What is Call Center Agent Utilization?

Call center agent utilization is the ratio of an agent’s productivity to their capacity. This workforce management metric is somewhat general and straightforward, and can provide important insight into the effectiveness of call center processes.

Agent utilization is not the same metric as agent occupancy, which is the percentage of time that agents are actively engaged in interaction handling activities compared to their total time logged in.

Call center agent utilization may be somewhat difficult to measure, because it takes into account other activities and time used beyond the calls themselves and after-call work. This can include unavailable time spent in team meetings, mandatory breaks, vacation or sick time, and other factors.

The actual calculation for call center agent utilization may vary from one call center to another, depending on the makeup of the business. Typically it will be a variation of this formula: The average amount of time spent handling inbound or outbound calls per month, in minutes, divided by the sum of time the agent spends handling interactions and waiting for contacts to arrive (or another predetermined time period, in minutes).

Call center software usually will help track each agent’s utilization by the necessary metrics. Management will need to provide additional details outside the call handling functions, such as scheduled shifts or hours, but most call center software enables agents to provide their individual details for time spent logged off, and will automatically track time spent on calls or engaged in after call work.

Tracking agent utilization helps a call center in a variety of ways. Understanding the percentage of productive time spent at work, alongside measurable results, can lead to productivity improvements and helps ensure agent efficiency, while avoiding overtaxing agents. Making sure agent productivity is measured based on reasonable expectations will help keep agents happy, which will often in turn help increase customer satisfaction as well.

Managers can also monitor this metric to spot potential future call center agent problems. With call center agent utilization, a higher percentage is viewed as better, because low utilization indicates that your cost per agent-assisted contact is higher. However, too high a percentage may lead to agent burnout and increase agent turnover, which is detrimental to the overall productivity and costs of a call center.

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