Calculating call center staffing to support patients and employees

Call Center Staffing
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Call center staffing can be a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve. However, accurately forecasting the demand for staff, particularly during peak periods, is critical for call center success. Understaffing a contact center increases both customer and employee attrition, whereas overstaffing wastes money. Some health plans, medical groups, and companies attempt to determine their call center staffing as a ratio of total members or customers. Unfortunately, ratios rarely consider peak times for customer calls. Accurate calculations are needed for call center staffing in order to support customer expectations and mitigate employee turnover.

Customer expectations have increased

The reality of call centers is that customer expectations are set based on their most recent, best experience. Managers can no longer depend on internal progress over previous years or months as customers are comparing their experience with every call center experience, including those with competitors or outside industry.

Customer expectations have increased while patience and tolerance for long wait times has decreased. Before a contact center can calculate appropriate staffing levels, the business must make strategic decisions regarding customer service levels. Market analysis combined with business goals will provide the necessary information for the next step in appropriate staffing levels.

Calculating call center staffing

Unfortunately, call center staffing cannot follow standard operational workforce formulas. Standard procedure states businesses take the full amount of work available and in what time frame to calculate how many staff members are needed. Contact centers do not function based on back-to-back tasks, though.

Instead, call center staffing must consider peak times of day, the day of week and time of year combined with staff experience and caller needs. While SOP formula might state 10 staff members are needed for one hour’s worth of calls, a call center might receive 15 calls in the first 15 minutes of the hour. Suddenly, customer satisfaction bottoms out as the average call wait time skyrockets.

Another important metric to consider is average talk time. While the average talk time during one part of the day might be a consistent two minutes, the talk time could double later in the day due to compounding factors. All of which are important aspects to accurate staffing.

The best formula for call center staffing analyzes peak times and average call data to achieve an effective rate of customer satisfaction without excess downtime, essentially narrowing in on the sweet spot of your organization’s goals.

Importance of accurate staffing

Health care and medical organizations have become increasingly focused on the patient experience as customers have more options and choices regarding providers. Staffing based on customer service strategies and business goals can provide stronger customer loyalty and better patient satisfaction, which can translate into longer employee tenure.

Over 70 percent of a call center’s cost is personnel, and turnover costs 16 percent gross annual earnings of an agent. Long wait times and unhappy customers increase employee dissatisfaction as agents deal with heightened frustration, which, in turn, increases turnover. Staffing your contact center with enough agents to handle demand at appropriate customer service levels will relieve stress from the overall workforce.

Accurate staffing provides better customer satisfaction that translates into increased patient loyalty. Similarly, higher customer satisfaction and lower wait times provide a better work environment for your agents. Overall, accurate call center staffing is essential to operating a successful contact center.

Click here for a free consultation on how the Call Center Optimization Group can maximize your call center staffing.

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