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How to Manage Call Center Agent Auxiliary Time

One of the key aspects of running a contact center is agent time management. And while most of your agents' time is spent on the phone, it's just as important to manage the time that your agents spend off the phone.

As a provider of some of most affordable, yet effective, virtual call center software anywhere, we are all about improving key metrics. In this article, we explore some of the best ways to manage call center agent auxiliary time and make the most of the time that your agents spend with callers or customers.

First, let's go over some terms you'll want to know:

Aux Time Definition

Auxiliary time is defined as an agent status that makes the agent unavailable for incoming calls. Within most call center platforms or ACD systems, this means that - regardless of the reason - your agents will not receive calls if they are marked as away, or Aux. This is a very important function that directly impacts your contact center's staffing practices and service levels.

Aux Code Definition

Aux codes are used to keep track of call center agent time that has been voluntarily used to not accept calls. More specifically, it's used to manage non-call activities of agents.

Aux Time Guidelines

Typically, call center agent auxiliary time falls into at least one of three categories:

  • Paid unproductive time (examples: meetings, training, coaching, etc.)
  • Paid time productive time (examples: projects, email activity, etc.)
  • Unpaid time (examples: lunch, breaks, etc.)

Some call center managers choose to use aux time to describe all three of these categories; but, this can cause problems. Call center agents may not select the correct Aux code, especially if they have target metrics for particular codes, such as after-call work. And if you have too many Aux codes, agents may end up selecting the wrong ones unintentionally. This can make it difficult for call center managers to accurately track what agents are doing when they are not available for calls.

For these reasons, many contact centers choose to define Aux time as unpaid time only. Still others choose to have agents log out of the call center system entirely when they go on break. For these call centers, Aux time is only used to track non-contact related agent activities, such as meetings or training.

In order to manage time tracking, your call center needs to decide how to categorize agent unavailability. Once you have created standards surrounding these codes, you can set goals, metrics and call routing practices for your contact center.

Managing Aux Time Best Practices

Now that you have determined how you will define auxiliary time in your call center, you need to take the next step. This includes setting targets and goals around these newly defined metrics, and ensuring that all members of the call center understand their responsibilities.

As you implement clear Aux time standards in your call center, be sure to plan for the following steps:

1. Measure, monitor, and coach

Use real-time monitoring, a feature available with most contact center software platforms, to measure and monitor the use of Aux codes in your call center. Coach and correct agents who are using these codes incorrectly to ensure accurate time tracking.

2. Keep an eye on agent morale

Call centers can be a stressful work environment. Because of this, you may note that some agents use Aux codes to remove themselves from the call queue when they become overwhelmed. Keep an eye out for this misuse of auxiliary time, and work with your agents on stress management techniques.

3. Use Aux code reporting to fuel improvements

As you start to manage auxiliary time more closely, you'll start to see places for improvement in time management. Use the data you gather from these analyses to streamline your call center workflow.

4. Be aware of aux abuse

One thing to keep in mind is aux abuse from your agents, which is aux code manipulation. Examples include aux jumping or aux toggling, where agents will purposely jump between being ready to take call and aux time to purposely be put at the bottom of the queue.

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