Quantifying the Impact of Contact Center Schedule Adherence

It’s just a few minutes a day for a few agents in your call center. What’s the big deal?

Can you quantify the impact that a lack of schedule adherence has on your call center? Here are a few approaches for putting some numbers to your schedule adherence or lack of it.

Impact on service, occupancy, and cost

The table below shows what happens when we have 350 calls per hour with an average handle time of 320 seconds (or 62 Erlangs of telecommunications workload). Let’s assume we had planned to have 69 bodies in chairs to handle those calls in order to deliver an average speed of call answer (ASA) of less than 20 seconds.

What happens if just 5% of our staff (in this case, just four people) are not adhering to their work schedule during this period? Note what happens with 65 staff in place.




Extra tel. time

Extra tel. cost/hour






























The first impact is the obvious degradation of service, dropping from a 14-second ASA to a 73-second ASA, an extra 59 seconds of delay time per call. This delay is certainly an impact that will be felt by the caller.

While the difference between 69 and 68 people is not significant – only a seven-second difference – the impact with just one or two more peple missing is substantial. When measuring “the power of one” difference between 65 and 66 people in seats, it’s a difference of an extra 28 seconds per call!

With 69 staffers in place, the occupancy would be a reasonable level of 89%. That means during the time the agents are logged in and available, they’d be busy on a call 89% of the time and then waiting idle the other 11%, just getting a breather in between calls.
But when four people drop out, occupancy shoots up to 95%, a level that will be painful for those people that are actually on the phones. With only four people (only 5% of the workforce) missing, everybody’s idle time or “breathing room” will be cut in half!

Finally, with four people missing, there’s an extra 59 seconds or almost a minute of extra delay time. This not only affects customer perception but hits our bottom line as well: With an extra minute of time on all 350 calls due to queue time, we’ll be paying the phone company almost $35 per hour extra for the time our callers are waiting.

The situation is worsened by the fact that as delays increase and occupancy rises, the talk time and after-call work time will likely go up. This will result in a higher workload, and an even worse speed of answer, occupancy, and cost increase than what we’ve noted here.

So you can view the impact of non-adherence as these three detrimental effects, or you can simply plan for the loss in the shrinkage calculation and pad in the needed extra staff. Either way, there’s a significant cost to the center.

Other approaches

Another way to look at the impact of non-adherence is to calculate the “lost-time” cost. Assume that there is a loss of 15 minutes per day per agent in a call center that houses 100 staff.

This 15-minute loss per person adds up to about 65 hours a year of lost time. At an average cost of only $10 per hour, that’s more than $650 of lost time per person, or $65,000 for the entire center.

Simply vary the lost minutes per day, the wage rate, and the number of seats in the call center to arrive at what this loss means to your center.

No matter how you add up the numbers, the end result is the same – poor adherence costs you money. Quantifying the loss may help you communicate the importance of adherence to frontline staff and supervisors.

It can also help justify the tools needed to better track and report it, as well as fund reward programs to provide needed incentives to improve overall adherence.

Penny Reynolds is a cofounder/senior partner of The Call Center School, a company specializing in the professional development of call center personnel from frontline agents to call center executives.

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