The 2012-14 Citizen-Engaged Communities track an impressive average of 10 different performance metrics. Finding benchmarks for these contact center measures can be difficult, as values vary with the type and complexity of calls. For example, processing utility accounts may require much more time than taking a missed garbage complaint, affecting talk time, calls handled and other metrics. Hourly wages may be much higher in one geographic location than in others, affecting cost per call performance.

In some cases, it is important to analyze performance data in groups. Turnover rates are important to consider when reviewing cost per call. Maybe a contact center has a cost per call under $3, but a turnover rate of 30 to 40 percent. The reality may be that costs are being shifted to hiring and training, with no savings realized.

For designated contact centers, the average customer wait time is 50 seconds and the average cost per call is $3.52. Two contact centers track a total of 16 metrics: Evanston, which handles almost 84,000 calls annually, with a 96 percent first contact resolution rate and an answer speed of 11 seconds and Buffalo, which handles 155,099 calls annually, with an abandonment rate of 1 percent, talk time of 2 minutes and 16 seconds and a 93 percent customer satisfaction rate.

New York received 18,957,000 calls in fiscal year 2011-12. Residents have an average 18 second wait time and call agents have an error rate of .07 percent for calls answered/documented correctly. It receives only 30 complaints per million calls.

Challenges and opportunities identified by the 2012-14 Citizen-Engaged Communities are varied and very specific to their individual organizations. Some of the future areas of focus for the designated communities are expanding mobile and social media tools, maintaining staffing and high performance levels within ongoing budget constraints and updating technology to better serve the public. This year's designees definitely demonstrate excellence and already are planning for their continued success.

Susan Cable is a strategic advisor to the Public Technology Institute and manager for its Citizen-Engaged Communities and Web 2.0 State and Local Government Award programs, which set national standards and recognize excellence in government applications.

Cable also is founder and president of eServices Consulting, serving as a lead advisor and providing technical services to government agencies on web strategies and development, 311/multi-channel contact centers, planning, communications, and performance management, with a focus on new media and mobile technologies.