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How many customer service reps per customer do you need?

Michael Waters
June 20, 2022
Learn how to use the Erlang model to calculate how many customer service agents you need.

You probably can’t afford to pay someone to work full-time if you only have a small handful of customer service inquiries reach your inbox in a day, but any more than a few inquiries per day is too much for an executive to handle on their own. 

The Harvard Business Review recommends hiring your first customer-focused worker by the time you have between 5 and 20 employees at your company. This person does not have to be on staff full-time, but they should focus on resolving customer issues over email and in social media comments.

Once you scale beyond 20 employees, the question becomes not whether you should hire a customer service agent at all, but how many you should hire. If you’re stuck, you can use the Erlang models to generate an estimate of the perfect number of customer support agents, depending on your goals. 

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Calculate how many customer service reps you need using the Erlang model

You can use the Erlang calculator here. Through the Erlang model, you input:

Sample inputs for your Erlang calculation

According to the Erlang calculator, hiring 28 part-time agents vs. 21 part-time agents can cut your average delay from 137 seconds to 1 second, and can get your average response rate in 20 seconds down from 32% to 97%.

But there’s a caveat: the Erlang calculator, while effective, is best at measuring your needs for phone customer service specifically. That is becoming an increasingly outdated approach.  

Your best bet may be a more flexible approach to customer service

Rather than hiring customer support agents in the traditional way, next-generation customer service companies operate on a more flexible schedule, where customer service agents are online during the hours that businesses most need help. 

Through Chatdesk, you can quickly ramp up your customer support operations starting at $99/month. Our team of expert agents can support you across various channels including email, live chat and social media. Brands who work with us see 90+ NPS and high CSAT scores. 

Schedule a free demo to speak with a sales rep or Start your free trial by signing up for an account.

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