Call Center Management Feature Article
March 31, 2009
Three More Tips to Improve Call Center Management
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
When it comes to agent performance, there are basically two things to measure: Quantity and quality. Sure, you can use performance management software to track the “quantity” piece – such as how many calls an agent takes/makes an hour and/or how many transactions they handle. And the “quality” piece is most often addressed through the use of call monitoring solutions.
Both are critical pieces of the call center software ecosystem – but neither one would be worth a darn if your agents are showing up late for their shifts, clocking out early, or taking long breaks when they’re supposed to be handling customers. What’s more, if you aren’t properly balancing the number of agents to the number of contacts coming in for any given shift, your call center isn’t being run efficiently and you’re pouring money down the drain.
That’s where workforce management (WFM) systems come into play. With today’s WFM solutions, call center managers not only can accurately track schedule adherence and determine which employees have a tendency to show up late and take corrective action, they can also, through a WFM system’s forecasting capabilities, achieve the delicate balance of having the right number of agents for the number of contacts coming in. That means agent time is better utilized and productivity is increased across the board. Considering its many advantages over spreadsheets and other “manual” scheduling processes, it’s no wonder WFM is increasingly being viewed as an essential call center management tool.
To help call center managers achieve their goal of increasing agent productivity, WFM solutions provider Monet Software has published a list of recommended practices. Last week we covered the first three of ten tips for improving call center management, including 1.) Implement a flexible shift model, 2.) Keep track of your shrinkage, and 3.) Improve schedule adherence. Now let’s look at three more tips you can use to improve your call center operations:
4. Cross-train agents
If you have agents trained to handle multiple skills and use skill-based routing, you can reduce the number of agents needed to handle your call volume. The productivity gain from giving each agent two skills can easily be 10 to 15 percent.
The importance of multi-skilled agents is that they form overlapping groups. For example, having one group that can handle calls type A and B (News - Alert) while another group takes calls type C and D, can be substantially improved by adding a group that is able to handle calls type B and C (or one of the other three combinations). This model provides a lot of flexibility that is especially useful in times of fewer resources and changing call volumes and patterns.
5. Compare ACD logon time to time-clock entries
In our discussion last week about reducing shrinkage and improving adherence we discovered various ways of improving overall call center performance. Related to this discussion is the topic of ACD logon time. You need to make sure agents are logged in and ready for calls coordinating with the clock time. You may even consider using the ACD agent log-in and log-out times for payroll – dependant on the culture and procedures you have established.
6. Smarter scheduling
A schedule driven by forecast and basic agent requirement might work, but won’t boost performance and productivity. When developing your schedule you should also consider the following elements:
--Include all agent activities: When trying to determine agent requirements to meet a desired service level, if not all agent activities are being factored in, it will lead to understaffing and lower service levels including abandoned calls. When developing your forecast and schedule make sure to include breaks, multiple skills of agents, training, time-off, and a realistic buffer for shrinkage.
Monet Software’s WFM solutions help small and medium-size call centers accurately forecast call volumes and effectively schedule and manage performance of their agents, resulting in increased service levels and reduced payroll costs. With Monet’s on-demand solution, customers get started and see results within days, while avoiding large upfront investments, and time consuming and expensive hardware and software implementation projects.
Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard