and let them see how to give the client a better experience while still meeting the demands of regulations and business requirements.

Quality Vs Quantity – Conclusion

There is a difficult balancing act that you need to manage regarding quality, quantity, and revenue-based metrics. The truth is, however, that efficiency breeds quantity, and quality is the root of efficiency.
Whether you have issues with courtesy or anything else from your staff, quantity means nothing without your business and customers’ quality.
If you would like to find out more about how Call Criteria can help you increase your quality, giving you the chance to increase your quantity, why not get in touch to see what we can do for you.