A guide to measuring call centre productivity

Written by:

Will Beukers

When you’re in constant competition to win over customers and gain their loyalty, the productivity of your call centre is one of the most important factors that contributes to your success. 

Good management and measurement of call centre productivity doesn’t just boost customer satisfaction — it’ll also improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and increase revenue. 

This guide will help you understand the key call centre productivity metrics, measurement techniques, and strategies for improving your call centre’s productivity.


In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Understanding call centre productivity
  • Key productivity metrics in call centres
  • Measuring agent and channel performance
  • Calculating call centre productivity
  • Improving call centre productivity
  • Benchmarking productivity

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped to measure and improve productivity among your team.

Understanding call centre productivity

Call centre productivity refers to how efficiently and successfully your agents handle calls or tickets, and resolve customer issues. It measures the output produced by your call centre relative to the resources invested, such as time, labour, and technology. Productivity metrics provide quantitative data into how well your call centre is performing in handling call volumes, resolving issues, and maintaining customer satisfaction.

Productivity is crucial in your call centre operations for several reasons:

  • Customer satisfaction — efficient handling of calls and contacts leads to quicker resolution of customer issues, improving customer satisfaction. High productivity makes sure that your customers spend less time on hold and receive timely assistance, directly impacting their overall experience.
  • Cost efficiency — high productivity means more calls handled in less time, reducing running costs and resource expenditure. By maximising agent performance and minimising wasted time, you’ll lower your cost per call and improve your bottom line.
  • Agent morale — low morale causes burnout and higher agent turnover. On the other hand, agents who can efficiently manage their workload are less likely to experience stress and more likely to stay engaged and motivated.
  • Business performance — improved productivity contributes to better overall business performance by increasing revenue and profitability. Efficient call centres can handle more customer interactions, leading to increased sales opportunities and customer loyalty.

Key productivity metrics in call centres

If you’re unsure how to measure call centre agent productivity, you should break it down into accessible metrics. Understanding these metrics helps you identify areas for improvement and implement effective strategies.

Time-on-task (adherence)

Time-on-Task, or adherence, measures the actual amount of time your agents spend on productive tasks versus the total time they are scheduled to work. High adherence indicates that your agents are engaged and utilising their work hours efficiently. This metric helps identify how well agents stick to their schedules and how much time they spend on breaks or idle activities.

Tickets closed 

A popular productivity metric is “Tickets Closed per Period.” This metric measures the number of customer issues resolved (closed) within a specific time frame, such as per day, week, or an average per hour.

Surfboard’s metric, closed per service hour, takes the context of utilisation into account, offering a ‘true’ average in relation to the time spent on service—rather than diluting it with time spent on breaks, meetings, or offline tasks. Learn more here

‘Closed’ or ‘resolved’ tickets refer to customer issues that have been successfully addressed and don’t require further follow-up. This means the customer’s inquiry has been fully answered — they don’t need to call back!

Weekly tracking aggregates this data to reveal patterns and so that underlying issues can be addressed. Monthly tracking can help to assess long-term trends, plan staffing, and identify seasonal variations. Additionally, calculating the average number of tickets closed per hour in real-time can provide visibility for immediate intervention

Measuring agent and channel performance

Call centre agent productivity

Individual call centre agent productivity can be measured by tracking:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT) is the average time an agent takes to handle a call from start to finish, including talk time and after-call work. Shorter handle times generally indicate higher efficiency but must be balanced with quality to ensure customer issues are completely resolved.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR) refers to the percentage of calls resolved on the first contact without requiring follow-ups. High FCR rates indicate effective problem-solving skills and reduce the need for repeat calls.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) reflects the quality of service provided by an agent. This score is typically gathered through post-call surveys and reflects how well the agent met the customer’s needs and expectations.

Channel performance

Productivity across different channels (e.g., phone, chat, email) can be measured by looking at:

  • Response time — the average time taken to respond to customer inquiries on each channel. Faster response times generally lead to higher customer satisfaction.
  • Resolution rate — the percentage of issues resolved through each channel. This metric helps identify which channels are most effective in handling customer issues.
  • Channel utilisation — the volume of interactions handled through each channel. Understanding channel utilisation helps allocate resources effectively and ensures that each channel is adequately staffed.

Tools and techniques

Different tools and techniques can be used to track and measure performance, including:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems record and analyse customer interactions, providing valuable data on customer behaviour and agent performance. CRM systems help track the entire customer journey and identify areas for improvement.
  • Performance dashboards help visualise key metrics and track performance trends. Dashboards provide a comprehensive view of call centre operations, allowing you to quickly identify issues and take corrective action.
  • Workforce Management (WFM) Software like Surfboard acts as a one-stop solution for viewing and improving team performance by optimising staff scheduling, forecasting call volumes, and ensuring the right number of agents are available at the right times. WFM software helps balance workload, reduce overstaffing or understaffing, and enhance overall call centre efficiency and productivity.

Find out more about the ways that Surfboard can transform your call centre productivity here.

Calculating call centre productivity

There are two main types of call centre productivity formula that can be used when calculating call centre productivity:

1. Overall call resolution rate

This method provides a high-level view of call centre performance.

(Total number of resolved calls / Total number of handled calls) * 100

For example, if your agents handled 100 calls and resolved 80 of them, the productivity would be 80%.

2. Ratio of Output to Input

This method considers both the time your agents spend on calls and their overall work time.

(Total output time / Total input time) * 100

Total output time includes time spent on calls, after-call work, and other productive activities, while total input time is the total scheduled shift time for all agents.

For example, if your agents spent a total of 45 hours of productive activities against a total scheduled shift time of 50 hours, the productivity would be 90%.

How to improve call centre productivity

Identifying issues

Common reasons for productivity decreases include:

  • Outdated processes — inefficient processes that fall behind compared to current technology and customer expectations. Reviewing and updating these processes can significantly improve efficiency.
  • Ineffective call routing —  calls being sent to the wrong agents. Each agent has their own individual skills which suit them better to certain customer interactions. Implementing skills-based routing can ensure that calls are directed to the most appropriate agents, reducing handling times and improving FCR rates.
  • Limited technology —  outdated software and tools that hinder agent performance. Upgrading to modern, integrated systems can streamline workflows and enhance productivity.
  • Lack of training and development —  inadequate training limiting agent progression and morale. Providing continuous training and development opportunities helps agents improve their skills and stay motivated.
  • Low employee morale —  poor communication and lack of growth opportunities. Fostering a positive work environment and recognising employee contributions can boost morale and productivity.
  • Employee burnout — excessive workload and inadequate rest breaks. Ensuring that agents have adequate rest and support can reduce burnout and improve performance.

Strategies for improvement

Training and development

To improve call centre productivity, continuous training is key for improving your agents’ skills and knowledge. Providing opportunities for professional development helps your agents stay motivated and competent. Productivity data can be used to tailor training programs address specific skill gaps and provide agents with the call centre productivity tools they need to succeed.

Technology and tools

Using advanced technology and tools enhances productivity by automating routine tasks, improving call routing, and providing real-time performance data. For example, implementing an AI-driven chatbot that can handle simpler inquiries can free up agents to focus on more complex issues which might benefit from a human touch.

Process optimisation

Streamlining processes to eliminate bottlenecks and reduce time waste is essential. Regularly reviewing and updating processes where needed ensures that you’re primed to meet business goals and customer expectations.

Best practices

  • Regular performance reviews: conduct frequent performance evaluations to identify areas for improvement. Regular feedback helps your agents understand their strengths and areas for development.
  • Employee engagement: create a positive work environment through team-building activities and open communication. Engaged employees are productive, and have a positive mindset when going into customer interactions. Happy employees lead to happy customers.
  • Incentives and rewards: recognise and reward high-performing agents to boost morale and motivation. Incentives such as bonuses, extra time off, and public recognition can motivate agents to perform at their best.

Benchmarking productivity

Importance of benchmarking

Benchmarking is essential for continuous improvement. It allows you to compare your call centre’s performance against industry standards and identify where you can do better.

How to benchmark

Steps to benchmark call centre productivity metrics include:

  1. Identify key metrics: Determine the most relevant productivity metrics for your call centre. This could include metrics like AHT, FCR, CSAT, and adherence.
  2. Collect data: Gather data on your call centre’s performance over a specified period. Ensure that the data is accurate and comprehensive.
  3. Compare: Compare your data against industry benchmarks and identify areas for improvement. Look for trends and patterns that indicate strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Implement changes: Make necessary adjustments to processes, training, and technology based on benchmarking results. Develop an action plan to address identified issues and improve performance.
  5. Monitor progress: Regularly monitor and measure the impact of changes on productivity. You should constantly review performance data to ensure that improvements are sustained and make further adjustments as needed.

Industry standards

Reference industry standards for productivity benchmarks, such as:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT): Typically ranges from 6 to 12 minutes, depending on the complexity of calls.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR): Industry average is around 70-75%.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): A score of 80% or higher is considered good.

These benchmarks all vary across respective industries. Understanding how you compare against your competitors will help you make improvements where they’re needed, and double down what you’re already nailing.


Measuring and improving your call centre’s productivity is essential for delivering high-quality customer service, reducing operational costs, and achieving business success. By understanding key call centre productivity metrics, implementing effective measurement techniques, and adopting strategies for improvement, you can enhance your call centre’s performance and create a more efficient and satisfying experience for both your agents and customers.

Continuous benchmarking and adaptation to industry standards will ensure that your call centre remains competitive and responsive to evolving customer needs. With the right tools, processes, and mindset, you can achieve new levels of productivity and contribute significantly to your overall business success.

If you’re looking to improve your customer service productivity, see how Surfboard can help you today. 

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What is the formula for productivity in a call centre?

There are two main ways to calculate call centre productivity. One is by measuring the overall call resolution rate, which looks at the percentage of handled calls that are resolved. The other considers the ratio of time spent on productive activities to the total scheduled shift time.

What is utilisation and productivity in a call centre?

Utilisation refers to the proportion of time agents spend actively handling customer interactions compared to their total available work time. High utilisation means agents are effectively using their time for tasks like handling calls, emails, or chats. Productivity measures how efficiently agents resolve customer issues, considering both the quantity and quality of their work.

What are KPIs in a call centre?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) in a call centre include metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT), First Call Resolution (FCR), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). These KPIs help evaluate agent performance and overall operational efficiency. By monitoring these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and ensure high levels of customer service.