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Why You Should Care about Real-time Contact Center Schedule Adherence

October 14, 2011

When you admit that things seldom go as planned, even with the best contact center workforce management software, it’s not being negative, it’s being honest.

Now that you’ve freed yourself to admit that Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will) is more prevalent in your contact center than you’d like, it’s time to understand why real-time schedule adherence is important to the contact center.

Before you can get to the importance of schedule adherence, it might be a good idea to back up a bit and get a clear definition of what workforce management is. According to a blog by Monet Software, a provider of workforce management and scheduling web-based software solutions: “Workforce management in a call center is the art and science of having the right number of employees, with the right skills at the right times to meet accurately forecasted volumes of work and to do all that at a predetermined service level and minimized costs.”

Workforce management software performs many functions that help contact center management run a tight ship, including having the appropriate number of agents scheduled to meet call demand in order to keep customer satisfaction high.  Workforce management software provides the tools to calculate an accurate forecast and staffing requirements as well as tools to monitor and manage how well those schedules are meeting expectations. This last part is where the discussion of real-time adherence comes in.

Real-time adherence, according to another blog from Monet Software, compares what was planned to happen in the agent’s work day to what actually happens. The post explains, “Real-time agent adherence compares planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators.”

 What are the benefits of these actions? For those who manage and supervise agents, schedule adherence lets them know where breakdowns occur between the planned and actual schedules as well as how each agent’s workday plays out in terms of lunches and breaks and when they are available, and not available, to take calls.

What is critical to understand here is being able to see the time when agents are being compensated, but are not available to take calls. This, according to the blog, is called shrinkage. Shrinkage is going to be the determinant in whether or not you meet your all-important service level goals.

With your workforce management schedule adherence tools, you’ll be able to view the status of your agents in real-time as well as be alerted to instances of “out of adherence.” This enables you to take any necessary actions immediately.

With schedule adherence tools you have the ability to track then compare what you had forecasted against the actual call center statistics. You can also do some analysis of KPIs and trends. This will help you shape future forecasts and schedules and to staff accordingly.

Having all of this data and being able to see in real-time how well—or poorly—your contact center stays on track with the schedule that has been forecasted provides the ultimate tool for managing performance and productivity, which, of course, affect the primary goal of the center--quality of customer experience.   

Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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