Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Still using scheduling spreadsheets in your call center?

One of the questions we asked in our recent workforce management survey (non customers) was about the use of tools for call center forecasting and scheduling. Based on the responses, over 50% are using spreadsheets or other manual tools to forecast call volumes and schedule their employees. Well, we thought there is an opportunity to educate call center professional about a more efficient way to forecast and schedule. We have developed a webinar that will provide some guidance and a comparison: Workforce management solution versus scheduling spreadsheets. We did a similar webinar in 2009 and got good feedback from the webinar attendees. Again, spreadsheets might be fine for some call centers, but we encourage you to attend the webinar to find out for yourself. You can learn more and register by clicking the link above. We hope to see you at the webinar.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are you monitoring schedule adherence in your call center?

In December 2009, we did a workforce management survey and asked call centers (non customers) about their practices regarding forecasting and scheduling. One question was related to schedule adherence. We were surprised that 50% did not monitor schedule adherence. Lack of schedule adherence causes inefficiencies such as increased shrinkage and declining service levels. Here are some best practices and consideration for managing adherence in your center:
  • 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.
  • Provide 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.
Over the next weeks, we will share more survey results - stay tuned. However, if you are interested in learning more right now, please go to and send us a note.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Are scheduling spreadsheets a low cost alternative?

As a small or medium-sized call center you might think you can get by with scheduling and managing your staff using spreadsheets. Maybe you have avoided workforce management software because of the large upfront investment that is associated with traditional premised based WFM software vendors. However, with new subscription-based and fully hosted offerings you might ask yourself, if continuing to use spreadsheets is the best or lowest cost choice. You need to keep in mind that inefficient forecasts and schedules will cost your center every day. Take a look at the following questions and see if you might discover an opportunity for improvement in your center:
  • Can you monitor and track schedule adherence? If agents are out of adherence for 15 minutes each day in a 25 agent center, that can add up to staffing costs of $23,000 per year.
  • Can you take advantage of your call history? The use of detailed call history data and patterns might help you improve accuracy of your forecast and your schedule.
  • Can you "build-in" skill-based routing into your schedule? Having multi-skill agents in overlapping groups as part of your schedule will help improve productivity.
  • How do you handle exceptions and agent preferences? The ability to handle exceptions and personal preferences as part of your schedule will motivate your team.
So, take a look at your call center operations and staffing to see if presumably low cost scheduling spreadsheets actually cost you more than you think.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Advantages of cloud-based workforce management software

We often get asked about the difference between cloud-based, web-based, hosted and SaaS-based workforce management software and how it compares to the on-premise software model. In order to provide some guidance on this, we decided to offer a webinar about this topic: The 5 Advantages of Cloud-based Workforce Management Software. If you are interested in more details or have any questions please let us know or register for the webinar, which will be held on Wednesday, March 17 at 9 a.m. PST.