Flying High with Call Center Scheduling
Scheduling – and doing it correctly, with the right people, processes, and technologies in place – is important. The American Airlines scheduling problem shows what can happen when this kind of thing goes awry.
Late last month the airlines revealed it accidentally approved Christmas season time off for too many pilots. Now it has a human resources shortage – and public relations problem – on its hands.
“It looks like the scheduling system it uses to assign pilots to flights indicated that there were plenty of captains and first officers to go around,” WIRED magazine reported. “Meanwhile, a separate system, which assigns holiday leave based on seniority, got carried away with the festive spirit and gave way too many people time off.”
American Airlines late last month said only a few hundred December flights had not been assigned pilots. But the Allied Pilots Association on Nov. 30 issued a statement saying “thousands of flights are still listed as unassigned.”
Scheduling in call centers is of the utmost importance too. And, as in the airline business, it’s particularly important at this time of year. Of course, that’s because the holiday season tends to see a lot of traffic.
That said, let’s review some of the best practices in call center scheduling.
Use scheduling software. And make sure it aligns correctly with any other systems with which it interfaces.
First, learn how to use the scheduling software. Then train your call center managers, and then call center agents, on how to use it.
Enable call center managers to access scheduling software remotely and from any device. That way they can check in from time to time to make sure they have appropriate staff.
Consider enabling agents limited access the scheduling system as well. That way, they can input their scheduling preferences, and they can even swap shifts. That means more flexibility for them, and less work for management.
Communicate your scheduling policies to you staff. And do so in a clear and concise manner.
Keep shift lengths manageable for agents. And don’t schedule any one agent too heavily in a given week. Heavy schedules often result in lower productivity.
Use analytics and call center forecasting software. And be sure to figure holidays, seasonal factors, and weather into your scheduling plan.
Consider your agents’ skillsets in scheduling. Also, leverage on-demand agents when it makes sent.
Reward agents who adhere to your schedules. And use scheduling to assign agents other tasks when they’re not on calls.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz