Schedule conformance in call centres

A guide on schedule conformance in call centres
Written by:
Picture of Natasha Ratanshi-Stein

Natasha Ratanshi-Stein , Founder & CEO

What is schedule conformance?

Schedule conformance is an important performance metric in call centre operations, serving as a gauge for how well your agents adhere to their designated work assignments. This metric doesn’t just reflect the efficiency and discipline of the workforce- it directly impacts the quality of service provided to your customers.

In essence, schedule conformance measures the amount of time agents spend on productive work compared to what is expected of them. It gives you an insight into the operational health of your call centre. High levels of schedule conformance are indicative of a well-oiled machine, where agents efficiently manage their time between handling customer inquiries and other designated tasks.

The importance of conformance in a call centre

Maintaining high levels of schedule conformance is crucial for call centres aiming to provide exceptional customer service while optimising operational efficiency. High conformance rates ensure that enough agents are available to meet customer demand, reducing wait times and improving overall customer satisfaction. 

Good conformance helps you manage your call centre’s resources, ensuring that you get the most out of your workforce. By keeping a close eye on schedule conformance, you can identify and address issues that may lead to inefficiencies, such as tooling problems or excessive demands on agents’ time. Doing this allows you  to prevent burnout and promote a healthier work environment. 

How to calculate schedule conformance

Calculating schedule conformance in call centre environments involves a straightforward formula that compares the actual productive time an agent logs against the time they were scheduled to work. The formula is expressed as the ratio of actual productive time over scheduled productive time.

Let’s look at an example.

Say one of your agents is scheduled to work for 5 hours (300 minutes), across live chat and phones. This time doesn’t include unpaid breaks or team meetings- it’s just the time dedicated to their tasks.

By the time the day is over, they’ve spent 4.5 hours (270 minutes) on task. Their conformance is 90%, calculated by (270/300) x 100. 

Bear in mind that schedule conformance disregards exact timings and focuses on overall periods of productivity. As far as conformance is concerned, an agent will show 100% conformance if they work from 9:00 to 15:00, even if they work from 9:00 to 14:00, take a break, and log back in from 16:00 to 17:00. 

Measuring and improving schedule conformance

Effectively measuring and improving schedule conformance involves a combination of clear communication, regular monitoring, and strategic intervention. WFM software which gives insight into your team’s performance helps you understand conformance at the agent-level. 

You should start by defining schedule conformance clearly to call centre agents, ensuring there’s no confusion between this metric and others like adherence or occupancy. Regular assessments can help identify agents or teams with low conformance rates, prompting quick, informal conversations to remind them of the importance of meeting their scheduled work times.

To improve conformance rates, you can employ a variety of strategies, such as adjusting shift patterns to better accommodate individual needs or implementing incentive programs to reward high conformance. Tracking changes in agent conformance rates after these interventions allows you to gauge their effectiveness-  and make further adjustments as needed. 

Ultimately, the goal is to foster an environment where agents can balance their workload and personal needs, leading to improved performance and satisfaction both for the agents and the customers they serve.

Schedule adherence vs. conformance

A similar metric to conformance is schedule adherence. While both metrics use similar calculations, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. 

The interaction between adherence and conformance in your call centre operations represents a balance between precision and flexibility. Both metrics play a unique role in call centre management, with distinct implications for service quality, agent productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Schedule adherence represents the proportion of an agent’s schedule which they stick to- regardless of extra work or overtime. 

Schedule conformance, on the other hand, represents the proportion of an agent’s working hours they complete, out of the total time they’re scheduled to work. 

Conformance vs. adherence in call centre operations

Here’s another example which shows the differences between schedule adherence and conformance in a call centre.

One of your agents is scheduled to work from 9:00 to 16:00. They log in on time, but take an unscheduled break from 13:00 to 14:00. To make up for this, they log back in after their break and work until 16:30. 

  • As far as adherence is concerned, their 30 minutes extra doesn’t count. Their hour-long break means their adherence is 80%
  • For conformance, they were scheduled to spend 5 hours on task and they spent a total of 4.5 hours working. This means their conformance is 90%

As you can see, the same work set against the same schedule can give different adherence and conformance. This is where differences between the two come into play. 

You need to understand which metric is more valuable, based on your individual call centre needs. Adherence is great for boosting standards and accountability for your agents as they navigate their day-to-day tasks. Additionally, it helps to identify stress points of agents who might have tougher schedules or trickier tasks. 

Conformance, on the other hand, measures the amount of work done by an agent. It’s more closely aligned with your service level expectations, ensuring that your agents are getting the right amount of work done, and everyone’s pulling their weight. 

At the end of the day, both metrics are great for optimising your call centre’s operation. Through making these data-driven decisions when planning schedules and assigning tasks, you ensure that you’re getting the best from your agents- and giving the best to your customers.


How do you calculate schedule conformance?

Schedule conformance is calculated by comparing the actual productive time an agent spends on tasks against the time they were scheduled to work. The formula used is: (Actual Productive Time / Scheduled Productive Time) x 100. For example, if an agent is scheduled for 5 hours of work and completes 4.5 hours, their conformance rate is 90%.

What is conformance to schedule?

Conformance to schedule in call centres refers to the measure of how well agents complete their assigned work. It assesses the efficiency and discipline of the workforce by comparing the total productive work time against what was scheduled, highlighting the operational health of the call centre and its impact on service quality.

How do you measure conformance?

Measuring conformance involves regular monitoring of agents’ productive time and comparing it to their scheduled work time. Clear communication of what conformance means, regular assessments to identify low conformance rates, and strategic interventions such as shift adjustments or incentive programs are key to effectively measure and improve conformance.

How do schedule adherence and schedule conformance differ?

Schedule adherence focuses on how closely agents stick to their specific scheduled tasks and timings, including breaks and log-in times. Schedule conformance, however, measures the total amount of work completed by an agent against the total scheduled work time, regardless of the exact times work was performed. Adherence emphasises precision in following a schedule, while conformance emphasises overall productivity.

What is a conformance rate?

A conformance rate is a percentage that reflects how much of the scheduled work time an agent has actually spent on productive work. It’s an important metric for call centres to assess the efficiency of their workforce and the alignment of agents’ work time with planned schedules. High conformance rates indicate that agents are effectively managing their workloads and contributing to the call centre’s operational goals.