The hosted interactive voice response (IVR) solutions make it easier for call centers to manage the surge in inbound call volume by providing customers with self-service options. The self-service options enable callers to collect information, accomplish route tasks, and resolve customer service issues on their own without talking to live agents.
However, several market research surveys suggest that a large percentage of customers still prefer agent-based support to self-service options.
According to a report released by Usabilla, “More than half of customers (55%) prefer talking to a human on the phone.” Hence, no call center can boost customer experience and meet customer expectations without measuring and improving the efficiency of agents using a variety of metrics.
As widely used key performance indicator (KPI), call center occupancy rate helps decision-makers to boost customer service experience by setting and maintaining appropriate staff level.
The managers calculate the occupancy call center KPI by dividing workload hours by work hours. The percentage helps managers to deliver customer service and run outbound call campaigns by setting and adjusting staffing levels.
However, the managers must not use the call center occupancy rate as the only metric for measuring agent productivity. They need to focus on maintaining a good occupancy rate continuously instead of maximizing call center occupancy.
Calculating Call Center Occupancy Rate
While measuring the occupancy rate for a call center, the decision-makers must keep in mind both work time and logged-in time. The term work time or handling time refers to the amount of time an agent spends on managing incoming calls.
Hence, work time includes talk time, hold time, wrap-up time, and after-call work time. On the other hand, total logged-in time depicts the average amount of time an agent spends on activities and managing inbound/outbound calls.
The managers collect call data from various sources to ascertain the percentage of logged-in time agents spend on managing inbound/outbound calls.
They further use call center occupancy as a robust tool to ensure agent availability and accelerate customer service delivery. However, it is also important for managers to keep in mind the ideal occupancy rate for the call center.
Determining The Right Call Center Occupancy Rates
While calculating the call center occupancy KPI, the managers must remember that there is no commonly accepted industry standard. The occupancy rate keeps changing from time-to-time based on a slew of factors.
The managers must keep in mind the amount of workload and service level agreement. Hence, they need to set and adjust staffing levels according to changing occupancy rates.
It is always important for the managers to set the call center occupancy rate between 85% – 90% to improve both agent productivity as well as a customer service experience. However, the managers must remember that call center occupancy maximization will make agents experience stress and feel demotivated. Also, they cannot optimize agent productivity simply by keeping call center occupancy rate high.
Instead of setting higher occupancy rates, they need to emphasize on maintaining a good occupancy rate over a period of time. They must keep in place a strategy to maintain the staffing level required to boost customer service delivery without affecting customer service quality and increasing agent turnover rate.
Maintaining A Good Call Center Occupancy Rate
1. Reduce Staffing Levels
The managers can easily boost call center occupancy by reducing the staffing level. The hosted IVR solutions enable call centers to make agents handle a lesser number of calls by providing customers with self-service options.
A call center can further reduce incoming call volume by providing self-service facilities through digital communication channels. The decline in incoming call volume will help call centers to maintain higher occupancy rates.
2. Monitor Call Volume At Different Times
The incoming call volume fluctuates throughout the day. The agents need to manage more calls during peak hours and a lesser number of calls during quiet hours. The manager can easily maintain a good occupancy rate by monitoring call volumes across hours and days.
The monitoring will help the manager to decide the appropriate staffing level for both busy and quiet periods. He can increase the occupancy rate by deploying additional agents during peak periods and making agents multitask during a quiet period.
3. Launch Cross Training Programs
Unlike inbound and outbound agents, blended agents help call centers to improve the occupancy rate by handling both inbound and outbound calls.
But a call center cannot make the same agent handle both inbound and outbound calls efficiently without launching cross-training programs. The cross-training programs will prepare the agents to handle more calls and perform multiple tasks during quiet hours.
4. Consider Deploying Remote Agents
The cloud-based inbound and outbound call center tools enable businesses to communicate with customers seamlessly in a distributed and virtual work environment. The businesses can use a hosted IVR system or cloud-based auto dialer to boost call center occupancy rates by deploying remote or work-from-home agents on demand.
The call center can manage a surge in incoming call volume by deploying additional remote agents. Likewise, you can reduce the number of remote agents during a quiet period.
5. Outsource Call Center Operations Partially
Often call centers find it challenging to predict call volume and set staffing levels accurately. Many businesses accelerate customer service delivery and reduce customer service costs by outsourcing call center operations fully.
The option enables them to manage the surge in incoming call volume and run large-scale outbound call campaigns by availing outsourced resources on demand.
No call center can boost agent productivity and meet customer expectations without maintaining a good occupancy rate. But there is no widely accepted standard for call center occupancy rate. Also, the occupancy call center KPI differs based on a slew of factors.
A call center must focus on maintaining a good occupancy rate instead of setting a higher occupancy rate. The strategy will help it to boost agent productivity and customer experience without impacting customer service quality adversely.