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ISG White Paper

Contact Center “Available Time” — How Much is Too Much?

Call agent “available time” can be a nightmare to manage and a double-edged sword for inbound contact center managers. If you employ too many agents, agent productivity suffers. If you have too few agents, then agents can burn out and customer service quality declines. It can be nearly impossible to strike just the right balance, and smaller call centers or small standalone operations are particularly vulnerable.

“Available time” or “idle time” is defined as the time spent by an agent waiting for a call to handle when he or she is available to accept one. It is nearly the opposite of “occupancy,” which is the percentage of time that call agents spend handling incoming calls. So the equation is this: 100 percent minus the occupancy percentage equals the available time percentage.

Optimal levels are difficult to determine, and if you push too hard to reduce available time then customer service will almost assuredly suffer. Before we determine how to ascertain the optimum level in a given situation, this ISG white paper first looks at the primary factor that is likely to affect agent productivity: Inbound call volume.