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Call Center Scheduling Must Go Beyond the Calls

December 08, 2006

Forecasting can be tricky in any industry. There are several known factors that can be used to predict revenues and profits, but there are also unknowns that can greatly impact outcomes, both positively and negatively.
The call center industry is no exception. Call center managers spend a great deal of time working with formulas and other information to determine anticipated call levels. Now, as more and more call centers are moving toward multi-channel contact centers, these managers have to account for not only available agents to answer the phone, but also to respond to inquiries from other channels.
Initially, many call centers branched into the multi-channel realm with a few agents assigned primarily to handle any customer interactions via the Web, IM or other self-service portals. As these interactions are increasing and many centers are moving to more intelligent call and e-mail routing, more agents need to be available to handle calls and interact via other portals. In some environments, every agent must be skilled in all channel communications.

While the move to multi-channel communications has provided more options for the customer, it has also created a scheduling challenge for the call center manager. It is no longer enough to be able to schedule for the anticipated number of incoming calls. Managers must now be able to schedule for all interactions based on guaranteed service and response levels.
Effective workforce management solutions can be a great tool to use to properly forecast and schedule in the multi-channel contact center. A robust program will enable the manager to take into account upcoming promotions, dates of significance – such as billing dates or dates of rate changes for the customer – market trends, seasonality of the business, current staff and available skills, scheduling restrictions and service goals.
These solutions not only help in proper scheduling, but can also direct managers in the best way to position agents. For instance, agents with specific skill sets may be more efficient in incoming calls where others may be more efficient in outgoing contacts or complete channel interactions.
By scheduling according to skill sets, managers can assure that the customer is always properly aligned with the best agent to address their issue in a timely fashion. This will make the contact center more productive and the customer will experience a higher level of satisfaction.
As service is taking priority as the differentiator for organizations throughout various industries, contact centers are consistently looking for ways to improve service deliverables while also maintaining costs. An investment in a robust workforce management solution will produce significant financial and productive benefits that will far surpass any initial expense.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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