Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
August 19, 2011
Agent- Involved Scheduling Promotes a Positive Call Center Culture
By Linda Dobel, TMCnet Contributor
For most people in management, it’s been a long time since they were unable to exert any control whatsoever on the course their workday would take. Sure, there are mandatory meetings and deadlines and the usual obligations that must be fulfilled within an organized calendar on a day to day basis, but there is usually not a “boss” to worry about who dictates the course of events on an hourly basis.
That’s not the case for most customer service and sales call center employees. Not only do they need to adhere to a strict schedule, but that schedule can vary from day to day, week to week or even alternate between day and night. Being handed a work schedule that causes hardship in one’s personal life or is just not to an individual’s liking for other reasons, can strip that person of the feeling of control over life, which can manifest in a poor or angry attitude. That is not a good thing, especially when these employees are charged with customer-facing tasks like customer service and sales.
Nevertheless, call centers don’t function well without adherence to schedules, so a plan needs to be implemented to strike a balance. Workforce management software provider Monet Software has suggested some ways to do that. Its suggestions rest on a very simple concept: get your agents involved in the scheduling process. Acknowledging that it may not be an easy task to always make the team happy or even satisfied with the schedules created, it would be worth a try to give some of its suggestions a chance.
One idea is to implement shift bidding. Just like the name implies, management can open up bidding for different schedules either on a regular basis or less aggressively on a twice yearly basis. This process doesn’t have to be difficult, Monet says, especially if an online tool it offers called AnyWhere is used for agents to work together to bid on preferred shifts. The tool can also simplify shift trades, which management might consider allowing as need arises or under certain management-approved circumstances.
A second idea is to offer flexible schedule opportunities. Specifically, offer agents the opportunity to sign up to come in for a later shift or conversely to choose an early shift. To make sure the schedule doesn’t end up lopsided, some ideas Monet offers include offering bonuses for signing up for the less-popular time slots or offering higher pay for those slots.
A final idea is the most simple of all: just ask the team what kind of schedules they prefer-- through a survey or one-on-one depending on the size of the center-- and then do what is possible to accommodate individual needs with the overall needs of the center.
Just knowing that management is considering their needs can often go a long way to make call center team members happier. Then actually implementing any of these changes can benefit both employees and the business needs of the center as giving employees more control over scheduling can reduce stress and burnout and even inflate morale and motivation. The reward for everyone is greater productivity in a call center that exudes positive energy.
Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Chris DiMarco