The challenge, however, is to reap the efficiency, service and cost benefits of a flexible schedule without the difficulties involved in its creation. Spreadsheets, the traditional method of scheduling, are not as user-friendly when flexibility is part of the mix.
The answer is workforce management (WFM) software. A WFM system makes it much easier for agents to add, swap or cancel shifts, even without a manager’s approval (if the call center allows). And by doing so via a Web-based interface, rather than submitting requests via telephone or email, changes are handled more quickly and there is a record of each change. That helps to avoid conflicts later.
When a call center first makes the switch from a fixed to a flexible schedule, it can be problematic in the short term as both agents and managers adjust to the new status quo. One way to limit confusion is to make the transition gradually, by granting access to the flexible shift model to a few agents, and then expanding it over time to the rest of the workforce.
Whatever short-term issues arise from the transition are nothing compared to the improved service levels and lower personnel costs that will inevitably follow. Please take a few minutes to watch any of the scheduling demos to get better understanding of how WFM can help you create and manage a more flexible schedule.