Top 15 Tips to Ensure Schedule Adherence in a Call Center

A primary aim of using a call center software solution is to ensure customer resolution. This implies that the right number of agents must be present at the right time doing all the correct things; otherwise the clients will be left frustrated. The key for having happy patrons is to ensure that the agents are well equipped and are available to cater to their needs.

A contact center is a place where time-mismanagement can cause company losses. With the growth in their clientele base, new channels of communication, and complex systems, the challenges for the company are forever rising.

Under such circumstances, the strengths that make a company stand out in the market are its skilled employees, and whether they are well equipped with the required tools. Like for example, the quality of the telemarketing software that they use. While the contact-center software providers can look after the application, the real problem lies in maintaining a large number of workforce personnel.

This is where schedule adherence comes into the picture. This ensures that the workers, who are often regarded as the assets of the company, are optimally utilized. It ensures that they show up for work on time and follow the plan for the day. Schedule adherence is a key performance metric that is used to measure the degree of compliance with their assigned duties. It is usually measured as a percentage and makes sure that the employees are kept on the track. It also makes sure that there is a smooth transition between the shifts and that no worker is burdened with the excess amount of working hours.

It is often very difficult to ensure that the plan is followed. The system is complex and can be affected by minute changes as well. It can be disturbed by late log-ins, unscheduled breaks, arriving late, checking personal works or unexpected leaves. For example, an agent might come in 10 minutes late for his duty, start calling after 15 minutes and take a small break to chat around with friends for 5 minutes. As a result, the worker can cause a loss of 30 minutes to the organization. The amount of loss can be magnified by the number of employees in the call center.

Hence, one of the biggest problems faced by the call center is to ensure that all comply with the plan that is made. Any deviation can result in over-staff or under-staffing. A strategic approach is required to improve the adherence quality of the callers. Here are a few tips that can help the workers realize the importance of the plans and how any variation can put the company in a fix.

1. Have the Values Spelled Out

• One of the most important factors for the schedule to work out is to ensure that the workers have a clear picture of the values, principles as well as the goals of the company and how their contribution can affect it. Making them realize that the company and its profits are a part of their own hard work makes them responsible and also has a direct impact on their efficiency.

• They treat their work with respect and know that they have a share in the growth of the company. It gives them a feeling of oneness. As a result, they treat their work with more seriousness and are more particular towards the schedule and its implementation.

2. Business Impact of Compliance

• It is vital to know the implications of the agenda that are set for the company. The manager should ensure that the adherence level is quantified and is available for all the employees.

• It is necessary that the agents know about the impact on the business, in case of non-adherence. They need to be educated about why it is important to look after the schedule and the implications of the same on the company.

• Have regular meetings with them. Help them get used to the cloud contact center software and give them examples from your previous call reports and illustrate the effect of schedules on the key performance indicators, customer satisfaction, costs of production etc.

3. Set Realistic Goals

• Having an outline of activities does not mean that you set unachievable and difficult objectives for the employees. This will only add to the negativity in the office and result in low confidence among the workers. While it is necessary to look into the benchmarks of other contact centers, it is equally vital that the plans are in sync with the needs and the characteristic features of your own company.

• It is essential that you provide the workers certain grace time, be realistic and ensure that their morale is not let down. Pragmatic aims not only improve the efficiency but also help in giving a boost to the self-esteem of the employees.

• Example: If an agent logs in late instead of his scheduled 3 AM, it would be impractical and unfair on the part of the management to punish him or deduct a fine from his salary. A suitable grace period is usually provided to them. Otherwise, three chances to rectify their mistakes are given. After arriving late for the fourth time, strict action could be taken. Staff members must be informed beforehand.

4. Include the Workers

• The staff members know more about the telemarketing call center software and its functioning more than anyone. They are the ones who regularly handle the call center and give you a different perspective of the organization.

• It is necessary to include the staff members in the planning stage as their inputs can be extremely valuable. It is vital that you keep in mind their preferences, limitations and explain the need for scheduling. This initiates open communication and the workers tend to follow the plan in a better way when it is according to their requirements.

5. Optimize Agent Training

• It is important that schedule adherence starts from Day 1 and, therefore, the company must ensure that this is the first topic that is taught in the training sessions arranged for the employees. Coaching classes help the employees learn about their mistakes and can devise methods to rectify and avoid them.

• Often, they do not understand that the small unwanted and unplanned breaks that they take can have an impact on the service level as well as the operations in the company. As a manager, it is your duty to explain them about the same. It is essential that you include these lessons in the training sessions.

• Also having proper coaching makes them more confident. As a result, they can respond to the customers in a more appropriate manner. When their morale is high, they can take up calls with a new zeal and hence start enjoying their work. Therefore, the training must not only concentrate on making them comfortable with the call center software but should also help in building their personality in the office environment.

6. Include All Activities

• The agents work usually goes beyond calling the customer. The managers often tend to ignore the after-call work and make the schedule. Apart from this, multiple assignments and tasks that are left unfinished might also need attention. It is better to have a little grace period so that the workers can finish their pending tasks or important casework.

• It is important to remember the personal time of the employees during which they can unwind themselves. Adjust their lunch breaks, smoke breaks, and training sessions during the time when much activity is not expected.

7. Do Not Overburden

• It is imperative that you use smart planning. The workers should not feel overtaxed with work. If this happens, they tend to lose interest in the job and the quality of the service automatically goes down. It is essential that the work is divided according to the individual capacity keeping in mind the limitations of the caller. Also emphasis must be laid more on the quality of the call rather than the quantity.

8. Promote Efficiency

• Having a right team alone cannot contribute to the success of the call center. It is necessary that you promote a positive work culture and ensure that efficiency and productivity are ranked high. Having a team that is strongly rooted in competence-centric culture can take the business a long way. If effectiveness is what matters most to them, they will make sure that they complete all their tasks on time. Also make a proper analysis of the skills and specialization of the worker when deciding the plan. Experienced employees can deal with important patrons.

9. Use a Shift-Based Model

• Not all the days are same. Some might be busy, others might be dry. The call volume expands when there are promotional offers or new product launches. It is essential that the schedule is flexible and can accommodate minute changes depending on the need. It is necessary that you develop the right schedule based on your employees.

• It is also important that you keep looking for alternative plans. It is vital that the number of staff is directly proportional to the call volume. Therefore, make few adjustments with respect to the breaks, end-shits, login etc. Ensure that the agents are readily available for the clients at all times and hire new workers based on their availability. Have a flexible approach to work.

10. Ensure Accurate Forecast

• It is important that the schedule is based on thorough planning. Often, the call centers make schedules without taking into account the call volume or the arrival patterns. As a result, the office can be either overstaffed or understaffed. While the first case can increase your cost of production, the latter can result in client dissatisfaction. It is essential that you take into account heavy days like events, promotions or offers and make plans according to them. Any miscalculation with respect to the forecast can damage the schedule. It is also essential that you have a dry-run and look out for all possible scenarios.

11. Teach the Non-Compliant Workers

• In every call center, there are cases of few non-cooperative agents. It is up to the manager to ensure that the workers understand the importance and follow the schedule. It is imperative that they understand the issue and build a proper strategy to resolve the problem.

• Use tables, charts and figures in order to illustrate the statistical impact of adherence to the plan. Apart from this it is important to make them understand the importance of team collaboration.

• Example: If a certain agent is not completing his day’s task and prolonging it to the next day, thereby disturbing the entire schedule. Instead of picking him up, it is better to make him realize how this is affecting not only his day plan but also the entire team’s schedule is left disturbed.

12. Automate the Process

• Repetitive tasks can be monotonous and can affect the productivity of the employee. Automating certain tasks can reduce their workload and they can spend more time learning more about the outbound calling solution.

The best call center software also has tools that generate automated and customized reports and as a result, the managers can easily compare the forecasted with the actual call volume. It can also help them to generate accurate predictions and thereby ensure proper agenda building.

13. Incentives

• Nothing works better than rewards for recognizing the hard work of the caller. This not only motivates them to continue working with dedication but also infuses confidence. While constant evaluation of their calls can make them frustrated, incentives and rewards make them feel respected.

• Small rewards like a bonus, a weekday off or an office promotion can promote them to do qualitative work. This will not only encourage the employees whose efforts are recognized but also those who do not have an excellent track record as this will persuade them to push their boundaries.

14. Review the Tools

• Check out the outbound call center software that you use. An updated solution can facilitate schedule adherence tracking. While few of them have automated procedures, others are often mechanical. Look for which suits your needs best.

• Ensure that the telemarketing software that you buy is easily navigable and is uncomplicated. This makes it simpler for the agents to work and carry out their schedule. Also, make sure that you have tools like automated alerts, pop-up notifications, and real-time dashboards in order to facilitate better management.

15. Measure and Monitor

• It is important to check whether the workers are sticking to their schedule and how they are performing. With real-time reports and recordings, the admin can easily find the information about the agent statuses. It is important that you use this data to ensure that the workers spend their time in a more productive manner and not in idle gossip.

• It also guarantees that the employees do not take a longer break than the stipulated time. The reports generated from the evaluation can be used for coaching sessions and can also help in providing regular feedback to improve the performance.

Optimizing compliance is one of those challenging tasks for the managers, which when executed in the right manner can work wonders for the call center. All that is needed is cooperation, strategic and well-thought approach coupled with a suitable cloud contact center software.