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Call Center Metrics: Bill To Pay or Productive To Pay

Call Center Metrics

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Call Center Metrics and Measuring Productivity

This is an update that was originally posted on July 12, 2009, Under Call Center Metrics.

Most good Call Center Outsourcers are family with this call center metric and is often referred to as Bill-To-Pay (B2P) or as Productive-To-Pay (P2P)

Bill To Pay is the measure of the time an associate is productive relative to the amount of time the associate is paid (or the amount of time billed to the client)

Now I know what you're thinking if you run an internal center..."This Call Center Metric is not for me."  Oh but it is, and you may be shocked how low your numbers are.

B2P is typically a measure that outsourced contact centers use to track percent of agent time that is billed to the client. P2P is typically the measure in-house contact centers use to measure how productive their agent base is Represented as a Percentage of total paid time.

When used in conjunction with Occupancy, it is a powerful call center metrics tool for managing the effectiveness of the overall contact center. Here is the formula:

Call Center Metrics Formula

1 Available time may not be productive or “billed” time depending on the billing model used. Per hour billing methods typically include available time; per minute models do not. You should customize your B2P model to reflect your billing model

Call Center Metrics:  What is a productive state?

Most contact center companies define a productive state as any state in which the agent’s time is billed (regardless of bill type).

Internal contact centers usually measure it as any state in which the agent is productive, within their control.

Phone states that are typically included are:

  • Time talking to a customer (ATT)
  • Time with a customer on hold (AOHT)
  • Time performing post call work (ACW)
  • Time making outbound phone calls
  • Time waiting for a call1 (AVAIL)

TIP: Some ACD’s have other states that may need to be included in calculating B2P or your productivity measure may be off.

RING time may not be included in other states

Outbound calls while the customer is on the phone may or may not be included in AOHT or included in some other state

Agents in blended roles, such as email and chat, inbound outbound, may have productive time in more than one system – or– their time may be double counted.

The best course of action is to check with your IT staff or ACD provider to determine what work states are included in which measures.

You can still calculate B2P without this information, but recognize that you may need to confirm by observing an agent’s activities for a period of time, then comparing your observations with ACD reporting.

This is the best #callcentermetrics formula to help determine productivity.  #callcenter 

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How do I know what the call center metric number should be?

The first step in developing the B2P target is understanding what the maximum average the target can be.

To develop the target, you will need to understand:

  • Your company’s time off policies
  • Your average agent’s tenure (if attendance policies vary by agent tenure)
  • Known “time off of the phone” time, such as company meetings, team meetings, training, pre-shift meetings, etc.
  • You will also need access to actual paid hours from your company payroll system, or an auditable way of tracking paid time
  • Historical information is extremely helpful in benchmarking where you have performed in the past and is can guide you to setting your future goals

To determine your B2P goal, consider the following:

Use your best estimate or an average based on agent tenure. You don’t have to be exact when setting these numbers; however, the closer you are the better your goal will be. Remember—just by measuring, you will increase productivity.  That is the beauty of this call center metrics formula.

Call Center Metrics

1 Even if training time is billed to the client, chances are it is at a different rate/gross margin. Consider leaving it out of B2P and adding it back in or calculating it separately only if it is substantial.

Call Center Metrics - Calculating B2P Goal

Using 2,080 annual hours and 430 unproductive hours:

  • Normal (non-overtime) paid hours – estimated unproductive hours = maximum productive hours.  2,080 – 430 = 1,650 maximum productive hours
  • Productive hours / paid hours = B2P.  1,650 / 2,080 = 79.3% B2B goal.
  • In this example, the goal should be set at 79%

B2P is an annualized Call Centric Metric goal

  • B2P should be set as an annual goal, but managed on a monthly or per-pay-period basis
  • Most centers will chose to maximize B2P as it is a direct link to revenue and gross margin
  • B2P normally correlates closely to Gross Margin
  • High B2P results in high Gross Margin
  • Low B2P results in lost margin dollars

Note: Paid training time and other “non-productive time” in this model will skew B2P, causing correlation to be off

Measuring performance-to-goal

B2P can be tracked at an agent, team, group, and center-wide level and be an extremely effective tool in ensuring everyone is focused on client value-added activities

  • Agent level behaviors drive
  • Team / supervisor level numbers
  • Department results
  • Center margin

Step-by-Step process to calculate B2P Call Center Metrics

  • Determine agent actual paid time 1
  • Pull agent statistics from the ACD/Phone switch
  • Gather agent scheduled off-phone time
  • Calculate Agent productive time
  • Roll-up to Supervisor level
  • Continue to roll up to highest possible level
  • “Sanity Check” your numbers.
  • Coach, COACH your associates!

Example Calculation / Case Study

Example: Tela-Ring

Tela-Ring is an outsourced contact center provider, providing Technical Support to a global client.Tela-Ring pays agents based on their log-in time, plus any paid time off; therefore, all associate time is captured by their ACD. When an associate is off of the phone, they must use an “aux” state.John works full time at Tela-Ring as a Tech Support Associate.During the last two-week pay period, John was paid for 80 hours. 8 hours of his paid time was for a vacation day.

John’s ACD statistics show the following:

  • Log-in time: 72:02:55
  • ACD Time: 36:04:03
  • Hold Time: 4:40:23
  • Avail Time: 8:03:04
  • Total “aux” states: 17:05
  • ACW time: 5:45:21
  • Ring Time: 0:25:58

Tela-Ring uses a scheduling software package that links to their switch. The following information was pulled from the system and correlated to John’s aux states (aggregated):

  • 1- 1hour company meeting 1 h
  • 1- day of vacation (not an aux state) 8 h
  • 2- 30 minute coaching sessions 1 h
  • 10-pre shift meetings @ 15 minutes 2.5 h
  • 18-15 minute breaks 4.5 h
  • 2- Training sessions 4.5 h

Total “known” off-phone/aux time 21.5h

Remember the formula...

Call Center Metrics

36:04 + 4:40 + 5:45 + 0:26 + 8:03

____________________________________

        80

= 54.96      = 68.7%

_________

        80

If the goal was set at 70%, John would not have met goal.  Why?

Continue with Steps...

Step 5:  Roll-up to Supervisor

Step 6:  Roll-up to Center

Would you really want to pay an associate for 100% of their paid time consistently and only bill the client 69% of that time?

Was John as productive as he could have been? He was on vacation, should we cut him some slack? NO!

Look at the data and ask several questions:

- Was John on the phone in a productive state the time that he should have been? NO!

- John was paid for 80 hours and logged into the phone for 72 and had 8 hours of vacation: 72+8=80However, John was in AUX for over 17 hours, and you expected him to be in aux for 13 hours.

Remember the breakdown?

  • 1- 1hour company meeting 1 h
  • 1- day of vacation (not an aux state) 8 h
  • 2- 30 minute coaching sessions 1 h
  • 10-pre shift meetings @ 15 minutes 2.5 h
  • 18-15 minute breaks 4.5 h
  • 2- Training sessions 4.5 h

Total “known” off-phone/aux time 21.5h

21.5 hours – 8 hours vacation time = 13.5 hours.

John was in aux for 17.08 hours (17:05). That’s over 3.5 hrs “missing!”

Had John been in AVAIL, Talk, or even ACW, his B2P would have been:54.96 hours + 3.58 “missing time in aux” = 58.54 hours = 80

4 percentage points in B2P can make a huge difference to your bottom line!

Additional Considerations for B2P

  • B2P is a powerful tool to manage the day-to-day operations of your contact center when coupled with Occupancy to make decisions.
  • When occupancy is high, maximize B2P. Your B2P should be exceeding goal as most off-phone activities are delayed or cancelled.
  • When occupancy is low, maximize occupancy. Take a hit to your B2P to drive the remaining agents’ occupancy higher (and increasing their individual B2P!)
  • Most call center managers intuitively do this—take agents off the phone when it’s slow, and everyone gets on the phones when it is busy.
  • What’s missing is a critical step in the process – using numbers and analysis to tell your story and quantify the impact.

Additional Considerations for B2P

Go From this:   

VP: “Why’s your B2P so low, Fred?”

Fred: “We were slow, so I took agents off the phone to up-train them on the new product.”

To this:

Fred: “Our occupancy was in the 50’s. I knew our B2P was at 87% last week, and since the volume was low, I took a hit on B2P to train on the new product. This drove our occupancy up to 75%. The extra training drove our B2P from 82% projected for the week to 78%. I decided that trade-off was worth the short-term hit.”

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Greg Meares

As a Sr. Consultant for Performance Connections, Inc., Greg’s primary objective is to provide value to organizations that are focused on raising brand awareness. Additionally Greg works on improving the customer experience, through business process re-engineering, and call center best practices. Greg is an industry expert and is often called upon to provide his analysis and solution oriented approach to improving performance in the BPO and Call Center industry.

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