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Mastering Call Center Scheduling For Optimum Operations

January 13, 2012

If you run or manage a call center, you'll know that there are no shortage of challenges, and these challenges would appear to keep multiplying with each year that passes and each new trend comes along. Yet, at the heart of the call center is one overriding rule: provide the best possible customer service to your customers, while spending the least amount of money.

To this end, it's hard to find a more critical element of call center operations than workforce scheduling. It's also hard to find a more difficult to manage element of call center operations than scheduling. Having the right amount of staff in the right place at the right time with the right skills is a trick that few call centers have mastered. Smart call centers rely on both experience and intuition, along with a giant serving of help from their workforce management scheduling solutions.

In a recent blog post, workforce management solutions provider Monet Software offered some critical lessons for getting scheduling right, and addressed the following issues.

Special days and holidays scheduling. Because these can trip up even the best operation, call centers need to understand how best to forecast and schedule special days.

Determining which activities to schedule. All activities that are relevant should be included into your schedule, says Monet. Here is a way to make sure you include all agent activities into the schedule.

Full/part time and flex workers. Mastering the trick of scheduling full/part time and flex workers to your advantage will go a long way toward helping you staff correctly.

Multiple channels. If you communicate with your customers through multiple channels (phone, e-mail, chat, etc.) you'll need to understand how to properly forecast and schedule for multiple channels.

Shift bidding and trading. Improve agent motivation, while getting some more flexibility into your schedule through automated shift bidding and trading, says Monet Software. This is especially easy when you use a Web-based tool that allows agents and supervisor to collaborate on shift bidding and trading.

Skills-based scheduling and routing. It's important to understand how to use skills-based routing and scheduling to reduce the number of agents needed to handle your call volume.

Flexible start- and end-times. While it sounds like something that would benefit only your employees, allowing agents to come in later or to work longer hours on certain days can actually help you meet the call center's needs. However, this needs to get administered properly to make sure hours don't “get lost.” In fact, there are a number of ways to provide more flexibility, says Monet.

Getting scheduling right isn't easy, and it's an ongoing task, not a one-and-done event. However, mastering scheduling has a payoff for your contact center like no other technique or prorcess.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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