If you are operating or managing a call center, you must know how difficult it is to strike a balance between keeping agents busy enough to be productive and not pushing them to burnout. This is where the call center occupancy rate comes into play. 

Occupancy measures and emphasizes both productivity and the well-being of the call center agents. However, implementing and maintaining Occupancy in your call center can be a daunting task. So, we have brought you a solution to enhance these metrics in your call center. 

In this blog, we will cover how to improve occupancy in a call center. 

Let’s start!

What is Occupancy in a Call Center?

What is Occupancy in a Call Center

In a call center, occupancy represents the proportion of time that agents are actively involved with customers in relation to their logged-in time. This metric measures only the time in which a call agent is busy with the customers, which means that it does not involve the entire time a call agent is present in a call center. 

In short, Call center occupancy essentially represents how busy your agents are. 

📗Also read: 15 Essential Call Center Metrics and KPIs: An In-Depth Analysis

Why is Occupancy an Important Call Center KPI?

Why is Occupancy an Important Call Center KPI

There might be a question striking in your mind on why anyone should maintain another call center metric when they are already maintaining hundreds more. Here are some reasons why you should maintain this metric. 

  • Maintaining Agents Productivity: A high rate of occupancy of agents shows that they are actively interacting with customers and effectively managing calls and inquiries. This leads to problem resolution, enhanced customer satisfaction, and potentially meeting or exceeding sales or service targets.
  • Avoiding Burnouts: Agents tend to be more productive and engaged when there is a high rate of occupancy. This allows them to have time for breaks and non-customer-related tasks. On the other hand, if the occupancy is very high, it can result in burnout and a decline in service quality as agents become overwhelmed.
  • Better Resource Allocation: The occupancy rate shows if the agents are idle or have too much work. This can help in the decision-making of whether the call center needs to hire more people (when the occupancy rate is too high) or contract their team (when the occupancy rate is too low). 
  • Performance Data and Reporting:  When you look at occupancy along with metrics such as call handle time and service level, it gives you a complete understanding of how your call center is performing. This helps you pinpoint areas that need improvement and enables you to implement strategies to optimize your operations.

📖Similar Blog: 8 Expert Tips To Optimize Call Center Scheduling For Peak Performance

How to Calculate Occupancy in a Call Center?

How to Calculate Occupancy in a Call Center

Call center occupancy refers to the percentage of time agents spend actively engaged with customers compared to their total logged-in time. Here is the formula to calculate the occupancy rate in a call center. 

Occupancy Rate (%) = (Total Call-Related Time / Total Logged-in Time) * 100

This means if your agent works for 51 minutes in an hour, his/her occupancy rate will be (51/60)*100, which is 85%

Here are some tips to calculate these metrics in your call center.

  • Define “call-related activity” like talk time, hold time, and after-call work (ACW). 
  • Decide exactly which activities count as a wrap-up.

Call Center Occupancy vs. Utilization 

Here are some key differences between call center occupancy and utilization. 

BasisCall Center OccupancyCall Center Utilization
DefinitionCall Center Occupancy is the percentage of time agents spend on customer interactions compared to total available work time.Call Center Utilization is the percentage of time agents spend on productive work compared to total logged-in time.
Formula(Total Handle Time / Total Available Work Time) * 100(Total Handle Time / Total Logged-in Time) * 100
FocusCall Center Occupancy emphasizes the ratio of time spent handling customer interactions.Call Center Utilization emphasizes the ratio of time spent on productive work.
Inclusion of Idle TimeCall Center Occupancy considers all activities that keep an agent busy, including after-call work.Call Center Utilization specifically looks at time spent on customer interactions.
PurposeCall Center Occupancy indicates how busy agents are and their overall productivity.Call Center Utilization offers insights into how efficiently agents use their available time for productive work.

Ways to Improve Call Center Occupancy

Ways to Improve Call Center Occupancy

According to Intradiem, it is a good rule of thumb to aim for occupancy rates between 80% and 90%. 

But how can call centers aim for this range? Here is how!

1. Hire the Right Number of Staffs

One of the best ways to improve call center occupancy is to hire the right number of agents. On the one hand, if there is a higher number of agents, there is a good chance that the occupancy rate will be very low. On the other hand, if there are less number of agents, the occupancy rate will soar which is also not ideal for efficiency and productivity. 

2. Define Call-related Activities Properly

Next, decide which activities are to be considered call-related and which are not to be considered call-related. For instance, talk time, hold time, and after-call work (ACW), like documentation, should be considered call-related activities. On the other hand, lunch breaks, recreational activities, and other similar things should not be included in this category. 

3. Monitor Call Volume At Different Times

The number of phone calls that come in during the day fluctuates. Some hours will be busier than others, while some will be quieter. By keeping track of how many calls we receive at different times of the day and week, you can better determine the right number of staff needed for both busy peak and quiet periods. This will lead to an overall balance of occupancy rate. 

4. Reduce After-Call Work (ACW)

Cutting back on after-call work can massively reduce handle time, thus decreasing occupancy, which can be used in better places like conversing with customers.  There are many ways to reduce the After-Call Work, like automating tasks, encouraging agents to work during calls, implementing CRM systems, or simply hiring some people dedicated just to the ACW.

🤔You might be interested in Best Ways To Reduce Call Center Wrap-Up Time

5. Training and Skill Development

Offer continuous training to improve the skills of agents, empowering them to handle a range of customer queries. Train agents across communication channels such as phone, chat, and email to enhance their flexibility and ability to adapt. This can help them solve any issues in a shorter time, which improves the overall occupancy rate. 

6. Integrate Technology 

Invest in cutting-edge call center technology, like dialers and CRM systems that seamlessly integrate with each other. This is to optimize and streamline operations. It’s important to prioritize user software tools that not only enhance efficiency but also contribute to the overall effectiveness of the system.

Ideal Call Center Occupancy

The ideal call center occupancy rate is considered to be 85%-90%. If the occupancy rate is below 85%, it is considered as low, where agents are more idle or there is overstaffing. Similarly, if the occupancy rate is over 95%, it is considered very high where agents are working too much or there is understaffing. This can be harmful to the efficiency and overall results. 

This being said, there are various factors that can have an effect on the occupancy rate of a call center. Some of these factors are: 

  • Agents Experience: Experienced call agents can handle more calls without compromising their quality. As a result, they have a higher occupancy rate than a new call center agent. 
  • Industry of Call Center: The ideal call center occupancy rate can differ based on the industry of operation. For example, the occupancy rate of a retail store can be lower than that of a technical support call center. 
  • Complexity of Calls: If the calls are more complex, then the agents might take more time to research the solution, which can lead to a lower occupancy rate of an agent. 

Conclusion

Summing up, improving call center occupancy is very important for maintaining good efficiency among the agents while offering the best customer service and thinking about the well-being of the call center agents. 

So, if you are running or managing a call center, it might be a wise idea to implement these metrics in your call center. However, just maintaining the metrics won’t make much difference. So, do implement the best practices and ways to improve occupancy in your call center, as mentioned above. 

FAQs

How can I increase my occupancy rate in a call center?

A healthy and reasonable call center occupancy rate is crucial for both efficiency and cost-effectiveness. So, here are some of the best ways you can increase your occupancy rate in a call center. 

  • Monitor call volumes to identify the call patterns and schedule agents accordingly.
  • Integrate self-service like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and chatbots. 
  • Implement Automation in calls.
  • Perform outbound calls during low call volumes. 
  • Implement Omnichannel or unified communication channel. 

How do you calculate occupancy in a call center?

You can calculate occupancy in a call center by using the following formula:

Occupancy Rate (%) = (Total Call-Related Time / Total Logged-in Time) * 100

What is the occupancy rate in BPO?

A BPO’s occupancy rate refers to the time agents spend handling customer calls and related activities such as after-call work (ACW).

What is shrinkage in a call center?

Shrinkage in a call center refers to the time in which agents are being paid but are not available to handle interactions. For example, lunch breaks or meetings are some common shrinkage in a call center. 

Sandipan Khadka is an Associate Content Writer at Dialaxy with the knack of writing content that is appealing for the readers. He has written broadly in the area of VoIP and call center solutions.