Are Your Agents Spending too Long in Idle Time?


Darren Deehan looks at the causes of idle time, how it can impact your contact centre and what you can do about it.

They say that the devil makes work for idle hands, which basically means if you have nothing to do you will get up to no good. I’m sure we can all relate to that in some fashion.

In this case, of course, what I am referring to is that it is clearly a mistake to be throwing cash into the fire when you have staff sitting doing nothing, burning your cash resources with no return. In a contact centre environment it can be a familiar experience for many operations that ineffective staff planning results in an unacceptable level of idle time.

Why do contact centres have idle times?

Clearly, the obvious answer is they have too many staff on shift. However, if idle time figures are spread disproportionately over times of day and days of the week, the centre may have the right number of staff, they are just not in the right place at the right times.

One of the first results of ineffective staff planning is idle time. The answer is in the statement ‘staff planning’. How accurate is the forecasting? With WFM you can access ‘Forecasting’ tools in just a few clicks.

How do I evaluate my situation?

Here are some key questions you can ask to help evaluate your idle-time situation:

  • Is your average handling time (AHT) based on a per interval or a daily AHT?
  • Are people sitting in wrap-up time? Is that factored into your AHT? Can it be done while on the phone with the customer?
  • Are you planning the most skilled agents at the most busy period. WFM sets proficiency levels for agents based on their skill level.
  • Are you targeting a 100% service level? That is all well and good, but are you wasting cash revenues that could be invested better?
  • How do you calculate idle time? Is it coming from your real-time feed? AHT?
  • What do you use as a measurement?
  • If you are managing outbound campaigns and your agents are idle, do you need to ramp up the dialler?
  • Do you understand call centre metrics? Maybe you need to go back to school.
Darren Deehan

Darren Deehan

Idle agents are bored. And you need to do something about it fast. They are likely becoming disillusioned with their job, they won’t perform when you need them to, they won’t turn up for work and they will conclude there is no impact of being idle.

With thanks to Darren Deehan at injixo

Published On: 22nd Jul 2015 - Last modified: 2nd Jan 2019
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