This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
Call center agents are the only people within an organization that function without an ongoing to-do list. Granted, agents need to complete specific tasks in order to close out a ticket or finish a case, but their primary responsibility is to field calls. Other activities – reading communications, training, project work – are scheduled and typically require additional headcount to ensure service levels are met.
Providing a to-do list for call center agents seems like a nice-to-have, as their primary responsibility is to field calls. Availability is essential to service levels, but time between calls is lost – it’s the elephant in the room. Nobody likes to think about agents spending time between calls sitting idle, with nothing to do.
What if agents could use that time more wisely? A to-do list is designed to make agent available time more productive, allowing time for agents to learn a new skill set or read up on new product information.
Creating the To-Do List
The most challenging part of creating the to-do list is gathering and prioritizing agents’ tasks. If your supervisors and managers are worth their salt, they already know who needs additional coaching or who needs more time getting to know your products, but they just haven’t had the resources or the time.
They know their main priority is to meet service levels and then find time for daily communications and projects, complete quality and performance management, schedule time for ongoing coaching and knowledge base reviews and forecast future training requirements.
There’s no need to schedule extra agents or time for completing activities. That part can be configured with real-time integration with your ACD. Your call center agents’ to-do lists can be created in three steps.
1. Define the activities – What types of activities need to be completed?
2. Prioritize the order – In what order should agents work on these assignments?
3. Allocate time per activity – How much time per day, week and month should agents spend on each assignment?
Providing technology that responds to real-time call volume allows center management to focus on these three steps and reap the benefits of utilizing collective idle time – which includes an increase in utilization and improved agent performance.
Finding the Time
Think you don’t have time? Conduct this quick, one minute exercise at the beginning of your next meeting. Ask everyone to be quiet and don’t say a word for one minute.
Notice how long that one minute felt as you were idle and unproductive. For every ten people in the room, that’s ten minutes of collective unproductivity. If that only happened five times each day, you would waste nearly an hour every day.
Over time, this collective idle time becomes even more staggering:
· Per week – 250 minutes (4 hours 20 minutes) – over half a day’s work
· Per month – 1,000 minutes (17 hours 20 minutes) – almost half a work week
· Per year – 12,000 minutes (200 hours) – five weeks of really bad vacation time
Imagine how many activities that could be completed in five weeks. And five weeks is just the tip of the iceberg. On average, agents spend 11 percent of their day in wait mode. If you add up the numbers for your call center, you’ll probably be surprised at the time available.
A to-do list for my call center agents!
The agent’s to-do list provides opportunities for call centers to operate more efficiently. It fills idle time with meaningful activities and provides direction where there was previously none.
Although it seems so at first glance, lack of time is not the issue preventing center management from having agents complete the activities necessary to be successful at their job. Plenty of time is available. With the right technology to find and aggregate time, an agent can be more productive than ever before.
Knowlagent provides the only call center software that increases agent utilization by delivering shrinkage activities during idle time. Knowlagent creates active wait time through dynamically delivered sessions for common shrinkage activities between customer interactions. For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit us online at www.knowlagent.com.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi