March 15, 2022

9 best practices to optimize call center scheduling

Although call center scheduling comes with its challenges, being mindful of best practices can help ensure your center is successful. We’re absolutely certain that these nine tips will make everyone's lives easier. Well, nothing is certain. But we’re pretty optimistic… 

Hire agents with availability in mind 

Do you have an overabundance of agents willing to work Tuesday mornings, but nobody who wants to come in Friday evenings? Is it a constant battle to fill your night shifts? Look, we hear ya. 

Hiring people whose shift preferences match your scheduling needs is the optimal way to secure the coverage you need, and prevents a lot of frustration and headaches when building your schedules without constant gaps on Saturday nights.

At the time of hiring new agents, be sure to explicitly keep their availability in mind, so that they can fill the gaps of your schedule, and in turn allow you to keep tenured employees available during peak times. Making sure agents are getting their preferred schedules, whenever possible will also keep morale high and attrition low.

Develop a pool of reserve agents 

Every employee who’s off the clock is not going to be available—or eager—to come in on short notice when an agent has unexpectedly called in sick. Therefore, it’s wise to develop a pool of reserve agents who you can call in as needed. Knowing which agents are on reserve, and notifying them in advance, ensures you can offer extra work to the agents who want it. 

As any call center manager has experienced, it’s important to rely on intraday scheduling to cover unexpected day-of changes in your call center. 

Schedule your top agents during peak call times 

It’s a best practice to schedule your most seasoned, experienced, and efficient agents to work during traditionally high call volume times, whether that’s 9am to 5pm for your call center or another chunk of time. These agents will ensure customers are well taken care of, while also being mindful of the length of each call. Ideally, as newer agents gain more experience, they will be able to rotate in as well to ensure your best agents aren’t constantly feeling overwhelmed only working busy shifts.

Assembled’s comprehensive forecasting experience generates forecasts within 10% of your center’s weekly volume and translates that projected volume into required staffing. This way you can easily identify projected peak call periods, and create schedules accordingly. 

Contrarily, it also helps identify periods of low volume that are perfect for training newer agents without the added pressure and frenzy of a high call volume. 

Offer continuous training  

Ongoing training is an excellent way to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest methods and procedures, but it can be hard to carve out time to have lengthy training sessions for a large number of agents. That’s why it can be helpful to break down training into smaller, bite-sized modules that agents can digest during slow periods.

Continuous training may sound like a drag, but it’s worth it: About 74% of agents say that a lack of training keeps them from reaching their full potential. And it makes sense. Well-rounded, knowledgeable employees are the ones who will have the skills and confidence to better serve customers. 

Increase agent flexibility 

If there’s one thing the working world learned during the pandemic, it’s that a lot of people really appreciate the ability to work from home. A 2020 study found that 70% of customer service and support agents want to continue to work from home at least once a week after the pandemic. 

Also, it’s important to note that schedule flexibility isn’t just about working remotely. Agents want to be able to trade shifts, and actually use their vacation days. 

Assembled’s scheduling experience not only allows for agents to view their schedules, but they can also self-schedule, swap shifts, and even request time off. This access will give your agents more control over their schedules, which helps to improve morale while taking a little bit of work off your managers’ plates. 

Since today’s call center software is secure and cloud-based, agents can really take calls from anywhere. Offering flexible scheduling and remote work is a great perk to keep busy agents happy, especially during unpredictable seasons.Plan for weather, political, cultural, and other disruptions 

Everything from a competitor’s sale to holidays to local events can have an impact on your call center volumes. For example, the managers at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line are definitely prepared for an influx of calls from frazzled home cooks in November and December as opposed to May and June.

It’s important to watch out for factors that could impact call volumes, from wind storms to engrossing current events that distract people from calling in (or compel them to call in droves). When you expect the unexpected, it’s easier to shift schedules around, have agents on-call, and make sure your teams always match projected demands. 

Analyze call center metrics 

How’s your call center doing? If you have a real answer to that question, you’ve got good metrics. Call times, schedule adherence, SLA percentage, conversions, and more, are all vital to understanding your center. And thanks to call center workforce management software, you don’t even have to calculate or analyze these metrics yourself. 

WFM software offers real-time analytics that will reveal inefficiencies, trends in call volumes, areas for improvement or training, and, most important for scheduling, any needs for intraday management. The schedule you made three weeks ago may no longer be feasible when you are in the thick of it—but you wouldn’t know that unless you had actionable analytics. 

For instance, Assembled’s analytics dashboard offers a live view of incoming inquiries, and even uses color-coded thresholds, which enables managers to quickly see if calls have exceeded the thresholds and when more agents are needed on the phones. 

Adjust As Needed 

Whenever you introduce new techniques or software, whether it’s a new mode of communication, a new internal procedure, or a new WFM platform, there’s an adjustment period that should be accounted for. The same goes for scheduling. Anticipate a period of trial and error when introducing your team to new scheduling procedures and policies. 

When implementing a new WFM software, you can customize workflows that work best for your center. For example, distinguishing who should review and approve swap shift requests within your new system will eliminate bottlenecks plaguing your staff. 

Get call center scheduling software 

We’re afraid to even ask, but are you still making your call center’s schedules in a spreadsheet?

This outdated process of scheduling everyone manually isn’t helpful or effective in a modern world. There are tools for that now. Call center scheduling software doesn’t just make the schedule, it offers great features for forecasting, real-time metrics, generating customizable reports, managing intraday schedule changes, and much more. Finding a tool that works for your contact center will not only help you in building the right schedule that achieves your service level goals, but will also keep your team preferences top of mind.  

Get accurate scheduling today & tomorrow with Assembled

Assembled is an all-in-one scheduling, forecasting, and reporting tool. It not only analyzes your call center’s metrics to make a call volume forecast for you, but it takes you from a forecast to a recommended schedule in just a few clicks.

Blazing-fast workflows and automation technology allow Assembled to build schedules 60% faster than WFM software alternatives, and 1,000,000% faster than typing everyone’s name into a spreadsheet (We’re exaggerating a bit. Point is: It’s fast).

The tool easily integrates with Zendesk, Kustomer, Intercom, and more. And with Assembled, everyone on your team can view their schedules, request time off, and swap shifts, leaving more time for managers to focus on employee enrichment and satisfaction.
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