20 Tips On Forecasting & Scheduling Home-Based Call Center Agents

Regardless of the best call center software that your company is used to having, the most obvious challenge any company can have with the much debatable Home-based Agent Model is that a trained supervisor cannot simply walk over to an agent and peer over his or her shoulder in order to completely determine what’s going on.

The ability for the home based users using the call center software to act directly and spontaneously is highly changed in a totally virtual environment, and experienced supervisors may be highly concerned about managing what they cannot see and understand.

The evolution of cloud call center software solutions has immensely accelerated the work from home trend, as it is useful in providing the same sort of service capabilities to an agent’s home computer and therefore they can be accessed at the call center itself.

It is important to understand that without proper coaching agents based from home cannot be successful. Remote location coaching will require the usage webcam and the computer.

Everything that will be used in the coaching session should be available to the agents electronically, and the ad-hoc tutoring will have to give way to a planned and a scheduled training session.

Under certain circumstances, it is important for you to train your agents and make them as multi-skilled as possible. The purpose of cross training will come extremely handy when there are some agents that are absent and others that will feel the need to fill their positions capably.

Moreover, you should also look forward to adopt skill-based routing in order to lessen the number of agents that are needed for handling the call volume. With manifold skills of your multiple agents, the productivity gain of the call center can easily shoot up by lofty 10-15 percent.

Even with the emergence of big data and analytics software that claims to be automatized, it has been often observed that not many call centers are using call center metrics to its fullest possible potential, which is a waste of time and revenue.

Some of the call metrics that should be analyzed should definitely include the following: agent utilization, first call resolution, call abandonment rate, annual agent turnover, the average speed of answer, and agent occupancy as well.

Also, there are multiple agent schedule management applications that agents and managers can fully access from any electronic device, at any time and at any place at that, all thanks to the advancement of technology.

These mobile apps have several inbuilt real time message notifications that are useful to be used in picking up an agent for a shift, call in sick, or to submit plan leave requests.

With these sort of dilemmas in mind, I created a list of tips that will help you understand the common challenges that could crop up, as well as tips that can be applied in order to handle them.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list:

1. Apart from the proper coaching sessions, motivation and teamwork essence must also be provided. Motivating the staff and fostering a healthy team spirit is an important managerial function.

Processes must be put into place to help ensure home agents are aware of what exactly is expected of them and how well they are performing against the expectations set by the company.

2. Training is an integral part of maintaining the performance level of the home based agents. In theory, in the most extreme of a great home agent scenario, a hiring manager may never see the person hired to be an agent in the contact center. In such a situation, it is important to conduct weekly training to help these agents.

In such a situation, it is important to conduct weekly training to help these agents.

3. An applicant should be instructed to visit the local center for employment screening, and upon acceptance of the role they interviewed for, they should be emailed links to eLearning courses and sessions with a proper deadline that will be specified for completion of the hiring process.

4. Upon successful testing the new agent, they should be certified in the basic skills and offered to join the team. Over time, the agent should be receiving updates on company policies and procedures through various eLearning sessions at his or her workstation at home, without setting foot in the contact center itself.

5. Consider using part-time workers and non-standard scheduling, as they have been shown in reducing contact center costs greatly by enabling call centers for better alignment of their workforce.

6. However, it is inevitable that there will be many agents who will resist in alternative scheduling practices. In such cases, using split shifts and part-time work can be the most effective, even though it can place cost burdens on employees for a short time.

7. It is important to choose agents who will be willing to work non-standard shift assignments because they will have no commute time and enjoy rather related, tangible financial benefits. This will save unnecessary cost burdens by the company.

8. In return for this financial benefit, the contact center should hire agents who are willing to work with flexible scheduling. Depending on the proper scheduling, a rigorous work at home program could yield significant labor cost with the help of schedule flexibility.

9. Influence competition by regularly updating home-based agents with regular agents to get them have a better idea about their performance. Install software that could do this through a call center software comparison to have a better idea about them.

10. Browser-based adherence management for agent phone work and PC desktop activities is critical for maintaining the performance of your call center agents based from home. It will allow the experienced supervisors to track home based agents’ adherence to schedule properly.

11. Many companies have discovered several advantages of virtual call centers such as the cost reductions and a more flexible scalability hence this is something you should definitely look into for a different option.

12. Virtual call center use call center management software that eliminates the amount of time and costs needed to pay additional effects to employees such as travelling costs and so on.

13. Forecast simulations can be run in the home computers in the same way as with an office based workforce, and therefore scheduling with them will be easier because of greater agent availability from home.

14. Managers can create a large pool of backup telecommuting agents for different times of increased customer call volume, peak calling seasons such as holidays, or for when there are just too many unexpected absences within the company.

15. With an automated call center software solutions, managers will receive the same amount of detailed reports and real-time information on employee performance, agent activities, their shift assignments, and so on, so it becomes easier to handle agents based from home.

16. Moreover, for any company supervisor, it is important to always make an effort in order to introduce a host of incentive schemes for peak times that will keep agents based from home motivated and focused throughout their shift, so that they put in their best foot forward and give their hundred percent shot to make their customers feel satisfied, like they usually would from the company’s regular customer service agents.

17. While considering call center agent scheduling with regards to home based agents, managers should have a good grip on the diverse amount of skills that the agents have and the specialization that they possess.

18. Considering their strong points in order to maintain a great schedule that will not only cater to the specific areas of interest but also make certain that they complete their tasks with a great amount of concentration.

19. Managers should be skilled in realizing the importance of managing breaks, lunch times, trainings, team meetings, and after call activities, while at the same time ensuring that there are regular agents to handle calls and take care of customer issues and queries.

20. Rotating the agents will lead to a proper reduction in shrinkage and also improve the adherence to the schedule. Agents, both home based and regular will eventually realize the significance of every minute they spend at the call center and learn quickly on how to manage their time more effectively.

The Case Study

I firmly believe that tips alone do not work if applied thoughtlessly, to run any successful business, you should be able to understand all the techniques and then decide what will work the best for your company.

For example, looking at the specs of a particular software and immediately buying it for your company will ensure that the software doesn’t work.

In order to truly decide if it will go well with your company or not, it is important to test it out by checking out not just the call center software pricing but also real life applications of it.

So, in order to help you decide if these tips will actually work in solving the issues you have at the moment, I will provide you with a case study for your perusal, so that you may study it and understand how far these tips actually work.

The case study we will study today is of an anonymous company that I will call TRD for convenience. In this case study, we will study about the problem scenario, the challenges that the company faced, the solutions that they came up with in regards to the challenges, and the results of the solutions.

The Problem Scenario

The company, TRD, is a perfume company, well known for its customizable options. It catered mostly to the men in the business with the aim to provide toxic free perfumes. It was established in the year 1993 and has undergone a variety of change over the years.

However, it made headlines in the recent times for releasing a batch of perfumes that a majority of their customers had allergic reactions.

They had a very supportive customer care team, but in this scenario, they were forced to turn to their home based agents for better support and a twenty-four by seven customer service to address the general grievances.

The Challenges

The challenges that the company faced were:

1. Their main customer service team was getting over worked. They had never faced any such massive out break and were clueless as to how to handle them.

2. Though the company is well known, it is also a small company, meaning a smaller call center with a smaller number of agents. They needed help in trying to cope with the influx of callers.

3. They had to train their agents, both home based and company based, but even so, the agents were not sure of their instructions. Because a majority of them were based from home, they didn’t know how well they were performing.

The Solutions

The solutions that the company came up with in regards to the above challenges were:

1. They immediately went up for screening of even more home based customer agents and employed them with the aim of providing some relief to their main, experienced agents and stopped overworking them.

2. They went ahead and changed a few of the existing software in order to create a better team that would use this software as much as possible to log into their customer charts to provide an efficient call center service.

3. They trained their home based agents weekly in order to help them deal with the callers in an efficient manner.

The Results

The results were slow at the beginning. The company issued a formal apology and announced their 24 x 7 call center service, winning back several important customers of the company.

It took a few months to get the situation back in control, but all the training of the agents helped a lot in dealing with the influxes. What saved the company from going under was the efficient scheduling of agents.

It might look a bit difficult at first to handle all of these tips at once, but you only need to pick out the best and the most suitable ones to actually make these work for you. Experimenting is the key to a better call center business.

20 Tips On Forecasting & Scheduling Home-Based Call Center Agents
Article Name
20 Tips On Forecasting & Scheduling Home-Based Call Center Agents
Every Company must have a Home Based Agent Model by means of the best call center software.