Agent roster adherence is a common issue and topic of debate in contact centres. In particular, team leaders and managers want to ensure their agents are actually working during their rostered time and meeting their KPIs. But keeping track of agent activity during a shift can be a very time consuming, challenging and costly administrative overhead.
Here’s a typical example of what can happen:
- an agent might start her shift five minutes late;
- she may then log on to the ACD seven minutes late;
- she takes a comfort break which means she is late for a training session by two minutes;
- and comes back 10 minutes late back from a scheduled break –
resulting in a total of 24 minutes “out of adherence” for that one shift.
Multiply these “out of adherence” events across a centre with dozens of agents – and then multiply that by the total number of shifts – and all of a sudden schedule adherence has become a serious problem. Imagine how long it will take to investigate, log and analyse all these adherence exceptions.
This is where a hosted call centre scheduling solution, like Premier Contact Point’s Workforce Optmisation solution, can save a lot of time and expense. It tracks schedule adherence in real-time and provides automatic alerts about exceptions.
However there are some key considerations which need to be addressed when setting targets and monitoring achievement of the adherence plan.
The two most common issues with agent roster adherence monitoring
Setting realistic targets
In an ideal world – perhaps one where robots work – a target of 100% adherence to a rostered schedule would be achievable. In the real world, it’s not.
Firstly – “what is considered work” needs to be clearly defined when setting adherence targets for your agents.
- Is “work” defined as time spent purely on calls and other channel communications?
- What about time spent on doing administrative tasks, or receiving training?
- What if a team leader asks an agent to do something for them?
- What happens when you have a 5 or 10 minute team meeting?
Secondly – what are management’s expectations and overarching set of objectives for customer experience management, employee performance, workplace culture and other KPIs? Do the targets take these into consideration?
The industry adherence target norm is around 95%. In the big scheme of things – 5% leeway across an 8 hour shift equates to around 15-18 minutes. This is a realistic expectation when you delve a little further into the practicalities of tracking and measuring.
Tracking and measuring
Tracking and measuring agent roster adherence will become an administrative burden if targets are set with very little cushion or buffer in them.
We’ve found that the administrative cost in investigating non-achievement will outweigh the cost of giving agents 15 minutes a day leeway to do things like take a comfort break, take a breath, gather their thoughts or grab a drink.
The point of adhering to the roster is to monitor how well people are adhering to the daily plan. If you keep updating the daily plan with lots of exceptions, then the plan is flawed and will never be achieved. Having a plan which contains a realistic “buffer” makes it much easier to review individual agent adherence of targets against the overall centre performance, and considerably reduces administrative costs.
Putting any new system in place will only be successful if you have the cooperation and buy in of all involved. Agents in particular may consider automated tracking of their every movement to be intrusive and a bit “big brother”.
To minimise backlash and improve the transition and management process, we recommend the following:
- Involve representatives from each stakeholder group (agents, team leaders, IT, admin staff, HR etc) in the planning and implementation process.
- Provide information which explain the implications that poor adherence to rostered schedules has on the enterprise – how a mere 10 minutes here and there impacts other agents and the entire contact centre performance. Also educate stakeholders in the administration difficulties associated with tracking, investigating and reporting using your current systems and how automation will significantly reduce this burden. When people are informed and understand the “why” behind decisions, they’re much more likely to buy in and participate with solving the issues.
- Get stakeholder involvement with setting targets that will comply with corporate objectives and be achievable.
- Once implemented, regularly share adherence reports with teams (including team leaders and agents), review progress and invite feedback.
- Consider introducing incentives that reward agents who regularly comply with targets. Provide recognition within the team and perhaps tie bonuses to good scores. When you make schedule adherence a rewardable KPI, it quickly becomes second nature as it is the easiest KPI for an agent to meet.
We understand that technology itself is just a part of the solution, and that expertise and experience is what really makes it work. When we deploy our Workforce Optimisation solution into a contact centre, our expert analysts work closely with key stakeholders to understand key drivers, and customise the solution to suit their business requirements.