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The Importance of Schedule Adherence in the Call Center

January 15, 2010

How important is schedule adherence in the call center?
Schedule adherence is one of the main ways call center managers achieve labor efficiencies and improve customer service. Not only must call center managers ensure that agents aren’t showing up late or clocking out early, they also must ensure that each agent is staying on schedule for “intra-shift” activities, such as scheduled breaks and training or coaching sessions.

The reason this is so important is that every minute counts when it comes to customer service. Many organizations have cut their call center staffing to the bone, as a result of the recession, therefore they must ensure that each agent’s time is being used as efficiently as possible.

Schedule adherence is particularly important for ensuring smooth transitions between shifts: For example, if an organization has cut its call center staffing to the bone, there is an increased risk for “dips” in service levels when an agent – or agents – show up late. The period of time during which these agents are not on the phones – even if only minutes – can result in increased hold times which in turn results in decreased customer satisfaction.

Call center schedules tend to be very complex – which means there can be a lot of junctures during a shift where an agent will go out of adherence. For example, an agent might show up for his shift five minutes late; log on to the ACD seven minutes late; show up for a training session eight minutes late; and go over their break time by 10 minutes -- resulting in the agent being a total of 30 minutes out of adherence for that one shift!

Multiply these “out of adherence” events across a center with dozens if not hundreds of agents -- and then multiply that by the total number of shifts -- and its easy to see how schedule adherence can quickly become a serious problem.

Keeping track of schedule adherence using manual systems such as spreadsheets can be incredibly time-consuming and challenging. This is where today’s workforce management solutions are playing an increasingly crucial role.

Using these Web-based systems, call center managers can deftly uncover every “out of adherence” instance – plus they can track call center performance in terms of schedule adherence and “shrinkage” (which is the amount of time agents are on the clock but not on the phones) as a whole.

Tracking schedule adherence is just one of the “basic” functions today’s WFM systems handle: Today’s systems also sport advanced forecasting capabilities and thus go way beyond just basic scheduling.

To learn more about how a Web-based workforce management system can help improve schedule adherence in your call center, be sure to check out the upcoming free webinar, “How to Measure and Improve Agent Adherence in Your Call Center” to be presented by Monet Software from 10 to 11 a.m. PST (1 to 2 p.m. EST), Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.

Attendees will learn how to improve agent adherence, reduce shrinkage and increase service levels. Industry expert, Chuck Ciarlo who successfully owned and operated multiple call centers, will explain:

--How to plan for unavoidable shrinkage in your scheduling process
--How to measure and improve schedule adherence in your call center
--How real-time agent adherence can dramatically improve service levels

To register for this informative free webinar, click here.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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