Staffing and scheduling in the call center is much easier said than done. Mostly because of the sheer volume of factors to consider. Try aligning time-off requests with operational needs, or managing agent availabilities with unexpectedly high call volumes, and you’ll quickly understand how tall an order this can be.
Call center managers need to balance call volume data, operational requirements, and agent skill-sets to create a solid agent schedule. Agent scheduling software can help with tracking these moving parts, but it’s not infallible. The reality is, managers will need to rely on their experience and intuition as well – in other words, what not to do.
That’s where this article comes in. Read on to learn the five most common pitfalls call center managers face when creating employee schedules…
Why is Call Center Scheduling Important?
Your scheduling process directly impacts agent engagement, customer experience, and operational efficiency. In other words, the consequences of a poor schedule are disastrous for a call center.
If a customer has a poor experience due to the call center being short-staffed, you risk losing them forever. That’s a big deal. Keep in mind, it takes 40 positive customer reviews to erase the effects of one bad review. So why risk the damage with poor scheduling?
Poor scheduling practices put your agent satisfaction at risk as well. If an agent calling in sick or extended time-off requests breaks your system, it probably isn’t serving your operational needs. Scheduling has the power to make or break an employee’s productivity levels and job satisfaction. If left unchecked, this can lead to agent attrition, angry customers, and lost profits.
Managing a team of agents isn’t easy. You’ll always deal with last-minute shift changes and sick calls. It’s how you prepare and address issues that make your call center scheduling successful.
5 Common Pitfalls in Contact Center Scheduling
#1: Scheduling with spreadsheets.
Automation and technology reduce chances for human error. To minimize that risk, you’ll need to invest in a good scheduling software.
This tool helps you react lightning-fast to shift swaps and changes. Think about the time it takes for an employee to call and request a change; to call other agents for availability; and implement that change before the day in question.
Employee scheduling software helps better manage shift changes and operational fluctuations, especially within large teams with more factors to consider. Studies show this reduces labor costs and improves employee well-being. Depending on your contact center requirements, you may consider self-serve software that lets employees adjust their schedules and make requests in real-time.
Scheduling software reduces labor costs, promotes agent engagement, and improves efficiency.
#2: Not having a backup or crisis plan.
Contact centers are hectic enough. Add short-staffed shifts to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster! If an agent doesn’t show up to a shift, a backup plan could mean the difference between a successful and a subpar experience for your customers and staff.
“Plan B” will look different for every contact center, so you’ll need to take your current workforce management practices into account. Some managers resort to overstaffing, but this method is costly and unsustainable. Consider having a reserve team of agents. When creating your agent schedule, ask your agents if they are open to accepting on-call shifts, or offer incentives to those who do.
#3: Inflexible work options.
More workers than ever are demanding remote work become a permanent option, and call center agents are no exception.
Hybrid contact centers are becoming a new norm, so if your business isn’t offering a way for agents to work remotely, you may already be at a disadvantage. If concerns around workforce management and agent scheduling is holding you back, consider investing in a workforce management software that can support a hybrid workforce.
Flexibility isn’t just about remote work though. It’s also about being able to offer flexible hours for your agents without sacrificing the quality of your staffing. Agents want to feel appreciated, and offering scheduling options gives them autonomy. Call center manager must offer agents options – flexible start and end times, compressed workweeks, and remote days are an excellent start.
#4: Ignoring your performance metrics.
Do you keep track of abandonment rate? First-call resolution? Peak call volumes? All are important call center metrics to help you manage your operation and scheduling.
Managers might track performance data, but many don’t consider them when creating schedules. This is a lost opportunity. By taking your call volume forecast into account, you can gauge how many agents you need for each shift. Understanding the strengths and areas for improvement based on individual agent performance data can help you staff a team with a balanced set of experience and expertise.
#5: Not monitoring time and attendance.
Maybe your call center metrics look normal, but how’s your attendance? Are agents showing up on time for every shift? Or are some agents consistently missing scheduled shifts and leaving before their day’s working hours are complete?
Call center scheduling isn’t absolute. Managers must keep them flexible and tailor them based on agent and operational needs. Monitoring attendance helps you figure out any issues with the schedule and find solutions before they become a problem.