On Aug, 25 2023
Scheduling agents for a contact center has become more complex. Instead of one workforce management (WFM) analyst creating a schedule all on their own, agents now want input around when and how they work. One agent may want to work on specific days, while another needs shifts only in the morning. Others may have the drive to work overtime, while some agents will always decline additional hours.
Given all these preferences, how does a contact center meet the modern scheduling needs of their agent workforce? Below are a few strategies being leveraged today by different contact centers to improve agent relationships through scheduling features and options.
Provide multiple scheduling options – An agent can still be a valuable asset to your team even if they don’t fit into the traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Over the past decade, more contact centers have expanded the types of shifts they will let agents work. Some examples include creating floating, fixed, split, and rotating schedules. Having WFM software that supports split shifts in particular can be an essential asset to maintaining strong agent relationships. This style of shift involves an agent working a few hours in the morning, then having an afternoon break, and finally taking on a few more hours in the evening. It has become popular specifically with working parents. Modern scheduling through WFM software makes tracking and creating split shifts easy and promotes agent flexibility.
Automated self service kiosk (ASSK) – Contact centers are still adapting to the latest workforce trends emerging from the everchanging gig economy. One of the new solutions available is the ability for agents to schedule their own events, such as training or mandatory compliance tasks, directly through WFM software. An ASSK solution will notify an agent of an event that has been added and then request for them to choose when to complete that event, including during off hours. Best of all, their choice is automatically cross-referenced against their existing scheduling to ensure no shift conflicts will happen. This solution places more control in the hands of agents around their day-to-day workplace experience.
Automated schedule adjustment plans (ASAP) – Even the best contact center forecasts can miss the mark from time to time. When this happens, it’s time to lean on solutions like ASAP to staff up or down quickly. Whether agent counts are lacking or in a surplus, ASAP can be utilized to get the number of agents back to where it needs to be. For example, if volume spikes, a WFM analyst can contact relevant agents who aren’t scheduled to let them know shifts are available. They can choose to accept a shift in a single action on multiple channels (such as desktop or mobile) and start working. The inverse can also occur where a WFM analyst can immediately ask specific agents if they want to go home on a slow day. This feature is ideal for improving agent relationships while also controlling costs because it shows how a contact center values the time and work of agents.
Shift and schedule bidding – One of the best ways of enabling agents to work when they want to is through a modern bidding solution. A WFM analyst can quickly create all of the schedules they will need for a period of time and configure them for bidding. From here, through a WFM software solution, agents can log in and bid on each schedule during a short timeframe. Once all bidding has been completed, the WFM analyst closes the bid cycle, schedules are assigned, and each agent is notified of their results. Contact centers can also implement additional steps to further improve agent relationships by customizing the bidding process. They can reward senior or top performing agents by letting them bid first to ensure their morale stays high as they work during the days and times that fit their lifestyle.
To summarize, modern scheduling features improve relationships because they show agents that a contact center cares about them. Having some of the scheduling options listed above in place enables agents to make choices around their shifts so they can find the work/life balance they desire.