Occupancy vs. Utilization in Call Centers

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Occupancy vs. Utilization in Call Centers

Call centers use a variety of different metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track overall customer satisfaction rates and improve their operations. Occupancy vs. utilization in call centers are two terms that are consistently used interchangeably. Although they work in conjunction with one another, they’re two completely different concepts that just happen to share a lot of the same similarities. Keep reading to get a better understanding of the difference between occupancy and utilization, how these two metrics are calculated, and what they mean for your organization.

What Is Occupancy in a Call Center?

Occupancy in a call center signals the amount of time a representative or agent spends logged in and actively engaged in call-related activities. This is also referred to as “productive time”. It includes the following:

  • Time spent talking on the phone with customers/clients
  • Time spent on hold
  • And call wrap up time (the time it takes to complete call-related tasks such as making notes on an account, system updates, completing forms, etc.)

The average amount of time it takes to fully wrap up a call from the moment agents hang up the phone with a customer is about six minutes. But this can vary depending on the nature of the call and the amount of work or attention the account requires.

Most call centers boast an average total occupancy percentage that ranges from 80% to 85%. This is an ideal standard to aim for because it indicates that your company is making excellent use of your resource planning assets. It also ensures that your employees are working at a reasonably productive rate without resulting in agent burnout.

How to Calculate Occupancy Rates in Call Centers

Contrary to what you might think, occupancy rates in call centers shouldn’t be confused with office space occupancy as these are two completely different concepts.

Ultimately, every company must identify their own ideal occupancy rate based on industry-specific metrics and scenarios. It’s inevitable that more complex calls and customer situations may take a longer time to resolve than relatively simple and common situations. Certain outliers such as working to save or retain an important account take up more time than simply signing up a willing customer for a subscription service. Hence, the former can skew a call center’s occupancy percentages, especially if they’re measured on a daily basis.

The following formula is used to calculate the average call center occupancy rate:

Divide the total amount of time representatives spend on a call by the total time they’re logged in and ready to take calls at work.

For example, if an agent is logged in for one hour (60 minutes) and they spend 51 of those minutes engaging in a call or call-related activity then their average occupancy would be a comfortable 85%.

This gives the agent enough time to understand the customer’s inquiry or problem, offer a suitable resolution, and complete all tasks related to the account.

The numerical equation looks like this: 51 (the amount of time spent on the call) ÷ 60 (the total amount of time logged in) = 0.85 x 100 = 85%.

Why Is Call Center Occupancy Important?

Call center occupancy is an important metric to track because it indicates the productivity rate of your agents both individually and as a whole throughout the workday. A call center’s occupancy rate gives prospective clients an idea of the actual amount of time your agents are spending physically working as opposed to simply being logged in to work.

It’s important to note that shrinkage or time spent working on back-end operations while being logged off of the phone lines isn’t included in the occupancy percentage. Occupancy strictly pertains to the amount of time agents are actively logged in and working on call-related activities during their shift. That means if an agent is scheduled to work an eight-hour shift, but only spends five of those hours logged in and taking calls, the remaining three hours are omitted when calculating their individual occupancy percentage.

What Is Utilization in a Call Center?

Although call center occupancy and utilization are related and work in conjunction with one another, they’re entirely different metrics that are used to track call center KPIs. Call center utilization represents the total time that agents spend completing a variety of work-related tasks while on the clock. This includes, but isn’t exclusive to, engaging with customers on the phone, completing call-related tasks, and working on back-end operations. Tasks that are included in call center utilization calculations include:

  • Attending training sessions
  • Participating in team meetings
  • Unplanned bathroom breaks
  • Downtime when there’s a lull in calls, whether the agent is logged in or not
  • Spending time assisting other departments
  • Working on additional company projects during free time

Simply put, call center utilization accounts for the total duration of an agent or representative’s shift. This includes the times when they’re both available and unavailable to handle customer phone calls or related matters. As long as the agent or representative is at the office and working, then this counts towards their utilization percentage. The only components that are omitted from utilization percentage calculations are scheduled lunch and short breaks.

How to Calculate Utilization

Like occupancy rates, there is a specific formula call centers employ to calculate utilization percentages. It includes the occupancy rate, which should be calculated according to the above-mentioned formula first. Using the eight-hour shift and five hour logged in example, the utilization equation would look something like this:

5 hours (total logged in time) ÷ 8 hours (total shift) = 0.625 x 100 = 62.5%

Hence, the utilization rate in this scenario is 62.5%, but this doesn’t only account for the amount of time the representative or agent spent helping customers and handling call-related tasks. It also doesn’t accounts for the total amount of time that the agent or representative spent working on back-end operations such as shrinkage or assisting other departments with their work. As a result, utilization percentage isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of total productivity at work and shouldn’t be used as such.

Why Is Utilization Important?

Utilization metrics indicate the percentage of time that representatives spend collectively performing various work-related tasks throughout their entire shift. In addition to helping customers, this also includes performing non-revenue generating back-office tasks that are required to reduce shrinkage, overhead costs, and increase overall productivity in the workplace.

Occupancy and Utilization Work Hand in Hand

Implementing a combination of both occupancy and utilization concepts in call centers can help improve overall operations. Office managers can use these two metrics as tools to identify their most productive and efficient employees. This data can be used to enhance overall workplace productivity and make scheduling easier.

Call Center Services Provided by 3C Contact Services

3C Contact Services is one of the leading call centers in Toronto and the GTA. We offer a variety of integral customer services including live agent phone, email, and live chat services that help you grow your business. Contact us today to learn more.