Schedule Adherence Hints, Tips & Best Practices
Good customer experiences often start at the contact center. To achieve those positive results, contact centers are active in the data acquisition business, using KPIs and analytics to take a closer look at every customer interaction.
Sometimes, however, a company’s reach can exceed its grasp. Innovation often comes slow to the contact center, so while there are now a multitude of effective tools available to transform a wealth of data into real-time solutions, managers may not have the means to maximize this potential.
Downtime is one area where this gap is especially noticeable. When agents experience downtime, it should be leveraged to enhance productivity by making good use of that time.
Speech analytics provides another example. Here is a system telling you important information about a customer while he or she is still on the phone – can you react to that information in time? If not, all this technology is buying is a lost opportunity.
Does your contact center have intraday automation that triggers real-time workforce adjustments during a shift? Can you change staffing levels when there’s a decrease in demand, freeing agents to begin a training session?
The goal of all of this is providing excellent customer service. When customers are happy, the business thrives. One study by the Harvard Business Review found a whopping 240% annual revenue difference between customers who rate their experience as “great” and those who said it was “poor.”
Data can deliver more “greats.” But it must be used in real time, and that may be the most essential aspect of contact center technology.
The evolution of technology has made it easier than ever for call center agents to work from home. And if you believe the “What work will look like in the future” articles all over the Internet, we are still at the beginning of a transition to a time when virtual workplaces may outnumber traditional offices.
However, if your contact center is considering a work-for-home arrangement, it’s important to realize that there may be some bumps in the road throughout the transition process.
The benefits are there – lower overhead, happier employees, reduced attrition rates, access to a larger potential workforce (since a daily commute to the contact center is no longer necessary), but here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you embark on this brave new virtual path:
Choose the Right Agents
When you offer your current agents a work-from-home option, many will leap at the opportunity, eager to “go to work” every day in their family room and watch TV when they should be focusing on calls. Present this as a privilege, not a right, and tie it to the set of performance standards they are currently meeting in the office. If those numbers slip, it’s back to the cubicle. Remind them that the requirements of the position are the same – only their surroundings will change.
Choose the Right Technology
Telecommuting only works if agents can do everything at home that they can do in the office. Obviously a computer with high-speed broadband is essential, but the only way to be assured of the efficiency of a virtual workplace is through cloud-based technology.
This way, you will always know that these agents are working with the current software versions, as with the cloud they are uploaded automatically (and at no cost) upon availability. Managers can access real-time and historic reporting so they will always be aware of current activity no matter where it is taking place. And remote agents can have their calls recorded and monitored for future training purposes.
Choose the Right Policies
During this time new rules will have to be written and new procedures learned. Will telecommuting agents have to come in to the office for coaching sessions, or should those be handled virtually as well? Will additional training be required for the home agent to interact with the office, receive shift assignments or schedule breaks remotely?
The key to all of this is communication. As you begin your transition into a partially or fully virtual workplace, make certain there is an end-to-end communication plan in place so that agents have the knowledge, the tools and the guidance they need to deliver outstanding customer service, wherever they may be.
When the first cloud service providers emerged more than 10 years ago, there was some confusion as to what differentiated them from the hosted services that have been around since the early years of commercial computing.
As a pioneering provider of workforce management solutions through the cloud, Monet Software salespeople and other personnel were accustomed to answering questions on how the two solutions were different.
However, with more contact centers and other types of businesses discovering the cost and convenience benefits that the cloud provides, it’s surprising that questions still persist about whether a hosted solution can be rebranded as a cloud solution, when nothing else changes besides the product description.
Let’s put this issue to rest.
Hosted services are technology services offered to you or your company by a provider that hosts the physical servers running that service somewhere else. Web hosting is the business of providing server space, web services and file maintenance for websites controlled by companies or individuals that do not have their own web servers.
Cloud solutions are distinguished from hosted products by a distributed delivery model. This is a multi-tenant solution that provides guaranteed service levels and up times, full scalability, and easily allows for frequent updates.
With client-server (hosted) Workforce Management, it’s the vendor that controls the product from a hosted facility, where such virtualization and scalability are simply not possible.
If a vendor’s product does not provide continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades, it is not a true cloud solution. Product upgrades are free and automatic in the cloud – with a non-cloud solution, customer upgrades are handled by the vendor in a way that could delay implementation by months.
To make certain you are getting a true cloud solution, ask the right questions: does it use multi-tenant architecture? Are upgrades automatic? Will all customizations and integrations work with future upgrades? Is your service level uptime 99.5% or higher?
At Monet Software, the answer to all of these questions is yes.
The Workforce Management market continues to evolve and transform, especially when it comes to the back office.
In 2014, back-office WFM solutions sales increased more than 16%. Why is this happening? More contact center executives have started to appreciate the need for more data and more control over their back office. It also helps that the solutions themselves have improved.
Back-office tasks are often manual and complex, making it difficult to automate, manage and forecast workload. But with the WFM now available, contact centers can improve service levels. It’s possible to:
• Improve forecast accuracy of manual back-office tasks and activities
• Deliver more efficient resource planning and scheduling to consistently meet service levels and control costs
• Increase employee productivity by monitoring adherence, backlog and other metrics in real-time, allowing for more immediate actions
• Track and analyze key metrics to optimize service quality and back-office performance
All of these capabilities can make a critical difference in back office operations, as long as companies select the right solution. If you are exploring the market, find a WFM product that will integrate easily into your current ACD or PBX system, and one that offers multi-channel efficiencies, clear and organized dashboards and intra-day visibility.
Agents have good days and bad days just like the rest of us. But when the bad days become prevalent, action should be taken. An agent that has lost interest is one that may be costing you customers with every call.
Recognize the warning signs of impending agent apathy – then decide if this is an employee that can be re-inspired, or should be let go.
1. Showing up Late
With a workforce management solution it’s easy to identify agents who start their shifts late, and add a few extra minutes to their lunch and other breaks. The more difficult assessment is identifying those agents who don’t maintain focus even when they are at their desks. Call recording will be useful here. Once the problem is known, it may call for more than just coaching – usually these agents know what to do, they just don’t care enough to do it. Is there an underlying issue, such as trouble at home? Having someone to talk to might be the first step to reinvigorating performance.
2. Excessive Sick Leave
This can be tricky, but when the days missed become excessive the situation must be confronted. A meeting here can be used to remind the agent of how valuable he or she is to the company, as well as how absenteeism has a negative impact on the business and on other agents.
3. Finding Reasons Not to Take Calls
There are more ways to avoid picking up the phone than you might imagine – and some agents know them all. “Oh, it’s the last call of the day and I’ve already put my stuff away”; “I’ve had an IT issue accessing our service department all day – might as well wait until that’s fixed in case this customer needs that information,” etc. Gently call out such behavior as you find it, or hold a team meeting expressing concern about this issue without naming names. The guilty parties will know who they are.
4. Transferring Too Many Calls
Patience is a virtue in call center work, but some customers exhaust that patience more quickly than others. Agents who lack the initiative to tackle these issues will pass such calls on to a supervisor. When this happens too often, the supervisor should have a chat with that agent to find out why. Once again, just identifying the problem may be enough to resolve it.
5. Lowering Team Morale
That old saying about one bad apple spoiling a whole bunch is, unfortunately, true. If one agent becomes lax in his or her efforts, other team members will pick up on this behavior. And if they don’t see that agent disciplined, they’ll stay at it. No resting on this one – private direct confrontation is required, followed by a general “It has come to our attention…” announcement. After that, it’s time to employ another old saying – shape up or ship out.
We live in an era of specialization.
Look up any listing of doctors in your city and try to find one general practitioner. They used to be commonplace, but today it’s the rare physician that does not graduate medical school with one specific field of interest, whether it’s pediatrics or cardiology or sports medicine.
The contact center has also witnessed the encroachment of specialization; in the way certain calls are routed to certain agents, and in multi-channel centers where customers also communicate via email and online chat.
But is specialization really the best option? Or is there still a place in our industry for a good general practitioner agent?
Dedicated Agent Pools
Multi-channel forecasting typically begins with a specification of service goals based on the types of channels the call center must handle, followed by agent skill assessment within each of these channels.
Once these standards are set, forecasting will require accurate calculation of the Average Handle Time (AHT) for each contact channel. This is easier to do with calls than with emails, but a workforce management system can make volume forecasting easier. With this information, the contact center manager has two options to choose from – dedicated agent pools or the universal queue.
In the first scenario, once an agent’s skill sets are determined, he or she is assigned to a dedicated group that focuses solely or primarily on their best channel, whether that is inbound calls, emails or web chat.
Such specialization also exists within call centers that only handle incoming telephone calls, as agents are assigned to specific areas such as handling complaints, closing sales on high-ticket items, and solving the problems no one else can solve. Over time, through the use of call monitoring and call recording software, managers discover these special talents within certain agents, and funnel calls to them where their skills can be deployed.
The Universal Queue
With this simpler method, all contacts are routed to agents based on order and availability – first come, first serve. In a call center, that means the same agent should be able to handle a billing question and a technical support question, without having to transfer the call (or put the customer on hold while they find someone who knows the answer).
In a multi-channel contact center, universal queue agents might first respond to an email, then resolve a customer’s issue via web chat, and then take a phone call.
The advantage to this method is how it facilitates cross-training and forces agents to become adept at handling the various methods of customer communication in a shorter time span. Cost is another advantage. If agents can support multiple channels, less staff will be required.
Not every agent will have the skill set to become a “universal” agent. In addition to product, service and support knowledge, these agents must be talented, motivated and able to command a wide range of technologies.
As a result, contact centers that opt for the universal queue approach will inevitably devote more time and effort to coaching and training on multiple customer touch points. Some people have a natural inclination to communicate verbally, and may need more help with the written word. Others will arrive with an inverse set of abilities. Thus, managers need to determine if the additional time and capital investment in agent evaluation and preparation will be more than offset by the advantages that universal agents provide.
The Role of Technology
Whether a contact center opts for dedicated agent pools or a universal queue, it is also necessary to have the right technology platform in place, and agents fully trained on the platform. For agent pools, that means routing various methods of customer contact to the right agent. For the universal queue, it means integrating data from all communication modes, and scheduling agents to maximize productivity.
In a corporate era where specialization is the goal, some contact centers are re-discovering the benefits of universal agents. Team members who can perform multiple tasks and communicate through different channels provide a valuable resource. It requires additional time and investment to train these agents, but ultimately their knowledge and efficiency add value to the contact center. Universal agents drive customer loyalty through the quality service they provide, while lowering costs to the company.
What qualities do you find in a successful contact center manager? If success is judged by how well agents perform at a call center under the manager’s leadership, then it’s important to identify the most effective ways to motivate and lead a team of individuals with different priorities and personalities.
Here are four tips that will generate positive results.
1. Join the Team
There is an unavoidable separation between labor and management. But when managers conduct themselves as part of a team whenever possible, it often inspires better agent performance.
2. Lead by Example
“Do what I say, not what I do” is a recipe for a hostile work environment. The best managers follow the same rules as their employees, leading by example and demonstrating confidence in the policies that have been put in place.
3. Recognize Achievement
While the team concept is important, recognizing individual accomplishments is also imperative, and can have a positive effect not only on the person being recognized but his or her coworkers as well. Knowing that hard work is appreciated is one of the best morale-boosters that a manager can provide.
Agents are on the front lines of customer service, and they will have ideas on how methods or scripts can be altered to better serve customers. Listen to those ideas and reward those that are implemented. The more an agent feels like he or she is part of the company, the more likely they are to stick around.
Every week, new contact center managers and agents discover this blog for the first time. We think that’s a good reason to occasionally go back to the basics, and explore the ways in which a quality workforce management solution (like Monet WFM Live) should be utilized. This is technology that can really make a difference in how you serve your customers.
Follow these guidelines to make the most of a WFM solution:
• Given the attrition rates at contact centers, require ongoing WFM training to avoid knowledge erosion
• Refine your data gathering processes regularly to make sure the numbers are accurate
• Monitor shrinkage and balance it correctly into forecasts
• Set realistic adherence targets, and apply real-time calculations to achieving them
• Make sure intra-day forecasting is consistent
• Let the system manage holiday and shift swaps, so managers can focus on other tasks
• Daily forecasts will usually be top priority, but do not ignore midrange and long-term calculations that can be important to future planning.
• Invite agents to input schedule and vacation requests directly into the system
While Workforce Management can make a difference simply through the data it delivers and processes it expedites, it’s a tool that will ultimately be successful depending on the environment in which it is used.
Thus, managers are also urged to always treat agents fairly. For example, do not give preferential treatment on first choice of shifts, unless this perk is offered as a bonus for outstanding performance. Make sure contact center policies on this and other rules are clearly communicated so agents know what to expect.
When you know what to look for, when you have the information you need, when you need it, and when you can act upon it quickly, that’s workforce management made easy.
“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.
“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.
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".
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.
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:
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.
- 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?
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:
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.
- 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
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
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:
To find out more, read our schedule adherence strategy brief, or review the whitepapers available on our call center resources page.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
- How to quantify the cost and service implications of missing staff
- Learn about options for setting adherence performance goals
- How to identify the reasons why staff don't adhere to the schedule plan
- How to develop reward and consequence programs that support adherence goals
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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:
you still struggle with out-of-adherence issues, or can’t reach and
maintain your targeted adherence level, then this whitepaper is for you.
- 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
Adherence: 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.