Showing posts with label flexible shift model. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flexible shift model. Show all posts

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Challenge of a Flexible Workforce: Scheduling

The advantages to a call center of a flexible workforce cannot be discounted. When agents have more say in the shifts they work and the breaks they take, they are more likely to provide outstanding customer service. They are also more likely to stay in their position, which reduces employee turnover and the time and cost issues involved with training new hires. In addition, the call center can also benefit from staggering shifts and flexible start and end times. Flexibility is often a win-win for all involved.

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.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Do You Handle Today’s Schedule Exception?

It’s a situation that a call center manager faces every week – in larger call centers, it probably happens every day. You prepare to start a shift and realize that one or more agents forecasted and scheduled to work will not be coming in today. What should that manager do?

If he (or she) is using spreadsheets for scheduling, panic might be a good first step. But with the right workforce management (WFM) software, not only is the crisis averted, it never becomes a crisis at all.

Choose a WFM solution with an Exceptions feature that streamlines the tracking process on no-show employees. Once the missing agent is noted, the list of assigned employees is automatically adjusted accordingly.

This same capability also covers agents who miss part of their shift, either through a training session, a special project, or just because they were late. And for those enterprising agents that work overtime, their efforts are recorded automatically as well.

Such data is about more than just staffing; it’s about measuring productivity, and making sure the records accurately reflect how many agents were taking calls at any specific moment of any specific day. By getting those numbers right, it’s much easier to create forecasts and schedules that match caller demand and other call center needs.

For instance – perhaps you have discovered that customers waited an average of 60 seconds longer for an agent between 1pm and 1:30 on a Wednesday. A spreadsheet might just show 20 agents working that half-hour. But WFM data will show that two agents didn’t start their shift until 1:10, since the lunch service was slow at Olive Garden that afternoon. Now you know that only 18 agents were at their desks, which likely accounted for the delays.

With a few clicks, a workforce management system delivers information about employee status and availability, and the schedule exceptions that are critical for accurate future planning. For more information, please watch this video about schedule exception planning and management.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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.