Call Center Metrics: Agent Metrics Explained

By Kurt Nelson

Establishing a basic overview of the metrics commonly used to measure a customer service agent’s effectiveness is essential to understanding how to best use training and technology to help them be more successful. We’ve developed some simple explanations of comment metrics below


Average Calls Per Agent

This is one of the most important KPIs as it helps determine how well the number of agents is aligned with the average number of calls being received.

A simple formula for calculating this rate is:

Number of answered calls each week per agent = 250

Total talk time of agents per week =  1,000 minutes 


That means that a typical agent spends an average of 4 minutes per call and is actively on a call 5 hours each day. 

Contact center management should determine the appropriate number of calls per agent based on a number of factors. These factors could include the type of calls being received and the average time it takes to handle each type of call. Also, the metrics can fluctuate depending on which types of calls are being received and potentially the time of year. 

For example, a retailer may be dealing with a high volume of returns after the holiday season which can extend the length of each call. Or, there could be a special promotion that increases the number of short calls where agents are providing concise, specific details to each caller. 

Abandon Rate 

Another closely monitored contact center KPI is Abandon Rate. This is the percentage of inbound phone calls that are abandoned by the customer before speaking to an agent. A high abandon rate represents missed opportunities, customer dissatisfaction and ultimately lost revenue. Call Abandonment is often directly connected with wait and hold times.

How to Calculate Abandon Rate

Divide the number of abandoned calls by the total number of calls.  

# of Abandoned Calls
  _____________________  = Abandon Rate
# of Total Calls 


For example, if your contact center receives 1,000 calls and 50 are abandoned, your abandon rate is 5 percent.

What Is an Average for Call Abandon Rate?

Every industry has its own standards when it comes to abandon rate. However, most experts will say that a rate of 2 percent or less is ideal. Any rate that is over 5 percent is considered to be poor and in need of improvement.

Calls Abandoned in the IVR

Don’t forget to measure calls being abandoned while the caller is in the IVR system.  A poor IVR experience can result in missing significant and oftentimes easily corrected problems that could be hindering customer journeys.  A prompt that isn’t accurate or a line that isn’t working can result in caller drop-offs. 

Lowering Your Abandon Rate

High abandon rates speak directly to customer dissatisfaction. And in today’s digital era, callers that aren’t getting their needs met are now engaging on more visible channels like social media and are quicker to shift to the competition. In other words, keeping your abandon rate low should be an essential business focus.

Offer a Callback

Among the most effective ways to lower your abandon rate is to add callback to let callers choose between waiting on the line and receiving a callback when it’s convenient for them. This saves their place in the queue, and when an agent is available, they receive a callback.

Callback calculates the expected wait time and gives customers an estimated time when they should expect a callback. They also have the option of scheduling a callback at a more convenient time. 

Not only does this result in a lower abandonment rate but we also see it routinely raise a brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS).


Average Speed of Answer

In its simplest terms, Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is the average amount of time required for calls to be answered in a contact center within a set period of time. Although ASA typically doesn’t include the time it takes callers to navigate through an IVR, it does include the time a customer is in a queue and the time it takes for an agent to answer the call.

Because today’s contact centers are not solely focused on voice interactions, the average speed of answer is now sometimes calculated for digital channels, such as web chat, SMS text messaging and app-based instant messaging.

How to calculate the average speed of answer metric:

Total wait time or Answered Calls
____________________________________          =  Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
Total Number of Answered Calls


For example, if there are 1,000 callers in a day, and the total waiting time for all answered calls is 10 hours. The total waiting time in seconds is 36,000. The ASA is 36,000/1,000 = 36 seconds. 

High Abandonment Rates

Callers have a limited amount of patience. The longer it takes for their call to be answered, the more likely they will abandon the call and potentially take their business elsewhere. Learn more about Abandon Rate above.

Increased Handle Time

Those who stick it out to speak with an agent can be unhappy and will take extra time to complain about their struggles with wait time. They may even ask to speak with a supervisor or have other requests that require more of an agent’s time. With every additional apology or call transfer an agent has to make, efficiency and profitability drops.

Fewer First Call Resolutions

Frustrated callers are also less likely to have their issue resolved to their satisfaction on first contact. The less time a customer is waiting on hold, the more likely they are to resolve their issue in a single interaction.

Agent Dissatisfaction

Impatient and frustrated customers aren’t the only ones affected by longer speed to answer times. Unhappy customers complain to agents which causes agent stress and burnout. Stressed agents are less likely to provide speedy and successful service and are more likely to turn over causing hiring and training costs to increase.

Ways To Lower Your Average Speed of Answer

Improve call routing 

Traditional queue-based routing that routes every caller without any context often means long wait times, especially during busy times of the day. A better approach is to use skills-based routing that matches callers with agents based on select criteria.

Offer callbacks 

Incorporating VHT Callback through Mindful into your call center operations is a highly effective way to reduce ASA. Even with the best planning and forecasting, an unexpected surge in contact center volume can cause longer hold times. Give callers the option to be contacted by an agent when their turn in the queue arrives so they don’t have to waste time on hold.

Your contact center’s ASA isn’t just a KPI for a report. It is an important metric that indicates the overall success of your operations. By continuously focusing on keeping it in check with proven best practices, you’ll reap benefits that ultimately impact the bottom line.


Average Handle Time

Average handle time is a metric that indicates the average duration of a customer transaction. It is measured from the time a call is initiated through the conclusion of any related tasks that follow the interaction.

The Impact of Self-Service on Average Handle Time

Many KPIs have been impacted by the introduction of digital channels, including average handle time. Because customers are more likely than ever to address simple issues via digital self-service options, like IVR and mobile apps, the voice channel is being used more for complex issues. This results in agents having to spend more time with customers or having to transfer them to others for additional help.

Many industry analysts believe that voice will increasingly become an escalation channel, rather one for primary service. Thus, the average handle time metric will need to continuously be reassessed as the voice channel continues to evolve.

How to Calculate Average Handle Time

 Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total wrap-up Time
 ___________________________________________________________      =        Average Handle Time
                   Total Number of Calls Handled 


How to Reduce Average Handle Time

Reduce total on-hold time

This is often one of the most significant ways to reduce the average handle time, especially for contact centers with high volumes that lead to long on-hold times. By offering customers a callback or even offering a text message option. This is likely to remove the on-hold metric completely which will drastically lower the Average Handle Time. 

Identify processes that can be reduced or automated

Also investigate simple tweaks to processes can lower average handle time. Look for those processes with a duplication of work or where tasks can be easily automated or digitized. One method is to analyze the top 5 call types. This allows you to identify, measure and analyze the most common types of incoming calls and focus training on them. Digging deeper into this is where VHT’s Customer Success Team can really be heroes for a brand. 


Boost Your Metrics

Each of these metrics can be benefited by subscribing to VHT’s Mindful Platform. If you have questions just get in touch.