Maintaining a call center is often a costly endeavor. From infrastructure costs to staffing and telephony – it can all add up quickly. Thus, the use of a call center’s most valuable and often their most expensive resource – their team of call center agents – should be optimized. This blog post will explain how to do just that.
Schedule adherence, or schedule compliance, is a metric of a call center agent’s degree of compliance with their assigned schedule. Measuring schedule adherence and enhancing adherence to schedule within the call center is important for optimizing staffing, efficiency and productivity. It will ensure that your most valuable asset within the call center – your team of agents – is utilized optimally.
Before diving into how to optimize schedule adherence in the call center, let’s first discuss how to measure it and what factors influence schedule adherence. Schedule adherence within the call center is often measured using the following equation:
As you can see from the equation above, there are a number of factors that impact schedule adherence. Let’s start by examining the factors that negatively impact schedule adherence in the call center.
Schedule adherence can be negatively impacted by:
- Agents arriving to work late, taking unscheduled breaks and leaving work early
- Agents not logging into their call center software when expected (i.e., chatting with their co-worker before logging in for the day)
- Agents spending too much time on non-work related activities (i.e. checking their personal email, texting and going on social media sites while in their “Busy” call center software agent status)
- Agents manually changing their call center software agent status to “Away” or “Busy” to avoid fielding calls when they are on the clock
- Agents taking extended breaks
- Unexpected or last minute call center agent absences
If any of the aforementioned scenarios sound familiar to you, then your call center might be suffering from less than optimal adherence to schedule. The following tips, tools and techniques will help you get your call center back on track by optimizing your team’s schedule adherence.
Schedule adherence in the call center can be enhanced by:
Optimizing agent training
Optimizing schedule adherence within the call center should start from day one – training day. One of the most important topics to cover during agent training sessions is the importance of adhering to their assigned schedule. Most call center agents have no idea that they can negatively impact call center service level, service quality, operational costs and revenue just by taking a smoke break whenever they feel the need, sleeping in after the long weekend and calling in sick five minutes before their shift starts. It is your job as a call center manager to explain this to them. Empowering them with this helpful information will make it more probable that they make more informed decisions that will have a measurable impact on schedule adherence in the call center.
Promoting an efficiency-centric culture
Once you hire the right team and train them optimally, promoting the right company culture is of utmost importance. Creating a company culture centered on efficiency can go a long way to increasing adherence to schedule. If efficiency is what your team values, what they strive for, how they are evaluated and how they are trained they will be more likely to complete non-call related tasks more quickly and will be more aware of how they spend their time while on the clock. This can have a major impact on schedule adherence and their overall productivity in the call center.
Providing coaching to agents who are noncompliant with their assigned schedule
In every call center there is always that one agent who performs well but just isn’t very adherent to their assigned schedule. That’s where you come in. As a manager it is your responsibility to make sure that the agent is aware that there is an issue, understands the impact it has on the call center, has a game plan about how to resolve the issue and is provided coaching and feedback based on their progress towards changing their behavior. This coaching and effective feedback process is essential when aiming to increase adherence to schedule – and overall success – of call center agents.
Giving recognition and rewards to agents who are adherent with their schedules
It is not enough to just identify call center agents who are non-compliant with scheduling. In order to truly have an impact on the call center as a whole, managers must also ensure that agents who are adherent stay adherent and those who have some room for improvement feel motivated to be more adherent. Providing recognition and rewards to the call center agents who are most adherent to their schedule is a great way to keep them adherent and motivate others to follow suit.
Monitoring call center agent statuses
Once your entire team is on the same page about being more adherent to their schedules, it is time to see how they are doing in meeting this goal. A great tool in this pursuit is call center software that provides a comprehensive dashboard and real-time information about agent statuses. As a manager, use this helpful information to make sure your agents are spending time where it matters (i.e., on the phone with customers) and not where it doesn’t (i.e., remaining in “Busy” mode while chatting up the new intern). Call center software that displays this information in an intuitive interface makes it simple to keep tabs on an entire team and track their schedule adherence over time.
Optimizing schedule adherence in the call center is one of those managerial tasks that when executed correctly can have a major impact on the call center’s overall efficiency and bottom line. Make sure your team is doing their best by following the aforementioned tips in this blog post. You’ll be glad you did.