Setting the right SLA for contact centers

How to Set Your Call Center Service Level Agreement

Having the correct service level agreement is imperative for your organization in order to achieve maximum customer service satisfaction while following budgetary restrictions and setting achievable goals for your call center agents. Sometimes there are immediate, direct fiscal penalties for breach in contractually obligated SLAs; other times the business impact of poor experiences is not fully realized until it impacts renewals, references, etc. Juxtapose that to staff budgeting and efficiency concerns, and it’s obviously a tight balance. Good news: achieving this balance is possible given the right data and a little bit of guidance from the experts at Brightmetrics.

Here Are Four Steps to Setting A Winning Call Answer SLA

1. Understand What an SLA Really Is

Let’s start by defining a call answer service level agreement (SLA). This is an agreement that determines the guaranteed maximum amount of time the customer is on a call before an agent picks up the phone. Many organizations have set an arbitrary SLA based on a best practice tip they have heard such as “calls should be answered in 30 seconds.”  This is a dangerous practice because it doesn’t take into account any actual data that illustrates how customers behave in the context of your business. You may be holding agents to a standard that is unachievable, based on current staffing levels, to hit a threshold that doesn’t align with your customer expectations.

2. Start with the Data

When deciding on a standard for your answered call SLA, you need to base your decision on actual data. Take a look at your Average Queue Time for Abandon Calls and compare it with your Average Queue Time for Total Calls to discover how long callers are willing to wait for an agent to answer the phone. If, for example, you have set your SLA at 30 seconds but review the data and discover that callers will wait for 1 minute and 45 seconds before they abandon the call, your SLA is too low, and you are likely either overstaffed or holding your agents to an unattainable goal that is frustrating and discouraging. On the flip side, if your SLA is too high and your abandon rate is too high, you are losing business or compromising the customer experience.

3. Know There Will Be an Adjustment Period

Once you have an SLA that is based on analytics, it’s time to implement that adjustment into policy. This may include reassigning agents to increase or decrease staffing levels and undergoing some cross-training to prepare for an anomalous call volume situation. This is very important because as you trim the fat in your call center staffs, you’re leaving less wiggle room for those unexpected spikes and drops in volume. You need to have contingency plans in place to ensure you have the ability to maintain that SLA in any situation. Know that this adjustment will take some time and be prepared for that adjustment period.

 

4. Measure for Success

The key to ensuring success in adjusting your SLA based on customer expectations is to continue reviewing your process and measuring your progress as you go. This needs to happen in historical and real time perspectives for the complete package. Historically, your abandon rate ca be a great indicator of the success or failure of your SLA. Most Brightmetrics customers shoot for an abandon rate of 4-8%. You probably don’t need to go below 4% or you’ll be overstaffed, and if it starts to creep above 8% you need to adjust to prevent a negative impact to customer satisfaction. Concurrently, you will also need real time analytics to monitor how callers and agents are behaving in the moment. This will allow you to enact any contingency plans to counterbalance unforeseen call spikes or drops, as well as cover for the initial period as customers and agents adjust to the new SLA goal.
Make sure you have the analytics you need to gain the business insights necessary to define policy such as SLA. Check out the Brightmetrics free 21-day trial today to use real data, sliced and diced how you need it to make better business decisions.

Make sure you have the analytics you need to gain the business insights necessary to define policy such as SLA. Check out the Brightmetrics free 21-day trial today to use real data, sliced and diced how you need it to make better business decisions.

 

Free 21-day Brightmetrics trial

You may also like

Leave a comment