Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
July 13, 2009
Call Center Scheduling Solutions Key to Ensuring Schedule Adherence
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
As a result, it’s become even more important for call center managers to account for every minute of each agent’s time. After all, labor is the single biggest expense facing any call center, and any increase in productivity is bound to have a positive impact on the bottom line.
For those call centers still using manual processes, including mechanical time clocks and/or spreadsheets, tracking agent time puts them at an operational disadvantage compared to those centers which have adopted call center scheduling solutions. If you’re running a call center and you know you have agents who are arriving late, taking long breaks and leaving early, then it might be wise to invest in call center scheduling software that can accurately track, down to the minute, how agent time is being utilized.
With today’s call center scheduling solutions, such as those offered by industry leader Monet Software, managers can quickly and easily see who is arriving late or on time, among other trends, just by tracking schedule adherence. With these advanced systems, which are increasingly Web-based, managers can track schedule adherence by individual agent, group of agents or the entire center. What’s more they can look at schedule adherence by agent skill set (for example, agents who only handle Web chats); agent location (in the main center, a satellite center, or the home-based agent); or type of shift (day, evening, special project, etc.).
This information can then be neatly packaged into daily, weekly or monthly reports which the manager can use to improve schedule adherence. This would be much more difficult and time-consuming to achieve using a manual system -- such as a spreadsheet system -- especially if the manager is running a mid- to large-sized center (with, say, more than 30 agents). And it becomes even more challenging with multiple, geographically-dispersed centers.
Schedule adherence is one of the main factors contributing to “shrinkage,” which is the overall amount of time agents are on the clock but not on the phones. Multiply the average minutes lost per agent per day, week, month or year by the total number of agents you have and it’s easy to see how even a small problem – like a group of agents that consistently clocks in a few minutes late – can blossom into a major operational loss. What’s more, this can lead to reduced service levels, and customer churn.
That’s why call center scheduling solutions have become so important to managers. With these essential tools, managers can accurately see who is arriving late, leaving early, or taking long lunches or excessive restroom breaks. What’s more they can track activity on the agent’s phone and desktop to ensure the agent isn’t sitting there, idly, doing nothing.
But deploying a call center scheduling solution is much like providing a traffic control cop with radar: It doesn’t serve any purpose unless the officer is prepared to pull over violators and issue them infractions. So what are some of the other things call center managers should do to improve schedule adherence?
First, inform and educate: Agents need to understand the relevance of schedule adherence, how a mere 10 minutes here and there impacts other agents and the entire call center performance.
Second, measure and manage: Measure and track adherence using workforce management tools and solutions, tracking adherence in real-time and running reports. Share these adherence reports with your agents and discuss how they are doing. It is important to give regular feedback regarding adherence statistics.
Call center scheduling solutions are critical for ensuring that agents are properly adhering to the schedule. This, in turn, ensures that service levels are being met and that customers are getting the best service possible. Let this one critical aspect of call center management go to pot and you could be needlessly increasing customer churn. And in this crumbling economy, losing customers due to poor service is a risk you simply cannot take.
Monet Software offers a fully Web-based call center scheduling solution that is quick and easy to deploy. There is no need to invest in additional servers or network equipment – the vendor manages the service, including the infrastructure. And because the software is offered on a subscription or “pay-as-you-go” model, companies can neatly represent the cost of the service in their monthly budget reports. That means no surprises for maintenance, repairs, upgrades or other service.
Monet Software’s Monet WFM Live offering -- which is currently available on a 30-day trial basis -- also includes advanced analytics capabilities that enable call center managers to accurately forecast how many agents will be needed for a particular shift, based on call volume. This forecasting capability is facilitated through integration with the call center ACD.
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Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.