An unscheduled 10-minute break during a typical eight-hour call center shift doesn’t sound costly, but financial implications grow a lot worse when multiplied by an entire call center team and viewed over time. Just 10 minutes of wasted agent time per day translates into 43.3 hours of lost time per agent per year. For a typical agent earning roughly $20 per hour, that’s roughly $866 of lost time. Multiplied by a staff of 300, however, and that number becomes a $259,000 financial loss per year when agents waste 10 minutes per day.
The bottom line: Schedule adherence can make a big financial difference.
Even with smaller call centers, the savings from improved adherence can be significant. A 25-agent call center can save roughly $30,000 per year by improving staffing by two percent and reducing shrinkage by 15 minutes per agent per day, according to a recent white paper by workforce management solutions provider Monet Software, “Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence.”
In the white paper, Monet outlined five steps for boosting adherence and thereby reducing financial loss.
The first step is quantifying schedule adherence levels for call center agents. There’s a simple formula for calculating adherence, according to Monet: [phone time + other work related activity time] / ([shift time] - [lunch/dinner] - [break] + [exception time] + [overtime]) = schedule adherence. This equation probably will require slight modification to fit a call center’s particular requirements.
Identifying the reasons for non-adherence is the second important step in addressing the problem.
“Review adherence reports to identify ‘weak’ agents and to determine the times of day when adherence levels are at their lowest, observe agent behavior, discuss adherence issues with your team, ask individual employees what makes it difficult to adhere to their schedules,” Monet noted in the white paper.
Common out-of-adherence problems include agents showing up late for their shifts, taking an extended break, logging out 10-15 minutes before their shift ends, frequently remaining absent and working from an extremely rigid schedule that is unrealistic, the white paper noted.
The third step is educating agents about the impact of non-adherence so all parties better understand the impact of even 10-minute breaks. Managers can use example reports from their call center to illustrate the effects of out-of-adherence on service levels, costs, ASA and other metrics, according to the white paper.
The forth and perhaps most important step is regular adherence monitoring and reviews.
“Involve your agents during the process when goals are set so that you can get their input as well,” Monet advised in the white paper. “Before you implement a schedule, discuss it with your team and review the schedule. There should be no miscommunication from either side regarding a schedule or else it will have a reverse effect.”
Finally, set realistic goals and offer rewards for good and improving adherence. Define different thresholds for various activities such as breaks, lunch/dinner, login time, etc., and “reward agents who stick to their schedules (95 percent within adherence),” Monet advised. “Bonuses boost morale, increase responsibility towards the organization, and motivate other agents to perform at a higher level.”
Data collation is critical when making a realistic schedule that works, Monet pointed out in the white paper. It is important to do real-time monitoring to see how schedules actually flow, to provide easy examples while explaining threshold limits, to configure schedules according to a center’s unique needs, to factor in areas like call wrap-up and outbound preparation, and to make schedules that support the capabilities of multiple channels in the case of large call centers.
A workforce management solution (WFM) also should be considered as a tool to improve adherence.
“Typically, WFM software can be customized to automate reporting capabilities and adherence tracking based on your unique requirements,” Monet concluded. “A customized WFM software solution dramatically improves agent adherence.”
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