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What is the standard service level for a call center?

What is the standard service level for a call center?

In particular, a call center that answers questions about health insurance.

Service level for a call center - Operationally speaking most sales people will say 80/20 is the standard service level for most applications.  This means 80% of the calls are answered in 20 seconds or less.  As for conversion ratios and those types of figures it really is a case-by-case basis.  I personally try to stay away from giving figures until I have a very clear picture of what the client's needs are, and what they are trying to accomplish with our sourcing.  The reason for this is that many organizations may be willing to go to a 70/60 or even worse of a service level for a call center to save on labor costs.

If you want a 95/15, it can be done, but it will not be cheap.

Really what I would suggest is ask your self the following questions as 
service level for a call center:

1. What is an acceptable wait time from my callers view?
2. What is a realistic wait time financially for my business?
3. What is my goal with outsourcing? (i.e. - cut costs, increase performance, improve the client experience, etc...)
4. What are the Service Levels I am running at now?
5. What would it take for me to get my services levels to my goal internally?

you have the answers to all these questions you will be in a great position to speak to a company like mine about outsourcing.

If customers are calling to buy something. Answer the call asap, especially if they can buy the same products or service somewhere else. That is why FedEx answers their call so quickly. They don't want you wait, then hang-up and call UPS (or vice versa if you love UPS - both are great service providers).

If your customers have no where else to go (ie. you provide their car insurance and they are calling the claims department) then you don't need to answer the call as quickly as a sales call.

Also lower service levels means your Agents will get few breaks between calls. That is a big problem as it causes burn out and attrition. Watch for that.


There is always a "cost" for any service level. You have to determine if you can afford the cost.


When service level for a call center is carefully defined and measured consistently over time it can be used to make data-driven decisions that can have a positive influence on your company. The following are step-by-step instructions to help guide you through this process.

  • Decide how you’ll classify abandoned calls

Deciding how you will classify abandoned calls is crucial to ensuring that service level is accurately assessing what you would like it to. There are three ways to classify abandoned calls:


  1. Missed opportunities
  2. Counted.
  3. Ignored

  • Define a formula
After you have decided how to classify abandoned calls, you should define a service level formula, based on this classification. 

  • Decide on a time interval
  • Decide when the time interval starts
  • Decide on a service level objective
  • Decide on a measurement interval
  • Decide which team, agent and department to collect data from
  • Decide how to collect the data
  • Analyze the data
  • Display the results
  • Act on the results
  •  Repeat the process

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