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How is call center agent utilization calculated?

How is the call center agent percentage rate of utilization calculated? What is the most effective way to use this metric?

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Utilization is the percentage of time call center agents are on calls or in after-call work, divided by the time they are logged in. Most automatic call distributors (ACDs) and workforce management systems will give you this number in reports. You should use this metric in workforce planning, and in assessing efficiency of the center. Keep in mind some of the key principles of call center operations that impact utilization:

 

  • Since customer service representatives (CSRs) cannot fully control their own occupancy, this metric is a "big picture" metric which provides a high level snap shot of how resources are being used. Inversely, it reflects how much time CSRs on average are "waiting" for a call. An 85% occupancy rate means that 15% of the CSR time is available and waiting for a call.
  • Occupancy is a key factor looked at in workforce management and planning. The workforce planner and managers/supervisors should be accountable for occupancy. They should also model it and the targets should be realistically set based on the volumes, handle times, and size and staffing level of the center.
  • Occupancy will be lower for smaller groups and higher for larger groups. If occupancy runs too high, too often, it can lead to "burn out" and turnover.

This was first published in January 2007

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