For successful running of call center operations you need to have the knack of managing numbers to avoid overstaffing. And among numbers most important is the figure for call center staffing i.e. the number of people who respond to customer calls every hour. Since the biggest part of call center costs, nearly 65 percent, relate to call center staffing it becomes crucial to have the correct number of staff in the right places for maintaining proper service levels and controlling costs. This demands a systematic approach in the calculation of call center staffing requirements and evaluation of service and cost trade offs.
The very first step for determining the optimum number for call center staffing is forecasting of call loads, analysis of historical data, seasonal patterns and trends in order to create monthly estimates and then use day-of –the-week and time-of-the-day patterns for breaking down the figures arrived at into half-hourly/hourly forecasts.
For call center staffing the staff workload can be determined by making some simple calculations using the forecasts about anticipated call volumes and realistic assumptions related to AHT (average handling time). These calculations involve multiplying the number of calls forecast for an hour with the AHT (assumed) of each call which includes both conversation time and wrap up time such as that for filling out a form or updating customer database.
AHT plays a critical role in call center staffing calculations. There are variations in average handling time by the time of the day and the day of the week. Therefore using an average figure for AHT will be imprecise and may contribute to overstaffing or understaffing. Therefore it is essential to use AHT numbers according to the time of the day/day of the week in calculations for deriving optimum call center staffing figures.
Call center staffing has a significant impact on service levels. Although there are no industry standards for this, in general call center service level goal is pegged at 80. Reliable figures arrived at after detailed calculations show that due to shrinkage i.e. the unproductive time during which agents are not available to handle calls, actual call center staffing for achieving a service level of 80 would need an additional 30% staff. Shrinkage is a reality that exists due to activities like meetings, training sessions, breaks, off-phone work and general unproductivity including that which is due to the random style of inbound calls in call center operations.
Barring the additional staff needed in call center staffing for maintaining adequate service levels despite shrinkage, any overstaffing is a drain on the center’s financial and other resources and needs to be strictly controlled and can easily be done by using suitable call center staffing software.