How to Calculate Schedule Adherence in the Call Center

Call Center | 3 minute read

Scheduling is vital to any call center leader’s job – down to the last break. We all know the ramifications: if you’re short an agent at peak time, your customers will feel the brunt of long waiting times.

If you are looking to improve call center agent productivity and optimize your contact center operations, you must learn how to calculate call center schedule adherence.

What is Call Center Schedule Adherence?

Call center schedule adherence is the amount of time agents spend sticking to their schedule. The schedule includes call time, wrap-ups, meetings, and training. But the concept is more complex than call center agents simply being at work or not.

Call center scheduling is meticulous because every manager needs the right number of agents to meet call volumes. That means scheduling agents for breaks at different times and ensuring someone’s always on-call if an agent calls in sick.

Sometimes, agents might not adhere to their schedule by accident. Perhaps training took a while longer than expected. Or a customer needed extensive support, dragging the call past a scheduled break. Technically, those instances are examples of a lack of adherence.

But adherence isn’t the same as conformance.

Adherence vs. Conformance

Conformance is the amount of time an agent worked compared with how much time they were supposed to work. Same as adherence, right? Not quite.

Adherence includes call center agents’ entire schedules, encompassing meetings, breaks, training, etc. Conformance narrows in on the scheduled working time, where agents take calls and perform related job duties.

Both are essential calculations for any effective workforce management system. But why?

Why Does Call Center Schedule Adherence Matter?

If too many agents aren’t sticking to their schedule, your customers and profits will suffer. At first glance, a break taken 5 minutes late shouldn’t matter. But think about how that affects your operations over time.

Through no fault of an agent, the schedule isn’t aligned with when an agent takes their break.

Say it’s a consistent five minutes late. That makes it likely for the agent to return to work five minutes past their scheduled time.

Five minutes every day accounts for 25 minutes a week. That’s 1,300 minutes per year or almost 22 hours.

And that’s only one agent at one particular time. Tack on other agents that aren’t adhering to the schedule, and you’ve got a recipe for:

  • Lower customer satisfaction scores
  • Higher abandonment rates
  • Longer wait times

That hurts the customer experience and your profits. It also impacts your agents. Angrier customers affect agent engagement, impacting customer satisfaction and sparking a downward spiral.

To sum it up: contact center schedule adherence matters because it measures your agents’ productivity and engagement and can be a warning sign that agent morale is slipping.
Schedule adherence is a great metric for tracking agent engagement and identifying individual underperformance. #cctr #cctrmanagement Click To Tweet

Call Center Adherence Calculation

Adherence rate is a percentage. Here’s what you need to do to calculate call center schedule adherence:

Adherence Rate = 100  X  (Total scheduled time – Time off schedule) / Total scheduled time

Here’s an example:

Let’s say an agent is scheduled for 480 minutes of work (8 hours) in a workday. The agent follows the schedule, except they take too long handling a call before a break. They spend an extra ten minutes working when their break is scheduled and another ten minutes on break when they are scheduled to work.

That means the agent was off-schedule for a total of 20 minutes. The calculation would be:

Adherence Rate = 100  X  (480 – 20) / 480


Adherence Rate = 100  X  460 / 480

Adherence Rate =  95.8%

This calculation represents call center agent productivity.

When setting goals with your call center agents, only factor in the times you expect your agent to be available to customers and clients. You may also want to add some cushion time. For example, if your agents are scheduled for 8 hours, factoring in two 15-minute breaks and one half-hour break, 100% adherence would have the agent available for 7 hours. If they are available for 6 hours and 45 minutes, they would have an adherence rate of 96%.

If you have a goal for a wind-down time after an interaction, say three minutes, then you know that your call center would never hit 100%, and a more realistic goal would be 90%.

Once you discover the root cause of adherence issues, you might need time to get back on track. Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs is a fantastic resource to smooth our call volumes in the interim. Instead of accepting long waiting times, customers have the autonomy to decide when they’d like to chat with an agent, drastically improving customer satisfaction and helping to optimize contact flow and handle times.


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