Call Center Scheduling Tips

This whitepaper with best practices and tips for more effective call center scheduling will help you review your own process and come up with new ways to improve service levels, reduce costs and free up supervisor time.

7 Tips for More Effective Call Center Scheduling

Simplify your scheduling Improve service levels Reduce costs

In these challenging economic times, every call, every customer interaction and every dollar counts. Many CRM and contact centers still use spreadsheets or other manual tools to manage their workforce and pay dearly every day, due to inefficient schedules, overstaffing or missed service levels. We have created a list of 7 best practices for call center scheduling to not only keep your call center running efficiently, but maintain service levels, customer base and revenues growing. We would like to share these tips with you and hope it proves to be useful in your daily call center operations.

Implement a flexible shift model

As we all know, the number of calls and the arrival patterns vary from day to day. Despite this, starting times, lunch breaks, end times, etc. are often fixed over the week, resulting either in overstaffing (higher costs!) or understaffing (lower service levels and revenues). That's why more and more call centers are switching from a fixed to a flexible shift model. The advantages are obvious, but how do you implement and manage a flexible model? Gradually implement a flexible shift model by introducing it to some of your agents (existing and/or new hires) first, and over time move the whole center to a flexible shift model. This change can increase your service levels by 1 to 2 percent and result in a similar percentage of savings in personnel costs.

Keep track of your shrinkage

Many companies underestimate the sheer volume of shrinkage (paid time but not taking calls). For example, in a 30 agent contact center 20 minutes of out of adherence status per agent equates to 10 hours per day in shrinkage. If those agents are being paid $12 per hour plus benefits, equaling $15 per hour, you would be losing $150 per day, $750 a week or $39,000 per year. While it is not possible to recover all lost time, imagine you can reduce shrinkage from 20 to 10 minutes resulting in a $20,000 savings alone, plus improved service levels. That is only the tip of the iceberg if you also consider lost sales due to shrinkage, which again, can easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. How can you reduce shrinkage? There are three key elements involved:

  • Create a better match to call volume with agents' availability;
  • Increase forecast and schedule accuracy by including additional parameters;
  • Monitor and improve schedule adherence.

Track and improve schedule adherence

Once you produce optimized schedules it will be important for agents to stay on schedule, taking their breaks and lunches on time and returning on time, thus reducing shrinkage. What should you do to improve schedule adherence?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Incentives: Reward agents that adhere to their schedule (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.

Cross-train multi-skilled agents

If you have agents trained to handle multiple skills and you use skill-based routing, you can reduce the number of agents needed to handle your call volume. 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). This model provides a lot of flexibility that is especially useful in times of fewer resources and changing call volumes and patterns.

Compare ACD logon time to time-clock entries

We have discovered various ways of improving overall call center performance by reducing shrinkage and improving agent adherence. Related to this discussion is the topic of ACD logon time. You need to ensure that the agents' log in time corresponds with the clock time. You may even consider using the ACD agent log-in and log-out times for payroll – dependant on the culture and procedures you have established in your center.

include all activities in the schedule

A schedule driven by forecast and basic agent requirements might work, but won't boost performance and productivity. When trying to determine agent requirements to meet a desired service level, if not all agent activities are being factored in, it will lead to understaffing and lower service levels including abandoned calls. When developing your forecast and schedule make sure to include breaks, multiple skills of agents, training, time-off and a realistic buffer for shrinkage.

Keep top talent on your team by ranking agents

Accommodate scheduling needs and provide schedule visibility to your call center team members. Top agents will be more likely to stay loyal and productive because of their understanding of how their requirements and your schedule can match up.

  • Rank your agents: Creating a schedule by agent rank can be very effective in reducing costs and increasing sales. You can rank agents according to call completion time, call per hour or other performance measures including sales and order size.
  • Match personality and team: Studies have shown that a good relationship with colleagues drives motivation and performance in call centers. Your schedule should leverage this by teaming up the "right people".

These 7 Tips were brought to you by Monet Software, Inc. Monet Software makes it easy to implement, manage and track the 7 tips using Monet WFM Live, a 100% web based call center scheduling software. Monet WFM Live is an affordable and easy to use call center forecasting and employee scheduling solution which includes ACD integration, real-time agent adherence and intra-day management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs within weeks - all without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional software.

For more information about Monet WFM Live or a product demonstration, go to www.monetsoftware.com or call 1-310-207-6800 or send an email to info@monetsoftware.com.

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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