“Jon, this task should be completed by Thursday,” Tom, a call center manager annoyingly exclaimed. Thereafter, Jon nodded, but rolled his eyes at his colleagues and made a quick parody on Tom.
For a larger number of people who are somewhat familiar to the call center industry, the job of call center managers seems a comfortable one – one that only includes shouting out orders. However, that is far from the truth for people who have observed the daily commotion that managers at call centers have to deal with on almost a daily basis.
Probably one of the most intricate tasks that all managers have to deal with is call center agent scheduling.
What is that?
In simple words, call center agent scheduling includes any and every task to manage agents and their varied chores in such a way that the call center can reach its optimum performance. Therefore, it requires call center managers to go thorough daily rota, set the weekly roster, monitor call volume fluctuations, and keep an eye on agent availability.
Let us take a look at a mixture of tips and techniques managers can adopt to ensure great call center agent scheduling.
- Handle Peak Times with Top Agents and Incentivizing
If you are leading a team at a call center or are responsible for agent activities, you must be aware of the time period when your call center receives the maximum number of calls or when your customers choose to interact. Consequently, you can set your top agents to handle calls during that specific time, every day. This way, you will be able to guarantee great customer experience. Moreover, always make an effort to introduce a host of incentive schemes for peak times to keep agents motivated, so that the put in their best foot forward and give that ‘extra’ shot to make customers satisfied.
- Take a Good Stock of Agent Skills and the Nature of Calls Handled
While considering call center agent scheduling, managers must have a good grasp on diverse skills that agents have and the specialization they possess. This will help to create and maintain a great schedule that not only caters to the specific areas of interest and expertise, but also will make certain that they complete their tasks with great concentration. Also, keep a close watch on the nature of calls handled by different agents, as it will provide a clear picture of agents’ diverse skill sets and proficiency.
- All Activities apart from Handling Calls Should be Managed Accordingly
Managers should realise the importance of managing breaks, lunch times, trainings, team meetings, after call activities, etc, while at the same time ensuring that there are agents to handle calls and take care of customer issues and queries. This will lead to a reduction in shrinkage and also improve the schedule adherence. Agents will eventually realise the significance of every minute they spend at the call center and how to manage their time more effectively.
- Cross train Agents and Implement Skill Based Routing
Under present circumstances, it is vital for you to cross train your agents and make them multi-skilled. The purpose of cross training comes extremely handy when some agents are absent and others need to fill their positions capably. Moreover, you can adopt skill based routing to lessen the number of agents needed to handle call volume. With multiple skills, the productivity gain of the call center can easily shot up by 10-15%.
- Provide Agents with Multiple Options
‘Variety is the spice of life’, and call centers are no exception. Unless your agents have the liberty to exercise some creative freedom, there is no guarantee that will not lose interest in their job. In order to provide some independence to agents, you can allow them to work for lesser number of days in a week but at the same time make them complete their hours within the given number of days. Additionally, you can also keep flexible start and end time of their shifts. Work from home can also be leveraged here, i.e. – agents can be given the option to work from home for a particular number of days in a week.
- Analyze Call Metrics for Better Scheduling
To enable superior forecasting and call center agent scheduling, it is essential that you keep a record and analyze call metrics regularly. Even with the emergence of big data and analytics, it has been often observed that not many call centers are using call center metrics to its full potential. Some of the call metrics that should be analyzed include agent utilization, first call resolution, average speed of answer, call abandonment rate, annual agent turnover, and agent occupancy.
- Use Mobile App to keep a track of Agent Whereabouts
There are multiple agent schedule management applications that agents and managers can access from any device, at any time and at any place. These mobile apps has in-built real time SMS notifications that can be used to pick up an agent for a shift, call in sick, or to submit plan leave requests.
Have you used Call Center Agent Scheduling at your call center? If you have, what have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments below.