Some planners seem always to be in control of the situation, while others are frequently in panic mode. This may appear to be the result of differing personality types or even genetic makeup but in reality, all successful planners incorporate a few good habits into their daily routine.
In a large centre, these activities may be performed by separate individuals with responsibility for forecasting, planning and real-time analysis. Alternatively, one person may be responsible for all of them. Regardless of your organisation structure, if nobody is taking care of these key tasks every day, you are missing opportunities to maximise your performance.
- Keeping an eye on the figures
- Reacting quickly and appropriately to intraday issues
- Offering time off at short notice
- Processing holiday requests quickly
- Making time for learning
1. Keeping an eye on the figures.
Check forecast accuracy throughout the day, comparing actual volume and average handling time (AHT) with your forecast. It is rare that variance between forecast and actual is limited to one or two intervals, so the sooner you detect deviation from the forecast and take corrective action, the better. Fore-warned is fore-armed.
How to be a Call Center Workforce Management Superstar
2. Reacting quickly and appropriately to intraday issues
Know which levers to pull when the brown stuff hits the fan - and pull them quickly. You could be faced with an unexpected spike as described in point 1, agent no-shows due to illness or weather, or unplanned technical issues. If the perturbation is relatively minor, surgical adjustment of a few agent shifts will fix coverage issues. If you have agents who can be called in at short notice on days off, that’s a good option. If the problem is more severe, the next step is to re-optimise breaks across a group of agents to provide a consistent level of service over the day. Then you should look at re-assigning activities to balance out coverage across different lines of business. And despite its bad reputation, overtime is not intrinsically evil; when used in moderation it can be very effective in hitting service level goals with minimal disruption. Try not to be seduced into cancelling training and 1:1s; this may appear to offer an easy solution to tactical problems, but by skipping coaching and development, you are storing up problems for the future.
3. Offering time off at short notice
If you find yourself over-staffed, offer time off to under-utilised agents at short notice. Some agents find this motivational and it helps you build up a balance of extra hours for those days when you are under-staffed.
4. Processing holiday requests quickly
Take care of holiday and shift swap requests before a backlog builds up. Getting a quick decision is good for agent morale. And spending a few minutes once a day is much less disruptive than spending an hour once a week.
5. Making time for learning
Read relevant books, subscribe to helpful blogs, use e-learning, join relevant LinkedIn groups and join in the conversations. Attend relevant conferences and take advantage of learning opportunities provided by your WFM vendor. Time management is a particularly useful skill for planners, so set time aside for personal development to make sure that you stay at the top of your game.
In Part 2/2 of this post series, we look into:
- Pulling information that helps you to do your job
- Pushing information to avoid ad-hoc interruptions
- Engaging with the front line
- Learning from your mistakes
- Testing critical changes in time to find and fix problems