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Agent performance: What it is + 25 metrics to track

Agent performance is directly tied to customer retention and operational efficiency. Learn important metrics and how to improve agent performance.

Par Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Dernière mise à jour May 22, 2024

What is agent performance?

Agent performance refers to how effectively customer service agents perform their day-to-day activities. Businesses can measure agent performance with several metrics that pinpoint how they use their time, measure the quality of their customer interactions, and more.

Many businesses know that providing an outstanding customer experience (CX) keeps customers coming back for more, thereby improving customer loyalty and your bottom line. Consistently achieving excellent CX requires mastering a few moving parts, and one of the most important is optimizing agent performance.

Effective support agents and a great customer experience go hand in hand. Agents are often the first people customers directly interact with in your organization, so it’s crucial to ensure they excel at their jobs. In this guide, we cover the most important agent performance metrics so you can maintain an outstanding CX.

25 agent performance metrics

Let’s dive into the top 25 agent performance metrics you should be tracking.

1. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction score measures customers’ happiness with a purchase, interaction, or overall relationship with a business. CSAT is typically measured on a scale—like 1 to 7 or 1 to 10—and businesses usually gather it from customer surveys. When customers assess their interactions with your support team through a CSAT survey, it yields valuable insights into agent performance.

How to calculate customer satisfaction score

Customer satisfaction score = (Number of positive customer responses ÷ Number of total responses) x 100

2. Customer dissatisfaction score (DSAT)

Customer dissatisfaction score is the inverse of CSAT and measures how unhappy customers are with a purchase, interaction, or overall relationship with a business. This metric is useful because it can pinpoint areas of improvement better than CSAT. For example, if many of your customers are dissatisfied when asking for help resetting their password, you can identify bottlenecks and improve your processes around that specific query.

How to calculate customer dissatisfaction score

Customer dissatisfaction score = (Number of negative customer responses ÷ Number of total responses) x 100

3. Internal quality score (IQS)

Your internal quality score measures how effectively you rate your own customer service interactions. It’s a quality assurance (QA) figure completed via self-reviews, peer reviews, or managerial reviews. You will typically include this metric in a customer service QA scorecard alongside other figures like tone, empathy, how well the reviewee followed internal processes, and customer resolution.

4. Net Promoter Score® (NPS)

Net Promoter Score® measures customer loyalty and evaluates CX quality. NPS surveys collect customer feedback on a scale of 1 to 10 and use questions related to how likely they are to recommend the business or make repeat purchases.

5. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score is the amount of effort a customer must expend to get what they want from your business. This can include how much time they need to spend trying to resolve a question, getting a resource from your support team, or any other similar actions.

Most businesses measure CES through three types of surveys:

  • A 0 to 10 scale where a customer rates their experience

  • An agree/disagree survey

  • A simple survey with an emoji rating system

Organizations can use these surveys to determine how seamlessly their agents provide answers to customers.

6. First reply time (FRT)

First reply time, otherwise known as first response time, measures how long an agent takes to respond to a customer request or ticket. A low FRT can indicate that your team is multitasking effectively and able to manage high ticket volumes, while a high FRT could highlight problems with your processes or training opportunities.

How to calculate first reply time

First reply time = Total first reply time ÷ Number of resolved tickets

7. Average handle time (AHT)

Average handle time measures the average duration of a customer service interaction. In the context of a call center, this metric encompasses total talk time, total hold time, and the number of calls handled. Remember that you can measure AHT for every customer service interaction, including email, messaging, and more.

How to calculate average handle time

Average handle time (calls) = (Total talk time + Total hold time + Total follow-up time) ÷ Total number of calls

8. Full-time equivalent (FTE)

Full-time equivalent (FTE) measures how many of your workers add up to full-time employees. For example, let’s say you operate with a 40-hour workweek. Any employee working 40 hours is a 1.0 FTE, while any employee working 20 hours is a 0.5 FTE. This metric is useful for agent scheduling, tracking employee time and salaries, and forecasting staffing needs.

How to calculate full-time equivalent

Full-time equivalent = Total hours worked by all employees in a period ÷ Number of available hours in a period

9. Average wait time (AWT)

Average wait time measures how long inbound callers are on hold before the initial conversation with a support agent. This metric starts after the caller gets past the initial greeting and ends when the agent answers the call. You can calculate this by averaging your wait time in a 24-hour period.

How to calculate average wait time

Average wait time = Total wait time ÷ Number of calls

10. Tickets handled per hour

Tickets handled per hour is a metric that details how many support tickets an agent opens and handles within an hour. You can calculate this metric by simply adding up the number of tickets a specified agent or team tackles in an hour.

11. Tickets solved per hour

This metric details how many tickets a support agent solves within an hour. To calculate, add the number of tickets an agent or team solves in that time frame. Similar to tickets handled per hour, this figure can highlight team performance and how efficiently agents resolve tickets.

12. First contact resolution (FCR)

First contact resolution, otherwise known as first call resolution or first touch resolution, is the percentage of support tickets that get resolved in the first agent interaction. This includes interactions like solving a customer’s issue with the first phone call or email. If you have a high FCR rate, your team is likely handling customer concerns effectively.

How to calculate first contact resolution

First contact resolution = Total number of one-touch tickets ÷ Total number of tickets received

13. Open cases

Open cases refer to the number of customers—and, by extension, customer support tickets—waiting for a response or resolution. If you have a large number of open cases, that could coincide with higher wait times and longer than optimal queue response times.

How to calculate open cases

Open cases = Total number of cases – Resolved cases

14. Replies per conversation (RPC)

Replies per conversation is the average number of replies that it takes a support agent to resolve an issue for a single customer. This can give you valuable insight into how your team is doing, as teams that show a high RPC may need additional training or support.

How to calculate replies per conversation

Replies per conversation = Total number of replies ÷ Number of tickets

15. Script adherence rate

Script adherence rate measures how successfully a call center agent remains on script during a customer interaction. Agents may need to follow call center scripts because they provide standardized ways to deal with particular customer problems. For example, if agents operate in a regulated industry, they may need to avoid saying certain terms for legal reasons.

You can measure script adherence rate by determining how many key terms or phrases an agent said during a conversation. For instance, if you have 10 key phrases and the agent only says eight, they would have an 80 percent script adherence rate.

16. Schedule adherence

Schedule adherence measures how well employees use their time. For example, if an employee is scheduled to work four hours but only logs three hours, they have a schedule adherence of 75 percent. Organizations should strive for high schedule adherence, and low adherence could indicate problems with internal processes.

How to calculate schedule adherence

Schedule adherence = (Total time worked ÷ Total time scheduled) x 100

17. Escalation rate

Escalation rate measures how frequently your support agents need to transfer a customer ticket to a higher support tier. A high escalation rate could highlight training opportunities or other improvement methods to help your agents solve tickets on first contact.

How to calculate escalation rate

Escalation rate = (Total number of escalated tickets ÷ Total number of tickets) x 100

18. Occupancy

Occupancy is the time an agent spends on support activities versus non-support activities. Support activities can include speaking directly to customers or assisting with ticket backlogs. This metric can assist in training call center agents by assessing whether employees have too much on their plates or if they could be using their time more effectively.

How to calculate occupancy

Occupancy = (Total handling time ÷ Total time logged in) x 100

19. Forecast volume and predicted future volume

Forecast volume is your predicted contact volume based on historical data, and predicted future volume is the contact volume anticipated as the result of forecasting. Workforce managers often use these metrics to ensure enough employees are scheduled to handle customer demand.

20. Rate of answered calls

The rate of answered calls is the percentage of customer calls a business answers. This figure is useful for larger support operations that handle a high volume of calls per day. A higher rate of answered calls could indicate more efficient support agents that can handle customer concerns quickly and effectively.

How to calculate the rate of answered calls

Rate of answered calls = (Total number of answered calls ÷ Total number of calls received) x 100

21. Agent utilization rate

Agent utilization rate is the percentage of time one of your agents is supporting or available to support your customers. For example, if an employee is scheduled for an eight-hour workday and spends three hours in training and one hour on lunch, their utilization rate is 50 percent.

How to calculate agent utilization rate

Agent utilization rate = (Hours spent assisting or available to assist customers ÷ Hours scheduled) x 100

22. Abandon rate

Abandon rate, sometimes known as call abandonment rate, measures the number of customers that hang up while waiting on hold. If this metric is high, it may indicate you need to hire more support agents or make your processes more efficient.

How to calculate abandon rate

Abandon rate = [(Number of call received – Number of calls handled) ÷ Number of calls received] x 100

23. Cost per conversation (CPC)

Cost per conversation measures how much each customer interaction costs your business. You can calculate this figure by first adding up the total cost of operating your team, including salaries, insurance, equipment, and anything else you need to field your support team. Then, divide it by the total number of support conversations you have in a certain time frame.

How to calculate cost per conversation

Cost per conversation = Total team operating costs ÷ Total number of conversations

24. Agent retention rate

Agent retention rate measures how effectively you retain your support agents. This figure can highlight potential gaps in your employee experience (EX) and can start conversations on how best to retain your talent.

How to calculate agent retention rate

Agent retention rate = (Employees at the end of a period ÷ Employees at the start of a period) x 100

25. Churn rate

Churn rate, or customer churn rate, is the percentage of customers that stop doing business with your organization over a period of time. A high churn rate can signal product, process, or customer experience problems.

How to calculate churn rate

Churn rate = (Number of customers lost during a time period ÷ Customers at the start of the time period) x 100

Control your costs with AI

Our playbook explains how you can use AI to remain agile, increase agent productivity, and reduce inbound support—all without sacrificing service quality.

How to improve agent performance

Now that we’ve covered some key metrics to monitor, here’s how to use these metrics and other processes to improve agent performance.

Five icons detail different ways to boost agent performance.

Build QA processes

Customer service quality assurance is the practice of evaluating customer interactions to identify areas for improvement, maintain service quality, and ensure agents meet customer expectations. Sharing feedback with your agents and setting up regular coaching sessions can help them develop their skills, work more efficiently, and create better customer experiences.

For example, Zendesk QA capabilities allow you to use AI to review 100 percent of your support conversations, automatically pinpoint knowledge gaps or customer churn risk, offer systematic coaching to your agents, and more.

Invest in WFM tools

Workforce management (WFM) is a set of processes and technologies a business can use to optimize agent productivity by ensuring support reps are adequately staffed across channels, effectively managing their time, and monitoring performance metrics.

You can use call center workforce management tools and other types of workforce management software to generate accurate scheduling forecasts, reduce overstaffing costs, and give agents insights into how well they’re meeting certain metrics.

Use AI and automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can help you eliminate inefficiencies and enhance agent productivity. Consider partnering with reliable AI partners like Zendesk AI to boost agent performance further. For example, we boast capabilities like AI guidance to help agents resolve customer requests quickly, AI suggestions that identify what specific customer questions can be automated, and AI agents that can enable you to deliver instant, personalized service.

Develop coaching and training programs

With the help of the QA and WFM principles outlined above, you should implement ongoing coaching and training programs so your support agents can reach their full potential. Consistently monitor agent performance to identify knowledge gaps and use that information to conduct individual or team-wide coaching sessions. Through this continuous learning and improvement, you’ll create a more efficient support team.

Consistently review performance metrics

Finally, you should always review your performance metrics to identify areas where you’re performing well and where you’re struggling. For example, you may notice that your CSAT has been trending downward for the past month.

You can leverage that information to pinpoint what has changed—maybe you implemented a new process, or a group of agents hasn’t been performing up to their usual standards. From there, you can rectify those issues to ensure you rebound the next month and prevent them from worsening.

Frequently asked questions

Improve your agent performance with Zendesk

Monitoring agent performance is key to building and maintaining a productive support team. However, to lead a high-performing and impactful team, businesses need more than a list of metrics—they need powerful tools for delivering high-quality support at scale, managing the entire service center, and gaining the proper insights and analytics to optimize their operations. And these tools must be built on comprehensive AI.

Zendesk offers a complete, AI-powered team productivity solution for CX teams in one simple package consisting of the Zendesk Suite, Zendesk WFM, and Zendesk QA. Combining these capabilities enables businesses to manage high support volume, solve scheduling and reporting challenges, and accurately assess the quality of their service.

Start a free trial of Zendesk today to see how we can improve agent performance.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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