The "other" way....
Calls per Hour, Call Duration, Idle, and Wrap (ACW) are nonsensical targets in the majority of contact centre environments, yet they remain the number 1 targets for contact centre agents around the world!
In the perfectly managed contact centre, it may be possible to guarantee a consistent flow of calls to all agents, however this requires impressive resource and workflow management. It is feasible that with a limited product and service range a genuine optimum “talk time” and “ACW” target can be applied to all calls. But do any of us work in such a simplistic and idealistic environment? (If so I have a CV ready to forward to you!)
So if we take away these foundations of our performance management culture what do we use to measure the productivity and efficiency of our contact centre agents? And who is responsible for ensuring team productivity and efficiency remains high?
Calls per Hour
This is dictated by numerous factors controlled not by the agent but by the operation’s managers; therefore it is the managers who must be targeted on their teams’ efficiency (occupancy and utilisation)
The resource levels of the team determine the “available” time in the team. “Available” time can be directly influenced through utilisation management, but not by the agents.
The call traffic volumes dictate the frequency of calls hitting the queue. Only the customers can decide to call in.
The length of calls and associated “Wrap” (ACW) determines the availability of agents to take calls.
Call Duration (AHT)
The length of call will largely depend on the customers’ requirements from that call. A short call may be efficiency or poor service, a long call may be poor call control or excellent customer service.
Driving down AHTs results in driving down quality
If AHT is to be used, it must be an optimum handle time based on delivering the required level of customer service for that call
Poor service, poor call control, delays finding information, etc are quality issues not productivity issues
Wrap time will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the call. While it is true that agents can “hide” in Wrap, lengthy wrap times are not necessarily an indication of non-productiveness.
Long calls with lots of queries / requirements will equate to longer Wrap
Experienced agents will complete a greater proportion of call related work during the call therefore the % spent in Wrap as opposed to Talk will decrease
“Idle” is signed on time where the agent is not involved in calls. Other than personal (comfort) breaks “Idle” must be planned, or where reactive must be tracked and recorded. As “Idle” usage is planned and therefore beyond the control of the agent, it cannot be targeted; to do so results in agents penalised for training, etc. A typical “Idle” breakdown for an inbound contact centre profiles as:
Breaks 7.25 % (30 minutes per day)
Personal breaks 2% (Average 8.5 minutes per day)
Training / coaching 5% (Average 1 hr 45 minutes per week)
Query for use by lower benchmark agents only against individual targets
Meetings 2% (Average 3 hr per month)
Idle “Admin” only to be used for accountable time, such as being taken off the phones to support administration. This must where possible be planned time off the phones, or where reactive it must be tracked.
Idle “None” must not occur for any reason.
Idle “Training” must be accountable by either the training team or the Team Leader. This must where possible be planned time off the phones, or where reactive it must be tracked. Any ad hoc coaching should be recorded against “Training”.
Idle “Query” must only be used by agents in the lower benchmark as agents’ queries must be answered during the call by either an assist or handoff, or during the wrap part of the call (recorded as “Wrap” or “ACW”). If calls are being handed off due to a skills or knowledge gap then this must be picked up as coaching or training, to be delivered when call flow allows. Agents in the lower benchmark have a greater need for assistance during the call, and restrictions in the number of experienced resource available to mentor and assist means that they have a need to use “Query” when appropriate.
Daily ‘buzz sessions’ and ad hoc meetings such as daily target setting must be reorded against “Meeting”
Agents must sign off the phones for lunch, as this is unpaid time. Remaining signed on distorts the true occupancy and shrinkage figures.
“Talk” time - Targeted against individual performance
“Wrap” time - Targeted against individual performance
“Occupancy” = “Talk” + “Wrap”
Talk time is only partially under the control of agents. The requirement in most businesses is dependant on the nature of the individual call. Excessive talk time, when caused by lack of call control or knowledge, is a measure of quality issues not productivity, and should be addressed as such.
Wrap time (ACW) is the only state an effectively managed agent can place themselves in to avoid taking further calls. However the length of wrap required will be determined by the nature of each call. It is therefore the correlation between Talk + Wrap that needs to be managed.
Talk time vs. Wrap time provides an accurate measure of agent efficiency. As an agent’s knowledge, experience, and technical proficiency increases the % of talk time must increase and the % wrap time decrease.
Talk time & wrap together provide the “occupancy” measure. Efficient occupancy is usually considered to be around 80-85%; the maximum occupancy before agents start displaying defensive and negative behaviours is 88% plus. The occupancy measurement is a % of time signed into “Talk”, “Wrap”, or “Available”. E.g. 65% “Talk” + 12% “Wrap” + 18% “Available” = 73% “Occupancy”
“Available” time is dictated by call flow against resource.