Call Center Management Feature Article
November 11, 2009
Agent-Supervisor Portals Key to Improving Call Center Management
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
The best systems out there offer Web-based administration and an agent-supervisor portal allowing for real-time communication between agents and supervisors.
This allows an agent to quickly notify a manager -- and all the other agents -- in the event they can’t make it into work. Another agent can then pick up the shift -- or the manager can send out a request for coverage, to see if anyone is available. The result is much faster resolution of schedule conflicts compared to phone or email.
In addition, these secure Web portals allow agents to “swap” or bid on shifts – sometimes without manager approval. So, if an agent can’t make it in for a particular shift, they can send out a request to a colleague asking them to “swap” it with them, without necessarily having to contact the manager for “approval.”
Similarly, if an agent is looking to pick up additional hours, they can “bid” on additional shifts for which they have not been scheduled. Furthermore, agents can make themselves available for extra shifts, in the event another agent gets sick or can’t make it in, simply by indicating which shifts they are available for.
These agent-supervisor portals deliver a new level of flexibility in call center scheduling that helps drive agent satisfaction. Many agents today are part time, and as such need flexible schedules. Many of them are parents, students, retirees – or perhaps their call center job is just a part-time gig to supplement their full time salary. As a result, they often encounter sudden and unexpected events that result in them having to cancel a shift or not be able to show up on time.
With an agent portal, instead of the having to call and leave a phone message for a supervisor (which might not be received until the next day) the agent can instead log into the WFM system and post a message to find out if any other agent might be able to pick up the shift.
If so, that means when the manager comes to work the next day, there are no “surprises” – the needed number of agents are on hand. In this regard, today’s call center workforce management systems help ensure that the right number of agents is available for each shift in order to meet service levels.
What’s more, it prevents the agent from getting reprimanded, and significantly reduces the number of agent/manager conflicts over the schedule. For this reason, these agent-supervisor portals are increasingly being viewed as critical for achieving efficient call center management.
Monet Software’s Monet AnyWhere portal provides an efficient way for supervisors and agents to communicate through Web-enabled self-service applications. Agents are empowered to be more directly involved in the scheduling process by entering exceptions or bids and viewing their schedules at any time. This, in turn helps drive agent satisfaction, which in turn improves customer service and lowers agent attrition. In addition, supervisors no longer have to manually process agent requests.
Because the system is Web-based, that means agents can request changes to their schedule from any computer with an Internet connection. These requests immediately alert the agent's supervisor, who can review the impact of the change and approve or decline the request. If approved, the change is immediately reflected in the schedule.
In either case the agent is notified and the request is kept for future reporting. This is a huge advantage for managers and supervisors, in that they have a central repository for all requests for time off, vacation time, sick days and personal days, as well as how many shifts were swapped and/or bid on.
Finally, Monet AnyWhere helps improve both agent and manager accountability: Agents can be monitored for inconsistent behavior -- such as turning up sick after their vacation days are declined -- and supervisors can be held responsible for approved changes that left the center understaffed.
Monet AnyWhere is an add-on module to Monet Software's Monet WFM Live offering and seamlessly adds the capabilities above to streamline call centers, making them even more productive. For more information, click here.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard