Businesses with an outsourced call center understand that excellent customer service is essential, especially when their reputation and resources are on the line. But when agents are frequently unavailable to take calls, customers experience longer waiting times, become more dissatisfied, and switch to other companies with better service.

Ensure your customers stay with your company by understanding call center adherence and how it can impact your operations.

What Does Adherence Mean?

Adherence in a call center refers to the percentage of the time an agent is available to take or make calls. It is a standard metric measuring how much employees conform to their scheduled work or shift time.

Calculate adherence with this formula:

Adherence = [(Time Spent for Call-Related Activity) – (Time Spent for Non-Call Related Activities + Breaks)] / Allocated Schedule

If a typical shift consisted of 8 hours, 80% call center adherence means the agent was available for calls for 6.4 hours after spending 1.6 hours in breaks, lunch, and other non-work-related activities like training, coaching, and meetings.

Why Is It Critical?

Call center adherence is essential in evaluating performance and compliance with the schedule. Contact centers typically align employee shifts with peak calling periods to ensure they operate at the most efficient level possible.

An adherence rate of 100% is impossible since call center agents need regular breaks and occasional training sessions to be productive in the workplace. However, setting a more reasonable target, say between 85 to 90%, is realistic and achievable. When employees get to rest or train for additional skills, they can provide a better, more satisfactory customer experience.

Establishing the appropriate number of hours for providing service based on the adherence rate guarantees the availability of agents on standby and ready to receive calls, reducing a caller’s wait time. It also allows team leaders to forecast workloads and estimate staffing required for more cost-effective resource utilization.

Measuring schedule adherence in a call center sets a clear benchmark for performance evaluation. When used as a key performance metric, agents are more likely to observe the schedule and follow internal policies on streamlined workflows.

Best Practices for Improving Adherence

Below are some tips to encourage agents to comply with the targeted rate:smiling call center worker

Review Adherence Periodically: Call center adherence should be a moving target, so monitor it regularly. You may need to adjust it to meet goals, but at the minimum, it should be at 80% and give agents ample breathing room. When reviewing adherence, consider other indicators like average handle time and calls per hour to reach a fair and feasible percentage.

Reward and Coach: Some agents are more productive than their colleagues, so why not motivate others by rewarding high-performers? In contrast, those lagging may need coaching to identify hurdles to their performance.

Communicate the Metric’s Importance and Impact: Not all agents understand the significance of adherence in a call center. But if they see that non-compliance leads to more burden and work for their teammates, they may be encouraged to pull their weight by being more available when expected.

Providing excellent customer service is only possible if agents are available when needed the most. Consider working with a call center whose adherence rate can guarantee the best returns on your investment.

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