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Answers to Two Common Questions on Contact Center Industry Standards

Why I Love and Appreciate Questions from our Community– Part One

As we enter the second half of 2019, I want to thank everyone who asked me a question in 2019, 2018 (and before that). I love and appreciate questions from our fantastic contact center community for three reasons:

  1. They validate that we have an amazing community that is always focused on the customer, employee, and continuous improvement!
  2. I am honored to be a resource who can be of assistance.
  3. They help me understand what is on your minds and therefore, where I and ICMI can focus our attention/resources. And they make me think!

call center industry standards

This summer, I've decided to start answering some of your top questions in blog post form. I will begin with two questions that are around "industry standards" and hope to continue this blog post series in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Question #1: Here is one version of the question I receive all the time: Does ICMI have any research on phone service levels for financial institutions or specifically auto insurance companies?

One response:

There truly is no industry standard. It really depends on:

  1. Who your customers are
  2. What their tolerance for waiting is (how long until they abandon can help here – your phone system should supply this info)
  3. What you as a company want to be as a brand – like others or above
  4. What your budget is etc.
  5. What type of contact? New customer; existing; quick question; long claim etc.

And more…

Can you look to see what others are doing? Of course, but the advice above still applies. Also, please remember if you find information on this big caution – I can say my service level is 80% in 20 seconds, but the real question is: HOW often do we meet that goal? Monthly, weekly, daily, at interval level?

I know that isn't exactly what you asked, but I hope it helps.

Question #2: Here is another "industry standard" question: Do you have statistics on employee absenteeism? Someone quoted an industry standard, and it doesn't seem correct to me.

One response

I applaud your willingness to reach out and not just to take a statistic quoted as being right for your business/contact center(s). I have a feeling that many of you already know what I am going to say, "there is no industry standard!" AND it is crucial to clarify the question.

  • When you say "absenteeism" are we talking: planned or unplanned? BIG difference.
  • You also need to look at the "short term" vs. "long term" absence."

While I know you were looking for a number and I can provide data from a study done of contact center leaders, I must again stress that it is just a number and not it doesn't differentiate between planned or unplanned. The data in this study and others often only distinguishes between short and long-term absence, and so it lumps planned and unplanned into one category. I think that perhaps a better alternative is to partner with your Human Resources department and focus on:

    Where are we today?
  • What are our trends?
  • What is our short term and long-term absence rate?
  • Planned vs. unplanned?
  • Do we have plans in place to manage absence?
  • What tools do we have in place for employees?
  • How are we trending by team, tenure, etc.?
  • Do we know reasons/situations (peak seasons, high occupancy, holidays, busy days, etc.) that drive absenteeism to be higher or lower?
Additional Resources:

Two resources on the topic of industry standards that also might be helpful.

  1.  Putting Abandonment in Perspective
  2. 10 Things Senior Managers Must Know About Contact Centers

Please know these responses are just ONE set of potential answers, and if any of you have information, thoughts, opinions, and ideas to add, please share them!  Thank you all again for the questions.  Please keep them coming. I sincerely appreciate and value them and all of you!  

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