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Article : Factors to Determine the Quantitative Service Objectives.

Contact Center Workforce and Quality Optimization Specialist
System Limited
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Author: Azeem Qureshi, Contact Center Workforce Management and Quality Optimization Specialist., System Limited

Whether, you are using spreadsheets and automated workforce management system, the concept of describing service goals module processes, decisions, and setup will remain same while planning contact center Strategy.

The Key Learning Objectives of this article are:

  • Describe service goals module process, decisions, and setup
  • Set service goals for each queue
  • Modify service goals
  • Set patience factor (Skill-Based Scheduling)
  • Set abandons percentage
  • Set reserve threshold
  • Use FTE calculator to make estimate on costs of staffing requirement


There are several ways for a call center to define its speed of answer goals and many factors involved in determining what the quantitative service objectives should be:

Speed of Answer Measures:

There are three basic ways to define speed of answer or delay time in a call center. These definitions are service level, average speed of answer (ASA), an average delay of delayed calls

Service Level:

The most common way to define speed of answer in a call center is by service level, with the level denoting a percentage of calls to be handled within a defined number of seconds. It is typically stated as x% of calls handled in y seconds or less, with a common service level goal in the call center industry being to answer 80% of calls in 20 seconds or less.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA):

Another common way to describe queue time or delay time is average speed of answer or ASA. this statistic represents the average delay of all calls for for the period, including those calls that experience no queue at all. For example, if half the call go into the queue and wait an average of 60 seconds, and the other half to go to an agent immediately and wait to 0 seconds, the ASA would be 30 seconds.

Delay of Delayed Calls:

Another way to quantitatively define speed of answer objectives is by using delay of delayed calls - the average wait time of just the calls that go into queue. Although less commonly used than the other two measures, it is useful as a way to evaluate the caller experience in the queue.

Defining a speed of answer or service objective is an important part of the work force management process as it has a direct influence on how many staff will be needed each half-hour. There is absolutely no such thing as an "industry standard" for speed of service. Each call center's service goal should be based on many different factors: Customer Experience, Competitive Influence, Market Position and Branding, Budgetary Guidelines.

ACD - Automatic Call Distributor reports have all the data available to calculate the above discussed service objectives. WFM scheduler and analyst create weekly or monthly forecasts by linking to historical data, importing forecast data into the service module of the system or entering the forecast data manually or using macros to link the reports of ACD and the spreadsheets.

Service Goals :

Queue :

  • Select the specific Queue and populate the data in a way to define the service goals
  • You may set and define service level goal by hour or constant as well, means each hour has a different percentage of service level or you may defined constant percentage to compute with the historical data of the selected queue
  • Following formula calculations could be considered:

Formulas and Calculation of Service Level

To understand let’s take the following data

Time Period: 30 Seconds

Calls answered

Calls abandoned

Calls answered within first 20 sec

Calls abandoned after 20 sec

Calls abandoned within 5 sec

1st Formula

The simplest and widely used formula is the same as mentioned above

Number of calls answered in the time period/numbers of calls answered X 100%

However, you should take note that this formula does not take the number of abandoned calls into consideration.

2nd Formula

This formula takes the answered and abandoned calls into consideration for calculation. The calls abandoned within the threshold is deemed as positive

Calls answered in time period + calls abandoned in time limit / total calls answered + total calls abandoned X 100%

3rd Formula

In contrast to the 2nd formula, this one considers the abandoned calls as negative.

Total calls answered in time limit/ total calls answered + total calls abandoned X 100%

4th Formula

This formula ignores the number of calls abandoned within the threshold. The calls abandoned after the set time period are considered to affect the result.

Total calls answered in time period / total calls answered + total calls abandoned after time period X 100%

5th Formula

This formula includes the short calls. For example, the number of calls abandoned within 5 seconds as mentioned in the data.

Total calls answered within time period + calls abandoned within a shorter time than time limit / total calls answered + total calls abandoned X 100%

  • Maintain a service level goal module database to set the speed at which you expect calls to be answered.

  • Quality Scorecard of the Agents: For Advanced level of schedule forecast the WFM scheduler and analyst can link the quality score card or numbers of agents with the service level goals, for example can define the at least a condition that schedule/compute at least x number of agents with A+ sales scores in late evening hours as the marketing is going to launch a new product for international market.

  • Service Level goals are set by queue and may only be set by service level not ASA

  • Forecasting and Scheduling require a patience factor instead of a abandon rate for its scheduling algorithm to simulate how contacts are arriving for agents to handle.

When you are using skill-based scheduling, you must set your service goals and a patience factor for each queue. This is the amount of time you expect a caller to remain on the line for each queue before hanging up. You might, for example, set a longer patience factor for a contact in a Tech support queue than in a Sales queue. This figure should be based on actual experience rather than setting it as a goal.

Reserve Threshold (Seconds):

The goal is to get calls answered in the required time. The system admin designates agents with primary queues and also with queues for which they are reserve 1 or reserve 2 agents. The Reserve Agent system then calculates the expected wait time (EWT) for every incoming call. If a call is expected to wait longer than one of the two overload thresholds administered for the skill, then agents who are designated as corresponding reserve agents who are designated as corresponding reserve level for this queue will be eligible to answer a call from the queue. Agents answer call on a need basis with the overriding goal being control of the wait times in the queue within the given range of trade-offs Reserve Agent System can make, depending on how the system is administered. Forecasting and Scheduling models this behavior by using these thresholds in the contact simulation when scheduling.


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