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How Many Customer Support Agents Do You REALLY Need? - SelectVoiceCom - Blog

How Many Customer Support Agents Do You REALLY Need?

Deciding on the number of customer support agents to hire is an important business decision.

If you have too few people answering calls, the waiting time will increase and your customers will most likely be frustrated for staying on the queue for far too long.

On the other hand, if you have too many people, you are paying for wages of excess headcount which increases your operating expenses.

So how many customer support agents do you really need?

Clearly, the answer must be one that gives the perfect balance between minimizing costs and providing acceptable, if not excellent, customer service.

Erlang calculator

The answer to the question is the Erlang calculator. You can take advantage of the free versions or you can also purchase the more sophisticated products with many additional features.

With an Erlang calculator, you can quickly compute the number of call center agents you need to hire.

However, for it to accurately work, you will need to know several important factors in your call center organization.

Number of calls

On top of the list is the total number of calls you expect in a given time period.

There are two ways that you can arrive at a number. You can estimate the number of instances each customer is going to call and then multiply that with the total number of your customers.

Moreover, you can also get a ballpark figure from customer relationship management (CRM) software, call logs, or asking agents to take note of the number of contacts they receive in a given period of time.

Expected service level

Another thing to consider is the service level which measures how fast each call is being answered.

So how do you calculate your service level?

Actually, you can come up with your own acceptable numbers or you can use the of 80/20 rule, which means that 80% of the calls are answered in 20 seconds or less.

Average handling time

The third factor to consider is the average handling time (AHT). It describes how long on average a call is being resolved from start to finish. This includes the hold time, the actual conversation between the caller and the customer support agent, and after-call work.

Operation hours

Additionally, take into account your operation hours.  Are you open 24/7 or just the usual 9-5 shift? How long you are open to serve your customers will help you decide on the headcount of your full-employee.

Occupancy rate

Occupancy rate is another parameter to check. It is concerned about allowing customer support agents some slack.

If they were to take calls 100% of the time, their performance will dip and grow tired of the work.

Allowing them after-call work, breaks, team meetings, trainings, and other such activities will prevent burn-out. The acceptable range is 75% to 80%.


The last thing to consider is shrinkage. Your employees will take some time off work for several reasons, and shrinkage measures these non-productive events such as tardiness, absences, holidays, and vacation.

Your next step

When you have determined all of the above factors, you can now use the Erlang calculator to figure out the number of customer support agents that you need for your call center operation.


Publish Date: October 12, 2017 5:00 AM

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