Finding the right number of people to staff a call center can be quite a complex puzzle. From people quitting, to being pulled away for non-call tasks to simply missing in action, there are lots of in-flight variables to juggle. Call center staffing models can help to efficiently determine the number of staff needed depending on call volume and level of service requirements. 

How To Use A Call Center Staffing Model

Call center supervisors have much to consider when staffing a call center. The environment can be very dynamic day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. This isn't just because of calls. Agents play a big part. An agent might call in sick, quit, be participating in off-site training, take longer with post-call work, or get tied up on the phone with a customer. Supervisors will often have contingencies in place to handle most of these events. In addition to agent specific-variables, supervisors need a good idea about the number of calls that will come into the center throughout the day in order to staff properly. This is where a staffing model comes in.

A call center staffing model is a framework for determining how a call center adds staff depending on call volume and how long the call center wants customers to be on hold. This model might also take into consideration post-call work and breaks. 

One of the most popular models is the Erlang C traffic model. It takes as input:

  • Average call time.
  • Post-call time.
  • Percentage of calls answered in X seconds.
  • The number of calls for each hour of a shift.

From these inputs, the model can calculate the average delay for each hour plus the number of operators and lines needed.

There's more to adequate staffing and service levels than running calculations. Knowledge of how to add or subtract staff is important as well. For example, as a staff is added, hold times will decrease but only a little. As staff continues to be added, there's a diminishing return since hold times will only change by a second with the addition of another agent. On the flip side, as agents are subtracted, hold times will jump dramatically.

There are call center staffing calculators available for computing the Erlang C results. Running the numbers this way is a manual calculation. Modern call centers don't calculate Erlang C or similar results manually. Instead, they rely on software that can dynamically calculate the same information on the fly. 

Improving Performance Through Call Center Software

Call center as a service (CCaaS) or call center software helps to route calls so that hold times are reduced. There's a lot more this type of software can do. Most CCaaS providers include some type of CRM (customer relationship management) software. A CRM allows agents to view the history of the customer they are speaking with. This can be a powerful information source since agents can see the customer's previous calls, purchase history, the total amount spent and more. It allows agents to have a more informed conversation and to be prepared for any upsell the customer is more likely to say yes to.

Another benefit of CCaaS is its ability to improve the call center staffing model. In the previous section, we discussed how Erlang results could be computed using a calculator. Since manual calculations produce static results, they must be constantly calculated to keep up with unexpected changes in call volume.

A CCaaS implementation takes real calls as input. This means the software always knows what the current call volume is. Based on configurations from the call center, it can then route calls to the correct agents depending on customer needs.Many CCaaS platforms can also perform predictions based on history and current call volume. Call center supervisors can use the predictions to adjust hold times and staff.

Below are the important points of how a CCaaS implementation can improve call center staffing:

  • On the fly staffing and service level calculations are performed.
  • Predictions about the current day are done in real-time.
  • There are a large number of analytics available for supervisors to review, which can help them improve performance in many areas.

Call centers rely on their technology to empower them to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Virtual Contact Center you get world class technology and everything your call center needs in one place. Call 1-877-361-2574 or fill out the form below to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.


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