Utilizing Off-call Time

Headset
A majority of call centers try to eliminate what’s often referred to as off-call time. Off-call time is the amount of time that a call center employee has to be off the phones. In most call centers, it’s just a minute or two in between calls and a few breaks for representatives to stretch, eat, catch their breath, etc. (these are often required by law).

However, there are also call centers that make better use of off-call time. They don’t view it as an expense, but rather as an opportunity. Off-call time can be used to do a variety of things:

 

  • Training. Perhaps the most frequent and obvious use of off-call time is training. Taking representatives off the floor for an hour or two a week to do some training is usually a great investment. They’ll learn how to provide better service that will result in more resolutions in less time.
  • One-on-one reviews. Off-call time is also used to conduct one-on-one reviews with representatives. In these reviews, supervisors and the frontline representatives usually sit down and go over calls, talk about what the particular representative does well (and not so well), and then set goals for improvement. It’s a valuable time for both parties – supervisors can help a particular representative to improve and the representative can get feedback on what he or she is doing correctly and incorrectly.
  • More creative uses. Other companies use off-call time to do more creative things. One company I talked to uses the time to let call center employees observe or participate in the work of another department. For example, a call center representative might sit in on an engineering meeting and provide the engineering team with suggestions and insights. The call center representative might help marketing with a particular task or learn how to do something from quality assurance. There are some companies that assign secondary jobs (i. e. maintaining a board outlining some customer service metrics for the week) to normal call center representatives. The representatives use their off-call time to complete these projects.

Companies that realize off-call time can be productive are the same type of companies that realize that customer service is more than just a cost center. They realize that things like training, one-on-one reviews, and similar endeavors are worth it.

Allowing customer service representatives to take a break from the phones or the helpdesk to learn and improve is a great way to improve customer service and the customer service experience.

2 Responses to “Utilizing Off-call Time”

  1. Ben Cecka said:

    Jun 24, 08 at 1:16 am

    Great ideas here — Thanks. Something that I’ve done at our company is have downtime used for industry research and public blog submissions. It’s a win-win and is completely voluntary.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Jun 24, 08 at 5:01 pm

    Ben,

    That is a great example of a creative use of off-call time. I like it!