Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
May 16, 2011
Free Webinar Offers Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence in the Call Center
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
Now that call centers everywhere have cut staffing to the bone, due to the current economic conditions, call center managers are under even more pressure to ensure agent time is being used efficiently.
This includes ensuring that agents are sticking to their schedules – in other words, that they aren’t showing up late for their shifts, taking excessively long breaks and clocking out early.
The degree to which agents stick to their schedules is called schedule adherence. Considering that labor is the single biggest cost facing any call center – and that every minute counts when it comes to meeting customer service levels – it’s easy to see why call center managers are putting an increasing emphasis on improving it.
If you run a small call center with, say, 5 to 20 agents, you might think schedule adherence isn’t all that important. But if you take a closer look at all the different junctures throughout the day where agent time is “lost,” you’ll realize that it can add up to a serious loss of revenue over the course of a year.
The important thing to realize about schedule adherence is that it isn’t just about whether your agents are showing up for their shifts on time or leaving early – it’s also about whether they are showing up on time for scheduled “intra-day” events, such as training and coaching sessions, and then getting back on the phones when they are supposed to.
Schedule adherence is particularly important for ensuring smooth transitions between shifts: For example, if an organization has cut its call center staffing to the bone, there is an increased risk for “dips” in service levels when an agent – or agents – show up late. The period of time during which these agents are not on the phones – even if only minutes – can result in increased hold times which in turn results in decreased customer satisfaction.
Call center schedules tend to be very complex – which means there can be a lot of junctures during a shift where an agent will go out of adherence. For example, an agent might show up for his shift five minutes late; log on to the ACD seven minutes late; show up for a training session eight minutes late; and go over their break time by 10 minutes -- resulting in the agent being a total of 30 minutes out of adherence for that one shift!
Multiply these “out of adherence” events across a center with dozens if not hundreds of agents -- and then multiply that by the total number of shifts -- and it is easy to see how schedule adherence can quickly become a serious problem.
During a recent free webinar, “Six Simple Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence in your Call Center,” sponsored by Monet Software, Penny Reynolds, industry expert and founder of the Call Center School, and Chuck Ciarlo, president and founder of Monet Software, discussed the importance of schedule adherence in call center -- and to offered some tips and advice on how to improve it. Together they discussed the challenge of ensuring there is the right number of agents with the right skills in their seats at the right times of the day – and how to get staff to show up for work on time and stick to their planned break times, as well as generally acceptable time on various work tasks. In addition Reynolds will share proven practices on adherence that have resulted in increased availability.
Attendees of this educational event learned how to quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff; how to identify ways to communicate and educate staff on the “power of one” in call center staffing; how to describe options for setting adherence performance goals and selling to the staff; how to identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan; and how to identify reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals.
To access the archived version of this free, educational webinar, click here.
Patrick Barnard is Group Managing Editor, TMCnet. In addition to leading the online editorial department, he focuses on call and contact center technologies. He also covers IP communications, networking and a variety of other topics. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard