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5 Ways to optimize Agent Idle Time in a Call Center


One of core KPIs for a contact center’s manager is to handle agent idle time. Contact center productivity suffers if some agents are sitting idle during high call volumes. You have to evaluate the situation quickly and identify the prime reasons behind agent idle time in your contact center.

Idle time is, of course, necessary because you cannot expect your agents to be enthusiastic all day. This can cause your agents to burn out. On the other hand, when your agents are spending too much idle time at work, consider it as an indicator, that your organization might soon run into unbearable losses due to call drops or long wait times. According to a research study of Aberdeen, contact center agents spend up to 25% of their time idle.

The challenge surfaces when the managers have to take necessary measures on what to do with agents idle time. Here are 5 steps that can be taken in this scenario:

1) Manage the strength of your Agents:

A contact center flooded with agents doesn’t signify that it is more productive than the one with lesser employees. Suppose, your contact center requires 5 agents, but you hire 7, this will increase the possibility of your agents having more idle time and the contact center’s expenses are likely to rise. Nevertheless, having too few will hamper your productivity as well. It is very important for the call centers to manage the number of agents to get optimum benefits from the available resources.

Call Center Workforce management helps in accurate prediction of how many agents are needed by the contact center depending on the call volume.

For eg: If a campaign has a lot of call spikes, the agents can be switched from another campaign, this will eliminate their idle time and increase productivity.

2) Schedule your agent’s timetable carefully:

Manage your agents’ schedules with optimum care. When your agents take longer breaks, or go for lunch at an unscheduled time, or spend time working on personal tasks, the agents won’t be available for the customers. Managing schedules are challenging because you cannot treat your agents like machines by controlling all their activities. But at the same time it is crucial to maximizing their productivity. It is recommended that an agent’s timetable be created with ample breaks in-between to allow them to function appropriately.

3) Conduct special training sessions:

Utilize your agent’s idle time by making circulars available to them, which can help them gain knowledge about the changes made in the product or service. Give them access to resource library where they could view webinars, collateral, and materials, for their reference.

Apart from the product knowledge, educating your agents about building customer rapport is a necessarily essential. This can help them provide outstanding customer service and reduce average handling time. They can be better with first call resolutions to overcome the cost of repeated calls.

4) Keep your agents connected to the customers in their unproductive time:

Agents sitting idle can use their time in persuading visitors who are browsing  the company’s website and look for the opportunities to keep them engaged. Sending proactive notifications regarding discounts during the sale or new features added to the product will update your customers about your offerings and services. Send chat invitations to the customer who are searching for a product from quite a long time and help them make decisions. Providing proactive services to your customers will not only keep your agents productive, it will raise revenue opportunities for your business.

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5) Exchange feedbacks:

Feedback from the customers is a usual trend by companies to assess their own level of services. But considering your agents’ views is also important. Each agent has a different perspective, ask them for constructive reviews. Their experience can be incredibly valuable and their approach might help your company to grow.

At the same time, you can provide your agents the feedback of their performance. This will help them know where they are lagging and what measures they need to take to improve their performance.

No matter what strategies the managers apply to manage their agents’ idle time, it cannot be eliminated. But taking these measures can minimize the chance of the agents sitting idle during their constructive hours. 


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