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How to Calculate Outsourced Call Center Service Level and Why is it Important?

Posted by Randy Clapp on Jul 10, 2019

Happy customer looking at phone

When it comes to outsourcing your customer service to a call center, there are a range of metrics that call centers use to ensure they are delivering a superior customer experience (CX) for your customers.

These metrics - as discussed in our blog titled ‘7 Key Metrics to Look out for When Outsourcing Your Customer Service to a Call Center’ - include First-Call Resolution (FCR), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Call Abandonment Rates (CAR), Customer Effort Score (CES), Average Handle Time (AHT) and Service Level (SLA).

In this blog, Advantage Communications will be taking a deeper look into the outsourced call center service level metric - and why it’s important for your customers.

So, what is call center service level?

Service level is an essential, and fairly straightforward, metric to help track call center performance. It looks at the percentage of customer calls being answered over a specific period of time.

In general, the service level is the percentage of incoming calls that are answered by a customer service representative within a certain frame of time. For example, a service level of 70 percent in a call center would mean that 7 out of every 10 phone calls have been answered within an established time frame (usually 20 seconds).

With technology now dictating a large part of how call centers should be improving your company’s customer experience, such as contact center AI, this metric is now also being applied to other customer contacts (and not just phone calls).

How is service level calculated?

Once an outsourced contact center has created a target, the service level for your company is fairly simple to calculate. Let’s say you have a service level target of 80-20, meaning you want to answer 80 percent of calls in 20 seconds.

To calculate your service level you will need two things:

  1. The total number of calls during a specific period of time.
  2. The total number of calls answered within 20 seconds during the same timeframe.
  • Your service level is now: Service level = calls answered within 20 seconds divided by the total number of calls during the established period of time x 100.

As per industry best practices, it’s important to know that service level should typically take into consideration any abandoned calls as well. However, some algorithms ignore short abandoned durations of less than five seconds, as it’s possible people may dial the wrong number then instantly hang up.

What are the conventional industry standard service levels?

For phone calls, the traditional service level for outsourced call centers is to answer 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds. This is changing in recent years, with many call centers now making an effort to answer 90 percent of calls in 15 seconds.

However, it’s important to remember that service level isn’t always indicative of superior customer service. Some outsourced call centers are willing to let customers wait a little longer in the queue to make sure they are able to give them the very best possible service once they reach an agent.

Service levels also differ across other call center channels. Other conventional statistics include:

  • Email – 95% of emails answered within four hours (the better contact centers are aiming to respond to 80% of emails within 15 minutes).
  • Live chat – 80% of chats answered within 40 seconds.
  • Letters – 95% of letters answered within three days.
  • Social media – 80% of contacts answered within 20 minutes.
  • SMS/messaging apps – 80% of messages responded to within 40 seconds.

Why is the call center service level metric important?

Service level is important for a variety of call center operations, and help call centers to make data-driven decisions that will benefit your company’s customer experience and customer service strategy.

The benefits of service level data include:

  • Optimizing workforce management by ensuring the right amount of agents are working for your company at any given time.
  • Lowering queue times for customers.
  • Improving the overall customer experience and perception that a customer has of your brand.
  • Improving first-call resolution rates (FCR).
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction (CSAT).
  • And much more!

Looking for more information about how outsourcing your customer service to a call center in Canada, serving global clients, can transform your customer experience and create loyal, satisfied customers? Contact our team of experts today. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have.

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Topics: Contact Center




Randy Clapp

Written by Randy Clapp

Randy Clapp has sold over $1 billion in the services industry working with leaders such as Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Data Systems, CompuCom and Avis Rental Car. He received EDS’ Inner Circle Award as one of the company’s top 100 performers, as well as the Top Leader Award with CompuCom. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Business Management and Economics from Northwood University. Randy Clapp attributes his success to: “…showing clients how to make or save money in ways they never thought possible”.

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