Measuring Agent Productivity In A Multi-Channel World

May, 2014

Supervisors must monitor a range of KPIs to measure agent performance and productivity. But use of email, chat, SMS, etc throws up many challenges to accepted methods.

To manage the contact center well, supervisors must monitor a range of KPIs to measure agent performance and productivity. But use of multimedia (email, chat, SMS, etc) throws up many challenges to accepted methods.

Take for instance the question “Are my agents wasting any time?” In the voice-only world, it’s pretty easy; just measure idle time (or subtract talk and wrap time from available time).

However, the timing of packet media activity (i.e. specifically email) is fundamentally different to that of streaming media (i.e. voice, video). This makes it much more difficult to measure lost agent productivity.

Why? What’s the difference?

With voice/ video, you can pretty much guarantee that from the start of the conversation to the end, the agent is constantly engaged.

Imagine two neighbours, Mr. A (the agent) and Mr. C (the consumer), in houses on opposite sides of the street.

With streaming media, both Mr. A and Mr. C open their front doors and a face-to-face conversation ensues. We can see that from the moment Mr. A opens his door, he is busy in conversation until he shuts it again.

In this case, if you keep an eye on the length of talk/ wrap/ idle times, you can be assured that your agent is productive.

But with packet media, a time delay factor is introduced:

Mr. B opens his door and hurls a message through Mr. A’s window. After some time, Mr. A reads the message, considers a response, does some research, consults colleagues, makes some tea, writes a response, edits the response, opens his door and hurls his message through the window of Mr. C.

Unlike a voice conversation, between each of these stages, time may pass – could be 1 sec, could be 3 mins – perhaps unwittingly, perhaps on purpose.

During those moments, the agent could be doing anything, from engaging in other workflows – emails, chat sessions, text conversations – to watching YouTube. We just don’t know because we are not measuring it.

Under these circumstances, unproductive agent time becomes harder to identify, let alone measure.

What can be done?

Here are 3 possibilities:

  1. Get a 360 degree view of agent
    Because multimedia work is fragmented and non-linear, supervisors need a unified view of all agent activity across all media types. Work should be viewable chronologically, by media type, by customer, and actually, by pretty much anything you choose. This does entail agents signing onto and off from activities, a practice that is not commonplace right now.
  2. Develop workflow metrics
    Detailed metrics such as time to reply should be augmented by longer term workflow metrics, such as completion rate and number of incompletes. As time passes and outstanding workflows remain unresolved, reporting systems should use alerts to bring them to the fore. It is up to supervisors to press for closure.
  3. Change the focus
    Augment the detailed metrics with ‘soft’ productivity measures such as customer satisfaction. Consider also that among the top factors in achieving this are happy agents – those that enjoy their work, have a variety of tasks and challenges, and are encouraged to do their best. This becomes more important as basic interactions are increasingly routed toward self-service and automation and agents spend more of their time in higher value, more complex transactions.

As the multimedia contact center matures, management and measurement must move with the times. Consideration must be given to those things less easily measured, e.g. quality of response, customer satisfaction, as well as traditional, easily-measurable metrics e.g. speed of response, completion rate. Contact centers must – as always – strive to balance of quality and quantity.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ – tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

  • Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

    Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

  • Customise, Localise, White Label

    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

  • Integration Via APIs

    ‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

  • World Class Development

    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

  • Dynamic Media Blending

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to blend and balance work load across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

  • Intelligent Routing

    Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment

  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources

  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

  • Customer Service

    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

  • Sales & Telemarketing

    Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

  • Healthcare

    Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care

  • Market Research

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

  • Collections

    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app