Smart Scheduling Improves Motivation and Productivity

Productivity and motivation go hand in hand in the call center. Or at least they should. Too often, both are missing in the call center, or one shoves the other aside. One of the obstacles to bringing those together is scheduling. It’s a kind of Goldilocks dilemma: how do you get it just right? How do you balance high performance and high morale?

Most call centers face a similar challenge. Low call volume in the morning leaves agents unoccupied—off the phone—too much of the time during that part of their shift. Overwhelming volume during midday peaks—every agent on the phone every second—leaves staff without a chance to take a breath.

That’s not an ideal environment for anyone. And it creates difficulties that ripple all the way up the line.

Agents feel it hard. Underworked or overworked, bored or battered: all are deadly to employee motivation and productivity. With traditional scheduling based on traditional call center data, it’s almost unavoidable. Schedules are set in stone, because it’s just too difficult to manage a flexible calendar—one that allows employees to select their work periods, and even stagger their shift throughout the day. Agents struggle to take a day off, or to plan a vacation when it’s best for them. It means that even something as simple as a shift swap becomes a hurdle too large to overcome.

When call volumes overwhelm agents, they overwhelm team leaders too. If they’re too busy fighting to reach SLA requirements to coach and support their team, then they’re too busy to do an important part of their job. The pressure to hit Service Level numbers forces managers to overstaff to meet their targets—a move that can cut deep into profitability. And as I said, using traditional workforce scheduling tools, the complexity and fluidity of flexible schedules are just too hard to manage.

Ultimately, it’s the customer that gets hit the hardest. Overworked and undertrained agents can’t deliver the level of customer service and satisfaction demanded by every customer.

Solving this requires two things:

  1. You need to go beyond the interday analysis of call volume—pulling out patterns from daily or even weekly statistics. You need an analytic engine that can report on intraday—minute by minute—activity.
  2. You have to put in place a scheduling system that provides the level of flexibility you and your team need to improve both efficiency and productivity. With intraday knowledge, that’s possible.

This level of scheduling can’t be done with a grease pen or a spreadsheet. It needs a workforce management system that’s powerful enough, smart enough, and fast enough.

With Teleopti WFM from our partner Teleopti, that engine is in place, and it’s working for customers everywhere. With it, one customer experienced a 6% rise in Service Level (a critical KPI), a 4% drop in absenteeism, 16% rise in retention rate, and a tripling of the time managers spend working with their teams. Bottom line: it was a cost benefit of nearly $300,000. Another center had even more dramatic results. Attrition dropped from 27% to 7%. Absenteeism was slashed in half. Productivity jumped from 69% to 85%. Most significantly, Service Level (answering a call within 20 seconds) exploded to 90%.

I’m not suggesting that flexible scheduling solves every issue with profit, productivity and motivation. But there’s no doubt that it can be a key contributor to your overall workforce management strategy.