9 Clever Ways to Improve Agent Schedules

Calendar and alarm clock on yellow background - schedules concept
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Is your lack of flexibility harming your CX and pushing your agents towards the door? Empowering your agents can make the world of difference!

That’s why we’ve rounded up 9 top tips from our recent webinar on Beat Attrition! Quick Wins for Empowering Your Agents to give you inspiration on ways to give agents more control – from Donna Fluss, Founder, DMG Consulting LLC, Andrea Matsuda, Head of Product Marketing, NICE, and our webinar audience.

1. Work With Agents Who Are Always Late – Don’t Punish Them!

Andrea Matsuda at NICE
Andrea
Matsuda

When you’ve got people who are consistently late, this can quickly result in a domino effect of them going on warning and even exiting the business.

Instead of jumping to conclusions and punishing agents from the offset, give them more control of the situation by talking to them first!

There’s a high chance you’ll find that the reason behind their behaviour is that the schedule they are on just isn’t working for them (for example, it doesn’t align with their local public transport timetable). This way, you can work together to find a positive solution that works for everyone.

Contributed by: Andrea MatsudaHead of Product Marketing, NICE

2. Have a Pre-Prepared Early Leavers List for When You’re Quieter

We offer different start times to suit individuals, shift-swaps (self-service), and early leavers lists for when we are quieter to give agents more control over their working day.

Contributed by: Suzan, who won the winning tip on the webinar

3. Run Pilot Groups to Secure Management Buy-In

It can be really tough to get management buy-in to offering agents any kind of schedule flexibility – especially against concerns for meeting service levels.

A great way to overcome this is to run a pilot group to prove that it works.

4. Stop Forcing Agents to Waste Annual Leave on Dentist Appointments

If you’re currently expecting agents to use their annual leave for dentist appointments (and similar health check-ups) why not consider introducing more flexibility instead?

It’s far better for the agent to work an extra hour on another day to make up for the lost time – whilst still covering the business needs – than to waste a whole day of annual leave that could be better spent recharging.

It can be tricky to manage annual leave. For advice, read our article: How to Manage Holiday and Vacation in the Contact Centre

5. Let Agents Set Their Availability BEFORE Schedules Are Created

Before you create your schedules, let agents set their availability. That way, everyone is ‘in the know’ about agents’ availability points (when agents say they are able to work), and the planning team will avoid wasting time scheduling shifts that don’t work.

6. Give Agents the Option to Self-Schedule Their Shifts

Another idea is to give agents the option to self-schedule.

This method also gives agents the option to pick up overtime or take additional time off.

For example, the planning team could provide 20 hours of standard shifts to each agent, then it’s up to the agents to go in and fill in the other hours.

This method also gives agents the option to pick up overtime or take additional time off. When done within the parameters of clear business guidelines, it’s a win–win!

It’s really about changing the relationship and making agents WFM partners.

7. Offer Agents Adaptive Breaks (So They Don’t Feel They Have to Rush Customers off the Phone)

As a contact centre agent, if I am doing my job and I’m helping an escalated customer and the call is going on into my break, it’s very frustrating to be punished because I’m not adhering to my break schedule.

This is where adaptive breaks and lunches (configurable by the business to set realistic thresholds) can automatically adjust the schedule, so that the agent is not punished for taking good care of a customer.

This can contribute to a more positive team culture and stop agents rushing a customer off a phone just to go to break on time.

For first-hand experience of how best to manage agent breaks in the contact centre, read our article: Is It Best to Schedule or Free-Style Agent Breaks?

8. Make Sure Everyone Knows Self-Scheduling Is Like “Bowling With Bumpers On”

When it comes to rolling out self-scheduling options, business leaders can get very nervous, so you need to reassure them that you’re still setting guardrails. A good way to phrase it is to say “it’s like bowling with bumpers on”.

That way, you can reassure senior management that it won’t be a free for all and there will be thresholds and guardrails in place to make sure customer service isn’t compromised.

Contributed by: Andrea MatsudaHead of Product Marketing, NICE

9. Stop Forcing Your Team to Stay Stuck in the Past

Donna Fluss, Founder, DMG Consulting LLC
Donna
Fluss

WFM can get a bad rap because it’s always been thought of as a pure productivity tool, and for a lot of years it was. But no more!

So many of the tools available now to empower agents simply weren’t available 10 years ago.

Thanks to the latest innovations, WFM is one of the most important employee engagement and motivation tools right now that can really turn your contact centre around – so make sure your team are benefiting from them!

Contributed by: Donna Fluss, Founder, DMG Consulting LLC

If you are looking for more information on improving your scheduling, read these next:

Author: Megan Jones
Reviewed by: Xander Freeman

Published On: 8th Jul 2024 - Last modified: 9th Jul 2024
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