Creating employee schedules is a time-consuming and often headache-inducing task for any manager, but it must be done. Fortunately, there are ways to make it less of a pain—for both yourself and your customer service agents. And in time, call center managers can improve their scheduling strategies and techniques to reduce frustrations even further.
Cover the peaks: Schedule your top agents to work during the times you receive the highest call volume or the most complicated customer service requests. For many businesses, this may be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but your peak hours may vary depending on the nature of your business. Look at call analytics to determine which times of the day and days of the week are most crucial.
Consider agent requests: As much as possible, consider your team’s requests and preferences when putting together the schedule, and allow agents to create, change, swap, and adjust their own schedules if they choose. Communicate clearly about the expectations and requirements around such changes, such as allowing changes up to 24 hours before a shift begins.
Keep your team busy: Assign your agents extra work to do when they are not taking calls. This helps pass the time during lulls in call volume while boosting productivity. Take into account each agent’s particular skills and experience when assigning extra tasks to avoid overburdening them.
24/7/365: If you’re scheduling agents for a 24-hour call center, you’ll have unique challenges and considerations to factor in to your shifts. First, ensure that your staff is fully aware of the requirements of each shift, as they may differ. Understand the preferences of your current staff, and if necessary, hire new agents to meet specific availability, such as those with a preference for third-shift work.
Crunch the numbers: On a regular basis, analyze call metrics, in-between call work, training and coaching time, and other non-call-related activities. Work on improving your forecasting accuracy, which will help you optimize agent availability and improve your scheduling efficiency. Over time, this translates into less downtime between calls and better coverage for peak times.
Scheduling a team of customer service agents can seem like chasing a moving target—and with ever-changing customer needs, seasonal demands, flu epidemics, and the like, it is. But with these tips, you can begin to develop reliable techniques for creating a schedule that will help your team work efficiently and improve overall performance.