Idle Time in Contact Centers

Do you know how much idle time your agents average per day?  According to the 2011 Knowlagent Contact Center Productivity Survey, the average amount of idle time per day per employee is about an hour.  This led to some interesting questions about measuring productivity vs. performance.

Leading performance metrics include quality, customer satisfaction survey results, first-call resolution, and weekly, monthly, or quarterly sales.  Productivity metrics include average handle time; completed calls per hour, day, week or month; occupancy; utilization; schedule adherence; and shrinkage.

Tracking absenteeism, tardiness, and log-in times is one of the most common ways to measure idle time but some organizations are going above and beyond the basics.  According to Joseph McKendrick of Unisphere Research, “Two-fifths [of survey participants] report they attempt to measure and track the amount of “idle time” which agents spend waiting between calls or online inquiries.  A similar number keep track of break times, or time spent in staff meetings.  Only 10%, in fact, say they’re not sure what is being tracked.”

What’s happening during this idle time?  It seems that the “back office” work changes significantly between organizations but one like-finding shows that two-thirds of respondents described sifting through complaint resolutions as a top task.

In the past, agent managers have studied quantitative data based on productivity rather than performance.  With the increase in technology and measurable data, it is now possible to look at a variety of factors implicating success and idle time of individual agents.

About Jackie:
Jackie joined Inova after completing her M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications at West Virginia University. She loves traveling, cooking, and watching Mountaineer football. You can contact Jackie at

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