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Service Levels: Why They Suffer, and What You Can Do About It

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Service level is just one element that contributes to a customer’s positive call center experience – but it’s an important one. 

People are more impatient these days, and calls that are not answered promptly will turn into missed calls much more quickly than they would ten or even five years ago.

If your business is like most contact centers, you calculate service level by the percentage of calls answered within a pre-determined time period – for example, answering 80% of calls in 20 seconds or less. When you miss your goal, it is likely a result of one of these challenges:

Longer Calls

When new agents take longer than they should, or product issues requiring longer explanations, the number of calls-per-hour handled by agents drops, creating a domino effect that impacts when new calls are answered.

Faulty Forecast

If call volume or call patterns are different than what was anticipated, it will affect service level.

Incomplete Schedule

If scheduling does not take into account all activities, including non-call activities, meetings, etc. it can result in not having enough agents on the floor in a shift to maintain optimal service level.

Adherence Issues

When agents fall out of adherence, service level is certain to suffer.

What can you do to improve the situation? The answer is Workforce Management (WFM).

With WFM, call center forecasts will be much more accurate than spreadsheets. By utilizing call history data and running scenarios based on previous volumes and arrival patterns, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and can plan accordingly.

Better forecasts mean better schedules, and with WFM it’s easier to build flexibility into scheduling so start times, end times, break times and training sessions won’t hurt service level expectations.

Finally, WFM allows contact center managers to track adherence throughout the day, while monitoring service level alongside other key metrics. By accessing this information in real time, managers can make adjustments and rapidly put things back on track, resulting in more consistent service levels, hour after hour, day after day.

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