Ways to Improve Call Center Scheduling and Adherence
In the contact center, scheduling is at the core of operations. Managers build schedules days or weeks in advance based on historical data or predicted events (a sale, a catalog drop, seasonal demand, etc.) and staff the contact center to those schedules. The creation of schedules is a complex enough process and takes up the lion’s share of managers’ time. If call center scheduling isn’t accurate, the contact center falls quickly into disarray and chaos.
Schedule adherence is a major problem for most contact centers. Agents may not show up on time for shifts or return on time from lunch breaks. Some calls may take longer than expected, and agents get behind, leaving the call queue to grow longer. If this happens too often, it’s a sign that the schedules being produced by managers aren’t realistic or aren’t being enforced properly. More accurate scheduling processes are needed.
According to a recent article by Shauna Geraghty writing for Talkdesk, there are things managers can do to ensure they’re building the most accurate and realistic schedules possible.
Monitor contact center activity in real-time. If it’s hard for you to know when the contact center is out of adherence from the schedule, it will be hard to fix. Look for a workforce management and call center scheduling solution that features customizable dashboards that monitor contact center activity while it happens so you can nip problems in the bud before they send the schedule off the rails.
Make regular tweaks to the schedule. Choose a scheduling solution that allows managers to adjust breaks, lunch, meetings, training sessions, after-call work or other activities in real time when there is a need to keep agents on the floor to boost adherence, according to Geraghty.
To boost agent adherence, provide flexibility. Agents who have some input into their own schedules are more likely to adhere to them. Provide agents with options when selecting their schedule such as the option to work fewer days with more concentrated shifts and the option to have flexible start and end times. A good scheduling solution also allows qualified agents to swap shifts with one another, or put in for time off automatically.
Hire agents who understand time management. If a candidate shows up late for an interview, either in person or on the telephone, that’s an important clue that this individual isn’t going to cope well with sticking to a schedule. Check with previous employers for reports on the individual’s on-time success rates.
Increase forecasting accuracy. It’s a pretty basic idea: the more accurate your forecasts are, the better your schedules will be, and the higher the adherence. Choose a workforce management and scheduling solution that has strong forecasting features that take into consideration long periods of historical data (years, if possible, instead of weeks) and other mitigating factors.
Track your metrics. Analyze call metrics, after call work, time spent in training and coaching sessions, break durations and other non-call related activities to optimize forecasting and scheduling. Also be sure to closely monitor adherence, as it’s the most important indicator of contact center operations and quality.
Edited by Alicia Young