Availability refers to how much time workers have to serve customers. At GlowTouch Technologies, many of our clients come to us with teams that average 60 to 70 percent customer service availability. With the help of our tech support services, they are often able to increase that number to 90 percent or higher.
Occupancy is the percentage of the time your workers spend actually serving customers, rather than waiting to serve customers (waiting to take a call, for example). The higher the occupancy level, the more cost efficiency you get from your team. A lower occupancy level can help your team limit wait times. Many of our clients have 50 to 70 percent occupancy when they first come to us, but we can help them reach as high as 90 percent occupancy. Based on specific business needs, occupancy can be scaled up or down.
A related measure to track is abandonment rate, which refers to the percentage of callers that leave before a tech support representative can answer a ticket. High abandonment rates can happen when occupancy is extremely high and is something to consider.
Concurrency tells us how many tickets, chats or calls your team is handling at the same time. At GlowTouch, we can handle anywhere from two to eight tickets concurrently. As you increase the number of chats, cost efficiency improves, but personal touch can be compromised. The right configuration for you will be based on your business needs in sales, AHT, costs and efficiency. We can model different outcomes based on scaling up or down concurrency.
Average Handle Time (AHT)
AHT varies depending on what types of support issues your team is handling. Highly technical tickets can take hours, while more straightforward requests can be resolved much more quickly. It’s important to keep in mind that high AHT can mean inefficiency, because it might indicate that team members aren’t capable of resolving customer issues. At the same time, a low AHT number could mean that representatives are processing calls without solving issues, forcing the customer to call back.
The key is finding the AHT that’s ideal for your business: not too high or too low, but just right. This can be done, though it requires “planning, prepping and working smarter as a team, with a longer term focus on building value for your customer and ensuring your customer’s success,” according to Kayako.
Cost Per Resource
Now that you know what makes a tech support team efficient, it’s time to put it all together. Cost per resource is another key element in maximizing efficiency. For example, if you pay a support representative $14 per hour, a 30-minute call costs $7 (assuming they handle one call at a time). We calculate your business’s ideal output this way:
Number of resources (support representatives) times AHT at [X] availability and [X] occupancy = the number of tickets your team should answer per day.
It’s also important to consider non-salary or wage costs into this calculation. Examples include:
- Health insurance
- Building costs
- Human resources costs
- Hiring and training costs
One way to increase efficiency even further is through partnering with an outsourced technical support firm, which lowers cost variables like these.
Turning your support center into a profit center
When you improve customer service, you increase the chances of future business. In fact, it’s possible to turn a profit on technical support — we’ve done it.
Think of technical support as not just a trouble shooting center, but also as a opportunity to proactively help customers improve their businesses. You can help your customers be successful in their businesses by having your team dig into their true problems and needs, then introduce them to some of your products that will help them. At GlowTouch, we’re often able to deliver our clients more than twice as much sales revenue from support than the cost of their support contract with us.
Our resource, How to Turn Your Support Center into a Profit Center, gives a more in-depth look at support profitability.
Outsourcing and Quality
Outsourcing can help achieve profitability because both costs and overhead are lower. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, you should ensure that your outsourcing partner stays within 5 percent of your existing quality metrics, such as customer satisfaction (CSAT). Your partner should prove their efficiency by meeting — or exceeding — your expectations. GlowTouch can help you create a tech support plan that’s right for your business. For more information about choosing the right support provider, download our guide: Questions You Should Ask a Potential Support Provider.