Metrics Measured in a Customer Service Contact Center

Similar to our outbound contact center initiatives we manage on behalf of our clients, for our inbound clients, there are many “moving parts” which drive the measurements our clients have for us. Some of the measurements are unique to the type of interaction we manage for the client (i.e. a sales call versus a customer service call) but the basis for most metrics is the same.

First and most important to know is that the inbound call management for any contact center differs from outbound interactions for two main reasons:

Call volume is unpredictable. A basic component of any inbound customer interaction center is good forecasting based on history, but it is simply that—a forecast. Inbound volumes can vary significantly for a variety of reasons outside of the control of the contact center.

Inbound call volume cannot be dynamically managed as it can be in an outbound contact center environment. Basic daily activities like training, break time, lunch times, etc., must be very carefully planned around the expected call volume down to the 30-minute interval to avoid any undue customer impacts.

It is not uncommon for the metrics below to be directly tied to our contractual agreements with clients. We work closely with our clients during the contracting phase of any program to insure we clearly define the metrics that are important and understand the measures for success. It’s also not uncommon for there to be contract penalties if the minimum requirements are not met, but also we have the opportunity to be rewarded with incentives should we exceed their expectations and remain efficient while doing so.


  • ASA – Average Speed of Answer. This is the average time it takes for a caller to reach a live representative. This is usually measured in seconds. As an example if you hear “our ASA is 30 seconds” that means callers are waiting an average of 30 seconds before being connected with a representative. Of course, some callers may speak with a representative immediately and others may wait extended periods of time; however, this metric measures what happens with the “average” caller.
  • Service Level – This is a percentage of callers whose call is answered within a pre-determined time frame. As an example, if a client defines that we must answer 80% of all calls within 20 seconds, that would be the service level we would utilize in the contact center. This measure is different from ASA because it applies the overall percentage of callers answered within a specific time frame versus the average speed at which we answer all calls.
  • Max Caller Delay – This is the maximum time the longest caller has waited to speak with a representative. As an example, at the peak hour of the day if the average speed of answer is 45 seconds and the service level is 60% answered within 20 seconds that we are experiencing that could mean that 40% of the calls are waiting extended periods of time. The max call delay could be several minutes when call volumes spike.
  • Average Talk Time – This is similar to the talk time metrics we also manage on our outbound contact center programs; however, the one major distinction is this will be measured and monitored on an average talk time per call basis. It can be reflected in minutes or in seconds based on the individual client and their needs.
  • Average Handle Time – This is the average time to handle all of the functions associated with call – comprised of the talk time with the customer plus any after call work functions that could be required where a representative is not available to take another call. This is also measured as an average handle time per call. Both average talk time and average handle time are key metrics to monitor in a high volume inbound environment so outliers can be addressed quickly.


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