Brunt Work calculates how to work out how many outsourced customer support agents you need

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As more and more companies outsource their customer support services, one critical question arises: how many agents do they need to ensure their customers receive prompt and efficient service? The answer lies in a sophisticated tool which Brunt Work relies upon heavily to work out customer support outsourcing requirements for its client base. The tool is known as the Erlang C calculator, otherwise knowns as a headcount calculator.

The Erlang C calculator is a mathematical formula used to determine the appropriate number of customer support agents required to handle a given volume of incoming calls or chats at a contact center. The tool takes into account factors such as call volume, average handling time, and service level requirements, to calculate the optimal number of agents needed at any given time.

According to SWPP, if workforce management fails in call centre operations, there are serious implications on callers, frontline staff, and on the bottom line. Fortunately, a very clever man, Mr. Erlang, created a formula that allows users to model a variety of different variables in order to pinpoint the precise number of people needed to satisfy the Service Level targets. And thus, the Erlang C calculator was born. BruntWork CEO Winston Ong gives the basics of this calculator and why it’s necessary for call centres.

What Exactly is Erlang C?

Erlang C is a traffic modelling technique that is mostly employed for call centre scheduling to determine delays and forecast caller wait times. With the help of this mathematical formula, contact centres can forecast their workload and determine how many service and support agents are necessary to handle the anticipated volume of calls and deliver the appropriate level of customer service.

When a customer is added to a queue because a support resource is unavailable, the Erlang C formula is applied. The consumer remains in line until a resource becomes accessible. When a consumer is denied service and their request is denied because they did not receive a free resource, another Erlang formula is applied. The name for this formula is Erlang B.

So What is the Erlang C Formula?

The Erlang C formula gives a method for calculating the probability that a caller will wait for an agent, given a specific level of traffic and the number of available agents. Here are the various elements: 

Pw = is the probability that there will be a delay while the customer waits to speak with a support representative
P > 0 A = the call center’s overall volume or traffic intensity
N = the quantity of call centre personnel or agents available

Advantages of Using Erlang C

For all types of call centres, Erlang C is a valuable formula. Based on past or predicted call volumes and average conversation length, it offers a decent, if not ideal, estimate of staffing needs. To increase the effectiveness and timeliness of operations, managers can use it to determine the expected load (incoming calls) and make personnel decisions. 

It offers a mathematical way to guarantee employee availability and reduce client wait times. Managers can utilise Erlang C to staff the call centre effectively based on the desired service level, minimising wait times, controlling expenses, and improving customer satisfaction.

The results of the Erlang C calculator are just the start of modeling staffing needs. It can be used in a variety of ways to help companies grow efficiently without sacrificing customer service quality. Any good BPO will bring significant experience to the table regarding how to staff and grow a call center as it scales.

Limitations of the Erlang C

However, the Erlang C calculator is not without its limitations. The tool assumes that call volumes and handling times are predictable and stable, which may not always be the case. It also assumes that agents are equally skilled and efficient, which may not be true in practice.

Despite these limitations, the Erlang C calculator remains a valuable tool for companies looking to optimize their customer support operations. It allows businesses to strike the right balance between staffing levels and service levels, ultimately resulting in better customer experiences and increased efficiency.

In conclusion, as outsourcing of customer support services continues to grow, the Erlang C calculator remains an essential tool for companies to determine the optimal number of agents required to handle incoming calls and chats and BruntWork’s CEO Winston Ong will continue to use it to predict the outsourcing requirements of his huge global client base. While the tool has its limitations, it provides valuable insights for businesses seeking to deliver high-quality customer support while managing costs effectively.

This article is a paid partnership with Brunt Work.