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Call center staffing tools

In this tip, Lori Bocklund provides advice on using Erlang models and other call center staffing tools, from low-cost to sophisticated software.

Is there a standard call center staffing formula or a way to figure out how many full-time call center agents are...

required online for any given call center?

Erlang computation is at the heart of call center staffing -- determining the right number of employees for any given call center. The inputs you need are call volume, average handle time and wrap-up time, and target service level. Then, using Erlang tools, you can calculate the number of call center agents needed to handle the offered workload while meeting your performance targets. That will tell you number of "butts in seats" for any given interval. Then you need to roster up to account for resources that won't be available for calls because they are on break, at lunch, in training, out sick, or otherwise unavailable. Your scheduled call center staff will be higher than the calculated number of people that need to be logged in and on calls, in wrap-up or available.

There are many tools to help you with call center staffing – from "freebies" on the Internet, to basic tools that cost hundreds of dollars, to full-blown workforce management systems that can run tens of thousands of dollars and up. Depending on your call center's size, hours of operation, variability, shifts, and flexibility, you should be able to find a tool that helps at the right price.

My consultancy, Strategic Contact, offers a list of call center staffing resources on our Web site, including some of the more sophisticated tools.

For a some really low-cost tools to help you understand the concepts, try the ICMI QueueView or the KoolToolz CCModeler.

Editor's Note: For more help staffing your call center, browse the top 10 buzzwords on call center scheduling and call center staffing.

 

This was last published in December 2006

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