CallTalk Caramels: Aux Time: What Should It Be Used For?
CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore. “Caramels” distills key moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.
Auxiliary time (or AUX) is an agent state (when logged into an ACD system), that is used to make an agent unavailable for incoming distributed calls. Its basic purpose is to manage the workload of non-call activities. It is important in managing service levels and optimize staffing. AUX states generally fall into one of three buckets, or categories:
- Paid, unproductive time: meeting time, breaks, training, coaching, agent prep time, etc.
- Paid productive time: project time, postal mail, email, manual processes, etc.
- Specific unpaid functions: e.g. lunch and breaks in some centers – this allows adherence measurements in WFM.
Too many AUX codes, however, can lead to agent confusion. When this occurs, agents often become prone to over-utilizing the same code, thus the efficiency and purpose of accurate tracking is lost.
Our experts developed the following AUX Audit, a five-step process that you may wish to consider if you are having trouble with handling AUX Time at your center.
- Define how AUX will be used in your center. Make sure that definitions are documented and that everyone is using AUX in the same way and according to definition; define, document, and audit, to be sure AUX states are properly used.
- Set targets for each of the defined work states and communicate them to the whole center. Have agents write these understandings into their goals and accountabilities, and include these targets on coaching forms. In addition to this, communicate the importance of AUX through WFM. (Do not use AUX for After-Call Work Time!)
- Measure, coach and control. Use real-time reporting. Watch what state agents are in and the length of time in each state. Include AUX metrics with your daily, weekly, and monthly reports. Show both total number of AUX hours spent and how the time was used. Look for variances and actively investigate irregularities.
- Monitor for adverse impact. When agents feel pressed, they tend to find call avoidance mechanisms, such as using AUX to take themselves out of queue for a moment and thus put themselves to the back of the queue.
- Analyze and improve. Use your WFM team to help find ways to improve.
Remember, Aux Times are not anomalies; they are a programmable and manageable unit of business. Through WFM, Aux times can be scheduled and pre-programmed to better manage agent activities. Compliance to Aux Codes rules and definitions increases performance, agent adherence and can reduce costs and improve financial performance.
Tip of the Month: Consider people in AUX states as your ‘ready reserve’ should calls suddenly increase. Calling them back to duty on the phones reduces queues and increases productivity.
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb. It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Tom Falkowski, entitled “Aux Time: What Should It Be Used For?”. To listen to the entire episode click play below.