Contact center workforce scheduling is one of the most complex tasks a manager faces. In order to make the most optimized schedule, multiple details must be taken into account, including team preferences, number of agents, communication channels, call volume variations and customer expectations. Poor scheduling can have a negative impact on team performance as well as contact center costs. While challenging, managers must find the best way to optimize contact center workforce scheduling. Below are six techniques for creating an effective schedule.
1. Hire agents based on how their availability matches your needs. Other details to take into account when hiring and creating a schedule include agent skill level, specializations and types of contact to be handled.
2. Schedule your principal group of top agents to work during the business hours of the timezone of your biggest customer base.
3. Give agents flexible options when choosing their schedules, like working longer shifts for fewer days or adjusting start and end times. Certain agents should also be allowed to swap schedules with each other, so long as contact center needs continue to be met.
4. If there’s an unexpected need to keep contact agents on the floor, use real-time metrics to find the best way to adjust and reschedule the day’s breaks, meetings, training sessions and post-call tasks.
5. Setup a group of on-call agents who are able to work from home immediately if they’re needed in a pinch.
6. Test various strategic scenarios by creating multiple models with differing variables. Experimenting with alternative scenarios makes it easier to figure out the best trade-offs and enables managers to make quick decisions when necessary. Scheduling components to test include:
• Call routing alternatives, including skill-based routing and overflow procedures.
• Policy changes, including breaks and timing of non-call work.
• Specialized vs. pooled agent groups.
• Schedule horizon, i.e. scheduling far in advance while still maintaining accuracy.
• Shift swapping policies to remain flexible while having needs met.
Workforce scheduling is an ongoing process as seasonal demands, customer needs, contact methods and agent availability shift. Monitor call metrics in order to adjust schedules as needed. Instead of using antiquated scheduling techniques, like spreadsheets, rely on smart software that has a database with essential real-time metrics. Non-call activities, like after-call work, training and coaching sessions, and break durations should all be taken into consideration.