Credit union call centers have grown up from an administrative focused back office department to a strategic operation that is closely integrated into the overall retail plan of the organization. In many credit unions the call center is the single most active member service and loan channel. Callahan & Associates and Powerhouse Consulting, a New Hampshire based call center consulting firm, have completed a national survey of credit union call centers. At busy call centers working with a large concentration of members, satisfaction of the credit union overall is dependent on call center performance. Using the right metrics to evaluate performance is key.
Call centers are notorious for supplying huge amounts of data. Real time, daily, weekly and monthly data at the individual and group level are available from even the most basic phone system packages. Selecting the right information that has the most impact on managing performance is vital. A high performing call center will typically look at performance metrics in three areas: service performance, call quality and sales productivity.
Performance Metrics Used by Call Centers
Some initial results of the survey are included below. Respondents were asked their top three metrics used to evaluate call center performance. As expected, Abandon Rates and Service Levels were used in the majority of call centers. Almost half of the respondents had less than 10 seats at their call center. 7.4% of respondents had call centers with more than 40 seats, representing some of the largest credit unions in the country. While some may assume size leads to efficiency the data suggests otherwise.
Call centers with fewer than ten seats had a service level of 76% of calls answered in 23 seconds or less. Call centers with 40 or more seats had a service level of 76% of calls in 62 seconds or less. The average call, therefore, at a larger call center would take almost twice as long to answer. At a typical financial service organization, the standard service level is 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds or less. Some organizations will adjust this based on the call type. The goal for loan calls, due to their value to an organization, may be 90% of calls answered in 10 seconds or less, while Internet banking password resets could have a standard of 70% of calls answered in 40 seconds or less. The service level standard will impact the staffing level requirements and the call routing program that the credit union selects.
One potential reason for the differences in service level between sizes is the presence of an active sales program. Should agents be focused on cross selling or ensuring other call quality or performance metrics are achieved, the calls may last longer. The smaller credit unions may also service a proportionately smaller number of members. Detailed analysis with asset and member size correlations will be available in the full report.
Service performance is only one part of call center's mission. Call quality (member service) and sales productivity also are crucial elements in building a successful call center.
Graph 1: What are your top three call center performance metrics?
Chart 1: Key Metrics by Call Center Size