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Does Your Executive Team Understand Staffing Tradeoffs?

By Brad Cleveland

It’s essential that those making decisions on resources and budget have an understanding of key staffing tradeoffs.

Are you working through difficult discussions related to resources and budget? Just remember, contact centers must handle most customer-related work as it happens, so resource mismatches quickly results in big problems. It’s essential that those making decisions have a basic understanding of staff tradeoffs in a contact center (read: real time) environment.

The following table is an example of how you might want to illustrate some of the tradeoffs (using your own numbers, as possible).

In this example, 34 agents produce a “middle of the road” service level of just over 80 percent of calls being answered in 20 seconds, with an average speed of answer (ASA) of just over 12 seconds. But… if you have 30 agents, fewer than a quarter of all calls are answered in 20 seconds, and ASA is over 200 seconds. Occupancy is high. And the load on your telecom network has grown significantly (reason: your ACD has to put all of those queued calls in a holding pattern – kind of like putting landing aircraft in a holding pattern over a busy airport).

It’s also helpful to show how long individual customers are delayed, through a related table.

In the example… and let’s look at the row with 34 agents … sixty-five customers will wait five seconds or longer. In the next five seconds, seven of those customers reach agents, so only 58 customers are waiting 10 seconds or longer. In the next five seconds, six more customers will reach agents, leaving only 52 customers waiting 15 seconds or more. At this service level, one customer is still waiting at three minutes. But look at how many calls are delayed in the row with only 30 agents – ouch!

What a big difference a few people can make! Trying to provide real-time services with fewer staff than you need will predictably lead to low service levels, high agent occupancy and heavy telecommunications network usage.

Your objective in planning and budgeting – and in day-to-day management – should be to get the right number of people in the right places at the right times, doing the right things. No more, no fewer.

Copyright 2015, Brad Cleveland.