Contact Center Trends

20 Tips to Optimize Call Center Scheduling

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

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Unless you’re using a modern workforce management software solution, call center scheduling is often considered by call center managers to be one of their most difficult tasks. This is because in order to optimize call center scheduling, managers must accurately acquire and analyze data and take their team preferences into account. As the number of call center agents on their team increases, the channels they use to communicate with customers, call volume fluctuations and customer expectations for service all increase, optimizing call center scheduling becomes increasingly more complex.

That said, burying your head in the sand or using antiquated scheduling techniques because “they are simple” are not great ways to approach agent scheduling. Doing so could negatively impact team performance, increase agent attrition and increase call center costs. Thus, no matter how challenging, call center managers must tackle agent scheduling head-on as their call center’s success may depend on it. This blog post will help call center managers do just that.

Below are 20 tips and techniques to help optimize agent scheduling in the call center:

  1. Hire new agents based on their availability.
  2. Ensure that a core group of top agents is available to field calls from 9AM to 5PM during the timezone of your largest customer base.
  3. Incentivize agents to work during peak periods.
  4. Monitor important call metrics in your call center software reporting dashboard in real-time and adjust schedules accordingly.
  5. Adjust breaks, lunch, meetings, training sessions, after call work or other activities in real time when there is a need to keep agents on the floor.
  6. Provide agents with work that they can complete when they are not fielding calls.
  7. Take agent skill, specialization and type of calls handled into consideration when creating the schedule.
  8. Make sure all scheduling policies are clearly delineated for agents.
  9. Provide agents with options when selecting their schedule such as: the option to work fewer days with more concentrated shifts and the option to have flexible start and end times.
  10. Take agent preferences into account and allow agents to create, change, swap and adjust their own schedules.
  11. Make sure you have an on-call reserve of agents ready to work ASAP when needed.
  12. Allow agents to work from home when they are on-call.
  13. When applicable, create staff sharing alliances with similar organizations.
  14. Don’t use a spreadsheet as they are not robust enough to account for fluctuations in call volume, agent preferences and call center activities.
  15. Increase forecasting accuracy as this will significantly help to optimize scheduling.
  16. Make sure you have a large enough sample size when collecting call data from your Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) as this will increase forecasting accuracy.
  17. Analyze call metrics, after call work, time spent in training and coaching sessions, break durations and other non-call related activities to optimize forecasting and scheduling.
  18. Test scheduling accuracy with dry-runs and be sure to include common scenarios as well as scenarios that can be considered plausible outliers.
  19. Continually monitor for adherence to schedule and address any issues accordingly.
  20. Take weather conditions, significant events, political issues and any other major region-specific factors into account when creating schedules.

Call center scheduling can often be a challenging task. But it doesn’t have to be. When call center managers take the 20 aforementioned tips into account and approach call center scheduling with a well-thought out plan, their call center will benefit as a result. Even better, companies are moving to cloud contact center software systems like Talkdesk that offers native workforce management, making scheduling a breeze. Request a demo today to learn how Talkdesk can modernize your agent scheduling!

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Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.