This is part of our ongoing series on scaling customer service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we’re covering Stage Four.

About our guest blogger: Kris Wong was hired as a phone support technician at Dell in the early 2000s. Within 2 months of taking calls he had exceeded Dell’s performance records and was promoted. Within 2 months his new team was doing the same and, about six months after being hired, Kris was promoted to a project role to share his knowledge with the entire call center. Now the founder of a company called Beaconize, Kris joins us today to share his thoughts on scaling your team.


In a large contact center environment you use two strategies to determine when to hire: if the numbers tell you that you need a warm body or if a rockstar person applies. I’ll discuss the former.

When you are staffing contact centers for customer service you focus on the metrics a lot. When I worked at Dell, these were the metrics that affected hiring:

  1. Time to Answer (TTA), the measure of how fast the call is answered. This is important because statistically we found waiting more than 2 minutes negatively impacted customer satisfaction [Editor’s note: UserVoice found similar data]. If you are failing your TTA goals, you need to assign more customer service agents during the missed intervals or take the hit to your customer satisfaction score.
  2. Short call times, measured via Average time Handle Time (AHT). However, I am a big opponent of this measurement. Measuring and holding agents accountable for AHT will drive negative behaviors such as early hangups, incomplete notes, fast transfer back into the queue, and overall low customer resolutions.
  3. MPR (Minutes per resolution), our solution to remove the gaming. This measured total time as an aggregate then divided it by how many resolutions you had. Note that resolution does NOT mean every call – a resolution means you actually resolved the issue. This is a lagging indicator and past performance takes ~14 days to measure. This is related to hiring because if your average MPR is good and you are still failing to get to your tickets quickly enough then there’s only one answer: you need more bodies. You need to hire.

Basically, ensure that you know your metrics and what you need to be successful. You should anticipate and accommodate for the peaks and valleys of the support request flows as they are never normally distributed over the short-term. Long-term you may see trends but if you are barely managing your current queue, you’re going to get surprised and overwhelmed by a peak. If you think that you are at risk of not meeting your requirements, hire a warm body. Even a non-skilled person answering a call and transferring is better for customer satisfaction than waiting in the “queue” for a live agent.