Three Tips to be Proactive vs. Reactive in Scheduling Your Contact Center
At the Society for Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) Annual Conference, they held two, rapid fire, 60 ideas in 60 minutes sessions for tips and techniques in workforce management. I noticed a couple of themes in the 120+ ideas presented. This is the first in a series of three blogs.
Many of the panelists presenting ideas discussed having a plan in place for when things go awry, which they so often do. Here are three suggestions:
Documented Recovery Plans
Document the incidents and steps to take should the same incident occur again. For example, when the flu hits your contact center and almost half your agents call in sick, what do you do? Your Boise site is down due to a power outage—what do you do? It’s sounds simple enough, but in the crush of other priorities, taking the time to stop and put down on paper the recommended steps to take when these anomalies happen can be overlooked.
Up-to-Date Skills Matrix
Create a skills matrix for your contact center staff and KEEP IT UP-TO-DATE. Assign responsibility for the matrix to a WFM team member and review/refresh the matrix on a regular basis, either monthly or quarterly.
An up-to-date matrix makes filling absences or vacancies with the right skills faster and more reliable. You might even expand your matrix to identify explicit back-ups for specific skills. If your matrix can also include proficiency-levels, all the better. Proficiency levels will make your adjusted forecasts more accurate.
Cross-train agents and keep the skills fresh. It makes sense to keep agents focused on what they do well. However, to help ensure you have coverage for all skill sets, it’s best to cross-train agents on a variety of skills. Regularly schedule a portion of each agent’s time to be spent on secondary skills so the skill remains fresh in the agent’s mind.
This can also help provide variety for the agent, and may even lead to career development opportunities for the individual. The example given by one customer was that for an email team of 9, they cross-trained 25 agents on how to handle email. Having almost 3x the number of employees skilled gives the WFM team options and flexibility in filling any absences.
Look for the next blog in this series, Ten Tips to Make Your WFM Team More Effective. If you haven’t participated in the SWPP conference or regional meetings before, I highly recommend you do. Check out the learning and networking opportunities at www.swpp.org.