The 3 P’s of Call Center Management

You hired your agents for one primary job: to interact with your customers, handle their inquiries, and be strong representatives of your company.

But, unfortunately, they have lots of other things to do, too. Some activities – like training and coaching – make them better at their jobs. But there are others – like administrative tasks and lunch – that just simply have to get done.

And then, don’t forget about the five weeks a year they just sit at their desks doing nothing – you have to make time for that, too.

Wait – what? Yes, you read that right. On average, each of your agents spends 11% of each day sitting idle, waiting for the next call. Over the course of a year, that’s five weeks of unproductive idle time, taken one or two minutes at a time.

Imagine for a moment what you could do with all of that time to improve your business.

It turns out, there is a way to put agents to work during idle times to improve the 3 P’s – performance, productivity and profitability – and centers all over the world are already doing it. The idea is simple: Use technology to find and aggregate these small increments of idle time across all agents into usable segments of active wait time that agents can use to get meaningful work done.

Improve performance.

Research shows that effective agents are more satisfied. More satisfied agents are ideal because they 1) deliver better overall customer service and 2) are more likely to stay with your company.

By “finding” time for agents to train during downtimes, agents get the skills they need to better answer customer inquiries while at the same time breaking up their day and making it more interesting. Instead of staring at the wall for a few seconds between calls, they get an assignment that takes 10-15 minutes to complete that actually improves their performance.

Improve productivity.

Agents spend around 49 minutes of their day sitting idle. Another 12% of their day can be attributed to controllable shrinkage such as after call work, “must read” communications, training and coaching.

These are things agents must complete in order to stay on the top of their game, but they are also off-phone activities that must be scheduled. By utilizing active wait time, agents no longer have to be hard scheduled for off-phone work. Instead, they can complete tasks at their desks during natural downtimes in call volume.

Not only is productivity improved and a steady flow of work created throughout the day, but you won’t need to overstaff to cover those agents who are training. This allows you to handle the same amount of work with fewer agents on the floor. (Or more work with the same number of agents.)

Improve profitability.

Time is a precious commodity in the call center and no center – not even the most efficient in the world – has so much of it that they can afford to have agents sitting around idle for huge chunks of the day, week and year.

By leveraging idle time in your centers, you can do more with less. Headcount, turnover and error rates are reduced. FCR rates and agent satisfaction are increased, and agent performance improves, which ultimately improves customer satisfaction.

All of this contributes to your bottom line.

Putting your agents to work during idle times improves the performance, productivity and profitability of your agents and your centers. Show me a manager not interested in that!

About the author

Matt McConnell

Matt is chairman, president and CEO of Intradiem. Matt co-founded Intradiem in 1995 with a vision of helping companies increase the level of customer service they deliver by improving the performance of their agents. Today, Intradiem is a leader in its market with more than 300,000 call center agents around the world using Intradiem every day. Matt is the author of the book Customer Service at a Crossroads and holds 11 software patents. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering.

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