What is Agent Utilization?
Agent utilization is a metric that measures the ratio of an agent's productive time to their total work capacity. While similar, it is important to distinguish it from agent occupancy, which tracks the time spent exclusively on call-related activities.
In contrast, agent utilization provides a broader perspective, encapsulating actual work hours and overall performance. It includes not only time spent on calls but also after-call work, preparation, and any additional tasks contributing to a call center's objectives.
How to Calculate Agent Utilization
Calculating agent utilization requires an understanding of two vital components: the total time agents spend on calls and other productive activities, and the total work hours logged in. The agent utilization percentage can be calculated using the following formula:
(Total Time on Calls and Productive Activities/Total Logged-in Hours) x 100
Understanding and Leveraging Agent Utilization Rates
Agent utilization rates serve as a crucial key performance indicator (KPI) within a call center, offering invaluable insights into the overall productivity and efficiency of your operations. It paints a comprehensive picture of an agent's workday, encompassing not just their time spent on calls but also their engagement with other productive tasks like after-call work, administrative duties, and preparation for calls.
Recognizing the importance of agent utilization rates can significantly enhance the operational efficiency of a call center. Here's why understanding these rates is essential and how employers can leverage this insight:
By keeping a close eye on agent utilization rates, employers can gauge the efficiency of their operations. High utilization rates may indicate that agents are efficiently occupied and the center is making good use of its resources. However, exceedingly high rates could imply overworked agents, potentially leading to burnout and reduced service quality. Thus, understanding this balance is vital.
If utilization rates suggest that certain processes or tasks are taking longer than they should, investigate and improve these processes to enhance overall efficiency.
Knowing agent utilization rates can aid in effective workload management. If rates are low, it may mean that agents are idle or not efficiently occupied, signaling a need to revisit workload distribution. On the other hand, consistently high rates might suggest that agents are overloaded, and additional staffing or workload redistribution is necessary.
Use utilization rates to balance workloads and ensure that all agents are effectively engaged without being overworked.
Agent utilization rates can influence staffing decisions. High utilization might indicate a need for additional staff, especially during peak times, while low utilization could suggest overstaffing or inefficiencies in scheduling.
By understanding when agents are most and least productive, employers can optimize scheduling to ensure service levels are met during peak times and that agents are effectively utilized during quieter periods.
Training and Development:
By analyzing tasks contributing to agent utilization, employers can identify areas where agents might need further training or skill development. For instance, if after-call work takes up a significant portion of an agent's time, additional training on efficient documentation or use of tools might be beneficial.
Performance Assessment and Improvement:
Tracking agent utilization can highlight performance issues and help identify agents who may need additional support or coaching. It can also provide insights into process inefficiencies that could be addressed to improve overall performance.
Setting Realistic Agent Utilization Goals
Establishing feasible agent utilization goals is not a one-size-fits-all process. It necessitates a detailed understanding of the unique attributes of your call center, from the nature of the calls it handles to the specific business sector it operates in.
Call Nature: Whether your call center is handling inbound calls, outbound calls, or both significantly shapes the agent utilization equation. Inbound calls can be more unpredictable in terms of volume and duration, requiring a different approach to utilization planning compared to the typically more controllable pace of outbound calls. A blend of both types might require a more flexible approach, with goals adaptable to changing call patterns and volumes.
Business Sector: The industry your business operates in directly influences utilization expectations. For example, a tech support call center might anticipate long, complex calls requiring high problem-solving skills and lower utilization rates. On the other hand, a telemarketing operation might strive for higher utilization rates, with agents making rapid, scripted calls. Understanding these sector-specific nuances is vital when setting realistic utilization goals.
Call Center Size: The size of your call center also affects utilization benchmarks. A large-scale call center dealing with high volumes of contacts might require agents to be on calls for the majority of their shift, driving higher utilization targets. In contrast, a smaller operation handling fewer contacts might afford more flexibility, allowing for lower utilization rates while agents perform other tasks like training or team meetings.
Assigned Shifts: An agent's shift can have a tangible influence on their utilization rate. Daytime shifts, which typically encounter higher call volumes, might command higher utilization rates, while night shifts might witness lower call volumes, implying different dynamics and expectations. Understanding the unique challenges and opportunities presented by different shift timings is critical to setting balanced utilization goals.
In summary, setting agent utilization goals is a nuanced process requiring careful consideration of several variables. It's about finding that sweet spot where your agents are efficiently utilized but not overworked, ensuring optimal customer service while maintaining agent morale and performance.
Increasing Agent Utilization Using Visual Assistance Tools
Visual call center quality monitoring software can substantially improve agent utilization. They simplify complex tasks, reducing After Call Work (ACW) and training times, thus contributing to increased productivity. These tools also empower newer agents, facilitating their knowledge base searches and speeding up their learning curve. Moreover, they provide agents with a clearer understanding of customer problems, enabling quicker and more effective resolution of complex issues.
Here are some examples:
TechSee is an innovative visual assistance tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to facilitate real-time, interactive visual communication between customers and support agents. Through live video streaming, customers can show their issues directly to the agent, enabling faster and more accurate problem identification. TechSee also provides AR annotations that agents can use to guide customers through the resolution process, reducing after-call work and training times.
Glance offers a suite of visual engagement tools that empower customer service agents. Its features include co-browsing, screen sharing, and agent video, all designed to enhance communication and understanding between the customer and agent. The co-browsing feature allows agents to simultaneously navigate a webpage with the customer without any downloads or installations, enabling faster resolution of complex issues.
Rescue Lens by LogMeIn
Rescue Lens offers video-assisted support that enables customer service agents to see and diagnose issues as if they were there in person. Customers can use their smartphone camera to show the problem to the agent. The tool also includes features like high-definition video streaming, photo capture, and on-screen drawing, allowing agents to provide step-by-step guidance to resolve issues, reducing after-call work and accelerating resolution times.
Beyond visual assistance tools, several other technological aids can significantly enhance agent utilization:
Predictive Dialer: This tool automates the process of making outbound calls. It dials numbers based on agent availability and factors like the likelihood of the customer answering, reducing wait time between calls and increasing productive time.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A CRM system centralizes customer information, providing agents with a comprehensive view of customer history. This enhanced understanding of the customer can reduce call times and improve service.
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD): An ACD efficiently allocates inbound calls based on agent availability and expertise, ensuring that no agent is overwhelmed or idle for extended periods.
Leveraging Insightful for Enhanced Agent Performance Management
Insightful is an advanced productivity and performance management wfh online solution that can play a key role in optimizing agent utilization. It enables real-time tracking of agent work hours, productivity metrics, and provides actionable insights for performance enhancement. With Insightful, managers can monitor agent activities, generate detailed reports, and manage potential distractions, contributing to an overall increase in productivity and agent utilization.
Monitoring and optimizing agent utilization is a central component of successful call center operations. Whether it's setting realistic utilization goals or leveraging technology like visual assistance tools and management software like Insightful, several strategies can significantly boost agent utilization rates. The key is not to stretch your agents thin but to foster an environment that promotes efficiency, productivity, and a balanced workload.