Statistics gathered by career resources site Salary Explorer revealed that Philippine call center agents work for an average of 8.4 hours each day. Like most jobs, inbound customer service representatives (CSR) have five working days and two rest days a week. However, there are no standardized ways to measure their workload because the assignment of their tasks can be random instead of sequential.
Call center staffing
Inbound call center staffing is different from the staffing schemes of jobs with fixed work patterns. To illustrate, we will compare the typical workload of a mail clerk with the daily tasks of a CSR.
Let’s say that the company needs to handle 400 pieces of mail per hour, with each piece taking three minutes to process. To accomplish this, the company needs 20 clerks working all at once; each one is tasked to process 20 pieces of mail per hour. Here, it is easy to determine the amount of work assigned to each employee because the arrival of tasks is set or sequential in nature.
This same scheme may not work for inbound call centers because the arrival of calls is not always predetermined. For instance, if a call center receives an average of 300 calls an hour, with each call taking four minutes to handle, having 20 agents may not be enough. One moment, there might be too many calls on hold, and the next, there might be too many agents idle. Since the calls placed by customers ebb and flow, the call center workload can indeed be random. As such, Philippine call center firms follow the cardinal rule of having more staff hours in place than hours of actual work to do.
Call center expert Penny Reynolds explained, “The number of ‘extra’ staff needed depends on how fast the center wishes to answer calls. Obviously, the more staff in place, the shorter the delay. The fewer the staff, the longer the caller will wait.”
Most call centers use the Erlang C formula to map agent workload. This method predicts call waiting times and calculates delays before callers reach a live agent. The Erlang C formula is based on these three factors:
• The number live CSRs
• The number of callers waiting
• The average period it takes to handle each call
Another thing that Erlang C calculates is the resources necessary in keeping wait periods within the call center’s limits. This formula assumes no calls are lost and no lines are busy. Therefore, it fits with the cardinal rule of call center staffing mentioned earlier. Using this formula is a path that will allow you to more accurately calculate the inbound volume and staff accordingly.