How many technicians do I need to staff my support center?

Establishing the proper support staff to customer ratio is essential for any organization. Each of the factors in the table below has an effect on the staff size. Assume a starting ratio 75 to 100 customers per analyst (75:1 to 100:1), then adjust the ratio for the following conditions:

Consideration Support Staff Levels
Experienced support staff Decrease
Customer handling expertise Decrease
Large number of products to support Increase
Multiple shifts and weekends Increase
Support staff possesses knowledge of the organization's business Decrease
Internal support only Decrease
External support only Increase
Both internal and external support Increase
Service Level Agreements negotiated Decrease
Budget concerns Decrease*
Multiple platforms to support (i.e. Web, PC, Mainframe, Mac) Increase
Automated tools in place Decrease
Experienced support center management Decrease
Support center has good reputation in company Decrease
Center has bad reputation Increase
Multiple support center locations Increase
Quality Assurance or Quality Control responsibility Increase
Proactive support philosophy Increase**
Support center has additional responsibilities not listed above Increase

* = A staffing decrease may be required to meet your budget, but too small a staff can create bigger problems later on - dissatisfied customers, excessive stress, technician burnout and high turnover to name a few.

**= Initially, proactive support requires more staff per customer. The trend is reversed down the line as you should see a decrease in customer problems.

Unfortunately, determining staffing levels is not an exact science. There is no universal formula you can plug numbers into and get the answer. Big factors are training, management and your choice of automated tools. Don't forget to provide your analysts with a growth path for their careers.