Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
February 05, 2010
Improve Schedule Adherence by Tracking ACD Log-on Time
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
Due to the recession, many companies have cut staffing in their call centers to the bare bone, which makes it all the more important for call center managers to ensure that agent time is being used efficiently. For many smaller call centers, the challenge isn’t just ensuring that agents are showing for their shifts on time, but also ensuring that they are getting on the phones in a timely manner after clocking in.
Let’s face it: There are always those agents who are agonizingly slow to get to their desks – they have to get a cup of water, a coffee, go to the bathroom or chit-chat with colleagues as they go down the aisle toward their cube. Getting these agents on the phones sooner can be critical to improving customer service and, what’s more, maximizing agent productivity.
In addition, it also critical for call center managers to ensure agents are staying on schedule with regard to intra-day activities such as training and coaching sessions. Very often, agents will use these scheduled activities as an “excuse” for taking a brief break – they might step outside to have a cigarette or they might stop by the vending machine to get a soda or a snack or they might just spend some time hanging out and chatting with colleagues. One of the biggest call center management challenges is ensuring that agents get back on the phones in a reasonable time frame after these intra-day activities take place.
So what’s the best way to ensure agent time is being used efficiently? Simple: You compare ACD logon time to time-clock entries.
In two previous articles we talked about the importance of reducing shrinkage and improving schedule adherence. Related to both is the topic of ACD logon time.
To ensure agent time is being properly utilized, call center managers must ensure that agents are logged on and ready for calls coordinating with the clock time. You may even consider using the ACD agent log-on and log-out times for payroll – dependant on the culture and procedures you have established.
Today’s call center scheduling solutions, such as Monet Software’s Monet WFM Live, allow call center managers to quickly and easily compare clock time to log-on time. This is achieved through integration with the call center ACD.
Call center managers who are still using spreadsheets to schedule agents have a more difficult time accomplishing this, as clock time and ACD reports need to be run separately and one imported into the other in order for agent issues to be quickly and effectively uncovered (and then reconciled).
Of course, you should let your agents know that this will become a new part of your management practices, so that they know what to expect. You might want to explain that this is necessary to ensure that everyone is doing the same amount of work – you’re doing it to motivate those agents who aren’t as productive to step it up a notch. You might also tell them that it’s essential in order to meet project goals.
Then you can build parameters – for example, you might allow five minutes between clock-in time and ACD log-on time, in order to give the agent a reasonable amount of time to get into their seat and log on. You might also decide not to take disciplinary action until an agent’s fifth “violation” – whatever rules you decide to establish, it is essential that you share them with the agents ahead of time, before implementing them, and hold an open dialogue about the policies you are about to enforce.
Many companies have reduced their agent workforces in their call centers, which has made it all the more important for call center managers to ensure that agent time is being maximized. Using a call center scheduling solution to compare clock time to ACD time is one of numerous strategies for improving call center performance while holding down operational costs.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard