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.