Monday, November 29, 2010

Call Center Scheduling Tip #4: Cross-training & multi-skilled agents

And here is our call center scheduling tip #4: 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.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Call Center Scheduling Tips: #3 Agent Adherence

Here is call center scheduling tip #3: 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
  • Explain how 10 minutes impacts the entire center performance

Measure and manage
  • Measure & track adherence using workforce management tools
  • Share adherence reports with your agents - how they are doing

Provide incentives
  • Reward agents (95% within adherence) – recognition & bonus
  • Agents are aware of the consequences for out-of-adherence behavior

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Call Center Scheduling Tips: #2 Keep track of your shrinkage

Many companies underestimate the sheer volume of shrinkage. Here are two suggestions on how to reduce shrinkage:

1. Increase forecast and schedule accuracy by including all activities into your schedule:
  • Call time and after work related to calls
  • Outbound if triggered by inbound calls
  • Chat (if important to your business)
  • Breaks, lunch
  • Training
  • Absenteeism
  • Meetings
  • Admin or research work
  • Correspondence
  • Emails
  • Outbound calls
  • Other unproductive time
2. Monitor schedule adherence and work with your agents to improve over time
  • Monitor in real-time
  • Run reports and share with the call center team

7 Tips for more Effective Call Center Scheduling: #1 Flexible Shift Model

In these challenging economic times, every call, every customer interaction and every dollar counts. 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 over-staffing (higher costs!) or under-staffing (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?

  • Ask and inform your agents. Survey about preferences and personal needs. Work with them to match their needs with needs of the business
  • Gradually implement a flexible shift model by introducing it to some of your agents (existing and/or new hires) first
  • Offer a bonus program. Provide financial incentives for “start-time flexibility”
  • Gradually add new agents that are flexible
  • 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.