Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Important call center metrics: schedule adherence

In our recent post about the importance of call center metrics we talked about the need to break down the goals and objectives from an organizational level, to a call center level, all the way down to an agent level. One such metric that is critical for most call centers is schedule or agent adherence. Let's define how it gets measured and discuss ways to improve it.

What call center adherence measures? It can be considered a measure of agent productivity. It measures the percentage of time an agent is actively working on the phone compared to the time the agent is supposed to be on the phone based on the schedule. For a more detailed discussion about adherence, please check out the whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence".

Potential causes for out-of-adherence and ways for improvement:
  • Agents might not be familiar with the individual impact of adherence on overall service levels: Educate them and explain how a 10 or 20 minutes out-of-adherence can have a big negative impact on the overall service level of the whole group or call center.
  • Lack of clear definition of phone and non-phone activities: Clearly communicate the different types and explain what is included in the schedule.
  • Schedule is too rigid: Can create too much pressure for agents and the need to take extra "breaks". Evaluate the situation and talk to your team.
  • Schedule is too flexible: Lack of accountability might result in out-of-adherence. Again, evaluate and discuss with your team. Also, there are ways to include flexibility into your schedule using tools or software, such as shift bidding.
  • Adherence doesn't get measured and tracked: You can only manage what you measure, therefore, you need to find a way to measure adherence. Set clear goals, communicate to your team, measure adherence and review with your team on a regular basis. You can also consider using incentives for "good" adherence behavior.
  • Forecast and/or scheduling assumptions and calculations might be inaccurate: Make sure to include all call and non-call activities into your schedule.