Showing posts with label contact center scheduling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contact center scheduling. Show all posts

Friday, November 7, 2014

Contact Center Staffing for the Holiday Season: Are you Ready?

The holiday season means good food, good friends and good will toward men. But at some contact centers, it also means a significant increase in the need for customer service support. And by the way, your customers are busier during this season as well, and they expect the same response time and personalized service they receive at any other time of year.

If your contact center is about to get deluged with call volume that may be five times higher than usual, the time to start planning is now (especially if you haven’t been anticipating this for the last 1-2 months).

Increased staffing means more job interviews. The pace will be accelerated but the objective here is not just to fill empty seats. These new hires must be as motivated and as qualified as the agents you’ve had for years. Some contact centers maintain a database of potential hires so there is always a supply of qualified candidates that can step in with less training and get the job done.

Forecasting and scheduling are also crucial components to achieve adequate service levels and provide great customer service. Reviewing historical data is the best place to start this process, and then take a moment to think about what has changed since the holiday seasons of last year and the year before. These variables must also be taken into account.

Finally, with so many new faces in the contact center and so many more calls pouring in, quality monitoring and control will be more difficult, but must be maintained. That means assigning more veteran team members to the quality control effort, so you have enough agents monitoring calls, emails and chats.

By taking these steps, you’ll have a much better chance to deliver a positive and memorable holiday shopping experience.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cutting Contact Center Costs by 20% – in 2 Easy Steps

If your contact center is still using spreadsheets, you might lose money. Two of the key drivers for cost savings are schedule adherence and optimization of daily agent rituals like breaks and lunches. Spreadsheets are extremely limited in the impact they can have on these crucial challenges.

Schedule Adherence
With spreadsheets only limited spot-checking is possible. When you can’t monitor adherence in real time, there is bound to be higher shrinkage and either over- or understaffing. Result? Missed service levels, and wasted resources. By switching from spreadsheets to workforce management software, real time adherence and monitoring is possible. That restores service levels to projected levels, while reducing shrinkage by as much as 15 minutes per agent day. You can even get alerts on your mobile device if agents are out-of-adherence based on custom thresholds. 

Optimizing Downtime
How managers schedule lunches and approved breaks, and how well agents adhere to the time allowed for them, can have a tremendous impact on staffing costs and productivity. At most call centers, these shrinkage rates fall somewhere between 20% and 35% with an effective WFM solution, depending on the size of the business. And when shrinkage rates fall, productivity and profits increase.

When workforce management software is deployed in a way that increases schedule adherence and optimizes downtime, the savings to an average call center can add up to 10% or even 20%.

Find out more in this customer case study and learn how a contact center of a credit union reduced costs and improved service levels with workforce management software.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Enduring Contact Center Challenge: Agent Scheduling and Agent Adherence

After so many years, and so much attention paid, why are scheduling and adherence still a challenge at so many contact centers? One reason, perhaps, is that each of these objectives incorporates a number of moving parts, and a wide range of variables that must be calculated in advance. If these calculations are off, even by a little bit, it can bring the whole plan crashing down.

Consider the contact center manager’s ongoing challenge:

Scheduling
Inaccurate forecast? There goes the schedule. If a manager schedules 20 agents on a shift and call volume is higher than expected, average wait time increases, other KPIs are impacted, and customer service suffers. If call volume is lower, agents are at their desks with nothing to do. The customers are happy, but accounting is not – no one likes to pay agents when they aren’t doing anything.

Sudden call volume change? It can happen. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances, even a change in the weather or a news story about a company’s product, can spike calls.

Then there are exceptions, and agents who call in sick at the last minute, and other KPI predictions that don’t pan out. Any one of these can make scheduling a frustrating process.

Adherence
Do your agents understand the impact of adherence? It was covered at hiring and reinforced during training sessions, but even the best agents sometimes forget. Are those that regularly fall out of adherence held accountable? If not, they have no reason to change their behavior.

Having a system in place to track adherence would be helpful, but some contact centers have yet to make this investment.

What’s the Solution?
Fortunately, one solution is available to address the wide array of scheduling and adherence challenges: Workforce Management (WFM) software. It’s the fastest and easiest way to track status, progress, and real-time activity at a call center. Dashboards provide a visual display of call center data, providing insight into every key WFM process.
Watch a Demo

Forecasting
Both daily and long-term forecasts can be checked quickly through tables and charts on forecasting dashboards.

Scheduling
Review past call volumes to create tomorrow’s schedule. Find out who’s in, who’s on break and who’s on vacation.

Adherence
Adherence alerts on the call center dashboard identify instances where scheduled activities vary from the current call center status.

Metrics
Besides forecasting, scheduling and adherence, other key WFM metrics that can be reviewed via dashboard include call answer times, first call resolutions and transfer rates.

Of course, the wealth of information provided by WFM isn’t much good if it is not presented in a way that is clear, concise, and accessible to changes as needed. Choose a WFM system that allows for real-time changes to be easily implemented, that shows summaries of all agent statuses, including exceptions. If you can’t find the data you need quickly, look for another system.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

15 Tips on Contact Center Scheduling

One of the call center manager’s most important tasks is to create a schedule that balances agent needs vs. call center capabilities, while accounting for such variables as shrinkage and exceptions.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily – the right workforce management system streamlines the process and provides more consistent, accurate data.

If scheduling is still an issue, check out these quick tips:
  1. Don’t use spreadsheets – they are incapable of producing an optimized call center schedule. 
  2. Accurate scheduling starts with accurate forecasting.
  3. Track both call activities and non-call activities for better scheduling.
  4. Make sure all scheduling procedures are clearly delineated among agents, supervisors and management.
  5. Test schedule accuracy with simulations and dry-run scenarios.
  6. Build some flexibility into schedules so changes can be made on the fly.
  7. Take agent preferences into account – if agents can work the shifts they prefer, they will likely do a better job. 
  8. Make sure you are using sufficient ACD data (at least one year) for schedule creation. 
  9. Build in a shift-swapping procedure that is easier for agents to utilize, and easier for management to monitor.
  10. Incorporate agent skill levels and specialties into schedule creation. 
  11. Try this formula for calculating schedule adherence: [phone time + other work related activity time] / ([shift time] - [lunch/dinner] - [break] + [exception time] + [overtime]) = schedule adherence
  12. Personally address agent issues such as tardiness and extended lunch breaks so they do not become habitual, and have a detrimental impact on scheduling. 
  13. Take weather conditions into account when creating schedules, as they can impact both call volume and agent availability. 
  14. List the 3 greatest challenges to schedule adherence at your contact center, then meet with agents and supervisors to address how these challenges can be resolved. 
  15. Choose a Workforce Management solution that gathers and provides the necessary scheduling information through dashboards that are clear and concise.
Fore more details, please download our Contact Center Scheduling Tips whitepaper.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Contact Center Solution Priorities for 2014

As we discussed in a recent blog post, creating the optimal customer experience should be a top priority at every contact center. If your agent training procedures already stress courtesy, patience and cooperation, in addition to adherence to company policies, that’s half the battle. The other half requires giving those agents, and contact center management, the tools they need to succeed.

Contact Center Technology Solutions
Achieving a better, more efficient and more productive customer experience requires several technology solutions:

Call Recording
Call recording software enables a contact center to gather, save and review customer call data, which can improve customer service, agent performance and business efficiency. Call recordings can also help resolve customer disputes before they escalate into legal action.

Quality Monitoring
Quality monitoring is the key to getting the numbers right on several key metrics, from average handling time to first-call resolution. It is an ongoing process, utilizing call recordings and other raw data that can be continually modified as agents and managers learn from each other. Once everyone has bought into the program, issues are identified and resolved more quickly, and best practices will evolve.

Scorecards
Scorecards are a significant component of quality management (QM). Rating agent performance rewards outstanding team members and identifies areas where additional coaching and training is necessary. Scoring can also be used to rank agents at each center or on each shift, a practice that can encourage those near the bottom of the list to improve their standing.

Forecasting/Scheduling/Adherence Tools
Choose a workforce management solution that will include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.

Dashboards
Dashboards provide visual displays of call center data, providing an instant snapshot of what is happening at every moment throughout the day. Now you have the information you need to make forecasting, scheduling and adherence changes before the customer experience can be affected.

For a complete demonstration of these contact center solutions, please take a look at our demo center.

Monday, December 23, 2013

How Complete is Your Schedule Adherence Tracking?

Managing agent adherence across all contact center activities is one of the most challenging call center tasks and is often the cause for poor call center performance.

Workforce management software plays a key role in schedule adherence tracking. The goal is to make monitoring easier and more accurate through a reliable automated system, and reviewing results to achieve goals in service levels, productivity and cost management. But this can be challenging if WFM stops short of comprehensive adherence tracking.

Every activity that goes into a schedule, even non-call activities, should be tracked regarding adherence. That requires an added layer of flexibility, the option to set up "custom states", and the ability to monitor activities in real time. Is it time to replace your WMF solution? These questions may help to make that decision:
  • Can you add any agent activity type into adherence monitoring as "customer states"?
  • Can you program custom thresholds and variances designed meet the specific needs of your call center?
  • Can you monitor such activities as special after-word and outbound preparation?
  • Can you monitor adherence in real-time on a dashboard?
If not, it may be time to find a new product that supports customizable adherence tracking, resulting in a new level of accuracy in managing call center performance. Watch this video about schedule adherence in action or download our whitepaper with Seven Strategies for Improving Adherence.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What is Workforce Management for Contact Centers?

What is your definition of workforce management? It probably depends on the type of business you are in. 

Wikipedia provides this general statement: “In many markets and industries, workforce management is all about assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time.”

For contact centers, that definition is a great place to start. If a manager schedules the right agents with the appropriate call-handling skills on the shifts where those skills will be most needed, he or she is certainly on the best track to an efficient operation.

However, knowing what to do and how to get there are two separate challenges. That’s where workforce management (WFM) software can play a critical role.

A manager needs to know what type of calls, and call volume, to expect on a certain week or day or even during a particular hour. With WFM, historical call data is collected and analyzed with the goal of predicting future workload. With the more accurate predictions provided by WFM, a manager can forecast needs and schedule staff accordingly.

Finding the best agents for the needs of a shift or a certain type of customer? Again, past performance of agents can be reviewed for how quickly different types of calls are handled, and which percentage were brought to a successful conclusion.

The best WFM solution will include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.

For even more information, please visit our new Workforce Management resources website - it provides workforce management tips, industry news and other resources.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Workforce Management with Spreadsheets?

The holiday season is a time of tradition.  Some traditions deserve our respect and should be sustained for future generations. But in the office, there is sometimes a tendency to show too much deference to traditions that have outlived their usefulness. One of these is the use of spreadsheets in contact centers.

Many contact centers handle forecasting and scheduling the same inefficient way they did 20 years ago, which is why the data generated sometimes proves insufficient.

It’s time for a change, and technology has made that change possible.

Our whitepaper, “The Real Cost of Scheduling Spreadsheets,” explores that very topic.

As stated in the whitepaper, an automated workforce management (WFM) solution can improve forecast accuracy, making sure all the necessary resources are always in place. It can also streamline the scheduling process.

A WFM system also provides the flexibility to automatically manage start times, end times and break times. Spreadsheets cannot match this speed and efficiency, which results in unhappy agents and higher shrinkage.

Workforce Management (WFM) can play a prominent role in engendering employee satisfaction. Skill-based scheduling plays to an agent strengths and boosts confidence, while flexible scheduling acknowledges and may acquiesce to their obligations outside the office.  

Happier agents and better contact center control through online collaboration, reporting and transparency tools, can all result from WFM implementation. Spreadsheets simply cannot compete. And wouldn’t you rather spend the hours now devoted to compiling them to focusing on other aspects of your business – or just getting out of the office on time for a change?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 Reasons for Call Center Schedule Issues

Call center schedules are only as accurate as the data used to determine them. Usually if there’s an issue, that’s the place to begin your search. However, the problem may also be caused by other call center policies that impact scheduling data.

Here are 5 reasons why your call center schedule may not be getting the job done:

1. Insufficient Historic Call Data
This is an issue with newer call centers who cannot trace two years of calling patterns to determine future volume. But it can also be a problem at call centers for companies that undergo significant expansion or contraction, changes in product lines, or even expansion/contraction of call center resources. If last August was different than this one for any reason, that makes the challenge of forecasting and scheduling more difficult.

2. Call Related Activities
Scheduling must take into account all call- and non-call related activities, not just managing the incoming call load and the actual time on each call. Lunches, other breaks, training sessions, meetings and correspondence should also be calculated.

3. No Simulation
Forecasting simulation can help managers analyze their routing policies and incoming call volume to develop more accurate forecasts, which lead to more accurate schedules.

4. No Flexibility
The more rigid the schedule, the more likely it will fall short of expectations. Building in some flexibility allows managers to be more prepared for unforeseen fluctuations. It’s also better for call center agents, who will appreciate being able to take a few extra moments away if they need it.

5. Slow Reaction to Changing Call Volumes

Some sports cars can change direction in a few seconds. An aircraft carrier might take hours to accomplish the same task. If call volume changes unexpectedly, a call center needs to react quickly and adjust the schedule accordingly, or risk the pitfalls of overtaxed agents and dissatisfied customers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Call Center Schedule Exceptions

Handling exceptions is a key component to workforce schedule compliance. Exceptions must be managed in a way the minimizes their impact on productivity and availability, since both will have a negative impact on service levels and also quality of service.

There are four types of exceptions:

Pre-planned
These would include vacation days, training days and work time spent on other necessities such as team meetings.

Unplanned
Sick days and downtime due to technical issues would qualify as unplanned exceptions.

Unplanned but pre-approved
These are schedule deviations initiated by management to maintain performance levels.

Unplanned and not pre-approved
These tend to be reactionary, caused by meetings that run long or added coaching sessions.

Regardless of the exception type, the goal remains the same – customer service consistency and meeting company goals for schedule adherence.

call center schedule exception calendar - Monet Software
Call Center Schedule Exception Calendar







 
This can be achieved with workforce management software, which provides real-time adherence data that streamlines call center schedule exception tracking, making it easier for managers to maintain service levels, to know which agents are excepted at any given time (and the reason for the exception, whether it’s a day off or time spent in training) and to review reporting data. The solution should also provide an easier method for shift swapping, with management approval.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Multi-Channel Agent Skill Scheduling for Contact Centers

Muti channel skill scheduling for contact centers
Call centers are contact centers now, which means customers are interacting with agents through a range of channels including emails and live online chat. According to some studies, more than 25% of all customer interactions are now conducted via methods other than the telephone.

One of the goals of any 21st century contact center is to offer the right mix of channels and find an accurate method for multi-channel forecasting and scheduling of agents. The customer experience should be equally positive regardless of how communication is made. 

The challenge is how to offer consistent standards of customer engagement through multiple touch points.The solution is an optimized integrated platform that encompasses data on workforce management, agent skill sets, metrics, scheduling and reporting.

Tips for Multi-Channel Skills Scheduling
Multi-channel scheduling begins with a specification of service goals based on the types of channels the call center must handle, followed by agent skill assessment within each of these channels.

Once these standards are set, scheduling will require accurate calculation of the Average Handle Time (AHT) for each contact channel. This is easier to do with calls than with emails or chats where agent can handle multiple chats at the same time for example. A workforce management system takes these differences into consideration. With this information, the call center manager has two options to choose from:

Dedicated Agent Pools
Once an agent’s skill sets are determined, he or she can be assigned to a dedicated group that focuses solely or primarily on their best channel, whether that is inbound calls, emails or web chat.

The Universal Queue
With this method, all contacts are routed to agents based on order and availability. While this is a less specialized method for handing multiple channels, it does force agents to become adept at handling the various methods of customer communication in a shorter time span.

Workforce management provides the necessary metrics on channels and personnel skills to allow managers to make the best decisions for their contact center. You can watch a short video about multi-channel scheduling and staffing to learn more about this. Agents will be placed in situations where their skills can be maximized, thus improving productivity, morale and customer satisfaction – which is also great for the bottom line.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When Call Centers Become Contact Centers - the Impact on Workforce Management

social Media in contact center workforce management
While the “call center” designation is likely to stick around for a while, agent interaction via telephone is now just one component of customer communication. Today, the public may reach out via email, online chat or social media. All of these additional channels are ultimately beneficial, but many call centers are just beginning to grasp the impact they will have - from a customer engagement perspective, but also from a workforce management perspective.

Email/Live Chat
Written exchanges of information, whether via email or text chat, have become commonplace. However, these channels work best with simple questions and conflict resolutions where a few sentences from both participants will suffice. Once the point has been reached where the number of exchanged messages tops 5-10, it might be advisable to switch to a telephone conversation.

With online chat, it may take longer to complete a customer interaction, simply because it takes longer to type a message than to say it. However, online chat agents can manage up to five sessions simultaneously, which will impact productivity and scheduling. If five proves too many (measure response times to each customer to determine this), three ongoing sessions might be a more practical limit.

When it comes to workforce management scheduling, you will want chat agents with proven written skills. While the Internet has done no shortage of damage to the disciplines of spelling, grammar and punctuation, it is vital that any written communication from your company to customers is free of such errors.

Social Media
A Facebook page and a Twitter account are great ways for companies to announce new products and specials and exchange ideas with customers. They are less effective for such traditional call center functions as handling orders and returns or resolving disputes. However, this too is changing rapidly.

If the call center is to take the lead on establishing and maintaining a company’s social media presence, adequate resources must be made available to do so, to make certain pages are updated, questions are answered, and ongoing communications are having a positive impact on branding and customer loyalty.

That starts with creating and scheduling a social media team based on experience and training. Agents should not just be familiar with these outlets, but be well versed on the company’s social media strategy and best practices.

And, as with email and online chat, choose agents and experts with written communication skills, and when a problem arises try to route that customer back to a call-in situation where it might be easier to resolve the situation verbally.

Each of these new communication channels should get included into your overall forecasting, scheduling and staffing planning process.

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 Tips for More Accurate Call Center Forecasting


call center forecasting methods and tools
Call Center Forecasting Tools and Methods
Unlike weather forecasting, call center forecasting can be performed with a high degree of accuracy. Workforce management solutions combine the use of historic data and real-time data, to not only improve the efficiency at a call center, but to create projections for future growth, changes and special events, so the call center can be prepared for any eventual scenario.

Here are five tips to help you make the most of you call center forecasting solution:

1. Use Historic Data
This is the obvious place to start. Historical call volume data can be used to analyze present performance and future growth trends. It can also serve to correct assumptions about what constitutes an appropriate length of a customer engagement, how many calls an agent should handle in one shift, and other factors that impact hiring and staffing procedures. Several weeks of data is usually sufficient as a starting point, but longer-term projections would require months or years of data, especially for seasonal or annual projections.

2. Run Scenarios Based on Data
With workforce management a call center manager does not have to wait for something to happen to gauge the effectiveness of call center response. Staffing and service levels can be analyzed ahead of time by creating a what-if scenario. Typical scenarios would include the start of a new advertising campaign that will increase call volume, a discount on a key product line, or a turnover in personnel that results in a higher number of less experienced agents on the same shift.

3. Leverage Past Events
How did the opening of a new retail location affect call volume to the call center? How did call patterns change during the holiday season? By reviewing past events, a call center can be better prepared for future occurrences, and adjust accordingly. This data can also impact long-term strategies for planning, budgeting and recruitment.

4. Leverage Real-Time Data
Every call to a call center is a forecasting tool. Real-time analysis of individual calls and calls handled within an hour, a day, etc. can lead to adjustments on the fly and more accurate forecasting in the days and weeks to come. Among the most important measurements here are the speed with which calls are answered, average call-handling times, percentage of calls abandoned, and number of interactions on hold.

5. Multi-Channel Forecasting
Customer communication is not handled only through a telephone anymore. With the introduction of multi-channel environments (email, fax, Internet), customers now have a wide range of options, and an equally wide range of expectations in how a company responds to their needs. While this makes forecasting more complex, it is a necessity for any workforce management solution to incorporate multi-channel capabilities. This makes it easier to discover, for example, how many customer engagements are now handled via email, how that impacts call volume to a call center, and how that center should adjust to meet its service goals.

To learn more, you can also watch one of our forecasting and scheduling videos in our new demo center.




Thursday, October 11, 2012

Workforce management for contact centers

What makes workforce management software for contact centers so critical? Well, when customers are contacting your center, you have only seconds or minutes to take their call (before they hang up) or when you have agents ready and there are no calls, you are wasting money and resources. Especially for smaller and medium sized centers, higher fluctuations in call volumes make it more difficult to accurately forecast and then schedule agents that deliver a high service level, while also controlling costs. Here are key workforce management capabilities that make managing your workforce more effective and easier:
  • Forecast simulation: Simulations help calculate a more precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from your ACD.
  • Scheduling of all activities: Scheduling engines should incorporate all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks and service levels.
  • Exception handling: Integrated exception calendars help simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.
  • Intra-day management: Graphical display of agents' schedules provide alerts and better help manag breaks, lunches and other exceptions in your contact center.
  • Real-time adherence: Real-time views and comparison of planned agent activity with actual activities, as well as of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators throughout the day.
 To learn more, you can watch a series of workforce management videos on our website.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Call center schedule tips

Call center scheduling tipsWe have created a list of seven practical tips for call center scheduling to not only keep your call center running efficiently, but also maintain high service levels, and keep costs under control. We would like to share these tips with you and hope it proves to be useful in your daily call center operations.

You can download the whitepaper by clicking this link 7 Tips for more effective call center scheduling. If you are also interested in schedule adherence, you can also download our whitepaper with the topic: Practical strategies for improving call center schedule adherence.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Contact Center Scheduling and Forecasting Functionality

What are the key functional components of a scheduling and forecasting solution for a contact center? Here is a quick overview:
  • Forecasting: Ability to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from your ACD system.
  • Scheduling: The scheduling module should incorporate all call types and other call and non-call related activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks, training and service levels.
  • Exception handling: Integrated exception calendar to simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.
  • Real-time adherence: Ability to compare planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecast and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators.
  • Intra-day management: Graphical display of agents' schedules with drag-and-drop functionality to quickly manage breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Real-time updates can be made to required and assigned agents instantly, and display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
  • Agent - supervisor collaboration: Enables easy and efficient agent-supervisor interaction and collaboration, such as exceptions, schedule bids or swap requests and critical reports. Agents get empowered to be more directly involved in the scheduling process by entering exceptions or bids and viewing their schedules at any time.
  • Configuration & administration: Ability to set up unlimited number of center splits or agent groups, each with its own set of service objectives and guidelines. Management of multiple sites and time zones. Ability to set hours of operation by day of week, and service level goals down to 15-minute intervals if desired.
  • Metrics and reporting: Ability to report and analyze all agent activities including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Managers need to get actionable insights through tools such as call center dashboards, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and real-time alerts.
If you are interested in seeing a solution in action, please take a look at a contact center forecasting and scheduling demo on our website.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Schedule Adherence for Call Centers - A Strategy Whitepaper


Schedule Adherence still seems one of the top challenges for call centers. This new whitepaper talks about the challenges and how to overcome those, helping call center managers and supervisors better manage adherence. The paper discusses the following topics:
  • How to identify the issues that cause out-of-adherence
  • How to monitor and measure adherence
  • How to work with your team on improving schedule adherence
  • How to establish an "adherence culture"
  • How to use tools to better monitor adherence
If you still struggle with out-of-adherence issues, or can’t reach and maintain your targeted adherence level, then this whitepaper is for you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Contact center scheduling and forecasting overview

Scheduling contact center staff is the "art and science" of having the right number of employees, with the right skills at the right times to meet anticipated call volumes (and other communication channels such as email, chat , social media). And all this has to happen with a targeted service level and at minimal costs. Contact center forecasting and scheduling is a critical task and poor planning and execution can have a negative impact on revenues and cost, customer satisfaction and also employees motivation. Key tasks of contact center scheduling include the following activities:

1. Call Forecasting - Calculation of call volumes based on key parameters:
  • Call history data
  • Call patterns (day, week, season, etc.)
  • Special day patterns (holidays, etc.)
  • Other event or business drivers that might impact call volume/pattern (sales campaign)

2. Staffing requirements - Calculation of staffing needs based on:
  • Service level, ASA and average handle time
  • Type of calls (required skills)
  • Anticipated workload

3. Schedule - Creation of a schedule for every day based on your unique needs:
  • 15 or 30 minute increments
  • Consideration of all activities (call and non-call)
  • Flexibility regarding start/end times, breaks, etc.
  • Multi-skill routing

4. Schedule Adherence - Monitoring and managing adherence as team effort:
  • Inform and educate about adherence importance and impact
  • Measure and manage adherence throughout the day (real-time adherence)
  • Provide incentives for adherence

5. Exception handling - "Stuff happens", be prepared to manage exceptions and changes throughout the day:
  • Changes in call volume or arrival pattern (campaigns, external events, etc.)
  • Staffing or scheduling issues (training, sick, absenteeism, etc.)
  • Business related exceptions

6. Measure Success - Define what "success" means for you center and measure & adjust accordingly:
  • Analyze hourly/daily/weekly reports
  • What worked, what didn't? Investigate causes for under-performance
  • Apply "learnings" into future forecasting/scheduling process

Every contact center is different, but one of the most challenging tasks from the above list for every center is most likely schedule adherence. If you would like to learn more, please download our whitepaper "How to improve schedule adherence in your call center" and discover new ways that might work for your contact center.