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Understanding call center occupancy vs. call center adherence

Our expert Lori Bocklund explains what’s important about call center occupancy and call center adherence, and how and why both metrics are vital to the operation of any call center.

Of call center occupancy and adherence, which of the two should be measured? 

Both call center occupancy and adherence are important call center metrics to determine correct staffing and performance. They reflect different things about performance and resource management and involve the agents’ behavior for adherence and the effectiveness of your workforce planning processes (forecasting and scheduling, adjusting to real-time events) for occupancy.

Call center occupancy, or agent utilization, is a group metric which indicates the overall amount of time agents signed into a queue are either on the telephone or in after call work. An 80 percent occupancy rate (OCC) would indicate that 80 percent of the time signed-on agents are busy, and 20 percent of the time they are available waiting for a call. You want to monitor call center occupancy because if it’s consistently too high, you risk burnout. If it runs too low, you are overstaffed and incurring unnecessary costs.

Call center adherence can be viewed on an individual and group basis and is a reflection of the amount of time an agent actually adhered to or followed their schedule. Most centers will allow a small deviation from adherence to account for the randomness of call arrivals and variability in handle times – you don’t want agents cutting a call short just to get to break on time. Some centers monitor call center adherence in real-time while others only look at it on a historical basis. In either case, significant deviations from adherence goals point to the need for some coaching.

Both occupancy and adherence are important for monitoring and managing your center’s performance.

This was last published in October 2009

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