Call Center Efficiency: Agent Responsiveness Assessment


A call center efficiency assessment compares the performance of a call center relative to global data and standards set by the competitors, with the goal of identifying areas of weakness and targeting them for improvement. As a result of benchmarking, managers can identify new opportunities for improvement, in an effort to raise their own center’s standards, as well as to stay competitive against other call center companies.

Image courtesy of geralt on Pixabay, published under CC0 1.0

The four primary call center performance metrics are service quality, agent responsiveness, productivity and cost.


Call Center Agent Responsiveness

Customers expect to quickly connect to a call center agent and then receive a prompt answer to their questions. The following are the most important metrics used to measure agent responsiveness as part of the benchmarking process.


Service Level

The percentage of calls that were answered in a given time period.

Call center management software will usually display real-time and historical service-level information in their dashboard. The service level measures the agent response rate for calls that must be immediately answered. As one of the fundamental call center metrics, service level helps managers with scheduling, so that customers receive the best possible service when interacting with the center.

Statements of service level usually follow a pattern that expresses the percentage of contacts that were answered within a certain number of seconds. The average service level of a call center usually falls in the range of 95 percent of calls answered within 15 seconds and 80 percent of calls answered in 20 seconds. The actual average to use for benchmarking can vary depending on the industry in which the call center operates.

A metric that is related to service level – response time – includes contacts that do not require immediate handling. Response time is usually stated as the percent of contacts handled within a stated period. For example, a call center might have a response time of 100 percent of incoming customer emails receive a response within six hours.


Average Speed to Answer

The average time elapsed before answering calculated from all calls.

The average speed to answer metric calculates the elapsed time between call being received and answered. Call center software can track and display the average speed to answer for the entire call center as well as for agents and departments. Globally, the average speed to answer is 28 seconds.


Active vs Waiting Calls

The percentage of callers being helped compared to the number of callers waiting in queue.

An element of an agent responsiveness assessment involves the ratio of active calls to waiting calls. Ideally, call centers will always have more active calls, indicating that the staff has the capacity to keep up with demand. If the call center dashboard shows that this ratio is decreasing, however, managers will have to add agents or improve call handling time to avoid developing a caller backlog that can have a negative impact on the business.


Blocked Calls

The count of inbound callers who encountered a busy signal.

Customers can quickly become frustrated if they call a company and receive a busy signal. Call center dashboards can display the number of callers receiving a busy signal in real-time as well as historical rates for blocked calls. Too many blocked calls can mean that a call center has an inadequate number of incoming phone lines. It can also suggest that call center agents are spending too much time per call.


Abandonment Rate

The percentage of callers who hung up without speaking to an agent.

Customers will abandon their call by “hanging up” if they spend too much time waiting for an agent to answer. The abandonment rate measures the number of unanswered calls and breaks it down into different processing segments. Managers can analyze abandonment rates to determine whether disconnected calls are caused by system problems or staffing issues. The global metric for call abandonment rate is between 5 and 8 percent.


Longest Wait Time

The longest amount of time a caller was obliged to wait in queue before their call was answered.

The longest wait time helps managers identify worst-case scenarios and find ways to reduce the time required to handle the most difficult or complex customer issues. Customers that require the most attention can easily become dissatisfied, so reducing the longest wait time can improve customer retention.


Self-Service Accessibility

The rate at which callers found solutions in other systems, instead of interacting with an agent.

Contact centers equipped with self-service features can use this accessibility metric to measure the responsiveness of their system. Regardless of whether self-service is delivered via IVR systems or the web, the data shows how many calls were handled without involving an agent. When self-service accessibility rates are low, managers can take steps to improve customer awareness of self-service options, improve system navigation or evaluate the quality of available information.


Call center agent assessment compares the performance of call center’s agents to that of competitors, so that companies know what they improve to stay competitive from a customer service perspective. An agent responsiveness assessment helps to measure call center efficiency based on the speed at which calls get answered, the time callers spend in a queue as well as the number of callers who abandon their contact before speaking to an agent. Agent responsiveness also applies to above mentioned self-service options.


Our Solution

We perform call center assessments that consider your industry and business model and provide specific benchmarks, with the goal of helping your company provide high-quality customer service that matches or surpasses your competitors. As we work together with you, we will help you make vital call center improvements and guide you into the most effective measurement and assessment tactics.