SIZE MATTER!

Do you really understand the call centre dynamics at play in your call centre?

by Sean McPheat, Operations Planning & Performance Manager of Barclays 5 Telebanking centres.( date 23.05.00)

 

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that size matters within the Call Centre industry I’d be a rich man! In fact if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that statement on the Renault Clio adverts, I’d be even richer!

The fact that BIG is beautiful and that small operations lead to inefficiencies and that they are costly are common trains of thought throughout the industry.

I’d like to provide you all with some food for thought with regards to some call centre dynamics associated with sizing and agent answering groups .

No matter what your role within the centre, the following page and a half will hopefully go some way to help explain some of the Operational considerations within Call Centres that are often overlooked and also the major contributors that lead to POOR business performance without anyone realising why!

 

 

By looking at the example below one can see that with a relatively low volume of calls the occupancy of the advisers is relatively low compared to if we times that same operation by 10 in size.

And no, we don’t need 10 times as many staff and the cost isn’t 10 times as much!

 

Calls Per Hour

AGENTS

Cost @ 7 per hour

Occupancy

200

13

91

77%

2000

107

749

94%

 

Service level 80/20, AHT ( Average Hold Time) 180 seconds

Economies of scale come into play when the size of the agent group increases and thus the probability of an agent becoming free increases, based upon AHT, the number of calls and call randomness.

Occupancy levels rise and idle time reduces.

 

So, SIZE DOES MATTER!

Yes it does, However…

As the operation becomes larger so it is more vulnerable and susceptible to changes in call lengths, call volumes, sickness levels and shortages of staff.

 

BIG IS GOOD, BUT IT DOES COME WITH SOME BAGGAGE!

Lets see how changes in Business Performance affects the service that is offered to our customers by taking our examples above and putting in some variances to the forecasts.

I have assumed that both our small and large sized pool of agents have been independently subjected to the following variances:

 

SCENARIO 1 : 200 CALLS PER HOUR (Small Pool of Agents)

 

VARIANCE

SERVICE LEVEL: % of calls answered in 20 secs

AHT

+ 10 secs

70%

STAFFING

- 8%

64%

CALL VOLUME

+5 %

72%

 

 

SCENARIO 2 : 2000 CALLS PER HOUR (Large Pool of Agents)

  VARIANCE SERVICE LEVEL: % of calls answered in 20 secs
AHT

+ 10 secs

19%

STAFFING

- 8%

0%

CALL VOLUME

+5 %

30%

 

So what does this mean?

The tables above illustrates that as Call Centres get bigger they become more efficient but then again they become more susceptible to changes in staffing levels, call volume increases and variations in AHT.

Taking the staffing scenario into account, if there were 8% less staff due to sickness, the 200 call per hour group would answer 64% of its calls within 20 seconds whilst the 2000 call per hour group would answer 0%.

This is due to the high occupancy levels of the large group and the fact that there would be very little idle time to soak up any of the additional demands put upon the agents.

The same can be said when there are favourable variations to the variables mentioned above.

 

CALL VOLUMES AND AHT CAN GO DOWN AS WELL THOUGH!

 

SCENARIO 1 : 200 CALLS PER HOUR (Small Pool of Agents)

 

VARIANCE

SERVICE LEVEL: % of calls answered in 20 secs

AHT

- 10 secs

86%

STAFFING

+ 8%

89%

CALL VOLUME

- 5 %

85%

 

 

SCENARIO 2 : 2000 CALLS PER HOUR (Large Pool of Agents)

  VARIANCE SERVICE LEVEL: % of calls answered in 20 secs
AHT

- 10 secs

96%

STAFFING

+ 8%

98%

CALL VOLUME

- 5 %

95%

The large pool of agents has become so efficient that favourable changes to call lengths, call volumes or additional staff ensure that too many calls are answered within 20 seconds and hence if this continues the company is carrying a large overstaffing overhead.

The requirement and challenge for accurate planning is clear to see. Depending on the size of the agents that you are planning for, you need to take different factors into account and also bear in mind the call centre dynamics that I have mentioned.

 Just Imagine….

Just imagine that you are planning for a 2000 call per hour group/centre and that you are running at 94% occupancy.

Then both AHT and CALL VOLUMES increase significantly!

Aaaaarrrggghhhh!

Then think about all of the other factors that could contribute to a poor service level:

But if we didn’t have the above, wouldn’t call centre dynamics be boring!

 

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