Auxiliary time, or unavailable time, refers to the time that a call center agent is not available to handle calls, but not working on call wrap-up or other contact-related activities. Many contact center managers use Aux codes to better monitor and optimize schedule adherence and identify how an agent's time is distributed.
One of the key aspects of running a contact center is managing agent time. And while most of that 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.
Defining Call Center Aux Time
At its most basic level, 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.
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 Aux time successfully, 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.
Using Aux Time in the Call Center
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:
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 Aux time reporting.
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.
Use Aux code reporting to fuel improvements.
As you start to manage auxiliary time more closely, you'll start to see places for improvement. Use the data you gather from these analyses to streamline your call center workflow.