Why is Occupancy Rate So Important in the Call Center?

Call Center | 2 minute read

Occupancy Rate is one of the most widely used metrics in the call center industry. But what exactly does it mean, and how can you leverage it to better your business?

If you’re new to call center KPIs or need a refresher, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a crash course on occupancy rate!

What is occupancy rate?

Occupancy rate refers to the amount of active time your agents spend handling calls. It’s displayed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing their active time by total time worked.

Active time includes the time your agents spend engaging with a caller, on hold, and completing work after the call concludes. Many call center systems have features that can help you track and calculate agent occupancy rates.


Occupancy rate is sometimes referred to as “utilization rate”.

What is your occupancy rate telling you?

Your occupancy rate can help you understand the daily activities of your agents and how much of their time is spent handling calls. This metric can help you make decisions in the following areas:

  • Are your agents able to handle incoming call volumes?
  • Are you overstaffing or understaffing your call center?
  • Are your agents using idle time efficiently?
Ideally, contact centers should aim for an occupancy rate of 85-90%. #CCTR #KPIs #Fonolo Click To Tweet

A common misconception is that occupancy rate is directly correlated with an agent’s productivity. This is not the case — this metric indicates the amount of time spent on active calls, but it does not infer how efficient an agent is during this time.

While you should aim for a high occupancy rate, a perfect 100% rate isn’t necessarily ideal. If your agents are constantly working at full throttle, you’ll find yourself facing different challenges including low agent satisfaction, burnout, and high turnover rates. This can also impact customer satisfaction and quality of service. Instead, aim for an occupancy rate of 85-90%.

How to improve your occupancy rate.

If you’re struggling with a low occupancy rate, here are some tried-and-true tactics to explore:

Analyze call volume trends.

When in doubt, always look at your historical data. Pay special attention to trends in call volume — particularly times of the day, week, and year where you see increase in demand. This will help you anticipate customer demand.

Optimize your staffing.

Once you have the foundation for your call volume forecast, it’s time for strategic scheduling. Idle time often stems from having more agents than customer calls, which can be costly for your contact center. By anticipating call volume, you can aim to have the appropriate number of agents scheduled for shifts.


Call center outsourcing is another popular alternative for addressing low occupancy rates.

Invest in call-back technology.

While call volume forecasting is useful, it isn’t 100 percent accurate. Unexpected events and crises can trigger a sudden wave of calls, catching your contact center by surprise. Call-back technology acts as a safety net in these situations by offering customers a call-back. This way, they don’t have to wait on hold, and your agents can focus on serving callers requiring immediate attention.

Assign tasks for quiet periods.

During unexpected lulls, consider providing agents additional tasks to work on. This way, your call center will get more value out of your agents’ idle time.

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