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Service level in the call center: How does it impact utilization and costs?

Expert Lori Bocklund explains sevice level in the call center and its effect on utilization and costs.

My company is analyzing our cost structures, and one of the things we are considering is changing our service level agreements (SLAs) with our call center providers.

For different service levels, for example, 90% of calls handled in less than 20 seconds, what percentage of price reduction can I expect? Also, what is a reasonable increase in utilization percentage?

In call centers, it is a fact that for the same workload (volume and handle time), as service level increases, the utilization rate decreases. However, you would need to model your particular environment to answer these questions regarding the impact of changing service level on your utilization and costs, as it is very size dependent.

You should run Erlang models of the current and possible service levels for your workload -- that will give you the number of agents required and the occupancy. You can calculate cost based on the number of agents required. If 90/20 is your current service level and you are a small to medium-sized call center, you should have a significant opportunity to create some savings, as that is a high service level that results in relatively high cost and low utilization.

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