Senior Writer: Rohit Rajpal
Running a call center successfully is all about getting the numbers right. However, it could be difficult for new and growing call centers to determine how many agents they exactly need to handle all the incoming calls while still making a profit. Many challenges are faced by call centers around the globe and staffing is one of them.
If it sounds familiar, we have got a solution for you. In this article, we will explain how to calculate call center staffing exactly so you can run your operations efficiently.
7 steps to calculate the number of agents required in a call center:
Step 1: Determine the number of incoming calls per day
The first step to calculate the number of agents you need in your call center is determining the number of incoming calls per day. There are several ways to do so, depending on the information you have access to, such as:
- Automated call distributed (ACD) system: If you are in an established call center, your ACD system will give you accurate calls-per-day data.
- Call detail records (CDRs): If you don’t have access to the ACD system, you can find calls-per-day data in your call logging system or switchboard in the CDR.
- Telephone company: If you don’t have access to the above options, consider contacting your telephone company to access the number of incoming calls per day.
- Ask your agents: Ask your agents to log the number of calls they receive manually. At the end of the day, add all the numbers to determine the total number of incoming calls. However, this number will differ every day, so you will have to take an average of at least a month.
- CRM: If you track customer engagement in your CRM system, it would also reflect the number of incoming calls.
If you cannot determine the number of incoming calls by any of the options mentioned above, you can estimate it by the following method:
- You have 100,000 customers
- Each customer calls three times a year
- You’re open 250 days a year
Then, your incoming calls per day will be:
- 100,000 X 3 = 300,000
- 300,000/250 = 1200 calls per day
Step 2: Determine the number of incoming calls for every 30 minutes/hour
The next step is to determine the number of incoming calls for each 30-minute period of the day.
One way to determine it is by looking at your ACD system. Or, you can calculate it from the number you discovered in step 1. For example, if your call center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, that’s 8 hours, minus a one-hour break.
Your number of incoming calls for every 30 minutes/hour will be:
- 1200/7= 171.4
- 171.4/2= 85.7 = 86 (approx.)
Step 3: Calculate your average handling time (AHT)
Average handling time refers to the amount of time your agents spend handling a call.
Typically, AHT = Call duration + After-call Work time
You can find this information from your ACD or CRM and then calculate the AHT.
The average call handling time across industries is 4.9 minutes (294 seconds). However, it could increase depending on the complexity of your business.
Step 4: Decide on your service level and target answer time
Service level refers to the percentage of incoming calls that agents answer during a set amount of time. Most modern call centers aim to answer 90% of calls within 10-15 seconds as it will improve the first call resolution rate.
Remember, the lower your target answer time, and the higher your service level, the more satisfied your customers will be (as they won’t have to wait longer).
Also, the higher the service level, the more the number of staff required. Therefore, it is up to you to decide on the percentage of service level and target answer time that keeps you competitive and does not require hiring too many agents.
Step 5: Consider your occupancy rate
The occupancy rate refers to the percentage of time agents use doing call-related work against the available time. An ideal occupancy rate is between 85-90%.
Your occupancy rate plays a significant role in determining the number of agents required. Just like service level, set your occupancy rate (if you haven’t yet).
Step 6: Calculate your shrinkage rate
Shrinkage rate in call center refers to the amount of time an agent is not available to do productive work, such as answering calls, respond to support tickets, etc., despite being paid for it.
This includes both internal (when the agent is in the call center but could not attend calls due to team meetings, break, etc.) and external call shrinkage (when the agent is out of the call center due to sickness, paid leaves, emergencies, etc.).
The industry standard for shrinkage is 35%, but you can work to reduce it.
Step 7: Use the erlang call center staffing calculator
Lastly, enter all the numbers you calculated from steps 1 to 6 in the Erlang call center staffing calculator.
It enables you to determine how many call center agents you need during each 30-minute (customizable to 15 minutes, 1 hour, and so on) period of the day.
For example, the number of advisors needed for the below numbers would be:
- Number of incoming calls per day = 1200
- Number of incoming calls for every 30 minutes/hour = 86
- Average handling time = 220 seconds
- Service level = 90%
- Target answer time = 20 seconds
- Occupancy rate = 85%
- Shrinkage rate = 30%
The number of agents required every 30 minutes is 21.5 agents.
Calculating call center staffing accurately helps you manage most of the incoming calls daily while still making a profit. Use the steps mentioned above to determine the number of staff you need in your contact center.
How do you calculate the number of agents required in your call center system? What are the benefits of it? Let us know in the comments.