What’s Working in Scheduling

In last month’s CONTACT CENTER ADVISOR we talked about successful training methods and how to implement them (see “What’s Working in Training”). This month we’ll discuss what’s working in scheduling.

During a roundtable discussion of contact center personnel during the recent National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment (NCOF)–cosponsored by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT/OPERATIONS + FULFILLMENT—moderator Kathleen Peterson, president of Bedford, NH-based Powerhouse Consulting, identified scheduling as a key contact center challenge. Among suggestions from roundtable participants:

* Allow your customer service representatives to choose their own schedule every six months. Employees earn the right to pick their schedules through quality scores and attendance. In the case of a tie, Peterson advises, tenure trumps all.

* Allocate your resources by urgency of the channel’s response time. For example, contact center calls must be handled in seconds, while e-mail responses can be handled in a matter of hours, and mail correspondence can be answered within a day or two. Staff your phones first. Fill in the less busy times with work on other channels.

* Develop a work-at-home staff. At the very least, they can input data from mailed orders. You could also offer more-experienced agents the opportunity to field phone calls from home. They use a shredder for all notes, and their schedule is the same as when working in the contact center. “The candidates for these positions must be self-motivated,” Peterson says. And enabling some employees to work at home does pose certain issues: ergonomic considerations, liability matters, possible difficulties with connectivity.

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