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Answers to Two More of Your Questions About Contact Center Operations

In part one of this blog series, I answered two of your questions about contact center industry standards. For the second installment, I’ll tackle two more questions from our community.  I hope these are helpful and provide you with some insight for your contact center. Let me know what you think! Do you have an answer to one of the questions? Another question for me? Please leave a comment below.

call center industry standards

Question #1:  What’s the ideal ratio of supervisor/manager to contact center representative?

While there truly is no industry standard, the range we often hear for medium to larger contact center is 10-14 representatives per supervisor.  We used to hear 16, 18, 20, even 22 or more per supervisor.  That has changed for several reasons including, but not limited to: 

Many factors come into play here; the most significant is the critical role the supervisor plays in associate job satisfaction. 
The number one reason an employee stays with or leaves an organization is the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor. 
How many individuals can the supervisor manage and establish a strong relationship with through, coaching and developing their staff? 

Other factors that contribute to a difference in ratios:

–    What other responsibilities does the supervisor have?  Do they help with training, scheduling, forecasting, real-time management of the queue, escalated calls, and quality monitoring? If so, better keep those ratios low.
–    Does the supervisor have a team lead(s)/senior representative who can assist and support the team?
–    Budgets.  
–    How user-friendly are computer systems and processes? If there are cumbersome things for the representative to deal with, supervisors will be spending time assisting with that navigation.
–    What is the mix of new versus experienced agents? It is becoming more common to see lower ratios in the groups transitioning from training to the phones.
–    How much change is occurring in the environment?
–    How experienced is the supervisor?  What leadership support do they have?
–    Are you trying to bring about change in the environment, culture, and skills or are you maintaining status quo?
–    What are your hours of operation? 
–    How large is the contact center?  The supervisor to rep ratio might be 8:1 because there are only six reps in the center total!

Brad Cleveland wrote a great article on this topic, and frankly, I could not have said it any better!  Dr. Debra Benson also wrote a related article that’s worth a read. 

Question #2:  How many calls per representative per month should we monitor?

Once again, I need to issue this disclaimer: there is no industry standard.  The most common range we see is between 4-20 calls monitored per representative per month.  Here are some factors to consider:

1.    Resources:  

a.    In well-resourced contact centers, a separate QA team will conduct most quality evaluations
b.    In smaller centers, the frontline manager is often responsible for doing all of the monitoring and coaching for their organizations.
c.    Some centers use a blend of live, remote, side-by-side, and recorded calls. (Typically, QA teams listen to recorded calls, and managers may conduct one or two recorded and then use a blend of side-by-sides, live remotes.)

2.    Type of business:

a.     In general, more complex, regulated, financial type transactions are monitored more vs. less complex non-financial ones.

3.    The experience level of representatives:

a.    Newer representatives may need more guidance and feedback, so the number of calls monitored may need to be higher.

4.    Tools/Resources available:  

a.    Does the center have a robust quality monitoring and recording software program?
b.    What tools/resources are available to support the representative and supervisors in terms of coaching and improving i.e., eLearning, call libraries, etc.

5.    Culture and brand:

a.    What is the focus of the quality program?  How critical is monitoring and coaching to the customer experience and brand?
b.    Are monitoring and coaching viewed positively and positioned as a way for both individuals and the organization to improve?

6.    Metrics:

a.    If you score calls/contacts, how much does the quality score play into an individual’s ability to be promoted, obtain a better schedule, pay, etc.?  If it plays a significant role, then more is better!

There are many other considerations, but these are an excellent place to start and hopefully illustrate that “one size does not fit all.” Again, I’d love to know what you think! What’s the supervisor to agent ratio in your center? How many calls do you evaluate per month? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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