Ways to Reduce Agent Idle Time in a Call Center

June 25, 2019

Optimizing workforce management to get the most out of your processes is a key factor in any call center. So, throwing money out of the window by having high levels of agent idle time, in an environment where everyone is so keen on enhancing productivity, is clearly a mistake.

Causes of agent idle time can include ineffective staff planning and frequent peak times. Some idle time, of course, is necessary, if you don’t want your agents to quickly burn out. However, unacceptably high levels of agent idle times will definitely harm your business in terms of profits and efficiency.

So how can you effectively reduce agent idle time in your call center? Check out our article and make sure your agents are spending more time helping customers and less time sitting around doing nothing.

Leverage call blending

Call centers that focus on telemarketing activities normally need to handle an increased number of calls during and after their TV spots. However, outside of these times, they can often experience high levels of agent idle time.

So why not utilize call blending to keep your agents busy? By leveraging call blending when your phone lines are comparatively quiet, your agents can use this idle time to initiate follow-ups to abandoned calls or reach out to dissatisfied customers.

Of course, for a call center to successfully take advantage of call blending, it is crucial that agents are equipped to handle both customer-based inbound and sales-based outbound calls within the same project. So, make sure you allocate time to properly training your team to deal with blended calls. If you do so, the chances are high that not only will your agent idle time reduce significantly but your productivity will also increase.

In blended call centers, agents can work simultaneously on a number of projects, and thus eliminate idle time by carrying out and switch between different activities.

Know the strength of your agents

In order to keep your processes running smooth and help your agents get the most out of their job, it is vital that you know your agents’ strengths and weaknesses as well as their soft skills.

As not every agent is capable of handling both incoming and outgoing calls, make sure you allocate enough time to identifying agents who can successfully contribute to your blended campaigns.

It is clear that reducing agent idle time is an important KPI for any call center manager. However, even if you manage to reduce idle times through blended calls, if your agents are not able to perform well while carrying out their activities your call center’s productivity will be negatively affected.

Offer a systematic training system

Even if you hire more agents than you need, it’s no guarantee that they will be able to successfully handle your incoming and outgoing calls, especially if they are not trained properly. Therefore, once you identified agents who are capable of handling both incoming and outgoing calls, it’s time to offer them systematic training sessions.

Systematic training is the core of efficient customer service. A well-trained agent can not only speed up your processes but also significantly raise your first call resolution rate.

Furthermore, a well thought-out training system can help you substantially reduce agent idle time. You could do this, for example, by creating a knowledge base and letting your agents have access to it. You could also try adding a bit of call center gamification to the process and offer them small rewards for training themselves during their idle times.  

Agent idle time can never be eliminated, but with the right strategies, they can be reduced to a minimum. Follow our tips and make sure your agents can maximize their contribution to your call center’s success.

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