You’re only as good as your team. In this digital age, this adage may seem slightly antiquated, but the reality is that your team is more important than ever. Despite growing popularity of self-service, agents are relied on more than ever for complex or escalated issues. To maximize their success, it’s important to optimize their performance. In part, this means ensuring each agent is working the right number of hours per day, week and month. This is where an important contact center KPI comes into play – Agent days worked.
In most contact centers, there has been an explosion of digital channels to meet customer expectations. While customers have many new ways to engage with your company, the increase in communication channels has also led to challenges in workforce forecasting and planning. It’s no longer enough to ensure you have sufficient agents to cover phones during on and off-peak hours. It’s now necessary to have the right agents with the right skill sets to service customers across multiple channels. This means having the right set of solutions and tools in place to understand what your customers need to consistently drive an exceptional experience.
How Many Agents Do You Need?
There is no one definitive number of agents that works for every contact center. However, there are some data points to consider as you calculate how many agents you may need to successfully manage your customer experience:
- The average number of calls that you receive each hour
- The average length of each call
- The maximum time you can have callers wait in your routing queue
Of course, these calculations shouldn’t drive any decisions until you ask:
How fast does service have to be? And why?
Don’t underestimate your level of service when it comes to customer retention and expansion. By determining how much it’s worth to provide fast, sustainable and consistent service, you can begin to determine the optimal budget for agents.
Be Careful of “How Many Calls” Mentality
Many contact center professionals make the mistake of focusing in on the question – How many calls can each agent make? To understand why this is a faulty question, you only need to remember the classic “I Love Lucy” episode when Lucy and Ethel were working on the candy factory assembly line. All went well at first, but as the work sped up, they quickly lost control of what they were doing – much to the audience’s delight. Unfortunately, this scenario plays out in contact centers each and every day, but there’s nothing funny about losing customers because of a staffing issue. Particularly during peak hours or seasons, call volumes can be relentless, and agents can feel much like Lucy and Ethel – particularly if you’re only focusing on the number of calls they’re taking.
This mentality also leads to agents focusing on call volumes, rather than whether or not they’re delivering the right level of customer experience. Agents can quickly figure out how to give the shortest answer possible, and this can leave customers feeling less than appreciated. When agents feel particularly pressured to increase call volumes, they may even hang up on customers just so calls get counted as handled. This isn’t good for anyone!
Resolutions Rather Than Calls
Although it’s tempting to focus on quantity over quality, it is not how to create award-winning customer service. The leaders in providing an exceptional customer experience know that the focus should be placed on resolution metrics. Knowing the number of interactions resolved provides greater insights into agents’ behaviors and the overall customer experience. This requires the ability to monitor and measure interactions across every communication channel. An integrated platform that supports both digital and voice channels can provide the insight you need to make effective decisions on how many agents you need at any particular time.
- Continuous Improvement
Even with the best understanding of your team’s needs and data-driven staffing processes, there are still plenty of other ways to improve their performance and maximize your customer experience.
- Team-Up Agents
Have agents listen to each other’s calls and discuss what worked and what could be improved upon. By encouraging camaraderie, learning and growth in positive group settings, agents can bond with fellow co-workers, learn from each other and improve their interactions with customers.
- Stay Focused on the Experience
By moving away from the “How Many Calls” mentality, agents can place their attention primarily on providing the best customer experience.
- Give Customers a Callback
In your attempt to lower the number of agents working, it can create longer hold times which can directly impact service levels. To avoid this, consider adding a Callback feature which enables customers to choose to get a call back at a more convenient time.