Simple Tips for Better Call Center Scheduling
The call center has changed in recent years, and now represents one of the great opportunities a company has to make money and improve customer relations. It becomes clear that maintaining top-notch morale in the call center is a high priority, but how best to do it? New reports suggest there are simple things to be done, and many focus on how the agents are scheduled.
Scheduling in a call center can be difficult. Patterns that get established don't always stay that way, meaning potential for overstaffing, which wastes money, and understaffing, which potentially hurts customer relations due to longer hold times and a lowered chance at first-call resolution. Thus, the biggest thing that a call center can do is to actively reward flexibility.
Flexibility is vital in call center operations because it allows for patterns to be better covered while still leaving room to shift people around. Using slant schedules or split shifts can do well here, including offering different day lengths to those more flexible employees. Consider a five day week that starts with a 10 hour day, then goes to nine all the way down to six instead of just five eight-hour days. Some will love the six-hour Friday even at the cost of the 10 hour Monday, and you might well have filled a major gap in the schedule. Consider the value of reserve agents to cover those unexpected sick leave periods, and think about exclusively part-time agents; more agents at smaller shifts can fill in gaps much more readily.
Additionally, consider getting the call center itself involved in its own scheduling. When the agents can tell you what gaps need filled and what days are too slack to bother with, it can save big money in consulting fees by taking the consultation of people in the trenches. Some call centers even let an agent draw up the schedule in some months.
Whatever strategy actually gets used, don't forget to focus on the agents themselves. Announcing changes from on high, with no consultation of the agents, removes critical buy-in from the process. That can cause greater problems than it solves. Remember that, at the end of the day, the point is to improve morale and operations, not hurt them, so those who start out addressing the problem for the right reasons will likely come out ahead.
Scheduling a call center's operations isn't always easy, and not everyone will be happy with the outcome at all times. Visibly doing the best that can be with what's available, though, will likely go a long way toward improving the call center's operations.
Edited by Alicia Young