Effective Call Center Management: Service Level

Delivering a high level of service depends on effective call center management. However, it takes more than just making sure agents are at their stations and working. Managing a call center requires a keen observation of agent responsiveness.

Performance for a contact facility is broken down into four major segments: quality, responsiveness, productivity and cost. These elements are what call center managers use to determine the effectiveness of agents. The data is also used to determine the level of service employees provide.


Defining Service Level/Response Time

The quality of service provided by agents and the speed in which they handle interactions plays into efficiency. The lower the average handle time, the better. A quick response time and short call duration demonstrates a superior level of customer service.

Globally, 80 percent of calls are connected within 20 seconds. This means most people have a short wait time when it comes to human interaction. However, the global metric for average wait is as high as 28 seconds.

In an age where technology provides a great deal of instant gratification, callers want to speak to an agent immediately. This means agents need to be as quick and efficient as possible as it is key to optimal results. While this is nothing new, the mindset of callers today makes it more important now than ever before. The longer an individual remains on the line waiting for an agent, the more likely he or she will abandon the call. The global metric for this can be as high as eight percent.

Most call center software dashboards display metrics in both real-time and historical data. This is important as it provides clarity into whether or not enough agents are on hand to address the call volume.

It is important to note that averages for each call center will vary greatly depending on the service and industry. However, the global metrics can still be used as a comparison point as well as an objective. Each call center will have to determine goals specifically for the facility.


Calculating Service Level/Response Time


Service Level

The service level is the number of calls answered within a target number of seconds. For example, 80 percent of calls answered within 20 seconds is a service level goal. An efficiency percentage is then used to calculate if a call center is meeting that level of service.

For instance, assume that a call center has a total volume of 100 calls per day. The 80 percent threshold would be 80 calls handled within 20 seconds. If agents only handle 65 of those calls within that time frame, the service level percentage would be 81 percent – 65 divided by 80.

Response Time

Response time is calculated by goals set to handle interactions within a specific time frame. An example of this is if a call center has a goal to address all inbound calls within five minutes.

For this example, a contact center has a goal to answer all emails within two hours. Over the past 24 hours, it received 150 messages. Out of that 150, only 130 of them were answered within two hours. This means the response time is 87 percent – 130 divided by 150.


Improving Service Level/Response Time in the Call Center

There are many ways managers can improve the service level and response time within a call center. Through the use of data collection and monitoring, strategies are easy to develop.

Here are several ways to improve service level/response time within the call center.

Workforce Management Optimization

Optimizing workforce management will streamline a large portion of the call center. Using technology and approaching issues that arise logically serves to boost the level of service the call center delivers.

Optimization of Occupancy and Schedule Adherence

Getting the most out of schedules is vital to improving occupancy rates. Many managers will work with agents and be flexible when it comes to filling out these schedules. Not only is this beneficial to improve schedule adherence, but it can also play into reducing agent attrition.

Reducing Agent Attrition

Agent attrition is one of the worst problems that a contact center can have. It reduces efficiency, increases overall costs and has potential to sap morale. By reducing agent attrition, the facility has a much stronger workforce and is more likely to succeed.

Improving Agent Competency

One factor that affects attrition rates as well as customer satisfaction is a lack of education. Agents need competency in their jobs to effectively address caller needs. This means managers need to offer training methods that are engaging and intuitive of the system.

Improving Call Forecasting

Using metric data, managers are able to forecast volume with great accuracy. This is beneficial for scheduling agents. Think of how most retail stores stock up on employees during Black Friday sales in the United States. It’s the same principle.

Enhancing First-Call Resolution (FCR) Methods

Improving first-call resolution, or FCR, leads to a satisfied customer base. Individuals often don’t like the idea of calling back if an issue still isn’t resolved. Taking steps to enhance FCR improves efficiency and technically lowers call volume.

Offering Multiple Channels and Self-Service Options

Technology today allows contact centers to deliver multiple types of communication channels and self-help options. For example, live website chat and email support easily go along with a phone number. Many organizations will place self-service operations that are web-based so customers may find answers themselves, such as FAQ pages or account profile options.

Optimizing Call Center Software

Optimizing the use of call center software is imperative to remain efficient in the facility. This often means exploration of the application and education about its features. If staff know how the tools work and are trained in operation, the contact center will benefit.

Focusing on Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is, and always will be, the cornerstone for success in any business. In an age where upset users can take to social media and quickly share with a wide audience, enhancing the customer experience is vital.


Callers want to spend as little time as possible while getting the most in the experience. It’s all about delivering a quick and accurate response to inquiries whether it’s a phone call or live chat. Give agents the tools and training necessary to succeed as these will weigh heavily in the effectiveness of the call center.


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