Workforce Management

Tips for more effective call center forecasting, scheduling and agent adherence

Schedule Adherence Hints, Tips & Best Practices

Boost efficiency of staffing and scheduling: a case study

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“The extensive reporting capabilities, graphs and charts presented senior managers with the tools they needed to make staffing decisions. We are satisfied with Monet Software and feel that the application has met our requirements.” 

Oscar Gutierrez, Contact Center Analyst, Bayview Loan Servicing 

Bayview Loan Servicing, an investment management firm focused on all areas of mortgage credit, including mortgage servicing rights were scheduled manually using spreadsheets.


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Scheduling Spreadsheets Become Obsolete in the Cloud

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“Is it in the budget?”

Some variation of that question is always asked when any changes to contact center procedures are proposed. And it’s a valid question. Economic realities have forced businesses of all kinds to do more with less, and contact centers are no exception. 

But there comes a point when inaction can be more costly than a beneficial investment. And when it comes to the use of spreadsheets vs. workforce management software, that time has come. 

Yet many small and midsized contact centers still rely on spreadsheets for daily forecasting and scheduling. Even larger contact centers, those with 100 agents or more, are still making due with an inefficient system that lowers customer service, and can actually increase costs. 

When an increase as low as 1% in productivity can significantly impact the contact center budget, it is imperative to identify areas where efficiency can be improved. Ditching spreadsheets should be at the top of that list. 


Spending Money to Save Money

The limitations of a spreadsheet result in fixed schedules that can produce higher shrinkage and overstaffing, or understaffing and a low service level. But with WFM it is easier to manage start times, end times and breaks with an ease of flexibility that dramatically improves service levels. 

Managers can also consult more detailed and accurate call histories with WFM, resulting in better forecasts. Scheduling is also faster – some managers can save as much as 25% of the time once devoted to filling in spreadsheets – time that can now be used for additional agent training or to attend to other matters. 

Is increased efficiency worth the investment? One of our clients, the Texas credit union GECU, found out first-hand. Their call center, staffed by 85 agents, selected Monet’s cloud-based WFM Live as a way to improve customer service. Affordability was a key component in the decision, as WFM Live provides such benefits as reduced IT investment, low implementation service fees and a more cost-effective per-user license model. 

Just a few months after implementation, GECU was able to save money by reducing its number of agents by 14, while delivering better customer service. With the more accurate scheduling made possible by WFM Live, there was a 30% reduction in unscheduled breaks. Costly overtime scheduling was reduced, while call volume spikes were managed more easily.


“In terms of ROI, Monet has already paid for itself after a few months. The cost of the 3 year subscription I've already saved in salaries, overtime and administrative costs.”

--Joshua Gomez, GECU Assistant Vice-President, Call Center


Today, the quality and service levels at GECU are solidly placed in the top 97% tier. 


The Better Solution for Managers, Agents and Your Customers

A spreadsheet can be used to calculate workforce percentages, but precise forecasting requires more in-depth analysis. And when forecasts are wrong, stressed agents cannot deliver the service level you and your customers expect – or, they’re sitting in their cubicles with nothing to do, and earning money for it. 

One of the reasons we hear most often from companies reluctant to change is, “But this is the way we’ve been doing it for 10 years.” Change can indeed be intimidating. What we tell them is they are not really changing the things they do – they are just going to be able to do them more easily and efficiently. 

Forecasts rely heavily on historical data – daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal – to determine call volume. Contact center managers may start with monthly and weekly stats, and then delve deeper into daily and hourly numbers, perhaps even examining work periods as short as 15 minutes. 

This can be done with spreadsheets, theoretically, but with WFM it is significantly easier to analyze call types, call volume and call patterns, and then to note past variations, determine their cause, and forecast accordingly. With WFM it is also much easier to forecast special days or other events that impact call volume. “Special day” provisions can be created for any factor, from marketing campaigns or events to weather patterns.

Scheduling is yet another area where WFM offers enhanced capabilities. Spreadsheets can handle fixed schedules, but in 2015 how often do contact center schedules stay fixed? 

With a WFM system managers have the flexibility to automatically manage start times, end times and break times. Now, agents can work the hours that work best for them, and happier agents are far more likely to excel at customer service. They are also more likely to stay with the company longer, a consideration that should not be minimized considering the average employee turnover rate in this industry. 

Intra-day adherence tracking is another significant component of a best practices approach that is practically impossible with just a spreadsheet. WFM also provides insight, through dashboards and real-time alerts, into which agents are meeting their schedule obligations, and which may require additional guidance or training. 


Conclusion

The annual budgeting process presents a familiar challenge – cut costs where necessary while maintaining (or improving) the customer experience. Since labor forces rank among the highest cost items, it is essential that they be managed properly. With WFM, a manager can always be confident that he or she is scheduling the right agents with the right skills at the right time. 

Those still using spreadsheets for these functions are missing out on the convenience, efficiency, flexibility and functionality of workforce management. 

The calculations necessary for optimal forecasts and schedules are very difficult to do with Excel. WFM has sophisticated simulation processes that tell a call center how many people it will need and when it will need them.

“But we can’t afford it.” That might have true ten years ago, but today with cloud-based WFM, even smaller and medium-sized contact centers can reap the benefits of automated workforce management at an affordable cost. A lower investment also means a more rapid return on that investment. 

When call volume changes, spreadsheets are insufficient. With WFM, managers can get back to managing people, instead of spending hours on Excel planning forecasts and schedules. To learn more about this, download our whitepaper "The Real Cost of Spreadsheet-based Scheduling".




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Spring Break at the Contact Center

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Is your contact center ready for spring break? 

Certainly many of your agents are looking forward to this annual celebration. If that means taking additional time off, managers will need to have a plan in place for potential attrition. 

This time of year can also mean increased business in certain industries – travel, hospitality, entertainment – creating the perfect storm at some contact centers of more calls coming in and less agents there to handle them. 

How can a business negotiate this impending crisis? A workforce management (WFM) solution is the answer. 

When a manager needs to know what type of calls, and call volume, to expect on a certain week or day or even during a particular hour, WFM collects and analyzes historical call data to help predict future workload. That makes it easier to forecast needs and schedule staff accordingly. 

This is also a time when the flexible schedule creation made possible by WFM delivers additional benefits. Now you can take foreseen and unforeseen variables and agent exceptions into account, as well as make intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling. 

With WFM, costly instances of overstaffing and understaffing are reduced, schedule adherence is improved, and more flexible scheduling is possible. If you try to achieve the same results with spreadsheets, you’ll be the one that needs a spring break vacation. 


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How Complete is Your Schedule Adherence Tracking?

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Managing agent adherence across all contact center activities is one of the most challenging call center tasks and is often the cause for poor call center performance.

Workforce management software plays a key role in schedule adherence tracking. The goal is to make monitoring easier and more accurate through a reliable automated system, and reviewing results to achieve goals in service levels, productivity and cost management. But this can be challenging if WFM stops short of comprehensive adherence tracking.

Every activity that goes into a schedule, even non-call activities, should be tracked regarding adherence. That requires an added layer of flexibility, the option to set up "custom states", and the ability to monitor activities in real time. Is it time to replace your WMF solution? These questions may help to make that decision:

  • Can you add any agent activity type into adherence monitoring as "customer states"?
  • Can you program custom thresholds and variances designed meet the specific needs of your call center?
  • Can you monitor such activities as special after-word and outbound preparation?
  • Can you monitor adherence in real-time on a dashboard?
If not, it may be time to find a new product that supports customizable adherence tracking, resulting in a new level of accuracy in managing call center performance. Watch this video about schedule adherence in action or download our whitepaper with Seven Strategies for Improving Adherence.
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Improving Schedule Adherence

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Schedule adherence plays a critical role in the success of any contact center. Workforce management (WFM) software makes the goal of optimal schedule adherence easier to achieve.

How? Monet has created a video demo that illustrates the capabilities and key benefits of using adherence tracking and monitoring tools as part of a workforce management solution. Check out the video and learn about real-time schedule adherence:

The video should prove particularly enlightening for any contact center still using spreadsheets. If that is how forecasting and scheduling is handled at your call center, this is the time to discover how a workforce management system can:

  • Monitor agent status in real-time
  • Monitor and analyze key performance indicators and trends to reforecast, reschedule, and adjust staffing levels
  • Track and compare forecasted and actual center statistics
  • Evaluate adherence and take action to improve performance
Not only will the WFM-generated schedules provide more accurate information, they will make a dramatic change in the manager’s schedule as well. How long does it take to run all of the necessary numbers with a spreadsheet? With WFM, managers can access better numbers more quickly, so they have more time to address other issues, or leave the office on time for a change.

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Schedule Adherence Automation

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We offer a wide range of free resources on our website, including whitepapers on several important subjects related to call center technology and the call center industry. From the number of downloads, it is apparent that schedule adherence is a key topic of interest for many call center managers.

However, many of these managers also indicate that they have no Workforce Management (WFM) solution in place, and are still relying on spreadsheets. Without WFM, the vital practices of tracking, monitoring and improving schedule adherence is much more difficult, if not impossible.

With an automated solution in place, a call center manager has the capability to streamline schedule adherence goals and practices. Here’s how it works when you have the right tools for the job:

  • Forecasting – through simulations based on historical data, you can create a reliable schedule.
  • Schedule Creation – adherence is improved when a schedule takes into account agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks and other variables.
  • Intra-day Management – when adjustments are necessary, WFM provides real-time updates so schedule goals are met regardless of changes.
  • Real-time Adherence – this is the fastest way to compare forecasted data with actual daily activity. The results will aid in future forecasting and scheduling, toward the goal of more consistent adherence.
  • Performance Analysis/Metrics – how do you know which agents are doing their part for schedule adherence and which may require additional guidance or training? WFM dashboards and real-time alerts provide the answers.
To find out more, read our schedule adherence strategy brief, or review the whitepapers available on our call center resources page.
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The Challenge of Agent Adherence

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Agent adherence is a metric that can be measured and tracked, but knowing how your call center is doing in this area and making changes for the better are two very different things.

If an agent goes off script, training and call recording can make certain they go back to using the company-approved verbiage. Some calls taking too long? Again, coaching and strategic changes can probably shave a few minutes or seconds off the typical customer engagement.

But agent adherence is a trickier challenge, because even outstanding agents can be vulnerable to distractions and other outside factors than can impact job performance. You can create a schedule that should be sufficient, but keeping agents focused and aware throughout their shift requires additional support.

Why? It’s human nature to get distracted, and distractions can emerge not just internally but throughout the call center environment. Agents may not be aware of how these “mental check-outs” impact not just the service level they provide, but that of other agents and the entire call center.

Also, as call centers become contact centers, engaging customers through email, chat and social media, it can be more difficult to assess adherence across these multiple channels, and make sure all are getting the attention they deserve.

However, there are strategies that have helped call centers with their adherence issues. We have published a whitepaper that outlines strategies for improved agent adherence and we hope that this might help you get new ideas on how to address this issue in your call center.


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Do You Measure Your Agent Schedule Adherence? Is it 70, 80 or 90%?

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Schedules only work if employees stick to them. Most will but as call center managers have discovered, even a small drop in adherence can severely impact both productivity and costs. Many call centers are now pro-actively focusing on improving schedule adherence for increased service levels and reduced costs. Raising the adherence from 80 to 85%, or from 90% to 95% can result in huge cost differences. For example, in this Adherence whitepaper there is the case of a 300 employee call center and the assumption that each employee is 10 minutes our of adherence every day, resulting in $250,000 per year.

Fixing adherence issues is one of the quickest ways to avoid angry customers and rising costs. But first, you must determine your current adherence level. Yes, there will be math involved – but these are numbers that are vital to know.

Here’s the formula:
[phone time + other work related activity time] / ([shift time] - [lunch/dinner] -
[break] + [exception time] + [overtime]) = schedule adherence

Once you’ve got the results, you can add up the money now being wasted and put a stop to it.

What Causes Adherence Issues?
Are some agents taking too many breaks or absences? Is the schedule too rigid? Are employees showing up late and leaving early? Address these issues with agents, and make sure they realize how important schedule adherence is to the call center – and to their job.

This need not be a confrontational situation – one method that has worked at call centers is the setting of adherence goals, with rewards offered to agents that aid in their achievement. Monitor progress whether the goals are achieved or not, and keep the lines of communication open.

The Role of Workforce Management
A workforce management solution can play a key role in agent adherence. First, you don't have to calculate adherence, the system does that for you. Second, real-time tracking and monitoring makes it easier to adjust forecasts and schedules right when there is an adherence problem. Third, adherence reporting helps you analyze data from the past, identify potential issues that impact adherence and the opportunity to discuss with your team.

For more information, please download the Monet white paper Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence.


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Agent Schedule Adherence Visualized

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Monitoring call center agent adherence to a rotation schedule is yet another task that used to be handled manually, and now can be achieved in less time and with greater accuracy through a workforce management solution.

With workforce management, a call center can monitor and record the schedule adherence status of all agents in real-time. The system tracks data on every status related to this issue, from lunches to daily breaks to when agents log out.

By having this information easily accessible on a workforce management dashboard, managers can quickly compare the agent’s actual daily activity to the objective intended by the company. One can even create custom states and guidelines to address atypical needs for a specific call center, such as after-hours work.

Once guidelines are customized and set as to which states (or statuses) should be included or not included in a schedule adherence measurement, the system does the rest. The different states are color-coded and can easily be monitored from a dashboard. It is now simple to review each agent’s efforts and classify their work time as within schedule adherence, or find out where he or she is coming up short. Too much time spent away from assigned functions can impact the call center’s productivity.

Accurate time management can be a challenge, as minor exceptions and changes happen each day. Perhaps an agent is scheduled to go on an approved break, but cuts into that time to complete a call that takes another 10 minutes. An effective workforce management solution can be configured in such a way as to record this time extension, and not count the lost break time against that agent. For more detailed information about how to implement effective strategies for schedule adherence, please click the link to download our whitepaper.


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Call center schedule adherence definition, impact and tips for improvement

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This blog has published many articles and advice on call center schedule adherence and this topic seems to be on top of the list for many call center managers because we see a lot of interest. So, here is another summary of the top articles about schedule adherence for you:

There is also a whitepaper about schedule adherence you can download if you are looking for more information


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The advantages of real-time schedule adherence in your call center

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Real-time schedule adherence functionality continuously monitors and records the real-time status of your staff to show which agents are on the phone and which ones are not, so you can quickly take corrective action to streamline workflow processes. Call center schedule adherence screens display when agents are available for calls and when they take their lunches and breaks based on predetermined schedules.
A manager can easily compare planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, and can see the real-time status of each agent against the planned activity. Intra-day management features provide real-time views of forecasted, actual, and predicted call volumes, handling times, and other key performance indicators. You get alerts when agents are out of adherence, enabling you to adjust schedules accordingly, begin live monitoring, or record calls for future training sessions. Here are some key capabilities:

  • Monitor agent status in real-time
  • Receive instant alerts for out-of-adherence states
  • View agent exceptions in real-time and approve or deny them in one-minute increments
  • Monitor and analyze key performance indicators and trends to reforecast, reschedule, and adjust staffing
  • Track and compare forecasted and actual center statistics schedule overtime or time off during high and low call volume situations
  • Evaluate adherence and take action to improve performance

A key component to managing adherence is to reduce shrinkage, which is the time for which agents are paid during times when they are not available to handle calls. Shrinkage can dramatically affect your center's ability to meet service levels. To learn more about this topic, please read the whitepaper about agent and schedule adherence.


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5 Strategies to improve call center schedule adherence

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One of the biggest challenges of running a call center is making sure that employees adhere to their schedules. Applying a strategic approach to improving adherence is crucial for contact centers struggling with rising costs, low service levels, and low customer satisfaction. This whitepaper summarizes five strategies to help boost agent adherence in your call center.

  1. How to quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff
  2. Learn about options for setting adherence performance goals
  3. How to identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan
  4. How to develop reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals
  5. How to effectively track, monitor and measure adherence

The whitepaper also explains how Workforce Management software helps call centers implement those adherence strategies more effectively. If you want to learn more about real-time schedule adherence, please visit also our main website.


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Call center schedule adherence best practices summary

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One of the most challenging jobs related to managing any call center, is ensuring there is the right number of staff with the right skills available at the right times of the day. Over the last 12 months we haven written a few articles about schedule adherence and received a lot of interest about this topic. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to create a summary of the top articles about schedule adherence:

We hope you find these articles useful, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about call center scheduling, forecasting or adherence.


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What is schedule adherence and why is it important in the call center?

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Schedule adherence is the degree to which agents stick to their schedules, measured as a percentage. Considering that staffing is the single biggest cost facing any call center – and that every minute counts when it comes to meeting customer service levels – it’s easy to see why call center managers are putting an increasing emphasis on improving it and are looking to their workforce management software for solutions.
 
If you run a small call center with 5 to 20 agents, you might think schedule adherence isn’t all that important. But if you take a closer look at all the different junctures throughout the day where agent time is “lost,” you’ll realize that it can add up to a serious loss of revenue over the course of a year.

Call center workforce management schedule adherence strategy whitepaper
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Schedule adherence is particularly important for ensuring smooth transitions between shifts. Call center schedules tend to be very complex – which means there can be a lot of junctures during a shift where an agent will go out of adherence. For example, an agent might show up for his shift five minutes late; log on to the ACD seven minutes late; show up for a training session eight minutes late; and go over their break time by 10 minutes - resulting in the agent being a total of 30 minutes out of adherence for that one shift. Multiply these “out of adherence” events across a center with dozens if not hundreds of agents - and then multiply that by the total number of shifts - and its easy to see how schedule adherence can quickly become a serious problem.

Keeping track of schedule adherence using manual systems such as spreadsheets can be incredibly time-consuming and challenging. This is where today’s web-based call center scheduling solutions are playing an increasingly crucial role. They track schedule adherence in real-time and and automatically send you alerts.

When implementing a new program for improving schedule adherence in your call center - perhaps through the deployment of a workforce management system - it’s a good idea to discuss those changes with your employees first. The one thing you don’t want is a negative backlash from your valued employees, who might not be all that thrilled to be working under the watchful eye of “Big Brother.”

In order to reduce any negative backlash from your agents when implementing a new program to improve schedule adherence, you must 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.

Then you should “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.

Finally, you can provide “incentives.” Reward agents that adhere to their schedule (95 percent within adherence scores) through recognition within the team and tie bonuses to good scores. It is also critical that all agents are aware of the consequences for out-of-adherence behavior, as this establishes their responsibility towards the success of the call center.

For more information, please read our 5 Strategies for improved Schedule Adherence whitepaper.

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What is advanced real-time schedule adherence?

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One challenge in tracking and monitoring schedule adherence is that agents can have so many different non-call tasks, exceptions and states that it is difficult to plan for and then monitor those states. That's where Advanced Agent Adherence comes into action. It allows the creation of custom states and rules to match the unique needs of your the call center, such as:

  • Create custom states for any number of activities, such as call wrap-up, special after call work, or outbound preparation
  • Set thresholds for each state, indicating how much time is considered “in adherence” so that time in a particular state can automatically be broken down into acceptable and unacceptable time
  • Define which states are included or not included in the agent adherence calculation
Exceptions and non-call activities will be added by default and will be considered “scheduled activities,” along with available, break, lunch, and logged out states. Call center managers can customize which statuses are allowed and not allowed for each scheduled activity.

Since every call center has unique agent activity types, this flexible approach to agent adherence monitoring gives centers a new level of accuracy in managing call center performance and the potential to dramatically reduce non-productive agent time.
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Schedule Adherence for Call Centers - A Strategy Whitepaper

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Schedule Adherence still seems one of the top challenges for call centers. This new whitepaper talks about the challenges and how to overcome those, helping call center managers and supervisors better manage adherence. The paper discusses the following topics:

  • How to identify the issues that cause out-of-adherence
  • How to monitor and measure adherence
  • How to work with your team on improving schedule adherence
  • How to establish an "adherence culture"
  • How to use tools to better monitor adherence
If you still struggle with out-of-adherence issues, or can’t reach and maintain your targeted adherence level, then this whitepaper is for you.
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How to Improve Agent Schedule Adherence in a Call Center

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Adhe
rence: Are You In or Out of It?

One of the biggest challenges of running a call center is making sure that employees stick to their schedules. A strategic approach to improving agent adherence is crucial for call centers struggling with the challenges of rising costs, lower revenues, and frustrated customers. The following whitepaper summarizes five strategies to help boost agent adherence in your call center.

In addition to the five strategies, the whitepaper also explains how WFM software helps call centers implement those adherence strategies more effectively.


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How to improve call center schedule adherence

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Watch this recorded webinar by The Call Center School and learn how to improve schedule adherence in your call center. During the session, call center experts share proven practices such as:

  1. How to quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff
  2. Learn about options for setting adherence performance goals
  3. How to identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan
  4. How to develop reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals
  5. How to effectively track, monitor and measure adherence
Here is the link to the recorded event
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Great online event about Call Center Schedule Adherence

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Yesterday, we hosted an extremely well attended webast with the topic: "Six simple strategies for improved call center schedule adherence." People asked a lot of great questions and we had lots of interactions during this online event about the following topics:

  1. How to quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff
  2. Learn about options for setting adherence performance goals
  3. How to identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan
  4. How to develop reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals
  5. How to effectively track, monitor and measure adherence

In case you missed it, here is the link to the recorded session - enjoy!


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How to improve schedule adherence in your call center

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One of the most challenging jobs related to managing any call center, is often ensuring there is the right number of staff with the right skills available at the right times of the day. How do you get your staff to show up for work on time and stick to their planned schedule and break times?

Monet Software is sponsoring a free webinar that exactly addresses this topic: "Six simple strategies for improved call center schedule adherence." Please join our special guest speaker and industry expert, Penny Reynolds from the The Call Center School, for this webinar on May 11th. She will share with you proven practices on schedule adherence that have resulted in increased availability. Please register here.


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Six strategies for improved call center schedule adherence

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One of the toughest jobs related to managing any call center may not be the calculations of proper forecasting nor the numerous iterations of coming up with the best schedule mix. The hardest part is often ensuring there is the right number of staff with the right skills in their seats at the right times of the day. So how do you get staff to show up for work on time and stick to their planned break times as well as generally acceptable time on various work tasks?

We are very excited that our special guest speaker and industry expert, Penny Reynoldsfrom the The Call Center School, will share with you proven practices on schedule adherence.

What attendees will learn?

  • Quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff
  • Identify ways to communicate and educate staff on the “power of one” in call center staffing.
  • Describe options for setting adherence performance goals and selling to the staff
  • Identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan
  • Identify reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals

We are looking forward to having you join us for this free webinar.


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Important call center metrics: schedule adherence

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In our recent post about the importance of call center metrics we talked about the need to break down the goals and objectives from an organizational level, to a call center level, all the way down to an agent level. One such metric that is critical for most call centers is schedule or agent adherence. Let's define how it gets measured and discuss ways to improve it.

What call center adherence measures? It can be considered a measure of agent productivity. It measures the percentage of time an agent is actively working on the phone compared to the time the agent is supposed to be on the phone based on the schedule. For a more detailed discussion about adherence, please check out the whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence".

Potential causes for out-of-adherence and ways for improvement:

  • Agents might not be familiar with the individual impact of adherence on overall service levels: Educate them and explain how a 10 or 20 minutes out-of-adherence can have a big negative impact on the overall service level of the whole group or call center.
  • Lack of clear definition of phone and non-phone activities: Clearly communicate the different types and explain what is included in the schedule.
  • Schedule is too rigid: Can create too much pressure for agents and the need to take extra "breaks". Evaluate the situation and talk to your team.
  • Schedule is too flexible: Lack of accountability might result in out-of-adherence. Again, evaluate and discuss with your team. Also, there are ways to include flexibility into your schedule using tools or software, such as shift bidding.
  • Adherence doesn't get measured and tracked: You can only manage what you measure, therefore, you need to find a way to measure adherence. Set clear goals, communicate to your team, measure adherence and review with your teamon a regular basis. You can also consider using incentives for "good" adherence behavior.
  • Forecast and/or scheduling assumptions and calculations might be inaccurate: Make sure to include all call and non-call activities into your schedule.

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Real-time schedule adherence in call centers

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If you were to poll a number of contact center managers about their biggest challenges, chances are good that agent adherence will show up near the top of their lists. It’s impossible to overstate how critical adherence is in a contact center. A contact center may have the best schedule in the world, but it’s not going to do a lot of good if agents are always out of adherence and, as a result, service levels begin to slide.

Real-time adherence monitoring, accompanied by customized reporting, will tell you WHY you are out of adherence. It might be certain agents or certain work groups, or it may not be agents’ fault at all: a poorly designed schedule might be the cause of low service levels. It may be a certain time of day that causes the most trouble spots, which narrows down your list of probable causes.

Also, it’s important that agents understand what their adherence goals are. A contact center is a sum of many moving parts, and agents need to realize that taking 10 minutes to check their social networking page may not seem like much, but put together in aggregate among all agents, 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there can throw the entire contact center far off the mark for service levels. Real-time adherence monitoring can help agents better understand how their behavior can directly affect service-level goals, and help them feel like contributors to the success of the contact center.

If you are interested in this topic, please make sure to read this whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence".


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Agent Adherence – you can only manage what you measure

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In a recent survey and study by ICMI one of the top challenges mentioned by call center managers was “consistent adherence to schedule”. In another study by DMG, over 30% of call center managers indicated that agent adherence is a key challenge. Of course, there might be several reasons for this based on call center specifics, but one statement is probably true for all: You can only manage agent adherence if you have a way to measure it. Many call centers still have no reliable way to track and monitor adherence. Workforce management solutions can help in two ways:

  • Real-time adherence: At any moment you can see if members of your team are adhering to the schedule, or not. Real-time monitoring is a key element to better manage call center performance throughout the day, especially if the call volume fluctuates and you don’t need the “out of adherence” challenge on top of it.
  • Adherence reporting: The reporting help you to compare adherence for certain time periods, certain teams, etc. You are able to identify potential causes for low service levels or other issues. In addition, it helps you proactively work with you team, educate about the importance of adherence and provide a “fair” way to motivate and promote positive behavior.

Again, only if you can measure it, you can actually start improving adherence. In a previous blog post "Are you monitoring schedule adherence in your call center?" we have talked about 3 steps that will help you improve schedule adherence. Please take a look if you have not read it.


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