The most obvious metric would seem to be that of blocking rate, which is the percentage of calls offered that are not allowed into the system; it generally refers to the percentage of callers receiving a busy signal, but may also include messages and forced disconnects. It is generally kept very low – under one percent – yet must be considered along with service levels to ensure that the customer has access; it is possible to meet service levels but have a high blocking rate, which will result in dissatisfied customers. There are of course times when blocking is used to flatten out extreme peaks, such as when a product offer reaches an 'end of offer' date.
Metrics though are not the only contributing factors in ensuring customers have access to the call center and various tools and systems play a part. With more and more call centers turning to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to supplement their live agents, call center efficiency can be boosted in several ways, as can access. IVR allows calls to be routed faster, while some questions can be answered without agent involvement, hold times are often reduced, and for call centers that are not open around the clock, IVR offers a way for customers to still manage to obtain information.
There are, unfortunately, those customers who will find IVR to not only be inefficient, but also annoying, as some may not be willing to talk to a machine, while others will simply hang-up once they have to start pressing numbers. To ensure IVR assists in allowing customers to access a call center, call analysis and listening to IVR interactions are a must, as this will provide invaluable insights. It is therefore important to start call monitoring and quality assurance at the IVR, and not only once the agent takes the call.
Losing too many calls during the IVR process could indicate potential problems and this would be the time to find solutions. Options to consider would include that of finding a way to explain options to the caller more clearly, and even establishing whether there is any manner in which the customer could quickly bypass the system, should they insist on speaking to an actual agent.
It is important to understand though that, regardless of the measures and tools that may need to be employed or utilized, the most important consideration is that of ensuring that customers will be able to get through to the call center.