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Occupancy Call Center Rate: Calculation and Optimization: №1
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Occupancy Call Center Rate: Calculation and Optimization

October 2, 2020
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If you're reading this article, you're likely curious about what an occupancy rate is and its significance in ensuring the smooth operation of a contact center. Occupancy rate is one of many metrics call centers use to gauge their effectiveness and enhance their services.

It's a key measure that helps answer questions like:

  • How busy are the agents?
  • Do they need more help?
  • Are there too many staff members?
  • How well is downtime being used?

However, understanding occupancy rate isn't straightforward. It's often confused with an agent's productivity, but these two are not the same. In practice, it's not always clear whether a high or low occupancy rate benefits productivity.

To understand this complex issue, it's important to know what occupancy rate means. In a call center, it refers to the time an agent spends on calls compared to their total working hours. For example, an agent might be 99% occupied, taking calls non-stop all day, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are highly productive.

How to Calculate Occupancy Rate?

The occupancy rate is simply how much time is spent on calls and doing after-call tasks, compared to all available time, including quiet periods.

Let's see an example. Imagine a call center agent named Adam with a 90% occupancy rate. This means Adam spends 90% of his work time (like 4.5 hours in a 5-hour shift) on calls and working with clients. The other 10% (or half an hour) is spent waiting for calls.

When we use the occupancy rate formula in Adam's case, we find he's quite busy. But a high rate doesn't always mean great performance. If his rate was much lower, say around 45%, it might suggest there are too many staff, poor management, or not enough work at certain times. But if it's close to 100%, it means agents or the whole team are constantly busy with no breaks between calls. Is this good or bad? Which situation is best for your call center? It's time to dive deeper into these details.

Call Center Occupancy Standards

Occupancy rates in call centers should be balanced, ideally between 85% and 90%. Overburdened agents can become exhausted, lose focus, and feel stressed. This affects their productivity and customer satisfaction, as they have less time for tasks between calls.

Occupancy is usually measured across the team, not individually. It reflects the overall efficiency of all agents and is useful for planning, staffing, and strategy development. The number of employees in a contact center influences occupancy rates, with larger teams often being busier than smaller ones.

As a contact center grows, it's crucial to keep an eye on occupancy limits. For instance, with 500 calls per minute, the rate can exceed the ideal limit, reaching 91.7%. This increase in call volume can lower service quality. To prevent burnout and maintain service standards, expanding the team might be necessary. For example, increasing staff from 156 to 160 advisors can help manage 500 calls in 30 minutes effectively. Additionally, there are other methods to enhance call center efficiency.

Occupancy Call Center Rate: Calculation and Optimization: №1

Key Ways to Optimize Occupancy Rate

Monitoring Calls

To boost agent productivity, managers should track call volumes in real-time and identify peak and off-peak hours. A small change in communication during busy hours can greatly improve occupancy rates. This reduces client wait times and increases profits. Regularly listening to live calls helps pinpoint weaknesses and improve team efficiency.

Managing Customer Traffic

Predicting customer traffic is challenging. Ideally, call centers would have enough agents to avoid long wait times. To maintain a balanced occupancy rate, centers should analyze traffic patterns over time to anticipate busy periods.

To effectively handle these peak periods, partnering with Simply Contact's outsourcing support services can provide the necessary additional resources, seamlessly integrating with your operations to maintain high service standards.

Utilizing Quiet Times

To avoid wasting resources during low-activity periods, call center managers should identify these times and keep advisors busy with tasks beyond regular calls. Engaging in outbound calls, collecting customer feedback, and promoting services are effective strategies.

Additionally, offering incentives and fostering a competitive, enjoyable work environment can boost morale. These periods are also ideal for training sessions to enhance team efficiency.

Automating Routine Tasks

When occupancy rates exceed 90%, consider implementing self-service options. This reduces employee workload and allows customers to handle simple tasks like callbacks, checking availability, and tracking orders. This approach frees up agents for more calls and reduces customer wait times.

Calculating Call Center Metrics

Understanding call center metrics like occupancy is straightforward, yet it's often confused with other key measures like Adherence and Conformance. Let's clarify these terms:

  1. Occupancy: This is the time agents spend on calls and related tasks compared to their total logged-in time.
  2. Adherence: This measures how closely agents stick to their scheduled shifts. For example, if an agent is scheduled for a 6-hour shift (360 minutes) but starts an hour late (60 minutes), their adherence rate is: (360 - 60) / 360 x 100% = 83.3%
  3. Conformance: This is essentially the reverse of adherence, comparing the scheduled shift time to the actual time worked. For instance, if an agent works 6.5 hours (390 minutes) instead of 6 hours (360 minutes), their conformance rate is: 390 / 360 x 100% = 108.3%

These metrics help in evaluating agent performance and overall efficiency in a call center.


You now have a clear understanding of occupancy in a call center and the strategies to manage it effectively. It's important for professional contact centers to consistently monitor their agents' performance. This helps maintain an ideal occupancy rate, ensuring that employees are neither idle nor overwhelmed.

Skilled managers recognize when to use outsourcing and how to efficiently handle inbound and outbound calls. This approach ensures high-quality service while minimizing costs and resources.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact us. We're here to help you achieve the best results in your call center operations.

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