Call Center Management – Occupancy, the Call Center Killer

In the call centre management series today we’re going to talk about occupancy so occupancy is also known as utilization I think the terms are interchangeable as a measure of how busy your agents are in a specific given period of time.

So for this session let’s just take an hour as that given period of time for our discussion today so here’s a nice little graphic of what I’ve tried to do in the top serve pie.

Here is represent Sally the call centre agent her time in that hour so in an hour she is going to be talking with customers.

She’s going to have time that’s spent on hold and then she’s also going to have time spent in call wrap or after call work and that’s divided by her talk time her whole time her call wrap plus the time that she was idle in that hour-plus any time that she might have spent in an ox code or in a different state and then any other time that represents her hour.

So if Sally spent 50 minutes talking on call hold or call wrap in the sixty-minute period her occupancy would be eighty-three point three per cent so what’s ideal occupancy in the industry.

I think you’ll see between 80 and 85 per cent but there is no single right answer it really is specific to your particular company your policies your procedures your scheduling how your company wants to run the call centre but it’s an ideal it is here 80 to 85 per cent now.

If we talk about factors that drive higher occupancy let’s say over that eighty-five per cent here are some of the things that you need to look for that are probably driving higher than expected occupancy so first and foremost you’re going to have a higher call volume than you planned.

Hopefully, you’re looking at week over a week looking at us in a weird call volume is by higher on Mondays lower on Fridays so if you have a good plan and then your call volume comes higher than that plan then that’s going to drive higher occupancy within your organization.

You may have some poor interval staffing within the week or within the day and that means you’ve got a typical call spike coming in at let’s say nine o’clock in the morning you may not have enough staff to handle that spike so that’s going to drive higher occupancy in that period of time.

Overall bad staffing schedules your staff are not aligned with call arrival patterns that are going to create higher occupancy and of course, if you plan for an average handle time I’d say of 300 seconds or five minutes and your agents are handling calls at 360 seconds or six minutes then that’s going to drive a higher or higher occupancy.

Because they’re just busy doing other stuff than what you expected so what are the concerns with high occupancy first and foremost high stress for the agents so if they’re taking call after call after call after call you know they’re going to get stressed and as a result here’s a couple of things that happen average talk times tend to go up in high occupancy situations that’s because agents know that as soon as they hang up they’re going to be talking to another customer.

They’re going to have to go through you know pseudo conversations about whole times or why the customers have been waiting so long so if they’re talking with a customer they like they tend to go to stay on that phone call a little bit longer call quality start to decrease because they’re you know they’re getting stressed they’re not going to abide by all the different policies procedures that you may have when it comes to calling quality.

So you’re going to start to see some of that erode then over a longer period of time you’re going to see a Jena patrician go up so agents are going to say you know what man I’m out of here this is just you know it’s just too crazy it’s too busy you know you never get a break you never get a chance to you know to go to the bathroom get a drink of water whatever the case might be so you’re going to see agents at RIT out of your organization and as a result of all of that service levels.

Our 10th is probably going to go down because calls are holding agents are stressed or taking longer and your overall service levels are going to decrease as a result now flip that coin over and let’s talk about low occupancy there are some concerns with low occupancy again.

So let’s take you to know 50% occupancy which means an agent is working 30 minutes of every 60 minutes in an hour that means the cost to run your call centre is significantly higher than it should be at an 80 to 85 per cent level so that’s going to impact overall conversations when it comes to budgeting time and then agents are going to get bored you know they tend to do want to do work and sitting there for 30 minutes of every hour.

They’re going to get bored but how you can solve that is that’s an ideal opportunity for coaching or training of agents so when you get into those high occupancy situations make sure that they’re better trained they’re better equipped with tools processes to help them through those situations and that’s our session on occupancy hopefully some of this has helped

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