What is Utilization?

In this post:

·   Why do Contact Centers Measure Utilization?

·   How to Calculate Occupancy

·   How does Utilization Differ from Occupancy?

·   Managing Utilization Rates

Utilization measures how much of an agent’s paid time is spent on the contact center floor, handling contacts and waiting for them to arrive.

If an advisor has a utilization rate of 75%, that means they spend three-quarters of their time attempting to assist with customer activity.

The remaining 25% of the time, the advisor takes part in shrinkage activities. These include paid breaks, restroom visits, and coaching sessions. Lateness is another classic example.  

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Why do Contact Centers Measure Utilization?

Typically, there are two reasons why contact centers calculate utilization:

1. To manage costs and make sure advisors spend the majority of their paid time doing their primary job.  

2. To inform shrinkage calculations, which are crucial for effective scheduling.

As such, the metric is a crucial consideration for the planning team. Many will even set targets as they create schedules to drive efficiency and optimize costs.

Many contact centers may also consider utilization an indicator of agent productivity. However, this is a little contentious, as the planning team impacts utilization rates much more agents. After all, it is not the agent who designs their schedule.

How to Calculate Utilization

Calculate schedule adherence with this simple equation:

call center utilization

To highlight how this formula works, consider the following four-hour (240 minutes) shift.

call center utilization

While the contact center pays the agent for 240 minutes of work, they only spend 180 minutes (120+60) logged-in, waiting for contacts, and then answering them.

Plugging these two figures into the equation above, the contact center may calculate utilization as follows:

 (180 minutes / 240 minutes) x 100 = 75%.

Contact centers can source the data to enter into the equation from the ACD system. Many will, however, calculate utilization rates for individual agents and teams automatically.

How does Utilization Differ from Occupancy?

Many call center leaders confuse utilization for occupancy. However, they are two separate metrics.

Occupancy only considers logged-in time. It calculates the percentage of time an advisor spends handling customer queries while logged in.

“Handling customer queries”, includes talk time, hold time, and wrap-up time.

Typically, occupancy rates tend to fall between 80-85%. If rates go higher, the recuperation time agents have between calls gets shorter. Agent burnout then becomes much more likely.

While utilization rates also typically fall between the 80-85% range, that is where the similarities end.

Managing Utilization Rates

Managing utilization is all about finding the right balance. Push utilization too high, and the agent role becomes repetitive and monotonous, while performance is unlikely to improve. Push it too low, and costs become unmanageable.

Finding the sweet spot is critical. Assess the impact of internal shrinkage activities on agent performance. Then, consider how often they should occur, keeping costs in mind.

After doing so, planners can set a reasonable target for utilization.

Of course, leaders may also try to maximize utilization rates by curbing lateness and ensuring agents do not abuse paid breaks. Yet, schedule adherence is a better measure to monitor such behaviors.  

Eager to track utilization rates, alongside other contact center metrics, in one convenient location? Our cloud reporting tools provide the perfect solution.

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