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Workforce Management

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

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Blog Posts

Workforce Management Hints, Tips & Best Practices

What is advanced real-time schedule adherence?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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

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Call Center Scheduling in the Cloud: It's No Longer "If", It is "When"

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

In 2012, "cloud computing" will continue to move full steam ahead. More and more call center software solutions such as CRM, PBX/ACD, and workforce management are delivered through the cloud, and call centers are adopting these solutions. And here are a few compelling reasons why companies move to the cloud:

  • Ease of use: Have you experienced enterprise software that gets hardly used or not used at all, because it is too difficult to learn/use? Think about ROI?! In comparison, cloud-based solutions are designed to be easy to use for fast adoption, without a lot of training.
  • Low investment: Traditional software requires a substantial upfront investment for software licenses, hardware and additional software. The cloud model eliminates or dramatically reduces that investment (and the the associated risk) and is typically based on a monthly subscription (pay-as-you-go model).
  • Fast implementation: Over the years, many companies experienced long and painful software implementation projects. Often, the business requirements have changed before the software was rolled out to the user community. Cloud again, has changed this paradigm. Web- based applications with instant account creation and easy configuration and self-service makes it possible to roll-out and use solutions in weeks.
  • No maintenance: Somebody in your company has to make sure that the software is working, servers are running, do back-ups, etc. - that requires resources and money. Again, with cloud, this is all done by the solution provider.
  • Always latest version: There are probably many companies out there that use an older software version simply because it is too expensive or too painful to upgrade to the latest version. Typically, cloud solutions automatically deploy new features and versions to their customers with minimal or no downtime. Customer can easily take advantage of new functionality.
  • Virtual call centers: Today, many call centers have multiple locations around the world and a higher percentage of flexible home agents. Providing a consistent infrastructure to all agents and centers is a challenge. Cloud computing helps deliver call center software to every agent over the Internet - it's easier to deploy, more consistent and typically easier to use and support.
And there is one more reason for increased interest in cloud-based offerings. Many cloud solutions offer a trial, so you can check out and evaluate the solution before you commit. That's something traditional on-premise software usually cannot provide.

Read More About Call Center Scheduling in the Cloud: It's No Longer "If", It is "When"

Schedule Adherence for Call Centers - A Strategy Whitepaper

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

Read More About Schedule Adherence for Call Centers - A Strategy Whitepaper

Call forecasting and call center scheduling spreadsheets? A few considerations.

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Sometimes, spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling seem to be just fine. However, one of the biggest challenges in call centers - maintaining schedule adherence - is very difficult or almost impossible to manage using spreadsheets. In addition, there are other forecasting and scheduling tasks that can be very challenging with spreadsheets and might result in sup-optimal performance. And those tasks (listed below) are often key drivers to make your call center more productive and deliver better service to your customers.

Schedule adherence: Spreadsheets don't support this well. Studies have shown that tracking and monitoring agent adherence in real-time has a tremendous postive impact on call center performance.
Exception handling: This is a very manual process and complicated with spreadsheets. Automated exception handling of modern WFM solutions keep agents happy and results in higher productivity.
Schedule flexibility
: Spreadsheets are often limited to fixed schedules. You might not be able to take take advantage of schedules with flexible start-time, end-time & breaks to boost service levels.
Call history: Spreadsheets don't support real-time or automated data import of large amounts of data, potentially resulting in reduced forecast accuracy.
Skill-based routing and scheduling: Very complicated to manage with spreadsheets, therefore, call centers often can't realize productivity advantages of skill-based scheduling.

If you are still using spreadsheets, you should review the above list from the perspective of your call center needs and evaluate the potential for improving call center operation. You can also learn more about WFM by looking at automating forecasting, scheduling and adherence tracking.


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Important call center metrics: Service Level

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

There is no "right" service level for a call center. The service level should be defined based on customer needs, behavior and expectation, aligned with the business goals and objectives of your company. Also, the service level is just one element that drives customer satisfaction and positive business outcome. If you answer calls very quickly but cannot address the customer issue, it might be worse than having customers wait a bit longer and get their issues resolved in one call. However, this post focuses on the service level component:

How is the service level calculated? It is defined as the percentage of calls that get answered within a specific time period. Example: 80% of calls should get answered within 20 seconds.

What causes service level issues? There are many reasons that have an impact on services levels, here are just a few:

  • Calls take longer than planned (product issues, training issues, unexpected events, etc.)
  • Forecast inaccurate (higher call volume or different call pattern)
  • Schedule sub-optimal (doesn't include all activities, lack of flexibility, etc.)
  • Call fluctuations during day that could not be planned for
  • Low schedule adherence (often the biggest problem of missed service levels)
  • Exceptions (unscheduled meetings, staff absenteeism, etc.)
How to improve service level?
  • Goal: First, it is important to define a realistic service level that is in line with your overall business objectives and the specifics and needs of your customers and their inquiries.
  • More accurate forecast: It all starts with an accurate forecast - both the overall volume and the arrival patterns throughout the day. Having call history data available, being able to run different scenarios and breaking it down to 15 or 30 minute increments helps to improve accuracy over time
  • Better aligned schedule: There are many aspects to consider when creating a schedule. A previous blog post about call center scheduling 101 talks about those in more detail.
  • Flexible schedule: Building in some flexibility into your schedule is not easy, but can help dramatically. Flexibility regarding start and end time, breaks, training, etc. helps cover periods of irregular call patterns, while still running a cost efficient operation.
  • Schedule adherence: Again, this is one of the biggest issues, but at the same time, has a big potential to improve service levels. You can read more about improving schedule adherence in this whitepaper.
  • Measure: As you know, you can only manage what you can measure. Add the service level as one of you key metrics to your "dashboard" and also track dependencies to discover the issues that have a negative impact on your service level.
  • Learn: As you measure and monitor you will learn more about what causes problems and over time, you will be able to better plan or even avoid service level issues.
  • Educate: Make service level discussions part of team meetings/training session and have your team share their experience. Compare the measured services level with the perception of customers; have agents share their experience of customer behavior and expectations. For example, a service level that looks great on paper might not be perceived well by customers, or the other way round, a presumed low service level might not be an issue with customers because they feel they get great service.

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Contact center scheduling and forecasting overview

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Scheduling contact center staff is the "art and science" of having the right number of employees, with the right skills at the right times to meet anticipated call volumes (and other communication channels such as email, chat , social media). And all this has to happen with a targeted service level and at minimal costs. Contact center forecasting and scheduling is a critical task and poor planning and execution can have a negative impact on revenues and cost, customer satisfaction and also employees motivation. Key tasks of contact center scheduling include the following activities:

1. Call Forecasting - Calculation of call volumes based on key parameters:

  • Call history data
  • Call patterns (day, week, season, etc.)
  • Special day patterns (holidays, etc.)
  • Other event or business drivers that might impact call volume/pattern (sales campaign)

2. Staffing requirements - Calculation of staffing needs based on:
  • Service level, ASA and average handle time
  • Type of calls (required skills)
  • Anticipated workload

3. Schedule - Creation of a schedule for every day based on your unique needs:
  • 15 or 30 minute increments
  • Consideration of all activities (call and non-call)
  • Flexibility regarding start/end times, breaks, etc.
  • Multi-skill routing

4. Schedule Adherence - Monitoring and managing adherence as team effort:
  • Inform and educate about adherence importance and impact
  • Measure and manage adherence throughout the day (real-time adherence)
  • Provide incentives for adherence

5. Exception handling - "Stuff happens", be prepared to manage exceptions and changes throughout the day:
  • Changes in call volume or arrival pattern (campaigns, external events, etc.)
  • Staffing or scheduling issues (training, sick, absenteeism, etc.)
  • Business related exceptions

6. Measure Success - Define what "success" means for you center and measure & adjust accordingly:
  • Analyze hourly/daily/weekly reports
  • What worked, what didn't? Investigate causes for under-performance
  • Apply "learnings" into future forecasting/scheduling process

Every contact center is different, but one of the most challenging tasks from the above list for every center is most likely schedule adherence. If you would like to learn more, please download our whitepaper "How to improve schedule adherence in your call center" and discover new ways that might work for your contact center.

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Best call center forecasting & scheduling articles of 2011

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Happy New year! We just compiled a list of our top blog posts that got the most views by our readers in 2011. It is interesting to see that there was a lot of interest in "schedule adherence". This still seems to be one of the key challenges for call centers. In case you have missed those articles, please take a look:
  1. Important call center metrics: schedule adherence
  2. How to make a call center schedule work for your staff
  3. Workforce management software comparison: cloud versus installed software
  4. 7 tips for improved schedule adherence in your call center
  5. What is real-time schedule adherence and why is it important
  6. The importance of accurate call center forecasting
  7. How to improve call center forecasting with simulation tools

Read More About Best call center forecasting & scheduling articles of 2011

Call Center Management New Year Resolutions

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

As you work on implementing new plans and strategies to further improve call center management and operations for 2012, it might be a good idea to reflect on 2011: What has worked well, and what has worked not so well? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What were the top 3 call center challenges in 2011?
  • How can you overcome those challenges for 2012?
  • What do you need to do to keep our agents happy and motivated?
  • What do you have to do to better serve your customer?
  • What new technologies and call center software do you need to make your work easier and more efficient?
  • Do you have online sources that provide you with practical tips, ideas and tools (blog, twitter, etc.) for your daily work?
  • What are the top 3 things you should focus on in 2012?

Read More About Call Center Management New Year Resolutions

Adherence to schedule - a big challenge for your call center?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Managing adherence to call center schedule is one of the most challenging jobs related to running a call center - making sure there is the right number of staff with the right skills available at the right times of the day. Here are some helpful tips and considerations:

  • What does lack of schedule adherence cost a call center? A quick overview of the cost drivers and the potential impact on your center operation.
  • Why is schedule adherence an important call center metric? This article helps identify potential causes for out-of-adherence and ways for improvement.
  • Are you monitoring schedule adherence in your call center? 3 simple tips on schedule adherence: Inform - measure - manage.
  • What is real-time schedule adherence? Learn how real-time adherence can help you finally overcome your adherence challenge.
  • Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence: A more in depth whitepaper about schedule adherence and how Workforce Management software is a crucial tool to improve adherence. 


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Call Center Forecasting Methods & Techniques

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Accurate forecasting is critical to successfully managing your call center. In order to meet call demand and avoid under- or over-staffing, you need methods that precisely predicts how many agents are needed to handle the center's call volume, and also methods that help you "re-calculate" if the the call volume fluctuates more than anticipated. Here are 5 considerations and methods that should help you improve forecast accuracy:

  1. The importance of accurate forecasting: First, take a look why an accurate forecast is crucial. 

  2. How to improve forecasting with simulation tools: Anticipating the "future" is not easy, therefore, running simulations with different assumptions helps to better predict call volumes.

  3. How to forecast special days: There are certain days that are difficult to forecast, or are important for the business. Here are some tips on how to deal with those.

  4. How to do "intra-day" call forecasting: One of the biggest forecasting challenge is related to unpredictable call volume fluctuations - here are some "intra-day" tips.

  5. How to forecast for multiple channels: As more communication channels open up (phone, email, chat, social media) you have to add those to your forecasting scenarios.

Read More About Call Center Forecasting Methods & Techniques

Spreadsheets for call center forecasting and scheduling?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

The overwhelming majority of ongoing call center expenses are related to staffing (up to 70%). Having the optimum number of staff at the right time in the right place is essential to call center success and profitability. Over-staffing results in needless spending for unnecessary staff, while under-staffing will lower service levels, increase staff turnover and impact your revenues. Two key questions to ask:

  • Can a call center really "afford" to use spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling, since there is so much at stake?
  • Does workforce management software provide measurable improvements resulting in savings that exceed the cost of the solution?

Here are three things to consider when you evaluate the situation in your call center:

1. More efficient scheduling and agent usage: The savings associated with more efficient scheduling includes reducing overall staff hours and need for overtime and identification of over-staffing. Call centers using WFM systems generally experience a minimum reduction of 2% for staff hours with an average potential savings in the 5 – 10% range.

2. Automation of scheduling tasks: Manual or Excel-based spreadsheet forecasting and scheduling consumes much of a supervisor’s time in many call centers. With WFM it is generally expected that at least 25% of the time currently devoted to manual input can be saved and used for coaching, training, etc.

3. Improved schedule adherence: Many hours of work time are wasted due to excessive non-productive interruptions. A WFM system can provide historical and real-time information on agent schedule adherence and exceptions, for better management and control of staff, reducing workforce shrinkage by 10 to 20 minutes per agent per day. Please read our whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence" to learn more. Also, there is a related blog post that talks about the "cost of out-of-adherence".


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How to Improve Agent Schedule Adherence in a Call Center

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo




Adhe
rence: Are You In or Out of It?

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

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


Read More About How to Improve Agent Schedule Adherence in a Call Center

Important call center metrics: Shrinkage

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

What's shrinkage?
Shrinkage is the time (or percentage of time) agents are not productive due to breaks, meetings, training, vacation, illness, absenteeism, etc. Most of these events can be build into the schedule, however there is one aspect of shrinkage that cannot be really planned for and it is related to adherence. Adherence is a measurement of the time agents are scheduled to work compared to the time they actually work. If agents leave early, start later or take longer breaks than specified in their schedule, it causes shrinkage that has an immediate impact on service levels and other call center metrics due to under-staffing.

How to reduce shrinkage?
Well, it's not realistic to totally eliminate "unplanned" shrinkage, however, in most cases in can be reduced to an acceptable level. One major reason for "unplanned" shrinkage is out-of-adherence. Often, call centers don’t have the necessary visibility into what happens at any moment in time and what is supposed to happen based on the published schedule. If you are still struggling with adherence issues, please read this educational whitepaper “Strategies for improving call center schedule adherence", and you will learn about proven practices on schedule adherence that have resulted in increased availability and reduced shrinkage.

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3 Ways to Simplify Call Center Scheduling

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

1. Focus on a more accurate forecast
Focus on forecast accuracy first to avoid under-staffing, minimize crisis situation, and constant shuffling around of agents! Try to get the best possible forecast baseline for your schedule:

  • Identify historic and future call volume “driver” (special days, events, promotion, etc.)
  • Run various forecast scenarios
  • Include all customer service related activities into forecast (call and non-call)
  • Include all communication channels (call, email, chat, etc.)

2. Involve your agents into the process:
Inform your agents about forecasting/schedule procedures, ask them about their preferences, and explain the need for flexibility. Open communication should help create an open and more fun work environment, while also achieving more effective schedules:

  • Survey about preferences and personal needs
  • Work with them to match with needs of the business
  • Provide incentives for “being flexible” (e.g. bonus or slightly higher pay)

3. Automate repetitive tasks

Automate repetitive forecasting/scheduling tasks to gain more time for monitoring, coaching, and training. Automate reports and make it a routine to compare forecasted with actual call volume, adherence and schedule effectiveness to learn "what worked, and what didn't":

  • Automate inclusion of call history into forecasting procedures
  • Automate forecasting and schedule scenarios with simulation
  • Create a dashboard with your daily performance goal to streamline intra-day monitoring and management

Please see our post about call center forecasting and scheduling best practices to learn more details about this topic.


Read More About 3 Ways to Simplify Call Center Scheduling

How to improve intra-day call center forecasting and scheduling

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Fluctuation in call volumes throughout the day is still one of the key challenges in managing a call center. Common questions are: How to update the forecast, how to create a new schedule, and how to staff for this throughout the day? Is there a way to plan for this? Typically, there are two scenarios:

  • There are events that the call center should have known about, but didn’t for various reasons (e.g. was not informed about a campaign, didn’t plan for the event, etc.). Most of the call volume related impact can be avoided through planning – see #1.
  • There are events, mostly external driven , that cannot be planned for (e.g. sudden product issues, weather, catastrophes). Call volume fluctuations due to these external events cannot be planned for, however, constant monitoring and quick action can lower the impact on service levels and customer satisfaction – see #2.


1. Anticipate and plan: Spend time and effort to achieve a more accurate forecast in order to minimize surprises.

  • Learn from the past, anticipate events that might cause call volume fluctuation and stay in constant communication with other departments of your company to avoid call volume “surprises”.
  • Analyze call history to spot “triggers” and anticipate factors that impact call volume
  • Stay in touch with other departments (sales, support, marketing) to make sure you know in advance about events. Educate them about the implication of “surprises” on service levels and customer satisfaction


2. Monitor and act: Establish a dashboard or set up alerts that notify you about unusual or fluctuating call volumes.

  • When you notice that the actual call volume is different from the forecast, you should analyze deviation and trend lines for both, call volume and average handle time.
  • Apply this trend to the next period or rest of day by recalculating the forecast for each interval
  • Then you need to move things around (breaks, training, etc) to adjust the schedule as well.

Finally, investigate to find the cause for the deviation and learn from it. This might help you be better prepared next time, and you might even be able to "build it" it into the forecast. For a short demo of intra-day management and exception handling please visit our website.


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Workforce Management Software Comparison - What Features are Important?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Call center workforce management software automates key tasks that have an immediate impact on the bottom line through more accurate call volume forecasting, optimum scheduling and daily performance tracking. The following is a list of key capabilities to consider when comparing workforce management software:

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 ACD.

Scheduling: The scheduling engine should incorporate all call and non-call activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, work rules, skills, holidays, breaks, service levels and center budgets.

Intra-day Management: Graphical display of agents' schedules that can be manipulated by dragging and dropping breaks, lunches and other exceptions make it easy and fast. Real-time updates can be made to required and assigned agents instantly, and display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.

Exception Planning: Integrated exception calendar simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.

Real-time Adherence: Compares planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators.

Configuration & Administration: Ability to build an unlimited number of center splits or agent groups, each with its own set of service objectives and guidelines. Manage multiple sites and time zones. Set hours of operation by day of week, and service level goals down to 15-minute intervals if desired.

Performance Analysis: Easily report and analyze all agent activities including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Managers can review service level results, costs and revenue.

ACD Integration: Collect data from your ACD and build a historical database. Capture your center's workload and work time statistics in real time.


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Call center management tips - part 2

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

This is part two of our series "call center management tips" with strategies, practical tips, and best practices on how to manage your call center more effectively and efficiently. This post focuses on how to improve call center schedule adherence and agent motivation:

Schedule Adherence

Agent motivation

In the following weeks we will write more about call center metrics, intra-day forecasting/scheduling and real-time adherence - stay tuned.


Read More About Call center management tips - part 2

Twitter for Call Center Managers

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

In case you have not seen Monet's Twitter profile please check it out. You can find useful and practical call center management related topics from various publications and sources:

  • Tips and tricks about forecasting and scheduling
  • Events about call center management
  • Best practices for call center managers and supervisors
  • The latest on cloud computing and call center technology

If you would like to stay up-to-date on call center management topics, please follow us at
www.twitter.com/monetsoftware.

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Call center management tips - part 1

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

The following is a list of practical tips, tricks and best practices on how to manage your call center more effectively and efficiently. In part 1 of this series, we focus on how to improve call center forecasting and scheduling:

Forecasting


Scheduling

Next week, we will provide tips regarding agent adherence and agent motivation - stay tuned.


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7 Tips for improved schedule adherence in your call center

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo


How do you get your staff to show up for work on time and stick to their planned schedule and break times? This is one of the most challenging jobs related to managing any call center - making sure there is the right number of staff with the right skills available at the right times of the day. Here are seven tips that might be helpful to improve schedule adherence in your call center:

1. Quantify the implications of missing staff
First, you need to understand the effects of schedule adherence in your call center. This starts with measuring adherence and quantifying the implications on service level, costs and other metrics that are critical for your business. Typically, a lack of adherence results in understaffing and decreased service levels. In order to compensate for this, call centers might increase staffing, which results in higher costs. Here is an example of the cost implications of out-of-adherence.
2. Set reasonable adherence goals
Identify adherence goals and objectives based on the unique characteristics of your call center environment and also take a look at benchmarks of other call centers. When defining your goals, please consider the following:
  • Include your staff into this process from the beginning
  • Define minimum expectations
  • Average handle time of calls
  • Identify potential barriers that might prevent adherence
3. Identify the reasons for attendance and adherence problems
Basically, there are three different reasons for adherence problems:
  • Don’t know: the agent may either be unclear about what the expectations are, or they may be unaware of how their behavior is not meeting the expectation. Giving the agent timely feedback can help resolve the problem.
  • Can’t: the agent may require more training, although adherence problems are rarely lack of training. More likely there could be a barrier that prevents adherence.
  • Won’t: the agent may lack motivation or may be receiving improper consequences. The most effective consequences are: Positive, Immediate, and Certain.
For more details please read this post about schedule adherence challenges.
4. Identify rewards and consequences that support adherence goals
Reward agents that adhere to their schedule (e.g. 95% 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; this establishes their responsibility towards the success of the call center.
5. Communicate the “power of one” to all staff
Emphasize the “power of one” to highlight the importance of every agent’s adherence. Using tables or charts available to make “adherence” visually quantifiable can be helpful. So can activities like "Ball Toss" in which six agents are paired off and given a ball which they must toss back and forth. Replace one person in the pair and keep the toss moving. Then take one person away without providing a replacement to show how quickly understaffing can create stress and dropped balls – which, of course, represent "calls".
6. Review your tools to manage and track adherence
Workforce management software helps automate schedule adherence tracking and reporting capabilities. Review the tools you have available in your call center and evaluate if you have the need for more sophisticated adherence tracking tools:
  • Real-time dashboards
  • Alerts and notification
  • Adherence reporting by agent, group and center
  • Exception management
  • Adherence tracking for all activities
  • Accurate forecasting of call center volumes
  • Automated scheduling
7. Measure and monitor
You can only manage what you measure. Make adherence monitoring & reporting and the regular review with your team part of your staff meetings. Over time, the whole team will more and more appreciate the importance of adherence and it will get "internalized" into your service culture.
For more detailed information, please read this whitepaper "Strategies for improving Schedule Adherence".

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What does lack of schedule adherence cost a call center?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

There are three areas that are immediately affected when your call center is out-of-adherence:

  • Speed of answer to customers is reduced (service level and satisfaction)
  • Staff workload and occupancy are affected (productivity and staffing cost)
  • Telephone costs can soar (operational costs).
All three areas are avoidable when you understand the impact of out-of-adherence within the call center. In order to find out the costs associated with call center scheduling and out-of-adherence, you need to measure and quantify the effect. Let’s consider that you have 200 call center agents and due to out-of-adherence activities, they lose 10 minutes per day. At an average of $15 per hour wage for your 200 call center agents, the resulting cost is $130,000 per year.
  • 10 minutes x 5 days x 52 weeks = 2,600 minutes per year = 43.3 hours per year.
  • 43.3 hours x $15 = $650 per person x 200 agents = $130,000.
Take the time and do the math and understand the actual hard dollar costs associated with out-of-adherence for your call center and evaluate the necessary internal changes needed to reduce the wasted time. For ideas and more information about schedule adherence, please read this whitepaper: "Strategies for improved call center schedule adherence".

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Call center workforce management software selection criteria

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Here is a list that should be helpful when selecting a workforce management solution: 

1. Key functionality to consider: 

  • ACD integration for call history
  • Simulation of forecasts
  • Staffing and Scheduling
  • Exception handling
  • Intra-day management
  • Real-time adherence
  • Performance metrics reports


2. Implementation of software: 

  • Time to implement - ready to use.
  • Equipment needed (hardware and software)
  • Resources needed (internal, vendor, consultants)


3. Total cost of ownership: 

  • Upfront cost for software, hardware, integration and implementation?
  • Ongoing costs for subscription, maintenance, support, upgrade fees?
  • Operational costs for IT team, facilities, etc.


4. User adoption: 

  • Ease of use to make sure software gets used to full extend
  • Configurable to meet your unique center needs


5. ROI and Risk: 

  • Payback time: Benefits versus costs/investment
  • Financial risk if solution does not meet your needs

For a more detailed list, please download our Workforce Management Success Kit.


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How to improve call center forecasting with simulation tools

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

One of the most critical steps in the workforce management process is forecasting. Based on the work history you need to forecast call volume and agent requirements for desired time frames in the future - a forecast for future call volume, average handling time, and agent requirements for each 15-minute period of the day based on service level objectives.

How can you use forecasting simulation to improve forecast accuracy? A simulator forecasting engine analyzes all call types and routing policies when creating forecasts. This lets you accurately forecast staffing levels to manage all call types within your center, and build scenarios for budgeting and planning purposes. You can even use simulators to produce center budgets by running a costing of all forecasted agent shifts and agent schedules. Here are some tips on how you can benefit from using forecasting simulation:

  • You can quickly generate automatic forecasts for multiple sites, complex routing strategies, and multi-skilled agents.
  • You can accurately forecast staffing levels to manage all call types, as well as build scenarios for planning and budgeting purposes.
  • You get regular intra-day forecast updates, automatically calculating a new forecast based on what has already occurred to establish trends that will aid in proactive decision making.
  • It helps you evaluate and plan current and future workforce requirements.
  • You can develop "what if" scenarios to explore how a change in call volume or service level goals during a specific day or week would affect your center.
  • You are able to simulate routing rules, agent skill assignments, and schedules by date range and see the impact on staffing and scheduling.

For more information about this topic, please watch the call center forecasting video.


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How to improve call center schedule adherence

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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Call center forecasting and scheduling best practices

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

In a 2010 survey by DMG, call center managers rated the following 4 tasks as their top call center workforce management challenges:

  • Need to schedule phone and non-phone activity
  • Need to optimize the mix of full-time/part-time/flex workers
  • Poor agent adherence
  • Need to schedule multiple channel: phone, email, chat, etc.

Here are some best practices we would like to share with you that might help you overcome those challenges:

  1. Call Center Scheduling Tip: Include all activities into the schedule
  2. How to schedule full/part time and flex workers in your call center?
  3. Six simple strategies for improved call center schedule adherence.
  4. How to forecast and schedule for multiple channels - calls, emails, chat

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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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