Effective Call Center Management: Adherence to Schedule

Effective call center management requires the understanding and use of performance metrics that fall into four broad categories. Profitability and the customer experience requires optimizing operational cost, responsiveness, efficiency and service quality in support of organizational goals. Measuring those four factors, in the past, required the investment of substantial effort as well as guesswork. Now, technology simplifies the collection and evaluation of relevant data, making possible impressive productivity gains.

Adherence to schedule, an efficiency metric, helps managers evaluate agent performance based on their availability for work. As a result, companies can optimize the use of their human resources and create an environment where agents, teams and customers can thrive.


Defining Adherence to Schedule

Contact center software collects data on employee attendance as well as the activities that occupy agents during any given shift. Attention to adherence focuses on the time agents actually spend handling customer issues versus their expected availability. The information tells managers how well their call center functions relevant to historical and global norms and provides insights for improving agent performance.

Organizations can use historical and global benchmarks to assess their adherence to schedule metric. Historical data can help managers determine the overall direction of their call center performance. A declining value for this metric can help business adapt to changing internal and external circumstances.

Comparing the adherence to schedule metric with other firms can help companies determine whether their call center represents an advantage or disadvantage in the marketplace. Globally, call centers should have adherence-to-schedule rates of 95 percent. This rating assesses the availability of agents for work and, therefore, does not consider employee breaks and call center training time.


Measuring Adherence to Schedule

Adding total call handling and wrap-up time to time spent on other work-related tasks forms the foundation for measuring adherence to schedule. Subtract tardiness, absenteeism, training and break time from that amount and then divide the result by scheduled work time to get a percentage to use for comparison.

Accurately measuring the factors that affect schedule adherence gives managers the ability to make changes that improve call center performance. Misconfigured systems and uncooperative agents can defeat good management intentions and result in wasted time and money. Knowing this, managers must have capable and properly configured call center solutions in place. Also, agents must understand the system and how to use it.


Enhancing Schedule Adherence in the Call Center

Call centers need a high level of schedule adherence to produce reliable staffing forecasts and maximize the utilization of human resources. Companies that place a high priority on this metric can respond to it and thereby increase customer satisfaction rates, employee retention and across-the-board business performance. Managers can use the following tactics to enhance schedule adherence in their call center.


Agents need to know what their employer expects from them, so a proactive approach to training can avoid and resolve problems with schedule adherence. By exposing agents to a periodic review of attendance policies and performance standards, companies can encourage compliance. Furthermore, agents with particular adherence issues can receive targeted training that can improve retention rates.


Firms can create an environment that naturally tends toward efficiency. In addition to an effective training program, business owners and managers should lead by example.In addition to an effective training program, business owners and managers should lead by example by adhering to their own schedules, following through on their commitments and keeping promises.


Contact center solutions can help management identify agents that underperform relative to internal and global adherence metrics. As a result, businesses can take needed remedial action. Individualized coaching can address the particular needs of every agent and elevate the overall performance of the call center.


Companies must resist the temptation to punish employees who fail to properly adhere to their schedule. Although negative reinforcement has its time and place, positive efforts often produce better and longer lasting results. When managers discover agents who are properly using their time, they should make big news out of it to encourage other agents to improve their performance.


Benchmarking accuracy requires that employees accurately report their status to call center systems. If agents fail to log in or out at the right times, their carelessness can affect a slew of metrics, including schedule adherence. To encourage compliance, supervisors should periodically compare agent status indicators in their software with actual activities.


Managers should set well-defined goals based on organizational needs, current call center performance, and the capabilities of their teams and systems. The creation of realistic and reasonable targets for response times, service levels, schedule adherence and other metrics helps to ensure that call centers constantly improve the quality of provided customer service.


Agents that staff modern call centers have multiple responsibilities that can directly affect their adherence to schedule. In light of this, knowing exactly what to do it every moment of the day and challenge employees and lead to indecision and misplaced priorities. Managers should provide guidance to agents that promote adherence to schedule without sacrificing important activities such as employee training and development.


Adherence to schedule affects practically every aspect of call center performance and, by extension, the entire firm. When properly used, technology can facilitate the collection of data used to calculate the metric and guide managers into making necessary contact center improvements.


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