Adherence in a call centre environment refers to how well the time an agent was scheduled to work aligns with the time they actually worked.

In a call centre workplace, employees answering calls are normally rostered very precise times that not only determine exact start and finish times but also break times, allocated time for training, coaching, meetings etc.

The science behind developing these rosters is known as Workforce Management and by using mathematical formulas, WFM managers are able to ensure that just the right amount of staff are scheduled/available to meet the desired Service Levels.

This, however, assumes that call centre employees are adhering to their allocated schedule.

And that is precisely what the Adherence metric measures!

How is call centre Adherence measured?

The adherence calculation measures the total time an agent is available for call work and dividing it by the time they are rostered to work, expressed as a percentage.

(minutes in adherence) / (total scheduled) minutes x 100


420  minutes in adherence / 450 total scheduled minutes = 93.3% adherence

For example:

Out of Adherence Reason Time
Arrived late for shift 10 minutes
Logging into ACD 5 minutes
Attend a training session late 10 minutes
Exceeded break time 5 minutes
Time out of adherence: 30 minutes
Rostered shift time:  450 minutes
Time in adherence:  420 minutes!

Why is call centre Adherence important?

As I mentioned earlier, Contact Centres WFM teams spend a lot of time building complex rosters aligned to peak calling periods using Erlang Modelling to make sure the call centre runs as efficiently as possible.

However, there is no point creating amazing rosters if no one sticks to them!

Even just having one or two frontline staff out of adherence can have a significant impact on your Service Levels.

Is the Adherence Metric fair?

A common complaint from contact centre employees is that the adherence metric punishes them when they try and go the extra mile for customers.

For example, they are due to go on a break shortly and take a call that ends up being a difficult, and long, call.

Should they tell the customer “sorry about your issues but I really need to disconnect this call or my adherence stats will be ruined?”

Of course not – and that’s why you need to look at the Conformance metric.

Like any metric, I would encourage you to look at averages over time, rather than one specific instance.

If, for any reason, you really need to drill into why a contact centre agent is constantly out of adherence you can run an agent detail report which essentially provides insight into all the actions they have taken by intervals.

How to improve your Adherence Results

Use these tips to help improve adherence in your centre:

  1. Make sure call centre staff understand the importance of sticking to their scheduled time. It can seem insignificant being a few minutes late in a large centre but by understanding ‘the power of one’, they will have a greater appreciation on why it’s so important.
  2. Provide ample notice of rosters so employees have time to understand and plan for their rosters.
  3. Share adherence results with your staff and include them in performance discussions.
  4. Have an adherence target (that forms part of a Balanced Scorecard).
  5. Use Auxillary codes to track the reasons for adherence. By having codes for breaks, lunch, ACW, training etc you will have increased visibility of the courses of non-adherence.

Next steps


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