Agent Occupancy Explained

Dover Forecasting
May 15, 2018 · 3 min read

Agent occupancy in contact centers can be difficult to calculate. Many service centers struggle to properly identify and measure it. Some that measure it don’t do it right, while still others that do don’t properly plan for it, or it’s effects. It always results in the same thing — lost revenue, unhappy employees, and/or exceedingly high workforce and overtime costs.

To start, let’s throw some industry facts out there and set a baseline. The average ‘target’ or ‘ideal’ occupancy level is usually listed as between 80% and 85%. Any more than that and, as industry practices say, you run into burnout. At the very top end of that (95%+) you are really pushing your agents, and the closer you get to 100% the more so wait times begin to rise and customers get angry and, ultimately, abandon. Not good.

On the other hand, low occupancy means more idle time, which could go either way in making your employees happy (less worked vs less engaged) but will only go one very bad way in balancing your workforce budgets.

Lower occupancy means you’re getting less return on your workforce investment, so it is critical to find the right balance.

How do we do that?

Well for starters, let’s understand Occupancy. Occupancy is a productivity measurement that indicates the utilization rates for your workers (agents), usually as a percentage of time in a given period. In short, it’s total agent work time / total available work time. Easy right?

The problem is, there are a very large number of permutations to accompany very large doses of subjectivity around what constitutes “work time” and “available work time”. Getting these right is key to understanding your occupancy levels and how the metric can work for you.

AVAILABLE TIME

Also referred to as logged in time, busy time, talk time, wrap time, and hold time. Can also include Not Ready/code times such as meetings, trainings, coaching, supervision, backoffice tasks, and other work time that may not be during a call or contact with a customer.

Herein lies the issue for many — if your agents are in a training or coaching session, are they really ‘occupied’? You’ll need to figure this out.

If you don’t have an understanding of the above question it can be difficult to establish an Occupancy goal.

OCCUPIED TIME

Also referred to as ‘busy time’, this may take a simple form of agent talk time + wrap up time, or it may take more complex forms when you start including some types of your working Not Ready times that are classified as ‘busy’, such as task, training, or coaching. It’s best to put some thought into this for this reason. Regardless of what you choose, it’s most often calculated by removing the Not Ready codes from both the Work Time and the Available work time.

Thus, the calculation is most often = Worked Time (on a call + wrapping one up) / Available Work Time (on a call + wrapping one up + or waiting for a call)

So What’s Best?

If you’re dividing time worked by time available to work (usually logged in time) that gives you at least a basic understanding of occupancy. You may benefit from two forms of occupancy — Original Occupancy vs Adjusted Occupancy — where Adjusted Occupancy removes events like time spent in Not Ready or offline states. As with any metric, simply using one is insufficient; a diverse cross-section of metrics and KPIs will help you understand how your operational performance much more comprehensively than just one.

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