3 Tips to Improve Call Center Scheduling Processes
Call center scheduling: it’s an issue that’s been haunting managers for years. No matter how a schedule is put together, there always seems to be an unhappy group of agents who feel that they received the short end of the stick. Despite how hard a manager may try to meet everyone’s requests, it’s just not always possible. However, there are some call center scheduling practices that tend to work out better than others when it comes to agent satisfaction. Here are a few.
Annualized hours. A lot of call centers rely heavily on overtime to staff extended hours. However, not everyone wants to put in overtime and, even if they did, constantly paying agents extra for staying later or coming in earlier doesn’t exactly help in terms of saving the company money. Instead, some call centers have found that switching to annualized hours works better for everyone. Shifts can include a mix of full- and part-time agents, and more agents can be on during busy periods. With annualized hours, agents may have to work a bit more during the busy times and months, but they’ll get more time off when things quiet down.
Reward performance with preferred shifts. This may be the oldest trick in the book but it’s still very effective. Put simply, the agents that perform the best get first dibs when it comes to choosing hours and taking PTO. It’s up to managers to decide how performance will be measured, but remember to keep in mind that something like average handle time may not be the best indicator. The last thing you want is for agents to rush through calls, without actually helping the customer, in the hopes of getting a better schedule. Instead, having customers fill out surveys after each interaction may be the best option. That way, agents will need to put their best foot forward when it comes to helping customers because they’ll need good reviews in order to pick better schedules.
Always give a reason for saying “no.” In any position, having a request for PTO turned down is much like having the wind taken out of your sales. It’s annoying and can easily put workers in a bad mood. In the case of the call center, upset agents typically mean bad customer interactions, which is the last thing a company should want. So, if you really have to turn down a request for time off, make sure you explain why. Maybe the agent didn’t give enough notice, for example, and someone else beat them to that week. By explaining what the issue is, and maybe even offering a suggestion for another week, agents shouldn’t be as effected by rejections.