May 09, 2018 by Matt Beatty

Let's Talk Balancing Staffing Levels

It’s obvious when organizations are having issues with staffing levels, right?

When you see employees at a retail store talking loudly about the obnoxious quote one of their ex-boyfriends posted on Twitter, you may think, “Wow, they really don’t have anything better to do?”


What about when the employees at the DMV are severely parched and chugging from their water bottles while you explain your [apparently irrelevant] situation of why you're there. I know I’m always left wondering why the workers seem a little overworked, exhausted, and thirsty.


In these scenarios, it’s clear that these workplaces are having issues with their staffing levels.


Unfortunately, staffing level problems aren’t as easy to identify in more behind-the-scenes examples.


This is where having access to your phone system data and objective metrics becomes imperative.


Having the ability to manipulate that data for unique perspectives that give you information about whether your employees are busy enough or too busy is the icing on the cake.


Watch the Video Below to Find Out How…


Here’s the Same Info for Your Reading Enjoyment

Agent Available Percentage and Percentage of Calls Answered are the two metrics you’ll need to track to get a better understanding of your staffing levels.


The first metric is Agent Available Percentage. This is the amount of time an agent is available to take calls throughout the day. This is also known as (the dreaded) Idle Time.


This number should be low- an agent in the 20-40% range is usually doing a fabulous job. Even if the agent is in the high 40% range, this might not be wasted time.


For example, if an agent has other duties, like replying to support emails or attending [dreaded] meetings, they’re still being productive.


The second metric is Percentage of Calls Answered and it measures how frequently agents answer their line. This should be at 95% or above. Essentially, an agent should almost always be able to answer any call that is presented to them.


Beware: this does not work in Ring Simultaneous environments where a call is presented to all agents, but only one agent is able to answer. Everyone’s Percentage of Calls Answered would be on the low side.


This metric works best in Ring Longest Idle (when a call is presented to the agent that’s been available longest) or Round Robin (when a call travels in a specific order) environments.


Fortunately, you can easily find access to these metrics in Brightmetrics™. Below is what a sample chart would look like.



So once, you’ve gathered the data on each agent, you can categorize them in the matrix below to find out what your data means.


Here’s How to Interpret Your Results

A high percentage of calls answered and available time:

Here is a clear case of overstaffing. These agents aren’t struggling to answer the phone AND have a lot of downtime too. The organization is essentially letting its money fly away. To remedy this, you can downsize through natural churn and attrition or redistribute your talented agents throughout different departments. Remember: churn and endless on-boarding/training cycles are the enemy of most healthy customer engagement operation… stay flexible in your staffing decisions.


A low percentage of calls answered with a high percentage of available time:

If you find your agents in this section, they need some coaching. This is most common when agents don’t know how to log themselves out or put themselves into release. If they don’t, your customers are subject to waiting on the line for an agent that will never answer.


A low percentage of available time and a high percentage of calls answered:

Honestly, there isn’t much to say other than this is a good place for your agents to be. They are moderately busy answering calls most of their day. High fives all around!


A low percentage of calls answered with a low percentage of available time:

This is actually something you shouldn’t see because these metrics are mutually exclusive. So if you are experiencing this, please email us at and we'll be happy to help!


So, if you’re unsure about whether your team is overstaffed or if you need to know if you’re agents are using your call center software correctly- here’s the scoop.


First, analyze your agents’ idle time and calls answered data. Then, insert the information into the matrix above. You’ll finally have a clear picture of your organization’s staffing and training levels!


Find Out How Your Organization Is Doing!


This is the third of a 4-part series of blog posts about the Key Metrics Every Call Center Manager Should Master video series.

Learn about Part 1: Do I Really Need a 0% Abandonment Rate?

Here's Part 2: Agent Productivity: The Good, The Bad, The Cherry Pickers

The down low on Part 4: Using Wrap Codes for a Refined Customer Experience


Curious on how to set up these metrics in your own Brightmetrics environment?

The how-to on Part 1: Now that We’ve Found [Abandonment Rate/Queue Time] ❤ What Are We Gonna Do?

Here's how to do Part 2: Check Out the Big Transfer Rate on Brad

Ready for Part 3? But Really, How Do I Build that Agent % Available vs % Calls Answered Already???

The last Part: London Calling… Again? Could Wrap Codes Help Answer: “Why?”


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