Call Center Productivity: Proven Tips and Strategies

Call center productivity is among the most important components of many businesses—providing crucial customer support and managing a large volume of calls on a daily basis. By implementing best practices, utilizing the latest technology, and other key strategies, businesses can improve their call centers’ efficiency and effectiveness, increasing customer satisfaction and revenue.

Over the past few years, about half of consumers worldwide have increased their use of digital channels to interact with businesses, and 87% expect to continue or increase this in the coming years. This trend toward digital engagement has put pressure on call centers to adapt and evolve. With more customers turning to digital channels for support and assistance, call centers need to find ways to integrate these channels into their operations while keeping productivity high.

Let’s explore how you can maximize call center productivity and provide you with tips to implement in your own business.

How can you measure call center productivity?

The first step in improving call center productivity is to understand your currently productivity metrics, which gives you a baseline to set key performance indicators and gauge your team’s progress over time.

There are four key metrics that relate to call center productivity.

1. Average Handle Time

Average Handle Time (AHT) measures the total time it takes a call center agent to resolve a customer’s issue, including:

  1. Talk time
  2. Time on hold
  3. After call work

Basically, it encapsulates the total time taken between when the agent picks up the call and when the interaction ends.

You can calculate AHT with this formula:

AHT = (Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + After Call Work Time) / Total Number of Calls Handled

What is a good AHT? That depends on your industry, but your team likely has room to improve if it’s more than six minutes.

If your AHT is too high, you should dig into each one of the components—Total Talk Time, Total Hold Time, and After Call Work (ACW)—to identify where the issue is.

If your hold times and wrap-up times are excessive, it may be due to individual inefficiencies in your team members. But if it’s high across the board, you need to ask some questions about processes:

  1. Are you understaffed?
  2. Are your knowledge retrieval systems inefficient?
  3. Do your internal communication systems need improvement?

Once you find the source of friction, you can start taking measurable steps to improve your contact center’s productivity.

2. Average Talk Time

Average Talk Time (ATT)  is a subset of AHT that strictly measures the time agents spend talking to customers, outside of second-order metrics like hold time or ACW. It’s a simple formula:

Average Talk Time = Total Talk Time / Number of Calls

A good ballpark for ATT is three minutes, though, of course, that will depend on your industry and the overall complexity of the issues your team resolves. Simple customer service queries may generate low ATT, but intricate technical issues mandate longer talk times.

However, if your ATT is unusually high, the first thing to examine is your script. Are your reps following it closely or chatting unnecessarily and leaving other customers waiting? If ATT is too high across the board, it’s worth examining the scripts to see if they can be shortened or condensed without detracting from the customer experience.

3. First Call Resolution

First call resolution (FCR) measures the percentage of customer inquiries or issues that are resolved during the initial interaction or contact, without requiring any further follow-up or escalation. A good FCR is anywhere between 70% and 79%.

FCR is a key metric not only for efficiency but also for customer satisfaction. Customers who have to call in repeatedly will not be satisfied… or continue being customers.

If your team is struggling with FCR, here are some first steps to explore:

  • Pinpoint the issues leading to repeat calls and determine if there is a common denominator.
  • Ask if calls are being correctly routed in the first place. Does your phone menu offer the correct choices upfront so customers can speak with the correct department?
  • Determine whether your agents need additional training to handle customer issues effectively.
  • Ask if your knowledge management tools efficiently give your agents the necessary information.

4. Number of Missed Calls

Another important metric in call center efficiency is Number of Missed Calls. This measures how many customers call but hang up because the call isn’t answered promptly.

Missed calls equal a poor customer experience, reduced CSAT, and lost opportunities, so keeping the percentage as low as possible is crucial.

Reasons for missed calls:

  • Understaffing
  • Excessive handle times
  • Low agent productivity
  • Poor call routing
  • Technical issues

Often, if you address the first three metrics outlined above, your number of missed calls should decline.

How can you improve call center productivity?

improve call center productivity

To ensure that your call center is operating at optimal efficiency, consider implementing the following strategies.

1. Increase Agent Motivation

Why do your agents do a good job? Why are they motivated to show up and perform at a high level? If your answer is “I’m not sure” then it’s time to consider how you motivate your employees. Agents who want to do a good job at work and know what their goals are will be more productive. 

There are a few ways to motivate agents:

Involve employees in decision making. A study by Wolf and Zwick in 2002 found that employees who were invested in the company’s decision-making process were more productive. Consider asking team members for ideas on how to improve efficiency, what they’d like to see more of in the office and their thoughts on how to offer a better customer experience. 

Offer more freedom. Agents who have the authority to be flexible in how they address customers’ needs are more effective, more responsive and more personal. They’re also highly motivated to do a great job. 

Consider using rewards to incentivize behavior. Using rewards like cash bonuses or gift cards can encourage agents to meet goals and go the extra mile. Decide which behaviors you want to reward, decide what you’ll offer as a reward and then publicize the program widely. 

Recognize employees who do a good job. Rewards don’t always need to be monetary. Even just recognizing the hard work and achievements of your employees can go a long way to motivating them. According to Gallop, 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. 

Combining multiple motivation strategies can boost agent productivity and help keep your team working hard towards meeting your company goals. 

2. Make Customer Information Easily Available

Productivity isn’t just a people problem – it’s also a technology problem. Even if agents are extremely motivated to hustle, they need the right tools to be able to work quickly. 

For call centers, being able to find the right information quickly can drastically improve average handle time. It also reduces errors and improves customer satisfaction. Kolin Porter, Vice President, product innovation at Higher Ed Growth says, “So much of contact center efficiency hinges on using the right technology. It’s crucial that contact centers implement a tool that pulls in all of the necessary portals and processes into one simplified platform.” 

Customer service agents frequently use up to eight different systems in order to resolve a customer’s inquiry, according to DigitalGenius. Flipping between tabs is time-consuming. 

Instead, integrate your systems together so that agents have everything they need right in front of them. A computer telephony interface (CTI) is a common feature of modern call center software systems. They pop-up in the agent’s browser when the phone rings and present all the information needed, from across the various integrations. 

Using integrations promotes information accessibility. An agent equipped with information is much more likely to solve the customer’s problem accurately, in the first call. 

3. Review Your Call Center Workflows

Your agents are motivated and they have all the information they need. Now it’s time to make sure that your organizational workflows aren’t holding them back. 

Save your best stuff

Customer service can be a repetitive job. But fortunately, that makes it easy to build repeatable workflows that help you become more productive. For example, using TextExpander to save common internal notations or for follow up emails can cut down on call wrap-up time. 

Set up your team with a library of useful snippets designed to prevent agents from typing the same thing over and over again. Not only does it make your team more productive, it also improves consistency! 

Optimize your call traffic routing

“Nothing slows down the efficiency of a call center more than poor call traffic distribution. If customers are being sent to the wrong department, then they tied up customer service personnel from helping the right people. It ties up lines and makes the whole center fall behind.” 

Tyler Riddell, Vice President of Marketing, eSUB 

Get your customers to the right person, fast. Consider auditing your interactive voice response (IVR) menus to improve service levels and make sure calls are consistently being forwarded to the right team. Are the menu options clear to customers? Do they cover all the options? Do the agents answering the calls have all the necessary training to address the customer’s questions. 

In busy times, you might also consider adding a call-back solution. This increases productivity by spreading out volume peaks over the day. Agents can take advantage of downtime to wrap up tickets and get more work done. 

Finally, look into ways that you can collect more information from customers before they reach a human. Authenticate customers using an automated solution to save time. Research shows that the average time to verify a user is between 45-90 seconds. Reducing this time can have a big impact over a large number of calls. 

Escalate when needed

Some questions just can’t be answered by one person in one phone call. Having a clear process for escalations can save time and prevent frustration. Support agents by being available during live calls, and physically available for quick questions. 

4. Reduce Call Center Agent Turnover 

Keeping a stable team will help you to reduce training costs and time. It will also help you to monitor productivity on a longer-term scale. Providing a supportive work environment prevents agents from quitting.

Encourage agents to take breaks throughout the day. Humans aren’t designed to function non-stop for 8 hours a day. Breaks will refresh your agent’s mind and keep them operating at peak efficiency. 

Consider rotating agents through other contact channels and tasks. Agents will have the opportunity to develop more skills and become more engaged in the overall customer experience. These benefits will improve the agent experience and provide a sense of fulfillment. Not only will agents be more motivated to provide great customer service, but they will also be less likely to quit. 

5. Train Agents for Efficiency

There are tried and true tricks for mastering more efficient customer service calls. Simply letting the customer guide the conversation, for example, can end up resulting in a record-breaking 10-hour call. Hey, some customers really like to talk. 

But, nailing the first 30 seconds of a call can set the entire conversation up for success. Being confident, setting the agent up as an expert and showing empathy right off the bat can prevent customers from venting and derailing the conversation. 

Train your customer service agents on common call wrap-up phrases to use, and roleplay common customer service calls frequently. Being able to guide the conversation to a resolution can get the agent off the call successfully and onto the next customer call. 

7. Focusing on call center agent productivity through continuous training

Continuous training is a crucial aspect of improving call center productivity. Keeping agents up-to-date on the latest industry trends, technology, and best practices ensures that they can deliver exceptional customer service.

Continuous training boosts agents’ engagement and motivation. When they feel like they’re learning something new and getting better at their jobs—even if it’s only a small improvement or not truly measurable in any objective way—they become more invested in their work. Because continuous training can help agents develop new skills and knowledge that they can apply to their work, the result is improved performance and greater customer satisfaction.

Continuous training helps keep agents informed about changes in the industry, such as new products and services. Customer service agents are better able to handle inquiries and provide accurate information through this training.

What are the best call center productivity tools and solutions?

Implementing call center productivity tools can also be an effective way to improve call center productivity. These tools can include advanced call routing systems, analytics and performance metrics, and automation tools. By using these tools, businesses can gain a better understanding of their call center’s performance and identify areas for improvement.

Measuring call center producutivity is crucial for identifying areas for improvement. By monitoring call center efficiency metrics, call center agent productivity, and customer satisfaction, businesses can gain a better understanding of their call center’s performance. This information can be used to implement effective strategies for improving call center productivity.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can improve call center productivity and enhance the overall customer experience. Regularly monitoring and measuring performance can help to identify patterns, trends, and opportunities to improve call center operations and customer experience. Here are a few of the top tools to improve call center productivity.


Five9 is a cloud-based call center software that is widely used by businesses of all sizes. Five9 helps you reimagine your customer experience and achieve tangible business results. Its solutions enable you to engage your customers on their channel of choice, streamline your operations, and use the power of practical AI, automation, and the cloud to increase business agility and exceed your customers’ expectations.

Key features include:

  • Skill-based routing
  • Real-time and historical reporting
  • Advanced analytics
  • CRM integration

The pricing for Five9 starts at $149 per user/month.


TextExpander helps to improve the productivity of call center agents by allowing them to quickly insert pre-written responses using Snippets, saving time and reducing errors. It breaks down information barriers and ensures that all necessary parties have access to it. It also helps facilitate the sharing of knowledge across different departments to promote consistency and eliminate the need for redundant efforts.

TextExpander is a perfect fit for businesses of all sizes and industries that want to improve their call center productivity and automate repetitive responses. It dramatically speeds up a call center professional’s ability to use chat tools and send emails to customers.

TextExpander allows customer service professionals to personalize their content by including elements such as the current date, customizable fields, and optional sections. With countless options available, your team can maintain their unique voice in all communications while still being efficient and productive.

There’s a built-in TextExpander widget below so you can see the power of unlocking your team’s knowledge.

See how TextExpander works

Thank you for your email! I’m happy to look into this for you.

I’m happy to walk you through our active-user-based billing system. TextExpander works on pre-purchased credits, where 1 user needs 1 credit a month, or 12 credits per year. We only deduct credits for users that expand a Snippet within a billing period.

There are two payment plans available:

  • Annual Payment: You purchase 12 months’ worth of credits per user on your billing date at a 20% discount.
  • Monthly Payment: You pay for one credit per user at the beginning of each month

Once you use up your credits, you are charged again at the start of the next billing period, either for another year on the annual plan or for the next month on the monthly plan. There are also additional billing resources at this link.

Does this clarify?

Thanks for reaching out to TextExpander. I’ve escalated your request to our tier 2 support team, who should get back to you shortly with a solution.

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Key features include:

  • Company and team snippet libraries
  • Centralized team management
  • Works anywhere you type
  • Local AI suggests new Snippets based on usage

The pricing for TextExpander starts at $8.33 per user/month for business accounts


CloudApp is a screen recording and sharing software that allows customer support agents to share visual information quickly and easily. It is widely used by businesses of all sizes—from small startup companies to large enterprises—and it’s a good fit for those who want to improve communication, collaboration, and customer satisfaction.

Key features include:

  • Screen recording and upload
  • Annotation
  • GIF creation
  • Redaction of sensitive data

The pricing for CloudApp starts at $9.95 per user/month.


One popular knowledge management solution is Confluence by Atlassian. Confluence is a collaboration and document management platform that allows teams to create, share, and organize information in one central location. It can be used for storing and managing information such as customer service scripts, product documentation, and company policies.

Key features include:

  • Document collaboration
  • Templates and formatting options
  • Advanced search and organization capabilities

The pricing for Confluence starts at $5.75 per user/month.

FAQ About Call Center Productivity

What is productivity in a call center?

Call center productivity is based on the effectiveness and efficiency with which agents handle customer calls, emails, etc. These metrics include average wait time, first call resolution rate (number of problems resolved per agent), and utilization rate (average percentage).

Why is productivity important in a call center?

Customer service quality directly impacts a call center’s productivity level. A more productive call center will have shorter wait times and higher first-call resolution rates, increasing customer satisfaction.

What is a good utilization rate for a call center?

The percentage of calls that your company handles well can vary widely. Industry lows are around 25%, industry highs range from 75% to 80% and the average is about 50%. You should shoot for 60-70%—that way you’ll have enough capacity without overloading any one group of agents and causing burnout.

How can agents improve productivity?

Agents can increase productivity by staying organized, prioritizing tasks, and using automation tools. Training and development opportunities help agents develop new skills, which increases the productivity of those who take advantage of them.