Contact Centers: How to Calculate Staff Levels and Scheduling Requirements
So if a higher volume of calls means that your reps are busier, then you might assume that bigger is always better, right? After all, these folks are being paid to handle calls, so don’t we want them busy all the time doing just that? The answer is yes and no: Although you want your staff to be busy processing lots of calls, having them too busy (in other words, no available time or “breather room” between calls) isn’t such a good idea either.
The measure of how busy agents are is called “agent occupancy.” It’s the percentage of logged-in time that an agent actually is busy in talk or wrap-up time. It’s calculated by dividing the amount of workload by the staff hours in place. Say you have 12 staffers handling 8.3 hours of workload. At one staff hour per agent, agent occupancy is just 69 percent. If your call volume is doubled and you have 21 staffers in place, twice the workload is being handled without doubling the workforce, so each person is busier. In this case, occupancy increases to 79 percent.
As call volume grows, increased efficiencies and economies of scale come into effect — occupancy goes higher and higher. And while we want our staff to be productive and busy, asking staffers to stay occupied at a 94 percent rate isn’t realistic.
Most call centers aim for the 85 percent to 90 percent range because occupancy rates higher than that lead to all kinds of undesirable call-handling behaviors as well as a high turnover rate.
Penny Reynolds is a founding partner of The Call Center School, a company that provides a wide range of educational offerings for call center professionals. She can be reached at (615) 812-8410 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.