Call Center Management Feature Article
August 30, 2011
Satisfy your Workforce for Higher Customer Service Levels
By Chris DiMarco, TMCnet Managing Editor
Managing a workforce is a delicate balancing act that requires constant vigilance over multiple aspects of an operation. Call fluctuation, services levels, and abandonment rates all need to be constantly monitored to areas that can be improved. While there are software investments that will help you determine call volumes on any given season or date, the most important piece of information cannot be as easily quantified by software. It’s the happiness and behavior of your agents and fostering that goes a long way in reducing turnover and increasing satisfaction in your customers.
Perhaps the easiest way to promote these feeling in your staff is to work with them in finding a schedule that works around their needs. While adherence rates (the affinity your agents have to sticking to their schedule) are important to meeting service levels, setting unrealistic goals that do not allow for agent adjustment undercuts their job satisfaction and ultimately translates to higher turnover.
Optimizing schedules to meet the delicate balance of what’s needed for a specific volume requires careful planning on the management end, but it also requires schedule adherence on the agent end. Something much easier to obtain when agents are satisfied with their roles and schedules.
First of all managers need to identify adherence goals and objectives based on the unique characteristics of their call center environment and also take a look at benchmarks of other call centers. No two operations are exactly the same and defining expectations should involve not only defining your goals but also consulting your staff. You’ll also need to average handle times of calls and identify potential barriers that might prevent adherence. By keeping your agents in the loop your goals will be more realistic and hopefully easier to obtain.
It’s also essential that you communicate the effects of tardiness and absence to your staff. If they feel as though what they’re doing is affecting the entire operation as a whole, they’re more likely to make decisions that support the team.
Monet also suggests having incentives that boost an agent’s willingness to comply with their schedule. This could be the option to swap shifts when needed or to bid on additional time off. Taking the alternative option and punishing for lack of adherence can decrease call center morale and make individuals feel singled out.
Adherence will go a long way to make your customer service operation as effective possible and meeting your agents halfway will make them more willing to stick to the prescribed levels. Take these tips into consideration next time you schedule and you’ll see happier employees and customers alike.
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Chris DiMarco is a Managing Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow him on Twitter (News - Alert) @cpdimarco.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin