October 4, 2023

6 Ways to Optimize Occupancy Rate in Your Contact Center

6 Ways to Optimize Occupancy Rate in Your Contact Center

How busy are your contact center agents during the day? Occupancy rate can provide the answer. It’s a key performance indicator that shows how much time a customer representative spends handling queries.

Most contact center managers aim for a 100% occupancy rate – meaning reps spend all their time helping customers rather than waiting for a call. However, optimizing this metric alone might not be enough to achieve successful outcomes in your call center.

What is Occupancy Rate, and Why is It Important?

Occupancy rate indicates the amount of time an agent spends on customer-related tasks during the working day, including talk time, resolving customer issues with a supervisor, after-call work, and other duties. This KPI does not take into account training time or breaks but considers the agent’s total available time – the amount of time they are available to assist customers.

Calculating occupancy rate is fairly straightforward:

(Agent’s talk time + after-call time + hold time) / ((Agent’s logout time – login time) – (time spent in training, breaks, and meetings)) x 100

For example, if an agent spends 4 hours on the phone, 1 hour on after-call tasks, and 1 hour on hold, the total is 6 hours or 360 minutes. If the agent also spent 60 minutes in a meeting, and their work hours were from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (480 minutes), the occupancy rate would be:

360 / (480-60 = 420) x 100 = 85.7%

That’s a high occupancy rate!

This KPI is important because it helps optimize resources in your contact center. A low occupancy rate may indicate overstaffing, causing agents to wait long periods for customer calls. In such cases, it might be beneficial to assign reps to other tasks, such as responding to emails. On the other hand, a high occupancy rate could suggest that agents are overwhelmed, potentially leading to burnout.

Optimal Occupancy Rates

Aim for an 80-90% occupancy rate for calls. Why? If agents spend all their time on the phone, they could feel stressed, unsatisfied, and more likely to leave their job. Additionally, they won’t have time for training or other tasks that improve performance. An occupancy rate of 80-90%, where agents spend most of their time on the phone, is better for their mental health and career development.

For live chat, strive for a 100% occupancy rate, and for emails, aim for a 90-100% rate. Managing customer queries through these channels is less intensive than talking on the phone all day. Agents can engage in side conversations or listen to music while attending to queries, enhancing job satisfaction.

How to Maximize Occupancy Rate

Improving your occupancy rate reduces stress on agents and allows you to serve more customers.

1. Dial Quality Lists

The quality of your lead lists can significantly improve occupancy rates. Instead of agents wasting time calling cold or uninterested leads, review the lists to ensure recipients are genuinely interested in your products and services. You should also remove individuals on the National Do Not Call Registry from your database. This ensures agents have accurate and compliant information for their calls. Additionally, check if phone numbers are active and utilize techniques like lead scoring to identify your most valuable leads.

2. Reduce After-Call Work Time

After-call work, such as updating customer relationship management (CRM) systems, can slow down agents and cause customers to wait in the call queue. Consider hiring data entry staff to handle administrative work in your contact center, allowing agents to focus more on making calls.

3. Implement Omnichannel Solutions

Providing customers with omnichannel solutions, such as email and live chat, reduces call queue times and lowers occupancy rates. Some agents excel at certain types of communication, such as responding to emails, rather than talking on the phone. Allowing agents to engage in different communication channels can increase productivity and job satisfaction in your call center.

4. Offer Self-Service Options

Self-service options, like online tutorials, FAQ pages, and discussion forums, can reduce call queues and optimize occupancy rates. By providing customers with alternative resources, they are less likely to call your contact center, freeing up agents to focus on other tasks.

5. Optimize Skilled Agent Routing

Routing calls to the most experienced agents improves the user experience by minimizing transferred calls and resolving issues during the first point of contact. Moreover, optimizing agent routing helps maximize occupancy rates by ensuring less-qualified agents don’t spend time attempting to solve problems they are not familiar with.

6. Allow Hybrid and Remote Agents

During busy call periods, delegate excess calls to hybrid and remote agents to scale service. This reduces queue times in your call center and increases occupancy rates for agents at your physical location. Consider allowing in-house agents to work from home on a full or part-time basis, as it can potentially boost their job satisfaction and result in higher productivity for your organization.

Optimizing Your Occupancy Rate

Occupancy rate measures the amount of time agents spend dealing with customers. This KPI provides insights into your call center operations, such as identifying overstaffing or burnout risks. To maximize occupancy rate, review lead lists, reduce after-call work, implement omnichannel solutions and self-service options, optimize skilled agent routing, and allow hybrid and remote agents to handle calls.

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