How do you know you’ve developed the right schedules? It seems pretty simple. You take the forecast, create schedules, graph the schedules against the staff requirement. If the lines look close, you’re done!
Excel is for Dummies. I heard someone use that phrase a few years back, and it stuck with me. I know a lot of really smart people who use Excel for just about everything. It’s an incredibly versatile tool. It gets used for everything from making a simple grocery list to displaying analyses, to doing complex calculations that forecast using complex algorithms. There are multi-day classes on how to use Excel for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. Excel is for business what flour is for baking. It can be a part of everything.
One of the biggest impacts to the morale of your call center agents is the vacation planning process. There are a number of ways to do this. If you can imagine a method for allotting and scheduling vacation time, it’s probably being done somewhere. We’ll go through the methods a bit later on, but let me start out with why this is so critical.
One of my first roles in WFM was in a business to business (B2B) environment. My company partnered with several insurance companies to provide pharmacy benefit services. This means that if someone had an insurance carrier for their medical needs, they would contract with us to process and fill the prescriptions that their doctors wrote. We would enter into an agreement to provide customer service support through our contact centers. These agreements included “Performance Guarantees” to achieve certain levels of service level, quality and customer satisfaction. The complexity of managing the workforce in the center became exponentially more complex with this external accountability.
The contact center landscape has changed dramatically over the years. Contact centers originally emerged to bring employees into centralized operations, supporting callers more efficiently by leveraging economies of scale. Disciplines in early contact centers were established in a completely different environment to that we have today. Seasoned veterans of the industry who changed companies brought their perception of best practices (which may have become outdated) to their new company. Career employees who never change jobs only knew what they’d been exposed to. It’s been easy for old-school thinking to become institutionalized.