Define Agent Status Codes
Also known as ‘reason’ or ‘activity’ codes, status codes enable agents to signal their availability for calls to the ACD.
Many ACD systems will automatically put agents into an After Call Work (ACW) code after every call. For other activities, the agent manually inputs the code, either numerically through their telephone or by selecting from a list on the ACD’s on-screen interface.
Codes cover a variety of basic activities, typically including full availability, ACW, Lunch/Break time, training, and team meetings. ACD systems allow managers to create bespoke codes; the more code options there are, the more information agents can supply about how their time is spent.
The value of status codes
Status codes provide team leaders with a real-time overview of their team’s call handling capacity. Alerts can inform leaders when staff members have spent more than an arranged amount of time in an unavailable code, which is useful both for adherence and for identifying agents who require assistance.
If an agent breaches the acceptable threshold for ACW, it may indicate that they need help classifying a call or drafting an email follow-up.
Codes also serve the broader purpose of accounting for how agents allocate their time – especially time in which they are not available to handle contacts. This information can potentially be used to create targets for individual agents.
On the macro level, data sourced from status codes informs scheduling and planning efforts; accounting for time that is not spent directly helping customers is one of the key objectives of accurately recording status.
Agents and adherence monitoring
The subject of status codes can be a source of tension between agents and managers. It is often feared that a greater variety of codes means more ways to avoid calls, and there are behaviours leaders should look out for. ‘Unavailable’ codes used at the start of a shift, or when returning from a break, usually signal an agent who wants to cover their lateness.
This is rarely the case, however, and the use of status codes is not really about keeping an eye on agents; frequently it prevents agents from being penalised for good behaviours.
For example, experienced agents often need to down tools in order to assist more junior agents with a problem. If there is not a code to reflect this, they will have to input an inaccurate code, perhaps skewing their performance scores.
There is also a widespread problem of confusion between ACW and Wrap states and Break or Not available. Both states take the agent out of the queue, but only Break or Not available should be used for breaks.
Many agents place themselves in the ACW state when taking a break as it can look better on their statistics.