How To Work Hard And Measure Smart In Today’s Contact Centers

How two credit unions monitor quantity without forgetting about quality when they measure contact center performance.

Metrics are just numbers unless a credit union can translate them into high-quality member service.

Call center managers at TruMark Financial Credit Union ($1.7B, Trevose, PA) and KEMBA Financial Credit Union ($978.5M, Gahanna, OH) closely monitor things like time to answer, average hold time, and abandon rates. They also listen in to calls so they have the appropriate quantitative and qualitative information to adjust strategies.

For Amy Peterman, director of virtual member service at KEMBA Financial, and Kathy Lynch, call center manager at TruMark, flexibility in acting on data is as critical as understanding it.

For example, KEMBA stopped tracking average talk time after experience showed the metric was not always within the associate’s control; however, the amount of time it takes an associate to seek assistance or find an answer is.

We now hold our associates to average hold time because we believe our member experience is impacted greatly by how long they have to wait, Peterman says.

In KEMBA’s case, it expects associates to keep their monthly average hold time (AHT) to 30 seconds or less.

This change drove down our AHT and the associates were happy to have a metric they could directly control, Peterman says.

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Data as of 12.31.15

  • HQ: Trevose, PA
  • ASSETS: $1.7B
  • MEMBERS: 112,837
  • BRANCHES: 18
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 8.52%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.11%
  • ROA: 0.43%

Meanwhile, Kathy Lynch, call center manager at TruMark, says her operation monitors the average length of a call but it doesn’t set goals for the metric.

We don’t want the member service representative to feel rushed when handling calls, she says. But we also must make sure the average handle time is within reason.

It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but these metrics help the credit unions in more ways than achieving simple efficiency.

It’s important to use your data to create more than a cost center, Peterman says. You have a great opportunity to enrich your members’ financial lives with every call.

Here, Peterman and Lynch discuss how the contact center helps their credit unions improve member service.

It’s important to use your data to create more than a cost center. You have a great opportunity to enrich your members’ financial lives with every call.

How many people work in your contact center? What hours do you staff them, what channels do you provide, and how much activity do you see?

Amy Peterman/KEMBA: We’re staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. We have 31 associates broken into sales and service. We handle an average of 1,200 interactions per day through phone, chat, and email. Our service team handles approximately 1,100 and our sales team handles about 100 on average.

Kathy Lynch/TruMark: We’re staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We have 38 people working in our center. T they handle 2,000 to 2,500 queries a day through chat, inbound and outbound calls, and email.


Data as of 12.31.15

  • HQ: Gahanna, OH
  • ASSETS: $978.5M
  • MEMBERS: 83,389
  • BRANCHES: 11
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 10.49%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 11.21%
  • ROA: 1.21%

How do you assess your contact center?

AP: We currently measure and report on service level, average handle time, and abandon. We also keep a close eye on our average speed of answer (ASA).

KL: We measure average speed of answer, average hold/AUX times, and average call duration. AUX is auxiliary time, meaning not logged into the phone system or available to take calls. ASA is an analysis of our staffing throughout the entire day. Our goal for this metric is 70% of all calls answered within 30 seconds. We closely monitor this metric to ensure we deliver prompt service.

What are some specific goals for each of those metrics? How do you work to improve them?

AP:For service level we want 80% of calls answered within 30 seconds. Our goal for average handle time is four minutes, and we want abandons at 5% or less. We use PSCU to overflow calls to control our service level and abandons in conjunction with our workforce management tool in order to ensure we are staffed appropriately to handle our estimated call volume.

We closely monitor our average handle time to ensure we don’t have excess time on phones, which impacts our service level and abandon. Supervisors monitor handle time through our phone system and provide alerts for talk time and hold time to address interactions on the spot. We do not have a goal for ASA, but on average we run at 40-45 seconds, which we also control through overflow to PSCU.

KL: Foraverage speed of answer, we have three queues: teller, which we assign to new employees; MSR, which we assign to more-seasoned employees; and loans, which we assign to licensed loan specialists. We set up priority levels to ensure all queues are backed-up by all staff.

Our goal for average hold/AUX time is less than 20% per month per each MSR. We allow this time to handle all member issues that require research. We’ve given the staff the systems they need to perform their job, and this metric has improved drastically, which in turn has improved our ASA.

How do you manage the escalation and resolution process and measure its effectiveness?

AP: We address member issues as they happen and transfer calls and emails directly to a supervisor. Our Member Care call quality program has a first call resolution component that impacts the associate’s overall call quality score if they do not resolve the issue or provide a specific follow-up plan while on the call.

We also use Net Promoter Score for constant feedback from our members. We review each survey we receive regardless of the overall score and address all feedback when appropriate.

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KL:We handle the resolution process through a ticket system that supervisors handle. This system also uncovers any training needs and tools the staff needs to efficiently handle member calls.

What are some best practices or lessons learned about managing a member contact center?

AP: As part of our quality program, we live listen to calls as well as score a random sampling of recorded calls for each associate monthly. We can quickly identify trends and address training needs both for the individual associate as well as the team.

I also think it’s critical to understand your data. How can your phone system help you understand your members in regard to why they call, what their tolerance is for hold times, and what is most important to them? This, in conjunction with your quality program, allows you to make educated adjustments to your metrics based on your memberships needs.

For example, we recently uncovered a change we had made regarding the processing of credit card balance transfers was not member or associate friendly. Although it worked well on paper, logistically, we made it more difficult for both parties. We were able to quickly make changes that provided a better solution to meet member, associate, and compliance needs.

KL: When I came to the call center nine years ago, all employees answered all calls. I divided the staff into different groups according to their experience and expertise to give the newer employees time to gain more confidence and slowly introduce them to more advanced queues. This system has proven to be the most effective, as we’ve seen an increase in both sales and service goals year after year.

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April 25, 2016

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