Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
April 24, 2012
Key Call Center Scheduling Attributes
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Does your call center run so smoothly that you never have more agents on hand than you need? Do you accurately forecast for anticipated volume so customers are never left waiting in the queue? Are all agents keyed into the importance of schedule adherence so as to keep shrinkage at a minimum? If you can’t adamantly answer with a yes to these questions, it may be time for call center scheduling.
A recent Monet Software blog captured the essence of call center scheduling and what it means for the call center environment. Let’s take a look at forecasting – which is really the first step before you can schedule for the call center. Robust call center scheduling solutions provide you with the ability to run simulations to accurately calculate a forecast for future call volume, average handle time for any time interval throughout the day and agent requirements.
Next, the scheduling module should be designed to incorporate a wide variety of call types and other activities to generate optimal staffing schedules. You want your call center scheduling to optimize a wide variety of factors, such as agent skills, availability, breaks, holidays, training and even service levels. Don’t forget to include exception handling in this planning as agents will want time off and you’ll need to schedule training meetings and coaching sessions.
Real-time adherence is a consistent challenge in the call center as not all agents understand the importance of keeping with call center scheduling. Likewise, without the right tools and communication with the agent base, management can fall short as well. As such, the call center needs the ability to compare planned agent activity against actual activities throughout the day. Real-time views of forecast and actual volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators are essential for overall success.
Optimal call center scheduling also calls for intra-day management and access to drag-and-drop functionality can allow for the quick management of lunches, breaks and other exceptions. Real-time updates and the display of surpluses and shortages for each period of the day ensure managers have a better handle on the overall call center picture.
Effective call center scheduling should also allow for collaboration between agents and supervisors. Agents may want to schedule bids or swap shifts. Agents are more empowered when they are engaged directly in the scheduling process. At the same time, you can build rapport and a team environment when you configure the call center into teams with their own set of service objectives and guidelines. Consider launching a few contests between the teams to see how they perform.
Finally, your call center scheduling software should offer the ability to report and analyze on all agent activities, including schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Actionable insights ensure managers can make the right decisions regarding call center scheduling to drive optimal performance for the call center overall.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli