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About 6 months ago we had a reduction in our supervisory staff. We’re now seeing the impact with high burnout of the supervisors we still have on staff. This has impacted our agent morale and productivity, which in turn, is impacting our customer satisfaction. We have 140 agents, 3 shifts (80 agents during day shift, 40 and 20 on the other two shifts). Our day shift is where the pain is most significant because we now only have 3 supervisors. The other two shifts have less call volume and they haven’t experienced any significant changes in productivity. What would be your recommendation for the number of supervisors for 80 agents? Can you please offer ideas on how to present to our management team the benefits of hiring 2 additional supervisors for the day shift?

About 6 months ago we had a reduction in our supervisory staff. We’re now seeing the impact with high burnout of the supervisors we still have on staff. This has impacted our agent morale and productivity, which in turn, is impacting our customer satisfaction. We have 140 agents, 3 shifts (80 agents during day shift, 40 and 20 on the other two shifts). Our day shift is where the pain is most significant because we now only have 3 supervisors. The other two shifts have less call volume and they haven’t experienced any significant changes in productivity. What would be your recommendation for the number of supervisors for 80 agents? Can you please offer ideas on how to present to our management team the benefits of hiring 2 additional supervisors for the day shift?

9/12/2010

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Question
About 6 months ago we had a reduction in our supervisory staff. We’re now seeing the impact with high burnout of the supervisors we still have on staff. This has impacted our agent morale and productivity, which in turn, is impacting our customer satisfaction. We have 140 agents, 3 shifts (80 agents during day shift, 40 and 20 on the other two shifts). Our day shift is where the pain is most significant because we now only have 3 supervisors. The other two shifts have less call volume and they haven’t experienced any significant changes in productivity. What would be your recommendation for the number of supervisors for 80 agents? Can you please offer ideas on how to present to our management team the benefits of hiring 2 additional supervisors for the day shift?

Answer

Supervisors play many rolls in call centers. Typically, they are responsible for many administrative functions, including coaching agents, and also aid their team members by handling customers who demand or need higher-level assistance. The supervisor-to-agent ratio varies by call center. It generally ranges from a ratio of 1 supervisor to 10 agents to 1 supervisor for every 20 agents. Once call centers exceed the 1:20 supervisor to agent ratio it becomes very difficult for a supervisor to have any time to coach agents or handle escalated customer calls. This creates a cycle of stress that can negatively impact the first call resolution rate, overall customer satisfaction and quality scores, and agent satisfaction. When supervisors no longer have time to help agents, it compels agents to handle inquiries that they are not qualified to resolve. This hurts agent morale and results in much higher agent attrition rates, which are costly challenges for an organization.

Management increases the agent- to-supervisor ratio to save money; they may believe that this is better than cutting agents when budgets are tight. While this is true, it puts an additional burden on the call center when there is insufficient supervisory staff to support their agents. Agents are then told to do everything they can not to escalate calls to supervisors. In order to prove that the supervisory staff reduction is counterproductive, begin by reviewing call center reports to identify the impact. For example, look for increases in calls offered, caller wait times, number of abandoned calls and talk times. Specifically:

  • Are agents waiting longer for supervisor assistance? If so, document the increase in seconds/minutes/hours per day that agents are unavailable to take calls as a result of longer wait times to reach a supervisor.
  • Has agent service quality been compromised by having fewer supervisors? Insufficient or incorrect information provided to callers has a significant negative impact on customer satisfaction.

Below are some examples of how customer dissatisfaction impacts a call center:

  • Dissatisfied customers complain, resulting in longer talk times
  • Longer talk times increase the cost per call
  • Longer talk times per agent results in fewer calls being handled
  • Fewer calls handled increases wait times and the number of calls holding
  • Higher wait times increases the number of abandoned calls
  • Abandoned calls put revenues and customer satisfaction at risk
  • Increased callbacks due to inaccurate information reduces first call resolution

If you quantify the impact of these changes, you will likely be able to prove that hiring additional supervisors will help the department deliver better, cost-effective service.

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