Q

How can our call center balance call volume and off-phone requests?

In this call center metric tip, read advice on how to manage agents to balance call volume and other call center requests.

I am a call center manager for a group of 20 agents who are skilled to handle phone calls, but those calls only account for about 25% of our volume. When the agents are not on phone calls, they process off-phone requests (75% of our volume).

Our staffing model currently splits the workload so that two utilization numbers are used -- a very low number (29%) for phone volume, and a very high number (150%+) for OLCS volume. This does not seem accurate to me. Do you have specific examples of how to calculate utilization with different workloads (phone and off-phone work)? We basically operate under the assumption that if an employee is not on a call, they should be doing off-phone...

work.

I'm not sure your scenario for call center staffing makes sense to me, either. Utilization of over 100% for any type of work requires some pretty good multitasking! When call center agents have a lot of non-phone work, we've seen different models – some call centers will try to weave it in between calls, and others will schedule time on the phones, allowing people to focus on non-phone work other times of the day. The former results in better phone service levels and availability, but can result in frustration for call center agents who want to have focused time to get their other work done (especially if it non-phone work is the majority of their workload).

As a call center manager with a small group of 20, it is hard to schedule the off-phone work and still have enough people on the phones to deliver a decent service level while still having good utilization. Depending on the nature of your off-phone time, you may be able to do a hybrid – schedule non-phone time part of the day, and weave some of the smaller and less demanding non-phone tasks in while waiting for calls. Ideally you want to avoid the purely interrupt driven approach, which is based on putting everyone on the phones and requiring them to weave in their other tasks when they don't have calls; this approach can result in inefficiency and errors.

This was first published in March 2007

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