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How to Tackle Call Center Workforce Management

By: Bob Dunmire on April 17th, 2019

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How to Tackle Call Center Workforce Management

Contact Center Management

Call center workforce management is a helpful tool for scheduling and supervision. Thanks to the nature of the business and technology in general, call center managers have an unprecedented amount of information about their agents’ activities and the call volume they receive. This information can give them an opportunity to truly excel, but only if they are paying attention to the data.

 

Accurate Data

The best way to begin tackling your call center workforce management is by ensuring that you are collecting accurate data about your call center activities, call volume, and ability to resolve customer issues. Start by collecting data about daily workings such as staff utilization, the average call length, the number of calls received/placed, the intervals of the call arrivals, and so on. From here, you will want to be able to look at each metric on an hourly, daily, and per-agent basis. At its most basic, daily data can be used to help your managers plan meals and breaks and other off-call activities, such as coaching or additional training.

Next, you will use this data to build a forecast for weekly and monthly volume. Once you have some data with which to work, you can start forecasting appropriately.

 

Forecasting

While your call volume may feel erratic sometimes, if you analyze the data, you will start to see trends emerge. You will see patterns relating to certain hours, days, weeks, times of the month, seasons, and even events, that will help you determine when you need to schedule your call center agents to be available for calls. Correct forecasting is a necessity to properly staff to meet service levels without overpaying by having too much support for a given interval. At GCS, we create itemized staffing plans for the upcoming month, listing need by job function and title, as well as the composition of full-time and part-time workers so that we can plan ahead and acquire additional agents as necessary. We want to make sure there is adequate coverage for peak days as well as peak hours. This type of forecasting lets us spot the necessity for contingent agents far in advance of our clients’ actual need, giving us time to train and hire extra personnel.

 

Continued Training

You want to make sure you are scheduling your agents during the right times to capture as much call volume as possible with minimal wait times, but that is not your only concern. Off-call activities still need to be considered. Ideally, you don’t want workers taking breaks when call volume is at its heaviest. Make sure to add off-call time for training and coaching as well.

As a rule, GCS agents receive coaching daily. We want every customer service representative and phone-based salesperson on your project to know exactly what they are doing wrong, what they are doing right, and how they can improve. To this end, we offer daily coaching with our trainers and online training modules they can take when call volume is slow. We have found that this type of continued training helps agents develop and refine the soft skills that make a real difference when speaking with customers and resolving issues or making a sale. In addition, ongoing training helps to keep our customer advocates more engaged and involved with the success of our client projects.

Also, consider cross-training your agents. At GCS, we find that one of the best ways to maximize productivity is to cross-train our customer advocates so that they can handle multiple call types. For instance, the agent’s language can be a call type. When we hire bilingual workers to help manage call volume from non-English speakers we make sure that they are also fluent in English. This way, our bilingual agents can manage two call types. They handle Spanish calls as needed, but are also available to help out with English call volume during peak times.

 


The Complete Guide to Call Center Services

What you NEED to know about the different call center services available to you

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Scheduling

Your schedules should be based on call volume. This does not always translate into traditional shifts. Depending on your business and industry, you might find that you have a real need for live-agent customer support in times that fall outside of normal business hours. If that is the case, you need to create schedules to match those time slots rather than expecting your customers to call in at a time that is more convenient to your company and its workers. Then you match agents to the schedule. This can be done either by strict assignment of each agent to a schedule, or as is the growing trend, allow agents to sign-up for the schedules that work for them. The key thing is the Workforce Management has forecasted your agent need for specific times.

At GCS, we think that schedules should be reviewed daily. While we do schedule agents up to two weeks out, that is for their convenience. We don’t go past that because it is too difficult to foresee the needs of our clients’ projects until we have a larger bank of historical data. Up until the publish date of our staffing schedules, our managers tweak times and dates so that your customers never have to wait on hold longer than is absolutely necessary and you don’t end up with agents sitting around without calls.

 

Schedule Adherence

Schedule adherence is a measure of how often your agents follow their schedules. It answers questions as to whether your workers show up for their shifts on time, if they take their breaks when the schedule dictates, how often they are unavailable to accept a customer’s call, and how that figure compares to the amount of time they spend actively speaking with customers. Tracking this information will help your managers see exactly who is not in compliance, approve exceptions to the established schedule, and take corrective action with agents who continually do not comply.

Workforce management tools also allow you to use “Swaps.” Swaps are a way to encourage schedule adherence. In a swap system, agent schedules are made public so that your workers can personalize their schedules by swapping days and times with other agents. This helps the agents manage personal events while ensuring there is adequate staff to manage the customers.

 

Go Further

Having the right software is a step in the right direction, but it is not the only thing you need to do if you want to tackle call center workforce management. At GCS, we use a premier enterprise workforce management (EWM) product called Pipkins Vantage Point for all of our clients. It combines forecasting with planning and scheduling while providing reports on real-time adherence (RTA), and attendance. It also has helpful overall communication tools. We use the iPipkins platform and plug in historical data and additional metrics that we know to be strong indicators of project success. This helps our clients achieve a level of comfort and trust that any project GCS runs is operating at peak efficiency.

Let GCS help you tackle your call center workforce management. We can eliminate your staffing headaches and manage your call center for performance success. Learn more in The Complete Guide to Call Center Services.


The Complete Guide to Call Center Services

What you NEED to know about the different call center services available to you

Learn more