Agent utilization in a call center is a critical metric that measures how effectively agents are occupied with their tasks. This KPI is directly tied to other critical indicators such as attrition, adherence, and staffing levels.
Agents’ roles are to make use of most of their working time, which indicates a high agent utilization rate that, in turn, increases customer satisfaction. On the other hand, too high a utilization rate leads to agent burnout.
So, the rate has to be moderate to help assess resources efficiently. But for that, you need to know the fundamentals of the call center agent utilization with formulas to calculate the ratio and monitor agent performance accordingly.
Here are the basics we will cover of agent utilization key metrics that will guide you on how to,
- Calculate agent utilization rate.
- Importance of agent utilization in a call center.
- What ratio should your business maintain?
- With the tips on how to increase the efficiency.
How Do You Calculate Agent Utilization Rates?
Agent utilization is an important indicator that lets businesses calculate agents’ work hours and the ratio of how much they stick to their schedule.
Here is a simple formula that measures agent utilization rate. For that, you need data about agents’ assigned working hours and the time they spend on taking calls or other work-related tasks.
Example: In a 9-hour shift, a rep typically gets 1 hour of break, then they need to work 8 hours a day. If they work for about 5 hours handling calls, selling products, or others, then the utilization rate would be 62.5%.
The Metric’s Importance And Impact
Call center services heavily rely on several key metrics to track the company’s performance and determine areas for improvement. Agent utilization is one of those crucial indicators and has a significant impact on other KPIs, too, such as,
- Agent attrition rate
- Call center adherence rate
- Staffing level
- Absenteeism rate
- Call center forecasting and so on.
Agent utilization can impact all these metrics, and the whole call center’s growth depends on these.
A high utilization rate means employees work extremely hard without any break or disruption. This may seem good, but it can turn into a high attrition rate that is agents’ burnout with low morale and higher absenteeism.
Thus, the operational expense will increase, and there will be an understaffing problem with less qualified agents.
Again, agent utilization can also be affected due to poor schedule adherence and overstaffing.
With improper schedules, agents may miss calls, or due to overstaffing, there may not be enough calls for all agents. The result is a poor or low utilization rate.
Why Call Center Agent Utilization Matters?
Call center agent utilization matters most to make optimal decisions on reps’ working schedule, how it affects the growth, and how to move ahead.
Managers can better handle the company’s operations by aligning workload with the availability of agents. They may set a goal that the agent needs to fulfill, thus improving productivity.
The managers also can arrange training sessions to polish employees’ skills. They can find out which employees need training and who do not. Specifically, tracking SLAs (Service Level Agreements) will be easier.
To properly allocate resources, the agent utilization formula is a must. Agents can handle tasks where needed, or the right skilled agent can work in the right place. By this, customers can get better service and tend to stick with the company.
Lastly, high agent usage indicates that the cost per call is cheap because agents use their most time. On the contrary, low agent usage or utilization signifies a high cost per call.
So, overall, in resolving all of these issues and enhancing better customer experience with appropriate stuffing, agent utilization only plays a significant role.
How To Set Realistic Call Center Agent Utilization?
It’s essential to strike a balance between optimizing efficiency and maintaining a healthy work environment for call center agents. To do so, consider some realistic criteria.
Analyze Historical Data
The process should start by analyzing all historical data. This includes call volume, missed calls, call abandoned rate, waiting time, call handling time, and many more. This will give insight into the peak call times, seasonal trends, changes in customer preferences, or their engagement rate.
Monitor how well agents adhere to their assigned shifts, breaks, and lunches. Agent adherence to their schedules is crucial.
Distribute workloads evenly among agents. Avoid overloading some agents while others have light workloads. This balance helps maintain efficiency.
Allow for flexible scheduling to adapt to fluctuations in call volume. Have a plan for handling unexpected spikes in call traffic. Also, let workers take paid leave or work from home.
Moreover, agent utilization may vary with shifts; for example, night shifts tend to receive fewer calls than day shifts. So, do not push your employees unnecessarily.
Be realistic about the schedules; otherwise, it can lead to burnout and affect performance.
Inbound Or Outbound Calls
Call types that can be either inbound or outbound can show different results in agent utilization.
Through outbound calls, agents proactively reach the audience where they try to give the service. In doing so, customers may not always engage in interactive conversation; hence, the call timing is less.
But the opposite is true with inbound calls because the customers themselves reach the company. They may have many queries or want to know more about the service. So, the conversation becomes more engaging, and call hours become more.
So, according to your service, the utilization measurement will vary.
Call Center Type
Call center type is another important factor. The reason is quite simple.
Those owning a call center that gives technical service or support spend more time on calls with customers. They need to hear customers’ issues and then help them to resolve problems. Sometimes, they may need to fix appointments, too.
On the other hand, sales companies selling services or products require less time in calls compared to customer service centers. They just need to hook the customer, and the rest of the work will be done quickly.
What Is A Good Utilization Rate For A Call Center?
We have shown you why a very high utilization rate is not suitable for any company. Primarily, it may seem that the company is growing or the productivity is increasing. But this is also an indicator of employees burning out.
A high utilization rate, such as more than 80%, means agents are working continuously, taking minimal breaks. As a result, it becomes frustrating, irritating, and disturbing for them after a while. With a strict work environment, it affects employees’ minds. Even if they are working for hours, it may not show any positive results.
Whereas when the rate becomes 20% or less, it indicates there are not sufficient workers or the existing workers are not spending adequate time in their work.
For most call centers, the average utilization rate is 48%, but generally, it ranges from 22% to 76%. The aim should be 75% to 85% if you want a prominent agent utilization rate.
How To Increase Call Center Agent Utilization Rates?
The growth of call centers mostly depends on agents’ performance and managers’ capability to handle the employees. This means there is no room to sit idle; instead, adapt ways to increase call center utilization rates.
All you need to do is make changes or improve some criteria in the context of your call center.
Implement Call Center Software
The first thing is coping with cutting-edge technology and implementing automation. There is now a lot of software and tools available that free up agents to handle more complex tasks.
These software or tools help keep track of call lists, other data, appointment schedules, gathering information about customers, and much more.
The two most essential tools that can help best with agent utilization are auto dialer and CRM software.
Especially in outbound call centers where reps need to reach thousands of customers, manual dialing can be the most frustrating task. But with an auto dialer system, it automatically dials outgoing calls. Hence, agents’ idle time is much reduced, and they can reach more clients.
Integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems with call center software to streamline information access and reduce duplicate data entry has become inevitable. For a smooth transition in work, CRM is a must.
Implement Customer Self-Service System
Develop a self-service system where customers can perform simple tasks like updating their contact information, making a purchase, paying bills, and others. There are IVR systems available that reduce the number of calls handled by agents.
An IVR system can serve in many ways,
- Provide responses to simple questions
- Route callers to the appropriate agent
- Enable callers to schedule a callback
- Move callers to another channel
Skill-Based Routing And In-Depth Knowledge Of The Assigned Task
Implement skill-based routing to connect customers with the most qualified agents for their specific needs. By doing this, agents can better tackle specific issues with their ability in that field. As they are experts, they can address and solve customer pain points quickly. Also, this reduces customer waiting time while transferring the call and reduces average call handle time.
To successfully do so, provide agents access to the internal information and give them content that highlights service-related info, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, etc.
Optimized Agent Training
Training sessions are essential for polishing employees’ skills so they may better utilize their experience. Managers can arrange for sessional skill development training by evaluating real-time call recordings, call monitoring, or speech analytics software tools.
By continuously training agents it enriches their skills and product knowledge. Indeed, well-trained agents are more efficient in handling calls.
Monitor Agent Performance And Provide Feedback
Here, the managers’ workload may rise as they need to track metrics like Average Handle Time, First Call Resolution (FCR) Rate, Call Transfer Rate, Call Abandonment Rate, Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Service Level Agreement (SLA) also take feedbacks.
Statistics show that 89% of HR leaders feel that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are critical for success.
After monitoring employees’ performance, managers or owners can give feedback or advice. This will motivate the agents and let them know what they are lacking. Even employees can give each other feedback and help to grow.
Engagement And Motivation
Create a positive work environment with clear career paths and incentives for high performance.
Also, recognize and reward agents for their achievements to boost motivation.
Over time, the employer and employee relationship will become strong, which will surely help increase the agent utilization rate.
What is the difference Between Occupancy and Utilization in a Call Center?
Most of the people raise a confusion between occupancy and utilization. Both are metrics used in call centers to measure the effectiveness of their operations. However, they focus on different aspects of call center performance.
Occupancy is a measurement of how busy call center agents stay during a specific period. It represents the percentage of time agents spend actively handling their tasks. These may include customer interactions, including talking to customers, sending emails, or performing tasks directly related to their job.
Utilization is a broader topic that refers to how effectively resources are used to meet customer demands. It considers not only the time agents spend on customer interactions but also their availability for work.
We know that creating confusion is very typical as these terms have almost similar meanings with some slight differences. For business growth, both of the KPIs are equally important, and you need to focus on both.
With a high agent utilization rate, companies can know about their proper resource allocation, that is, agents’ productivity. The more dedication agents show toward their work, the more satisfied customers become.
So, by calculating utilization, tracking the data, and following the steps to increase the rate, companies will surely experience the most growth in their call centers.