Workforce Management Hints, Tips & Best Practices
Handling exceptions is a key component to workforce schedule compliance.
Exceptions must be managed in a way the minimizes their impact on
productivity and availability, since both will have a negative impact on
service levels and also quality of service.
There are four types of exceptions: Pre-planned These would include vacation days, training days and work time spent on other necessities such as team meetings. Unplanned Sick days and downtime due to technical issues would qualify as unplanned exceptions. Unplanned but pre-approved These are schedule deviations initiated by management to maintain performance levels. Unplanned and not pre-approved These tend to be reactionary, caused by meetings that run long or added coaching sessions. Regardless
of the exception type, the goal remains the same – customer service
consistency and meeting company goals for schedule adherence.
Call Center Schedule Exception Calendar
This can be achieved with workforce management software, which provides real-time adherence data that streamlines call center schedule exception tracking,
making it easier for managers to maintain service levels, to know which
agents are excepted at any given time (and the reason for the
exception, whether it’s a day off or time spent in training) and to
review reporting data. The solution should also provide an easier method
for shift swapping, with management approval.
Read More About Call Center Schedule Exceptions
centers are contact centers now, which means customers are interacting
with agents through a range of channels including emails and live online
chat. According to some studies, more than 25% of all customer
interactions are now conducted via methods other than the telephone. One
of the goals of any 21st century contact center is to offer the right
mix of channels and find an accurate method for multi-channel
forecasting and scheduling of agents. The customer experience should be
equally positive regardless of how communication is made. The
challenge is how to offer consistent standards of customer engagement
through multiple touch points.The solution is an optimized integrated
platform that encompasses data on workforce management, agent skill
sets, metrics, scheduling and reporting. Tips for Multi-Channel Skills Scheduling
Multi-channel scheduling 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, scheduling will require accurate calculation of the
Average Handle Time (AHT) for each contact channel. This is easier to do
with calls than with emails or chats where agent can handle multiple
chats at the same time for example. A workforce management system takes
these differences into consideration. With this information, the call
center manager has two options to choose from: Dedicated Agent Pools Once
an agent’s skill sets are determined, he or she can be assigned to a
dedicated group that focuses solely or primarily on their best channel,
whether that is inbound calls, emails or web chat. The Universal Queue With
this method, all contacts are routed to agents based on order and
availability. While this is a less specialized method for handing
multiple channels, it does force agents to become adept at handling the
various methods of customer communication in a shorter time span. Workforce
management provides the necessary metrics on channels and personnel
skills to allow managers to make the best decisions for their contact
center. You can watch a short video about multi-channel scheduling and staffing
to learn more about this. Agents will be placed in situations where
their skills can be maximized, thus improving productivity, morale and
customer satisfaction – which is also great for the bottom line.
Read More About Multi-Channel Agent Skill Scheduling for Contact Centers
It takes both art and science to staff a call center. Next to hiring the
right personnel, scheduling plays the key role in maximizing resources
and making sure calls are handled in a courteous and efficient manner.
There may be some instances where an agent needs to work a specific
shift on a particular day of the week, one week, and then the next week
work, different shift on the same day.
Call center schedule rotations should balance available staff against
predicted call volumes. Data from call recording software and workforce
management solutions should provide the answers necessary to improve
this process. However, there are always variables with scheduling, from
shift swaps and vacation seasons when more agents are in Hawaii instead
of at their desk, to unanticipated call volume swings.
This is important stuff, but the time spent working on adjusting
rotations and changing schedules is also time that is not being spent on
other facets of the call center, such as improving service levels and
achieving the company’s operational and fiscal goals. So it needs to be
done, but it needs to be done quickly.
The role of workforce management
The more a call center can rely on workforce management software to
streamline rotation schedules, the more time that leaves for management
to deal with other issues. Communication is the key, and call centers
should choose a workforce optimization solution that includes
forecasting data to help determine schedule rotations, exception
handling as well as a wide range of scheduling metrics that make it
easier for agents and management to adjust to changing situations in
In addition, workforce management can track how well agents are
functioning within the system, and where action may need to be taken.
When agents are clear on what their hours will be, when they can swap
shifts and take vacations, and have that information available quickly,
it should result in a positive impact on job performance and morale. It
should be equally easy for management to review schedule changes and
determine their impact on productivity.
For more information about schedule rotations and exception handling in a call center please click the link to watch a video,
Read More About Call Center Schedule Rotations: The Basics
Shift swapping is an inevitable occurrence at every call center, and is
one of the more significant agent staffing challenges that management
In general, allowing agents to swap shifts solves more problems than it
creates. With this arrangement, agents have more control over their
working hours, and that flexibility can encourage employee loyalty.
However, if this privilege is abused, it can lead to staffing confusion,
lower productivity, a shortage of agents for unpopular shifts, and
inconsistent customer service.
Agent Staffing Solutions
While shift swapping should be offered as an option, some center without
the right processes in place try to discourage this. They achieve this
by built-in incentives for agents to work the shifts to which they are
assigned, and by limiting swaps to, say, three a month or five in each
Call centers should have a reliable process in place that tracks shifts
and instances of shift swapping. This will not only make the process
easier for agents and management, it provides managers with insight into
which agents may be abusing this privilege, and how working different
shifts impacts an agent’s job performance.
While some last-minute shift swaps are unavoidable, as emergencies do
happen, a center should require that agents request swaps at least three
or five days in advance. That way, managers can adjust schedules
accordingly so productivity is not impacted. For example, if an agent
who is particularly adept at handling customer complaints swaps shifts
with an agent who is not as qualified in this situation, the call center
may wish to bring in another agent from a different shift with that
The ultimate objective is to satisfy the needs of the center and the
needs of the employees, and to make any staffing changes as convenient
The Role of Workforce Management Software
Shift swaps are yet another function that should be handled through a
workforce management solution - through a simple self-service tool that
includes shift bidding. An effective system will allow agents to search
for shifts to swap, and instantly know if there is a conflict with their
arrangement. Supervisors will then have the ability to approve or
reject the swap request, and find out if there are any issues with
weekly minimum or maximum restrictions on work hours should the swap be
approved. To learn more about agent shift swapping and supervisor collaboration, please follow this link to our main website.
With effective workforce management, the system that allows shift swaps
should be efficient, transparent and controlled by management with the
limitations necessary to maintain service standards.
Read More About Call Center Agent Shift Swapping
While the “call center” designation is likely to stick around for a
while, agent interaction via telephone is now just one component of
customer communication. Today, the public may reach out via email,
online chat or social media. All of these additional channels are
ultimately beneficial, but many call centers are just beginning to grasp
the impact they will have - from a customer engagement perspective, but
also from a workforce management perspective. Email/Live Chat Written
exchanges of information, whether via email or text chat, have become
commonplace. However, these channels work best with simple questions and
conflict resolutions where a few sentences from both participants will
suffice. Once the point has been reached where the number of exchanged
messages tops 5-10, it might be advisable to switch to a telephone
conversation. With online chat, it may take longer to complete a
customer interaction, simply because it takes longer to type a message
than to say it. However, online chat agents can manage up to five
sessions simultaneously, which will impact productivity and scheduling.
If five proves too many (measure response times to each customer to
determine this), three ongoing sessions might be a more practical limit.
When it comes to workforce management scheduling, you will want
chat agents with proven written skills. While the Internet has done no
shortage of damage to the disciplines of spelling, grammar and
punctuation, it is vital that any written communication from your
company to customers is free of such errors. Social Media A
Facebook page and a Twitter account are great ways for companies to
announce new products and specials and exchange ideas with customers.
They are less effective for such traditional call center functions as
handling orders and returns or resolving disputes. However, this too is
changing rapidly. If the call center is to take the lead on
establishing and maintaining a company’s social media presence, adequate
resources must be made available to do so, to make certain pages are
updated, questions are answered, and ongoing communications are having a
positive impact on branding and customer loyalty. That starts
with creating and scheduling a social media team based on experience and
training. Agents should not just be familiar with these outlets, but be
well versed on the company’s social media strategy and best practices. And,
as with email and online chat, choose agents and experts with written
communication skills, and when a problem arises try to route that
customer back to a call-in situation where it might be easier to resolve
the situation verbally. Each of these new communication channels should get included into your overall forecasting, scheduling and staffing planning process.
Read More About When Call Centers Become Contact Centers - the Impact on Workforce Management
Unlike weather forecasting, call center forecasting can be performed
with a high degree of accuracy. Workforce management solutions combine
the use of historic data and real-time data, to not only improve the
efficiency at a call center, but to create projections for future
growth, changes and special events, so the call center can be prepared
for any eventual scenario.
Here are five tips to help you make the most of you call center forecasting solution:
1. Use Historic Data
This is the obvious place to start. Historical call volume data can be
used to analyze present performance and future growth trends. It can
also serve to correct assumptions about what constitutes an appropriate
length of a customer engagement, how many calls an agent should handle
in one shift, and other factors that impact hiring and staffing
procedures. Several weeks of data is usually sufficient as a starting
point, but longer-term projections would require months or years of
data, especially for seasonal or annual projections.
2. Run Scenarios Based on Data
With workforce management a call center manager does not have to wait
for something to happen to gauge the effectiveness of call center
response. Staffing and service levels can be analyzed ahead of time by
creating a what-if scenario. Typical scenarios would include the start
of a new advertising campaign that will increase call volume, a discount
on a key product line, or a turnover in personnel that results in a
higher number of less experienced agents on the same shift.
3. Leverage Past Events
How did the opening of a new retail location affect call volume to the
call center? How did call patterns change during the holiday season? By
reviewing past events, a call center can be better prepared for future
occurrences, and adjust accordingly. This data can also impact long-term
strategies for planning, budgeting and recruitment.
4. Leverage Real-Time Data
Every call to a call center is a forecasting tool. Real-time analysis of
individual calls and calls handled within an hour, a day, etc. can lead
to adjustments on the fly and more accurate forecasting in the days and
weeks to come. Among the most important measurements here are the speed
with which calls are answered, average call-handling times, percentage
of calls abandoned, and number of interactions on hold.
5. Multi-Channel Forecasting
Customer communication is not handled only through a telephone anymore.
With the introduction of multi-channel environments (email, fax,
Internet), customers now have a wide range of options, and an equally
wide range of expectations in how a company responds to their needs.
While this makes forecasting more complex, it is a necessity for any
workforce management solution to incorporate multi-channel capabilities.
This makes it easier to discover, for example, how many customer
engagements are now handled via email, how that impacts call volume to a
call center, and how that center should adjust to meet its service
To learn more, you can also watch one of our forecasting and scheduling videos in our new demo center.
Read More About 5 Tips for More Accurate Call Center Forecasting
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.
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.
Read More About Call center schedule exception handling made easy
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read More About What is cloud-based workforce management software?
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
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
For more information you can also download the "
how to calculate cost savings for workforce management software" whitepaper.
Read More About The Business Value of Workforce Management Software - Part 2
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.
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
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
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
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.
Read More About Call center training schedule - how to fit into your workforce planning?
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:
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.
Read More About What is call center shrinkage and how to minimize it
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.
Read More About Call center staffing models and scheduling tips
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 lists four 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 .
Read More About Workforce management software vendor guide
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
in. It enables supervisors and call center managers to create custom
states and rules to match their unique center needs. Here are a few
Here are a few examples:
Create custom states for call wrap-up, special after call work, outbound preparation and other activities Establish thresholds for each state that indicate how much time is considered “in adherence”. 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
Strategies for Improved Agent Adherence
whitepaper from our resources library.
Read More About How to improve schedule adherence and get it to the next level
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.
Read More About Workforce Optimization Software Buying Guide for Call Centers
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
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.
Read More About Workforce management for contact centers
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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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: Easier to use: Cloud-based solutions are designed to be easy to use for fast adoption, without a lot of training. Think ROI! Lower investment: Traditional software requires a substantial upfront investment for software licenses, hardware and additional software. The cloud model eliminates that. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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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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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 demonstrations about call center forecasting and scheduling.
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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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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.
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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:
What is schedule adherence and why is it important for a call center? Call forecasting and call center scheduling spreadsheets? A few considerations. Contact Center scheduling and call forecasting overview Important call center metrics: Service Level Workforce Management: How to move from "reactive" to "pro-active" call center performance management
Read More About Top 5 call center forecasting & scheduling articles for first half of 2012
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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