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5 Fragen zum Service Level
  1. What is Service Level?
  2. How do I calculate Service-Level?
  3. Why shouldn’t I aim for a Service Level of 80/20 in my call center?
  4. What metrics are there besides Service Level?
  5. How can I improve my Service Level?


1. What is service level?

Service level is one of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) for an inbound call center. The metric can be viewed as a reflection of a service center’s service quality. It defines the percentage of calls that should be answered within a given timeframe. When a contact center sets itself a specific service level target, it isn’t just setting a standard for customer service; it is also identifying the quality of customer care it is aiming to provide. As such, service level is more than just a metric. It has an active influence on the quality management of inbound contact centers. The term was defined in the 1980s by AT&T as part of a contact center study. This was a time before interactive voice response (IVR) systems and hold music. The researchers noted that most callers would hang up after 20 seconds of ringing, as they no longer expected a response at the other end of the telephone. As a result, they defined a service level of 80/20 as a good target for inbound service centers.

2. Calculating service level: which formular can I use to determine this metric?

Service level can be calculated as follows: you place a certain percentage of callers in relation to the timeframe within which you strive for their calls to be answered:

Percentage of calls answered
Specified timeframe

A service level formula of 80/20 is widely regarded as the cornerstone of good customer service. In concrete terms, 80/20 means that 80% of callers must be connected with an agent within 20 seconds.

Improve your service quality

Does a service level of 80/20 seem beyond the reach of your contact center? Discover how you can unlock the full potential of your services and increase caller satisfaction.

3. Why shouldn’t I aim for a Service Level of 80/20 in my Call center?

Over 30 years have passed since the 80/20 value was established as a benchmark for call centers. In this time, technology has progressed massively. So why not also advance beyond this seemingly outdated recommendation and start setting more ambitious goals too? Imagine if you could avoid placing your callers on hold entirely. Health insurance company Gothaer has done just that. In 2017, with virtualQ, it opted for a solution that does the waiting on its callers’ behalf. The result? Callers were spared 80,000 minutes of waiting within the first year alone. Instead, they receive a notification from virtualQ as soon as the line is free and a member of service staff is available to help them. Now think back to those 20% of callers who would have been left waiting as part of the 80/20 call center standard. They would have all been able to use that time meaningfully. They would have been able to put their phones away and have another think about what it was they wanted to discuss. They would have been able to get on with something else, without having to listen to hold music or announcements. Finally, they would have been able to start their conversation feeling relaxed, as soon as they had received their notification from virtualQ. Why strive for 80/20 when you can save all your callers the wait and further boost your service level?

Emanuel Bächli von der Gothaer Krankenversicherung

Emanuel Bächli, Head of Operations Gothaer Health Insurance

Our customer satisfaction has been at an all-time high since we’ve introduced virtualQ!“

Gothaer Health Insurance, notable German insurance company, was able to save 80,000 waiting minutes within only one year and improve customer satisfaction in the NPS procedure by 8%. How can that be? Read about it in our Case Study! (Sorry, this is only available in German at the moment!)


4. Measuring Service Quality: What other metrics are there?

An 80/20 service level unfortunately says very little about the remaining 20% of calls that are not answered within 20 seconds. This means that further KPIs are necessary if we are to comprehensively assess service quality. Another key performance indicator for measuring service quality is average waiting time. To calculate this, the combined waiting time of all callers is divided by the number of callers. In contrast to service level, average waiting time incorporates all callers into the assessment of a contact center’s service quality.

5. How can I improve my Service Level and in turn, my service quality?

Service level can be improved by means of workforce optimization, increasing first call resolution (FCR) and multichannel support. Another effective opportunity is the use of software solutions specifically designed to upgrade your service level. Our software makes it possible to level peaks and therefore ensure a more balanced workload for your employees. How does it work? A technical solution does the waiting on your callers’ behalf and notifies them as soon as the line is free.

Improve service quality, Achieve new goals

More relaxed employees, happy customers: create a new service experience for your callers! Improve the service level in your call center, smooth out peaks and increase the quality of your customer support. We would be delighted to explain the adjustments you could make to enhance your service quality.


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