Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
October 17, 2012
Why Adherence is Critical in Call Center Scheduling
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Any manager within any customer-facing industry faces a challenge when trying to schedule employees according to the needs of the business. Those responsible for call center scheduling, however, must also pay attention to forecasting for call volume and the productivity of their staff. When a call center employee is doing anything other than the tasks related to his or her job, adherence issues arise.
A recent Monet Software blog highlighted the challenges associated with adherence when it comes to call center scheduling. In a nutshell, adherence measures agent productivity, or the percentage of time he or she is actively working on the phone, compared with the time he or she is scheduled to be on the phone.
Failing to adhere to call center scheduling – or out of adherence – can be the result of a number of different elements. For instance, the agent may not be familiar with the impact adherence has on his or her performance, or the performance of the center overall. It’s critical that call center managers spend the time talking with agents so they understand that even 10 minutes out of adherence can have a significant impact on service levels.
The agent may also lack a clear understanding of the phone and non-phone activities and how they vary. Managers must educate agents on the different types of activities required in their position, explaining what should be included in the overall schedule. If the schedule is too rigid, it can also cause an agent – or a team of agents – to be out of adherence. This environment creates too much pressure for the agent, causing them to need extra breaks.
Too much flexibility in call center scheduling can also be a problem. In both flexible and rigid situations, it’s important that members of the team communicate openly to identify areas for improvement and problems that may need to be addressed. Tools and software can also ease this process through shift bidding and workforce management access.
Call center scheduling is more likely to create out of adherence problems if it doesn’t get measured or tracked. Agents are likely only going to pay attention to those metrics that are actually monitored and relate to their compensation. It’s important to set clear goals, communicate effectively with the team, measure adherence and then provide feedback. Incentives for good behavior when it comes to adherence can also be a powerful tool.
Finally, it’s critical for the call center manager to pay attention to forecasts when scheduling. If the schedule falls short in covering demand, or if agents don’t have enough to do during a shift, unrest and low morale can result. Accuracy in the approach is more likely to generate the desired result.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli