Contact centre scheduling: 5 best practices

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Picture of Darragh O'Sullivan

Darragh O’Sullivan , Marketing

Scheduling is an integral part of any contact centre. It allows surfers (some workforce management software companies call these people ‘agents’ or ‘resources’ … *shudders*) and team leaders to plan their shift patterns in advance, knowing when they need to work, and what they need to do while on their shift.

We’ve laid out some best practices for team leaders and surfers when it comes to contact centre scheduling, so that both parties can get the best out of their scheduling process and delight customers as a result.

Empower surfers to choose shifts based on their availability

Giving surfers the availability to choose shifts that suit their lifestyle is not only conducive to the productivity of a call centre, but it also increases morale, improves work-life balance, and leads to happier surfers.

When scheduling a support team in a contact centre, including surfers in the shift planning and scheduling processes and allowing them to collaborate on the schedule is a no-brainer.

Publish shifts well in advance

Surfers should be notified of their shifts well before they are actually scheduled to work. 30% of shift workers get one week or less notice of their shifts. This not only impacts contact centre metrics (SLAs, KPIs and quantitative indicators) but not allowing surfers to have visibility over when they are working can have much more lasting impacts.

The bottom line is that it has a significant effect on the well being of surfers. If a contact centre has the ability to forecast demand and publish shift plans in advance (Surfboard does it 8 weeks beforehand) then it should be strongly considered, as the positives of doing so far outweigh the negatives. Surfer wellbeing, productivity, job satisfaction, and customer experience all improve.

Embrace remote working

In the past few years, there has been a clear shift towards remote working. Most companies had to transform their workforce from in-office to remote in a matter of weeks or even days. It’s not a fad, remote working is here to stay. One study by Gartner revealed that 70% of customer support agents want to continue working from home at least once a week.

Companies who serve customers globally often need to be ‘always on’, meaning they need to support customers in different timezones and locations. As a result, teams often need to be geographically distributed to ensure that customers are supported when and where they need it. A remote working model allows contact centres to organise their surfers in a way that they cover support requests from customer regardless of their location or timezone.

Embracing the remote working revolution and the concept of geographically distributed teams allows contact centres and support teams to delight customers.

Make team visibility a priority

Contact centre scheduling, in an ideal world, is simple. Listen to your surfers, plan a fair schedule around their individual shift patterns, take time off and breaks in to account, and off you go. Easy.

In reality, it’s not that simple. Teams should have the ability to see who’s working on the same shift they are and the different activities the team are working on (phone, live chat, email, admin tasks) throughout the day. Doing so allows teams to respond to sudden changes in demand and to adapt accordingly.

Giving the support team visibility over the activities and shifts of fellow surfers and managers improves customer support, increases team rapport, and leads to happier managers and surfers. Maja from Wolf & Badger (a Surfboard customer) had this to say about our ‘team view’ feature:

Giving the Team visibility into others’ schedules saves us time, makes us more efficient and ensures a smoother operation.”

Implement contact centre scheduling software

Many support teams in contact centres still use spreadsheets to schedule their surfers. That’s fine in the ideal world situation we spoke about above. But in reality, once things like different shift patterns, multiple daily activities, shift swapping, shift rotations, and changing levels of demand throughout a single day come in to play, the pain of using spreadsheets becomes more apparent.

Lots of companies then turn to workforce management platforms. They work too, so far as they track agent time, monitor their adherence, and surveil their actions. To create a productive and purposeful team within a contact centre, software that empowers surfers with flexibility and autonomy is the most human-centric and strategically sensible way forward.

Surfboards contact centre scheduling software allows managers to simplify their scheduling process while keeping their teams welfare and happiness top of mind.

Click through the Surfboard product to see how it works, or get in touch with us below for a full demo of the Surfboard product.

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