What is Agent Idle Time in a Contact Centre?

Anwesha Roy

Improve efficiency and eliminate any bottlenecks

What is Agent Idle Time in a Contact Centre?

Contact centre managers are always looking to improve efficiency and eliminate any bottlenecks that could be holding back profitability. A PwC survey found that operational efficiencies were the no.1 priority for 77% of contact centres, helping to drive growth. One of the ways to increase contact centre efficiency is by reducing (or rather optimising) agent idle time.

Idle time is an important and inevitable part of a typical agent’s workday. Let’s explore what this concept means and how you can calculate it.

What is Agent Idle Time? Definition and Formula

You can define idle time as the interval between the moment when an agent completes post-call activities for one interaction and the moment when they start the next interaction. Idle time is measured for both inbound and outbound contact centres and should be calculated for each agent in the workforce.

Most contact centre systems generate logs that automatically calculate an agent’s idle time and display it at the end of the day. The formula for calculating it manually is:

The time when the agent engages in a call – the time when the agent had turned off the not available status for the previous call (measured in seconds or minutes)

You could also measure the total idle time at any given moment of the workday. This reflects how many of your agents are sitting idle and how long they have been idle in the contact centre. The formula for calculating agent idle time in real-time is:

Total seats or 100% – occupancy rate in percentage

Finally, you can calculate the average idle time for an agent per day. This is useful if you want to pinpoint performance issues for specific agents and ensure that every member of your workforce is complying with your contact centre average/benchmark. To calculate the average idle time for an agent, follow this formula:

Total idle time across the day in minutes or seconds ÷ the total number of interactions

Note: agent idle time is also sometimes referred to as agent available time, as it indicates the duration in which agents are available to take calls, i.e., not busy in productive activities. Here are some agent Idle Time Best Practices

Don’t aim for 0% idle time

If your contact centre idle time is 0% at any given moment, it means that there are no agents available to take a call and the customer queue will start increasing.

Factor in Post-call Activity Time

Agents could squeeze in personal activities during the call wrap-up period instead of marking themselves as available. This is also a sign of inefficiency, in addition to too much idle time.

Route Idle Time to Training

Next-gen training tools can help deliver short bursts of knowledge/information, making productive use of the time during which agents must wait for the next call.

Identify Your Most Idle Agent in Real-Time

At any given moment, your most idle agent has been waiting for the longest. Incoming calls should be routed to this agent before anyone else.

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