What is Occupancy in a Call Center?

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Occupancy in contact centers and call centers is important. Call centers use many metrics to evaluate and improve on their services, and one of those is occupancy rate. By looking at occupancy rate, call centers can help determine how busy their agents are, whether their call center is overstaffed or understaffed, and the effectiveness of their service.

Both high and low occupancy rates can be problematic. Call centers aim to have an agent occupancy rate that is between 85 and 95 percent, to provide the best service. These are the most typical call center occupancy rate standards.

Occupancy in a Call Center

What does occupancy refer to in a call center environment? To put it in simpler terms, occupancy refers to the percentage of the time that agents spend dealing directly with customers and waiting for calls.

Occupancy rate is the amount of time that a call center agent is occupied with callers. For instance, if a call center agent has an occupancy rate of 85 percent, that means they were speaking and dealing with customers for 85 percent of their time. For the remaining 15 percent of their time, they were free to take calls. So, in other words, occupancy rate refers to the time an agent spends on calls versus the time spent between calls.

If an occupancy rate is too low, that means that a call center agent is not working for a lot of the time. This could be due to overstaffing, low volume of calls, or poor management. However, if an occupancy rate is too high, say 100 percent, that means that the agent has no time between calls, which can lead to them being overworked, stressed out, and not having time for other tasks.

How to Calculate Occupancy in a Call Center?

Call centers use an occupancy rate formula calculation to determine their agents’ occupancy rates. The most obvious call center occupancy formula would be to divide the time an agent spends on calls by all of their available working time. For instance, if an agent spent 54 minutes on calls during one hour (aka 60 minutes) of work, they would have an occupancy rate of 90 percent (54/60 = 90%).

However, this call center agent occupancy formula can be flawed, since it doesn’t take into account the time agents spend on other workplace tasks and responsibilities. For instance, a call center agent may have to send emails to their managers, attend meetings, and performing other auxiliary duties.

Call Center Agent Occupancy Formula

A better call center occupancy calculation takes into account the time that agents spent on auxiliary or non-call tasks. This formula would look like:

Handle Time/Available Time – Auxiliary Time

The formula takes into account the amount of time spent on other tasks. Handle time refers to time spent on the phone (speaking with customers, on hold, or wrapping up a call), while auxiliary time refers to the time spent on non-call tasks.

For instance, if an agent has a handle time of 80 minutes during a 110 minute period, but 10 minutes of that time were used for a team meeting, they have an occupancy rate of 80 percent (80/110 – 10 = 80%).

There are various different occupancy rate call center formulas that can be used, each taking into account different metrics and considerations. Some call centers use logged-in time as a metric as opposed to handle time. Whatever formula is used, it’s important that call centers are able to determine occupancy rates so they can improve on their service.

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Related: Occupancy Vs. Utilization In Call Centers