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Don't Allow Exceptions to Knock Your Call Center Out of Adherence

October 10, 2012
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While a well-run call center has many goals, one of the trickiest to achieve is getting workforce management right. Specifically, the hardest part is maintaining adherence goals. Each call center manager or workforce management manager likely has a different way of sticking to adherence as closely as possible. Chances are, however, many of these adherence calculation processes are complicated and take a great deal of time.

Lane Winward of cloud-based contact center solutions provider inContact recently blogged about the topic, breaking it down to the most basic explanation. He noted that building a schedule is a complex process.

“By using state of the art complex calculations and specific histories it is possible to make very precise future predictions of when your business contacts will come in to be serviced. With these predictions you can be very exact about scheduling the proper amount of your staffing resources to handle all incoming or outbound contacts at the proper time. Such a carefully computed staffing schedule can be efficient, money saving, profit producing, and even payroll reducing.”

But, noted Winward, what good is such a well-built schedule if no one sticks to it? No one intends to remain out of adherence, but contact centers are busy, unpredictable environments and things happen that are beyond the control of the schedule manager. Winward notes that there are “so often many legitimate reasons for pulling agents off of the phone to complete work that did not involve specifically handling contacts,” such as coaching sessions, awards sessions, discipline sessions and research sessions.

The problem is that, just because agents are off the phones for good reason doesn’t mean it won’t wreck adherence. Winward provides a few quick simple rules that contact centers should follow to better handle exceptions and not allow them to knock adherence.

1.       If adherence exceptions are given, do not be fooled by the high adherence numbers, he writes. Whether someone is pulled off the phone for call avoidance or for legitimate processes, they are still off the phone when the schedule requires them to on the phone.

2.       Though it is not possible to eliminate the need for adherence exceptions from most environments, it is always possible to streamline and cut back on what seems to be necessary reasons for not adhering. Essentially, it is always possible to "wring the water" out of your justifiable adherence exceptions (not to mention the non-justifiable).

3.       When attempting to raise adherence, more effective procedures will only help so much. Building a cooperative culture with your WFM analysts, your floor supervisors, and your agents in order to harness the efforts of your entire staff in limiting the necessity to get off the phone, will raise your adherence up to the point where that beautifully configured schedule will be utilized to make your entire workflow more efficient.

For more advice on maintaining scheduling and adherence, visit Winward’s blog here.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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