SQM Group

5 Popular Metrics to Benchmark Your Call Center Customer Service

How Do You Compare?

February 24, 2022 | 5min read

5 Popular Metrics to Benchmark

Most call centers' primary goals are to improve their customer service and reduce operating costs. It is no question that measuring and benchmarking is essential to improve your call center service and cost.

In this blog, SQM Group focuses on five popular metrics to benchmark your call center customer service and see how you compare to:

  1. First Call Resolution
  2. Customer Satisfaction
  3. Average Speed of Answer
  4. Calls Put on Hold
  5. Call Transfers

Call Center Metrics - FCR

1. First Call Resolution

First Call Resolution, also known as First Contact Resolution (FCR) metric, is the percentage of callers who resolved their inquiry or problem on the first call or contact. Ideally, the First Call Resolution definition means that no repeat calls or contacts are required for follow-up from the initial call or contact reason from a customer journey perspective.

The FCR metric is essential for monitoring a call center's operating cost efficiency and customer service delivery effectiveness. As a result, FCR is one of the most commonly watched call center industry metrics and is often referred to as a silver bullet or the most important call center metric.

Many call centers measure, benchmark, and track the First Call Resolution rate using external and internal measurement methods. Common examples of internal and external FCR measurement methods are:

​Internal: agent logging, quality monitoring, reopened issues, and repeat call tracking

​External: post-call phone surveys and email surveys

​External post-call phone or email surveys is the best practice for measuring and benchmarking FCR because it is a Voice of the Customer (VoC) standardized measurement approach.

Internal measurement methods are effective for tracking but not for benchmarking to other call centers because there is no standardized measurement method that all call centers utilize.

Benchmark Avg. - 71% of Callers Resolve their Issue on the First Call

Call Center Metrics - Customer Service

2. Customer Satisfaction

The Customer Satisfaction (Csat) metric is the percentage of callers who are very satisfied with the overall customer service to resolve an inquiry or problem. The call center Csat metric is viewed as a key performance indicator (KPI) and is one of the most used metrics for measuring and managing customer service.

For benchmarking purposes, post-call phone or email surveys is used to measure Csat. For example, at SQM, we benchmark call center customer satisfaction based on the percentage of callers who rated their overall experience for resolving an inquiry or problem as very satisfied (top box survey response).

Moreover, the Csat metric measures satisfaction with the call center overall customer service, the agent, as well as important moments of truth such as finding the phone number, reaching the right agent, greeting the customer, understanding the reason for the call, helping the customer, caring about the customer, resolving the call, and after-call work.  

The Csat metric provides call center employees with VoC feedback on how satisfied they are with the service they experienced and provides insights for improving people, processes, policies, and technologies needed to deliver great customer service.

Benchmark Avg. - 78% of Callers are Very Satisfied

Call Center Metrics - Put on Hold

3. Calls Put on Hold

The Put on Hold (PoH) metric is the percentage of callers PoH when talking to an agent discussing their inquiry or problem. When callers are put on hold, Csat (top box response) is 13% lower, and FCR is 16% lower than when customers are not put on hold.

Put on hold happens when a customer is connected to an agent, and while discussing the inquiry or problem, the agent puts them on hold instead of disconnecting the call. The caller remains on hold until the hold status is taken back by the agent.


Putting callers on hold and the hold time is necessary to monitor because putting callers on hold frequently or for a long time creates poor customer service and higher costs per call. Agents put callers on hold for various reasons, such as finding a supervisor or helpdesk rep to assist them. Moreover, the agent needs to view other desktop applications to find or process customer data. Also, an agent puts the caller on hold to help diffuse the situation when they or the caller is angry.


In many cases, putting a caller on hold or some hold time is understandable. However, suppose agents consistently have high caller PoH and hold times. In that case, it should be viewed as a leading indicator for lower First Call Resolution and Customer Satisfaction, and the high PoH root causes need to be identified and fixed.  

Benchmark Avg. - 46% of Callers are Put on Hold

Call Center Metrics - Call Transfers

4. Call Transfers

The call transfer metric is the percentage of callers transferred when discussing their inquiry or problem with an agent. SQM research shows that when a customer is transferred, Csat (top box response rating) is 12% lower, and FCR is 14% lower than when a customer is not transferred.

​The main reason why customers are transferred to another agent is that the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) voice menu system did not route the customer to the right agent in the first place, or the agent's knowledge, skills, and abilities are poor.

​Furthermore, how a customer is transferred also affects Csat and FCR. For example, SQM's research shows that for customers who were warm transferred instead of cold transferred, FCR and Csat are significantly higher.

Customers appreciate a warm transfer because they do not have to repeat their information to the new agent. However, what further enhances the customer experience is when there is no wait time to reach the appropriate agent. But what customers really want is the agent that they first speak with to handle their call without a transfer.

Benchmark Avg. - 19% of Callers are Transferred

Average Speed of Answer

5. Average Speed of Answer

The Average Speed of Answer (ASA) metric is the average amount of time for callers to reach an agent. The ASA refers to when the phone rings and an agent answers. It does not include the customer's time going through an IVR voice menu.

​High ASA will cause customer dissatisfaction. For example, SQM research show when it takes two or more minutes for an agent to answer the call, they become dissatisfied. It is important to emphasize that callers expect a call center to answer a call quickly. However, in most cases, Csat is not positively or negatively impacted if a call is answered between 1 and 120 seconds.

​Many call centers use ASA as the metric for defining customer service. While this metric speaks to speed, they do little to shed light on FCR and Csat. Although keeping track of this metric remains essential, it is not considered a best practice to focus on the ASA metric as the key indicator of customer service performance. Instead, a best practice is to use FCR and Csat, not the ASA metric, to measure a call center's overall customer service performance.

​Benchmark Avg. - 58 Seconds for ASA

 

Call Center Metrics to Benchmark Infographic

Quick Related Links

First Call Resolution Definition  First Call Resolution PPT  First Call Resolution Benefits   First Call Resolution Operating Philosophy  FCR Case Study   Top 10 CX Metrics  Customer Satisfaction  Call Escalations  Call Center Moments of Truth  Operational Data