Buying a self-help book doesn’t do any good if you don’t follow the advice within it. Having a nutritionist develop you a tailored diet plan doesn’t do any good if you don’t follow the diet. It goes without saying that you only reap benefits from your investments if you actively utilize them! However, every day, contact centers make investments in technology but don’t fully leverage them to reap the desired business outcomes.
One common example is in workforce management (WFM). You can buy the most sophisticated WFM platform in the world, produce the most accurate and optimized forecasts and schedules, but if your agents aren’t following those schedules, you’re not going to see improvements in service level and customer satisfaction. If the forecast says that you need 10 agents on the phone right now to support the anticipated volumes, but four of those agents are at the water cooler instead of at their desks as scheduled, you won’t be achieving desired business results, or exceeding customer expectations.
Luckily, good WFM solutions provide an easy way to manage this through the tracking of real time adherence (RTA). RTA is one of the most underrated metrics in the contact center, but undoubtedly one of the most important. RTA allows you to quickly see what your agents should be doing based on the schedule, and what they are actually doing in real time, as well as how long they have been out of adherence. Having this insight at a glance allows you to address the issue immediately, whether that be shooting an email or IM to that agent telling them they need to head to lunch or walking over there yourself! Additionally, historical adherence reporting empowers you to have informed conversations with you agents related to their adherence trends and discuss how non-adherence impacts their own performance and your customers. Reviewing this data with agents provides an opportunity to better educate them on the many moving pieces of the contact center, and how accurate scheduling and adherence have a huge impact on the contact center’s flow.
Agents need to understand basic scheduling principals and how they are applied in the contact center in order to get started on the right foot. Sometimes agents don’t understand how schedules are created, and how they are truly optimized via forecasting to have the right number of people, in the right place, at the right time to best support customers. Unless they have worked as a workforce manager before, they may think that someone just creates the schedule ad hoc based on whims! Helping them understand how schedules are created utilizing sophisticated algorithms and scheduling logic may better reinforce the need for them to follow their schedules. Make sure agents understand the direct relationship between adherence and SLAs, which is undoubtedly a metric contact center and organizational leaders alike regularly emphasize in communications.
Once this knowledge base is established, agents will hopefully be more accountable to their schedules and improve adherence. Nonetheless, it is only human nature to revert to old habits and slip up in adherence. Thus, some ways to help drive adherence in your contact center include:
- Post and review adherence results on a regular basis to keep it top of mind for agents.
- Make hitting a certain threshold of adherence a requisite to earn other incentives in the contact center. Following your schedule is the bare minimum for doing your job, so an agent must do the bare minimum before they can start earning extra on top.
- Help agents understand how adhering to schedule benefits them. Being on the phone at the right times behoofs an agent, especially in a sales environment. The WFM platform is scheduling them to be on the phone based on volumes. Help them understand that not being on the phone during those potentially “peak” times can prevent them from receiving more of those money-making calls!
There are so many metrics in the contact center that are beyond agents’ control, but adherence is one of the few they have a direct impact on. Monitoring real time adherence and educating agents on its importance can have positive impacts on your contact center’s performance!