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Workforce Management

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

Featured Whitepapers

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Workforce Management Hints, Tips & Best Practices

Call center schedule exception handling made easy

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Every day call centers have to deal with exceptions and find a way to minimize the impact on their schedule and service level. There are either planned exceptions such as planned time-off and planned training sessions, or mid-day exceptions that are typically not planned. Let's take a look at some examples and describe how to deal with those.

Call center schedule exceptions handling
Example: Schedule a meeting with multiple agents
while minimizing impact on service levels
  • Agents call in late
  • Agents leave early for emergency
  • Agents leave early with vacation time
  • Agents in training session
  • One on one meeting with supervisor
  • Multiple agent meeting with supervisor
  • Agents staying late for overtime
Many Workforce Management systems have integrated exception planner, that make scheduling agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings a simple process.  For example Monet WFM Live provides a color-coded availability calendar that displays a real-time summary of time off, making it easy for managers to see whether to grant an agent's time off request.

Complete schedule integration ensures the center will be appropriately staffed if the time off is approved and that you will continually meet service levels. Exceptions can be scheduled far into the future or recorded as recurring exceptions. The Exception Planner has also support for mid-day exceptions too, taking them into account when choosing shifts and scheduling breaks and lunches. A manager can easily schedule an agent to attend a training meeting from 11:00 - 1:00 on the second Friday of every month, or set up a rotating schedule where agents have different days off on alternate weeks. The exception calendar enables managers to see how existing exceptions affect their staff availability. They can select any set of dates from the year and see agent requirements and availability, along with the number of exception hours, broken down both by agent and exception type. This tool is particularly useful when deciding whether or not to grant a vacation request.

Efficient and effective management of exceptions is crucial to achieve and maintain your service level. If you would like to learn more, feel free to watch a demo about intra-day schedule management or contact us.

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What is cloud-based workforce management software?

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Cloud computing is a web-based delivery model that enables users to connect with applications on-demand from any computer with Internet access. A cloud-based workforce management solution provides the highest ROI and savings of any WFM strategy due to its low upfront investment and low operating costs. Cloud-based WFM software puts call centers in unprecedented control, enabling dramatic cost savings and making scheduling far more efficient. Compared with traditional workforce management software, a cloud-based WFM solution allows companies to:

  • Reduce upfront costs: Eliminate the significant investment just to get started. From purchasing hardware, databases, and software licenses to the high costs of installation and IT staff to support the system, the traditional model simply doesn’t make sense. In stark contrast, cloud-based workforce scheduling software saves both time and money because there are no infrastructure costs.
  • Get started faster: Rather than having to ramp-up to a six- to twelve-month (or more) implementation, WFM solutions enable companies to start managing their workforce in the cloud within a matter of weeks. And, since the solution is web-based, integrating the software with existing systems reduces time and costs.
  • Connect anywhere:  The software is hosted by the workforce management firm so companies can access the software anywhere—whether on the other side of town or the other side of the world. All they need is a computer and a standard web browser.
  • Minimize ongoing costs: Cloud-based WFM software doesn’t just save money during the implementation phase. Companies save time and money in the long-term as well. The WFM firm supports all maintenance of the system, including free software upgrades and troubleshooting. Companies also benefit from the ability to quickly customize or add modules via a single, web-based interface.
  • Pay-as-you-go: One of the most attractive features of the solution is the pricing model. Companies only pay for the capacity and infrastructure that are actually used, typically based on number of users. This usage-based, pay-as-you-go subscription pricing approach not only saves businesses money,  Web-based workforce scheduling software also enables them to quickly scale to manage the demands of changing call center sizes.
Cloud-based WFM software lowers the initial infrastructure costs and ongoing maintenance costs of traditional WFM software. This on-the-fly WFM solution also gives call center managers the tools to schedule the right number of agents at the right skill level at the right time, increase overall schedule adherence, boost service levels, and improve both agent and customer satisfaction. To learn more about this topic, please download our What is cloud-based Workforce Management whitepaper.

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The Business Value of Workforce Management Software - Part 2

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In our previous blog about the value of workforce management software we talked about the business challenges, now, let’s take a look at the key value drivers of WFM software compared to the manual/spreadsheet approach:

    Value and ROI of workforce management software
  • Reduces administrative time: Automated WFM drastically reduces the administrative time spent on forecasting and scheduling, data gathering of call history, and creation of management reports. Most call centers see a reduction by a large percentage  after implementation.
  • Slashes shrinkage and optimizes schedules: WFM precisely measures the sources of agent shrinkage and provides tools to reduce its occurrence. Managers can create staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of critical success factors, such as agent skills and availability, breaks and holidays, skill types, historical and predicted call volume, budgets, and service levels. Skills-based scheduling and routing processes enable call center managers to assign skill levels and types to individual agents, and then automatically route a specific type of call to a specific agent who will best be able to resolve the customer’s issue quickly and more effectively. In addition, they can take advantage of flexible start and end times.
  • Precisely forecasts demand: Automated WFM solutions use historical data to accurately predict the number of agents needed to handle the center's volume in real-time, and allow managers to predict future call volume, handle times, agent occupancy, first call resolution rate, and other service levels. Managers can also run multiple forecast/schedule scenarios, and have the ability to better forecast special days such as holidays and other scheduled time off. It also enables managers to forecast agent requirements based on service level agreements, as well as refine forecasts and performance goals based on collected data. More accurate forecasts ensure more efficient schedules, which prevents under or over-staffing.
  • Increases productivity and service quality: WFM software gives managers the ability to compare forecasts with available agent schedules to find time-pockets throughout the day where agents would sit idle, and then use that time for training, coaching, and meetings.
The bottom line? Lower expenses, higher revenues and productivity, and improved service levels and customer satisfaction. A manual/spreadsheet approach simply doesn’t measure up.

What About ROI and Payback Time?
The large return on investment and fast payback time make WFM software the clear choice when compared with any other method of managing a workforce, forecasting call volumes and creating schedules. A workforce management solution helps call centers realize a high ROI by:
  • Providing more accurate forecasting and scheduling to reduce agent under-staffing and over-staffing
  • Improving agent schedule adherence to reduce shrinkage
  • Enhancing supervisor efficiency by spending more time coaching and allowing agents to use the software’s self-service scheduling features
  • Reducing overtime expenses of agents by monitoring intra-day statistics and anticipating when additional agent resources will be needed
  • Decreasing agent turnover by enabling agents to manage their own schedules and empowering them to improve performance by reviewing their individual metrics
For more information you can also download the "how to calculate cost savings for workforce management software" whitepaper.

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The Business Value of Workforce Management Software - Part 1

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Persuading senior management to change “business-as-usual” call center systems can be a difficult undertaking. The management team often faces both internal and external factors that make it resistant to change. A challenging economic environment also puts pressure on all areas of the organization to implement solutions that reduce costs and increase revenues—all while improving performance and productivity. As each solution competes for investment dollars, only a select few offering the highest ROI will obtain funding.

This short article helps you make the business case for workforce management automation. We will discuss:

  • Business impact (manual vs. automated solutions)
  • Benefits (savings, service levels, employee morale, customer satisfaction)
  • ROI (payback time of investment)
A common misconception is that workforce management software is associated with a large investment. In fact, it delivers significant value to the top and bottom line with a minimal investment. In addition, an automated WFM solution is aligned with a company’s goals of saving money and increasing revenue, productivity, and service levels—and it even starts paying for itself within months instead of years.

Manual/Spreadsheet Processes
Many call centers that don’t use workforce management systems typically rely on spreadsheets. Therefore, let’s first look at a few of the limitations of using spreadsheets to manage a workforce. These inefficient manual systems have a huge impact on the performance of a call center in many areas every day, including:
  • Capturing data: ACD systems that provide massive amounts of data must be manually typed into spreadsheets, inevitably resulting in typing errors and wasting the valuable time of call center supervisors who could be training agents, analyzing trends, optimizing schedules, and performing other productive tasks.
  • Overstaffing and understaffing: The spreadsheet approach to forecasting and scheduling often leads to overstaffing and understaffing, which results in lower service levels and an increase in payroll costs. Customer satisfaction suffers when customers have to wait for long periods to get their issues resolved.
  • Schedule adherence: Tracking schedule adherence using spreadsheets gives managers headaches. It also needlessly wastes time and money whereas automated WFM solutions make it easy for agents to precisely follow their schedules. Shrinkage can become a huge problem for any size call center. For instance, in a call center of fifty agents, occupancy is critical. If five agents take breaks or go to lunch at the same time, occupancy decreases by ten percent and service levels go with it. An automated solution prevents this from happening by carefully optimizing agent schedules and forecasts, and sending alerts by out-of-adherence. A manager using a manual system may be tempted to hire additional agents, while the manager with an automated system has the data at his fingertips to accurately optimize future agent schedules to dramatically reduce shrinkage.
  • Spotting trends: It is difficult to spot long-term trends over weeks and months with a manual system. This data is priceless for accurately forecasting and scheduling agents in the future, special events and other seasonal patterns.
  • Agent retention: One of the many reasons agents leave is because staffing in a spreadsheet system seems random and fixed, while not considering their personal needs. Agent morale decreases and turnover increases when agents do not understand schedules and what’s expected of them.
A spreadsheet based process might work for a few small contact centers, but it is clearly costly and wasteful in terms of time, money, and productivity for many others. Call center managers typically cannot wait to get their hands on a better solution to manage their workforce. The savvy ones are eager to present senior management with an automated workforce management solution to enhance efficiency, increase performance, and realize a high ROI. We will talk about ROI drivers in our next blog post, please stay tuned. In the meantime, you can also download a few workforce management whitepapers from our call center resources library to learn more.

Read More About The Business Value of Workforce Management Software - Part 1

Call center training schedule - how to fit into your workforce planning?

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There is never enough time in a day, right? Call center managers know that, they also know that training of call center agents is important, but when? In the morning, or later in the shift or in between? Planning and scheduling training can be a challenge. You need enough time for an effective training, while also trying to maximize available resources for taking calls. Here are some ideas and tips on how to plan and schedule trainings as part of the overall call forecasting, staffing and workforce planning process:

  • Be ready for adhoc training sessions: Have training plans and material ready for times with lower call volumes than expected. This time can then be used in a more productive way through an adhoc training. This works especially well for non-critical and non-time sensitive trainings.
  • Include training into schedule: Critical training sessions should be included into the overall scheduling process, just like any other call and non-call related activities. You can read more about how to schedule all activities in this post.
  • Find "time pockets" in schedule: Overlapping shifts and the combination of part and full-time workers often result in "time-pockets" of over-staffing throughout the day. Again, these time-pockets can be used to schedule short training sessions.
  • Interactive online trainings: Certain types of trainings can be delivered as interactive or video sessions that individual agents can use whenever there is time, right from their seat.
Every call center has different training needs and operational characteristics, the above list provides just a few ideas on how to better fit training sessions into your call center operation. However, the main idea is to consider training as a important activity that should be included into your call center staffing and scheduling process.

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What is call center shrinkage and how to minimize it

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What is call center shrinkage?
One of the most important concepts in schedule adherence is shrinkage. Shrinkage can be defined as the time for which people are paid during which they are not available to handle calls.

There are many reasons that can cause shrinkage - and it has to be taken into account when scheduling the required number of agents to meet call volumes. But the truth is that most companies badly under-estimate the sheer volume of shrinkage that besets their call centers. This comes about due to a host of potentially hidden areas of shrinkage. Many managers keep their eye on several of these, but few are able to stay on top of all of them: lateness, talking to associates, personal calls and emergencies, leaving early and taking longer breaks. The bottom line on shrinkage is the amount of minutes per day that agents are being paid to be on the phone when they are not actually working or available to receive calls or work on customer related issues.

How to track and manage shrinkage?
Shrinkage can be a major factor in failing to meet service level targets. Call centers that take shrinkage parameters into account in their forecasting and scheduling typically achieve higher service levels at lower operating costs. They often do that by including all call related activities into the forecast and schedule planning process. Here is an example of how to track and manage shrinkage as part of the workforce scheduling process:

what is call center shrinkage

For more information about shrinkage, please also read the following two blog posts:
In addition, you can download our whitepaper about tracking and improving schedule adherence - it should provide some valuable insights into the relationship between shrinkage and agent adherence.

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Call center staffing models and scheduling tips

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Besides the key staffing and scheduling question about how many agent you need at any given time, you also need to think about what agent skills and expertise you need at specific times and types of calls. Here are a few things to consider when planning your call center staffing and schedule:

Ranking of agents

  • Creating a schedule by agent rank can be very effective in reducing costs and increasing sales.
  • Rank according to call completion time, calls per hour, call quality, customer satisfaction or other performance measures.

Match personality and team

  • Studies have shown that a good relationship with colleagues drives motivation and performance.
  • Your schedule should leverage this by teaming up the “right" people.

Multi-skilled agents and routing 

  • The productivity gain from giving each agent two skills could easily be 10-15%. 
  • The importance of multi-skilled agents is that they form overlapping groups. For example, having one group that can handle calls type A and B while another group takes calls type C and D, can be substantially improved by adding a group that is able to handle calls type B and C (or one of the other three combinations). 

For more information about this topic, please download the "Seven Tips for more Effective Call Center Scheduling" whitepaper.


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Workforce management software vendor guide

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Selecting and deciding on the right workforce software for your call center is crucial. In case you missed the recent buying and vendor guide about workforce management and optimization software in Enterprise Apps Today magazine, please read on. The article listsfour leading Workforce Optimization and Management vendors and Monet Software is proud to be one of them.

Here is an analyst quote from the article: “Workforce management applications are designed to automate the deployment of the workforce through workload planning, scheduling, time and attendance tracking, resource management, and rules and compliance management,” said Lisa Rowan, an analyst at IDC. “Increasingly, workforce management applications are being integrated into customer relationship management applications in a contact center environment.” Some of the key features of WFM, Rowan says, are skills and certification tracking, shift/vacation bidding, workload planning, forecasting, scheduling, scheduling optimization, customer wait-time forecasts, coverage management and absence management.

If you are interested in seeing these solutions in action, please visit our workforce optimization demo center.


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How to improve schedule adherence and get it to the next level

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Even with schedule adherence tracking in place, one remaining challenge is often the fact that agents can have so many different non-call tasks, exceptions and states that standard WFM solution are not able to plan for and monitor. That's where Advanced Schedule Adherence comes in. It enables supervisors and call center managers to create custom states and rules to match their unique center needs. Here are a few examples:

Here are a few examples:
  1. Create custom states for call wrap-up, special after call work, outbound preparation and other activities
  2. Establish thresholds for each state that indicate how much time is considered “in adherence”.
  3. Define which states are included or not included in the agent adherence calculation
Exceptions and non-call activities can 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, while also providing more transparency and clarity to both, agents and supervisors. To learn more about this, please also download the Strategies for Improved Agent Adherence whitepaper from our resources library.

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Workforce Optimization Software Buying Guide for Call Centers

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The software application magazine Enterprise Apps Today just published an article about workforce optimization software for call centers. It talks about the importance of workforce optimization as part of the overall call center strategy and highlights several vendors, interviews with executives and a buying guide for call center workforce optimization software. 

Monet Software is mentioned as one of the leading vendors for workforce optimization software in the article. Please click this link to read the full article.


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Workforce management for contact centers

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What makes workforce management software for contact centers so critical? Well, when customers are contacting your center, you have only seconds or minutes to take their call (before they hang up) or when you have agents ready and there are no calls, you are wasting money and resources. Especially for smaller and medium sized centers, higher fluctuations in call volumes make it more difficult to accurately forecast and then schedule agents that deliver a high service level, while also controlling costs. Here are key workforce management capabilities that make managing your workforce more effective and easier:

  • Forecast simulation: Simulations help calculate a more precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from your ACD.
  • Scheduling of all activities: Scheduling engines should incorporate all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks and service levels.
  • Exception handling: Integrated exception calendars help simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.
  • Intra-day management: Graphical display of agents' schedules provide alerts and better help manag breaks, lunches and other exceptions in your contact center.
  • Real-time adherence: Real-time views and comparison of planned agent activity with actual activities, as well as of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators throughout the day.
 To learn more, you can watch a series of workforce management videos on our website.

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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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7 Reasons for Call Center Forecasting and Scheduling in the Cloud

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Almost everyday, you can read analyst reports and magazine articles about the adoption of cloud-based solution in all areas of business, including call center forecasting and scheduling. Here are 7 reasons why companies move to the cloud:

  1. Easier to use: Cloud-based solutions are designed to be easy to use for fast adoption, without a lot of training. Think ROI!
  2. Lower investment: Traditional software requires a substantial upfront investment for software licenses, hardware and additional software. The cloud model eliminates that.
  3. Faster implementation: Have you experienced long and painful software implementation projects? Cloud-based software has changed this. Instant account creation and easy configuration and self-service makes it possible to roll-out and use solutions in weeks.
  4. Less maintenance: The IT team in your company has to make sure that the software is working, servers are running, do back-ups, etc. Again, with cloud, this is all done by the solution provider.
  5. Always newest version: Do you use an older software version simply because it is too expensive or too painful to upgrade? Typically, cloud solutions automatically deploy new features and versions. Customer can easily take advantage of new functionality.
  6. Access from anywhere: Do you have call centers at multiple locations and a pool of flexible home agents? Providing a consistent infrastructure is a challenge. Cloud computing delivers “software” over the Internet - it's easier to deploy, more consistent and easier to use and support.
  7. More flexibility and scalability: As you grow your call center and as your needs change, it is often easier to add functionality, capacity and additional modules using the cloud model.  

Bottom line: Lower cost, lower risk and faster adoption are convincing more and more call centers to "go cloud". To learn more, please watch a demo of cloud-based call center scheduling.


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What to look for when buying hosted or cloud-based workforce management software

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In addition to the core questions regarding functionality and capabilities that address your unique business needs, there are a few additional questions that need to get evaluated especially for hosted and cloud-based solutions. Here are the questions to consider:

The difference between hosted and cloud-based workforce management software
In our last blog post we have clarified the difference between "hosted" and "cloud-based" workforce management software.It is important to understand the difference and the implication on costs, usage and overall risk. 

All inclusive pricing (maintenance, support and upgrade)
When comparing offerings, it is key to evaluate costs and pricing for the overall software application life-cycle, such as, purchase, installation, set up, training, maintenance, support, and upgrade.

  • Are there any initial costs for set up, training, etc.?
  • How high are the monthly/yearly subscription fees for usage?
  • Are there any additional maintenance fees?
  • Are there any additional customer support fees
  • Are there any additional upgrade fees for new versions
  • Are there any other fee for additional storage, higher performance, etc.


Integration to other call center software systems
Just as the ACD/PBX systems should be integrated to workforce management software to achieve better forecasting and real-time schedule adherence, it is important to look at other integration points. For example, an integrated workforce optimization solution connects all aspects of scheduling, skills, call quality, metrics and compliance to better meet customer needs and deliver more effective customer service. You can easily identify patterns and analyze metrics at various levels for training and quality assurance purposes and establish quality standards and best practices. In addition, you can combine quantitative and qualitative information for a complete assessment of contact center performance. Only an integrated WFO suite allows you to “connect the dots” to get the whole picture that allows you to impact the bottom line. And today's cloud-based solution make it often more easy to integrate or even offer the integration "out of the box".


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Call center forecasting and scheduling tips and best practices

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The following is a list of practical tips, tricks and best practices on how to better forecast call volumes and more effectively schedule your call center team:

If you would like to see some of these tips in action, please watch our video demonstrationsabout call center forecasting and scheduling.


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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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Top 5 call center forecasting & scheduling articles for first half of 2012

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We have seen tremendous interest in our Call Center Workforce Management blog over the last 6 months. We just compiled a list of our top blog posts based on page views. We also noticed that there was a lot of interest in "schedule adherence". This still seems to be one of the key challenges for call centers. Here is the top 5 list in case you missed some of the articles:

  1. What is schedule adherence and why is it important for a call center?
  2. Call forecasting and call center scheduling spreadsheets? A few considerations.
  3. Contact Center scheduling and call forecasting overview
  4. Important call center metrics: Service Level
  5. Workforce Management: How to move from "reactive" to "pro-active" call center performance management

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Call center schedule tips

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We have created a list of seven practical tips for call center scheduling to not only keep your call center running efficiently, but also maintain high service levels, and keep costs under control. We would like to share these tips with you and hope it proves to be useful in your daily call center operations.

You can download the whitepaper by clicking this link 7 Tips for more effective call center scheduling. If you are also interested in schedule adherence, you can also download our whitepaper with the topic: Practical strategies for improving call center schedule adherence.


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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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Workforce management: How to move from "reactive" to "proactive" call center performance management?

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Performance management is a critical part of managing call centers and is essential to help you align your people, processes and systems to your goals and objectives, such as customer satisfaction, cost control and revenue goals. Many call centers lack the means to measure and track their key performance indicators (KPI) necessary to improve forecasting, staffing, scheduling and adherence. There is a trend of transforming call center performance management from a reactive to a more proactive approach. Scorecards, key performance indicators, real-time alerts, agent analytics, dashboards, and customizable reports deliver a constant stream of actionable intelligence helping managers and supervisors make more informed decisions faster, resulting in higher customer satisfaction, more cost control and better utilization of resources. Here are just a few benefits:

  • Better decisions through actionable intelligence and flexible real-time dashboards: Gives management a unified view to monitor and analyze key performance metrics, such as agent adherence, service levels, labor costs and staffing resulting in more informed decisions.
  • Improved productivity and agent motivation through scorecard capabilities:Motivates agents to self-manage their performance and take action with coaches and supervisors based on real data and KPI’s (key performance indicators) to meet business objectives, creating a culture of accountability and self-motivation.
  • Easy and fast access to key performance indicators: Frees up time for supervisors and managers to focus on working with agents, coaching, training and planning, instead of collecting and analyzing data.

To learn more about agent analytics and performance management please take a look at our website or download our Monet Metrics brochure as part of the WFM Success Kit. 


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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
Download whitepaper

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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Workforce management unified with call recording

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It’s common knowledge that call recording software is a powerful tool for businesses to accurately capture voice conversations with their customers. However, when  combined with call center workforce management, call recording makes it easy and efficient for call centers to optimize operational efficiencies, employee satisfaction, and the overall customer experience—a combination that takes call recording to a whole new level. Here are the key benefits:

Improve service quality
One of the most critical differences call recording software can make is improving the quality of customer service. It is impossible hover over each individual agent at all times to ensure the service they’re providing is up to company standards. Even if this were feasible, the discrepancy of how agents handle themselves while knowingly being monitored would be ever-present.

More effective and personalized training
With call recordings, managers and call center trainers have the means to not only measure their agents’ ability to adhere to company-approved responses, but to gauge how they’re performing in terms of efficiency, courtesy, and conversational style.With call recording, the training can be personalized and customized to the needs of every agent, making it more effective and efficient. Call monitoring also allows for ongoing, situation-specific training that will guide agents through best practices for a range of customer interactions. Recorded conversations can also be compiled into groups for training purposes.

Increase revenues and profits
With improved training comes improved service, and with improved service, it only makes sense that a boost in profits is close behind in the form of more up-sells, customer loyalty, repeat business, and new sales, less employee turnover, and faster training.

Ensure compliance and avoid lawsuits
Compliance is an important requirement for many businesses, especially those in the financial services industry that are continuously monitored by private and government entities whose job it is to regulate the handling of private financial information.

Improve customer satisfaction
The ability to monitor, score, and dissect past and current calls gives managers more control over how their agents engage customers. Managers can monitor conversations on the spot and address any issues that may be negatively impacting performance metrics. Call recording also allows unhappy customers to be addressed immediately, before they may want to file a complaint.

For more information about this topic, please also see our call recording blog.


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Workforce management software for call centers: How to convince your executive team

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Persuading senior management to change “business-as-usual” call center systems can be a difficult undertaking. A challenging economic environment puts pressure on all areas of the organization to implement solutions that reduce costs and increase revenues—all while improving performance and productivity. As each solution competes for investment dollars, only a select few offering the highest ROI will obtain funding.

Here are three key steps to make your case:


If you need help presenting the benefits of an automated WFM solution to your management team please see our workforce management ROI white papers or contact us and we are happy to answer your questions, share some ROI tools and provide guidance.

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Contact Center Scheduling and Forecasting Functionality

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What are the key functional components of a scheduling and forecasting solution for a contact center? Here is a quick overview:

  • Forecasting: Ability to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from your ACD system.
  • Scheduling: The scheduling module should incorporate all call types and other call and non-call related activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks, training and service levels.
  • Exception handling: Integrated exception calendar to simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.
  • Real-time adherence: Ability to compare planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecast and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators.
  • Intra-day management: Graphical display of agents' schedules with drag-and-drop functionality to quickly manage breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Real-time updates can be made to required and assigned agents instantly, and display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
  • Agent - supervisor collaboration: Enables easy and efficient agent-supervisor interaction and collaboration, such as exceptions, schedule bids or swap requests and critical reports. Agents get empowered to be more directly involved in the scheduling process by entering exceptions or bids and viewing their schedules at any time.
  • Configuration & administration: Ability to set up unlimited number of center splits or agent groups, each with its own set of service objectives and guidelines. Management of multiple sites and time zones. Ability to set hours of operation by day of week, and service level goals down to 15-minute intervals if desired.
  • Metrics and reporting: Ability to report and analyze all agent activities including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Managers need to get actionable insights through tools such as call center dashboards, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and real-time alerts.
If you are interested in seeing a solution in action, please take a look at a contact center forecasting and scheduling demo on our website.

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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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