Back in the “good old days” of the 1980s, inbound call centers operated on a static model where pretty much the same number of agents was scheduled for each shift – whether things were busy or not.
A cataloger, for example, might rationalize this approach by saying “well, we need all those agents in case there’s a sudden spike in calls.”
Sure, scheduling a “buffer” of extra call center agents was great for customer service – but if call volume was lower than expected, there’d be a bunch of agents sitting around, doing nothing.
And if there was a huge surge in volume, call hold times would increase, sometimes to unreasonable levels, and customer satisfaction would plummet.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any planning. Companies knew enough to schedule more agents in the evenings and on the weekends, when call volume was up, compared to during the weekdays. They also knew that the holiday season, sales cycles, marketing campaigns and other factors could result in increased volume – and they would try to schedule agents accordingly. But this was usually just a “best guess” based on last year’s volume and/or other assumptions.
In those days, call centers didn’t employ what is called a “flexible shift” model – which means the number of agents scheduled for any given shift … depends on the shift. The model they used was not reflective of the reality that call volume is dynamic and constantly changing based on factors that are both internal and external to the organization.
Fast forward to today and this approach to call center scheduling no longer cuts it. Due to the down economy, companies are looking for every way possible to hold down operating costs – especially labor costs – and to get increased productivity out of workers.
That means they want their call center operations “lean and mean” – just enough agents to handle the predicted volume without impacting service levels or c-sat. They also want increased flexibility, in terms of scheduling agents -- including the ability to quickly bring agents on, in the event there is a spike in volume, or to let agents go early, in the event call volume isn’t what was anticipated.
Enter today’s workforce management systems, which are increasingly becoming a standard forecasting and scheduling tool in the call center.
These powerful software solutions sport advanced analytics capabilities that help call center managers forecast, with a high degree of accuracy, how many agents will be needed for any given shift. This is achieved through integration with the call center ACD, or automated call distributor (as well as email and Web chat servers, or services, to track volume for those channels too). By analyzing past call volume patterns, these systems can arrive at forecasts that are many times more accurate than a “best guess” based on last year’s volume.
These systems are essential for call centers with 60 agents or more
– and they’re proving their value for smaller sized centers
as well. In addition, they are invaluable for accurately scheduling agents across multiple, geographically-dispersed call centers – as well as to collect key stats including schedule adherence
To help companies better understand the benefits of workforce management software, as well as to provide them with tips for improving call center operations in this down economy, WFM solutions provider Monet Software has published a free white paper, “Ten Tips to Weather the Challenging Economy in Your Call Center.”
These tips, which are based on input from Monet’s customers, will not only help you run your call center more efficiently, they will also help you improve service levels, boost customer satisfaction and increase revenue.
This informative white paper comes as part of a Workforce Management Success Kit that Monet Software is currently offering for free on its newly-redesigned Website.
The kit includes several other white papers and resources companies can use to improve their call center operations, including, “How to Select a WFM Solution,” “How to Calculate Cost Savings for WFM,” “The Real Costs of Spreadsheet Based Scheduling,” and “What is SaaS (News
)-Based Workforce Management?” It also includes a guide designed to help companies quickly and properly implement a WFM program, called “Fast Track: A Guide for Rapid Implementation of WFM.”
To download a free copy of Monet Software’s Workforce Management Success Kit, including the free white paper, “Ten Tips to Weather the Challenging Economy in Your Call Center,” click here