Best Practices of Call Center Scheduling

Improve employee attendance

Call center scheduling is one of the most complex and challenging tasks that call center managers face. Its importance can’t be overstated as managers need to accurately assess call volumes and agents’ availability to allocate the right number of the right staff at the right time.

Ineffective call center scheduling is one of the most common factors that damage staff morale, job satisfaction and the quality of service.

In this article, we’ll review the most common challenges of call center scheduling and give you a list of the best practices that ensure the call center’s success.

Key Challenges of Call Center Scheduling

Rigid staff scheduling policy

Rigid staff schedules brought our company a big success – said no company ever. Human capital is your main business force and it needs flexible work organization, including flexible shift duration, shift trading and working from home, to stay productive and satisfied with their jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that 70% of customer service and support employees would like to continue to work remotely after the pandemic ends. The more flexible your staff scheduling policy, the more productive your staff is and the better prepared you are whenever fluctuations occur.

Agent absenteeism

Agent absenteeism is a major problem of call center scheduling, which leads to declined performance, lower staff morale and customer satisfaction. If your call center doesn’t have a leave tracking system in place and a well-rounded leave policy, leave management becomes a mess. Managers have to deal with understaffing and look for replacement, while other agents get added workloads, leading to lower job satisfaction and burnout.

No account for activities outside of calls

One of the common mistakes that call center managers make is that they believe that agents perform only calls and no other activities. So, when building schedules, they account only for call time. In reality, agents enter data, manage correspondence, have lunch breaks and, hopefully, training.

It’s important to prioritize staff retention and job satisfaction by staying up-to-date on agent productivity. Time tracking systems with activities defined by managers, especially those that integrate with current business phone software or other communications platforms, are of great help as they display employee productivity and allow to identify points of improvement.

Lack of historical data

Historical data of call center scheduling is the major tool of any call center manager. It allows you to review previous schedules, analyze staff performance, identify peak times and make better decisions depending on the volume expectations. Without historical records, staff scheduling becomes chaotic, not strategic, undermining team performance, promoting stress and burnout leading to high turnover rate.

Poor leave management

Like any other staff, call center agents want to be in control of their time off and not be afraid to take a day off to recharge, call in sick whenever they feel unwell and plan vacations to maintain work-life balance. To do that effectively, agents should have access to their accrued leave balances and be confident about using them.

Leave management systems allow employees to do just that and promote effective call center scheduling as you always have access to planned and in effect leaves, which helps you to allocate staff accurately.

Best Practices of Call Center Scheduling

1. Implement call center scheduling software

Spreadsheets and paper planners used for staff scheduling are the personal hell of any call center manager. So, your first step is flexible call center scheduling software that meets your business needs. We recommend choosing software where you can create custom shift types and durations, manage user permissions, track and visualize leaves and shifts across the teams, locations and departments.

Shift scheduling in actiPLANS – create custom shift types, assign them across your team and review them on a visual timeline

2. Plan for peak times

Analyze call center software data regularly to identify peak times and schedule your most experienced and efficient agents. Your top agents will ensure full staff coverage and the maximum productivity. However, don’t forget to train and assign newer staff to the low volume periods so that they grow and rotate in during peak time shifts and help your top agents not to get overwhelmed and burnt out.

Call center scheduling in actiPLANS

Сall center schedule in actiPLANS where top agents are marked with the star symbol

3. Track leaves

Leave tracking is essential for call centers as they prevent agent absenteeism, help managers to deal with overlapping leave requests to prevent understaffing and build accurate shift schedules. Leave management systems in combination with well-rounded leave policies allow agents to be in control of their time off balances, take sick leaves and plan vacations, which promotes work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Leave management in actiPLANS – approve, modify or reject leave requests and leave comments

4. Develop a pool of reserve agents

Fluctuations and emergencies happened and will happen – there’s no way to prevent or eliminate them completely. Luckily, you can get fully prepared to meet them if you have reserve agents for backup. Create a list of agents who are ready to work extra hours on a short notice, prioritize staff that work not far from the office or work from home and agree on how short the notice can be.

We strongly recommend that reserve agent management should be documented in the company policy and employee handbooks – this will ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Call center scheduling in actiPLANS

Сall center schedule in actiPLANS where reserve agents are marked with the lightning symbol

5. Introduce shift trading

Introduce paperless shift trading process to allow agents to deal with emergencies and unforeseeable events and minimize unplanned leaves. Call center scheduling software has an edge over spreadsheets as it allows to quickly swap shifts and notifies agents of changes in their schedules with no administrative hassle. Make sure to document the shift trading process in the company policy and include it into employee handbooks.

6. Develop an attendance policy

Given the need to build agent schedules and account for their time off, attendance policy is a necessity, not an option in any call center. Your call center attendance policy should contain rules and disciplinary actions regarding the shift management process, which should also be documented in employee handbooks so that your agents could consult them anytime.

Ready to Improve Call Center Scheduling?

Effective call center scheduling is the touchstone of the call center’s success and should be taken seriously. That’s why we recommend implementing call center scheduling software with leave management modules to keep your agents organized and satisfied and your call center volumes covered.

actiPLANS is a great example of call center scheduling software where you can build shift templates and track agents’ leaves. Create any number of shift types and work statuses, manage time off balances and leave requests and review work time statistics to prevent agent under- and overbooking.

Unlike other solutions, actiPLANS is intuitive and easy-to-navigate. See for yourself – get your free 30-day trial (no credit card required).

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