Idle Time in Contact Centers

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Market research 04 12

What is Idle Time?

Idle time in the context of a call center can be defined as the interval that occurs between the moment an agent wraps up one interaction and the moment he gets on another call. In other words, it is the time spent by agents waiting to take the next calls. Idle time plays a crucial role in both the inbound and outbound call centers and needs to be calculated for every agent in the contact center. If an agent is neither engaged over a call nor involved in after-call wrap despite logging into ACD, it means the agent is idle. 

In today’s time, most contact center systems generate logs for automatically calculating the agents’ idle time and exhibiting it by the end of the day. However, it can be manually calculated by the following formula: 

The time at which an agent gets in a call – the time at which an agent turns off the not available status for the call. This can be measured in either seconds or minutes. 

By measuring the total idle time at any specific moment, you can acknowledge how many agents are sitting idle and since when they’ve been idle. Here’s how you can calculate agent idle time in real-time:

Total seats (100%) – Occupancy% = Idle time

Idle Time1

Why is Idle Time important?

The agents’ idle time is a resource that aids in protecting KPIs against the unexpected rise in call volume in a contact center. There are some workforce planners that consider idle time as wastage because they believe agents not taking calls are inefficient for the contact center. 

However, idle time is actually useful due to the following reasons:

  • In case there is 0% idle time, there will be no agent available to attend the next call that comes in the call center. This can lead to queueing as customers will have to wait for more. The situation will become worse if call volume gets steady as the queue will keep on increasing. The call center KPIs will be under threat.
  • Idle time also plays a pivotal role in protecting the well-being of call center agents. If there is 84% occupancy in a call center, that doesn’t mean the remaining 16% of the workforce never works; it shows that 16% of the time they are available encompasses spaces between calls.
  • If the occupancy of your call center approaches 100%, that means agents are taking calls back to back without stopping. This can negatively impact their motivation levels, thereby leading to agent burnout.

What is the ideal amount of idle time?

There is no ‘right’ value for the idle time that is universally accepted. It is absolutely dependent upon the requirements of a specific contact center and the predictability of its concerned call volumes.

It is difficult to manage idle time in call centers with fewer seats. As every agent is responsible for a larger proportion of total seats, the absence of any agent can deeply impact the contact center’s performance. Whereas in the case of large contact centers with 700 seats, the absence of 3 or 4 agents hardly makes any difference to the overall performance.   

To get an ideal amount of idle time, it’s recommended to consider a realistic range that doesn’t put too much pressure on the agents while avoiding tinkering. As per industry standards, call centers should aim to maintain an occupancy rate of around 85% which translates to 15% idle time.

Idle Time2

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How to optimize idle time in a call center?

Uncover your agents’ strength

Hiring more agents in a call center doesn’t indicate that it is more productive than other centers with fewer agents. For instance, if your call center needs 6 agents but you end up hiring 8, this will ultimately increase the agents' idle time and boost the expenses of your contact center. However, hiring lesser agents than required will hamper its productivity too. So, it's very crucial for call centers to manage the right number of agents for making optimum use of the available resources. Leveraging a call center workforce management software helps you accurately predict how many agents does your contact center needs as per the call volume.

Manage your agents’ schedule carefully

It's essential to schedule your agents’ timetables with optimum care. There are times when your agents aren't available for the customers, i.e. when they go for lunch, or take longer unscheduled breaks, or spend time finishing some personal tasks. It can be challenging to manage agents' schedules because they're not machines that can be controlled. But to maximize their productivity, it is necessary to create an efficient timetable that allows agents to take ample breaks in-between their work.

Provide special training

You can utilize the idle time of your agents by enabling them to understand more about your product or service. You can create specific circulars that make them aware of the recent changes/updates to your product (or service). Providing your agents with access to webinars, collaterals, as well as other useful materials could be a good idea. Also, it's important to educate your agents about creating customer affinity. This plays a key role in delivering top-notch customer service while reducing average handle time.

Ensure agents stay connected with customers

The idle agents in a call center can be used for persuading visitors (who are browsing a website) and keeping them engaged. They can either send proactive notifications related to the ongoing discounts or any new updates made to an existing product. This helps to keep your customers informed about your latest services and offerings too. By sending chat invitations to a customer who's been searching for a product for a longer period can help him make a decision quickly. This will eventually increase your brand's revenue opportunities.

Always exchange feedback

While brands assess the efficiency of their products or services by asking customers for feedback, it's important to consider the agents' views too. As every agent has different perceptions, taking their constructive reviews can add incredible value to your organization and can help it grow! At the same time, make agents aware of their performance. This will empower them to analyze the problem areas and the measures they can take into consideration for improving performance.

Why choose Voxco for reducing idle time?

Interactive Dashboards

Voxco comes equipped with powerful and advanced dashboards that empower call center managers to gain insightful information about agents and their availability status for boosting organizational productivity.

Omnichannel Reach

Voxco’s brilliant platform empowers call center agents to effectively reach out to their target audience across multiple channels, giving them more platforms to connect and reducing their free time. 

Best-in-class Analytics

Voxco’s power-packed analytics software is designed for gaining statistics about agents and their working status. This helps to uncover insights that are crucial for operational performance.

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Idle Time: FAQs

The available time is the period when normal users can use a computing system. It’s important that the system should function properly, i.e. with the right power supply, and shouldn’t require any maintenance. This time includes both productive as well as idle time.

Agent availability represents the time when an agent is available and waiting to take calls. Expressed in terms of a percentage, agent availability plays a key role in the functioning of both inbound and outbound call centers.

AHT (also known as average handle time) is a crucial call center metric that can be calculated by adding your total talk time, total hold time, and total after-call tasks, and then dividing the total sum by the total number of calls.

Idle in a call center means idle time i.e. the time spent by agents waiting to take calls. If an agent is ready to take calls and waiting in a contact center, then it’s referred to as “waiting for calls time”.

Usually, call center agents can take up to 50 calls on a daily basis but every case isn’t resolved on the very first call. There are follow-up calls for some specific cases that may continue to last for weeks post the first interaction!