Adherence To Schedule: 5 Mistakes Call Center Managers Make

Posted on: 29 December 2015

Adherence to schedule is one of the most common metrics that call center managers use to track their agents' performance. The measure shows the percentage of the scheduled online hours that the agent is available to work. With strict targets to meet, call center managers need to use this metric to stay in control, but that doesn't mean everyone uses the measure effectively. Make sure you aren't making any of the following common mistakes that can erode the value of this measure.

Inaccurate schedules

The numerator for this measure relies on an accurate scheduling or timesheet software system. If the hours that your system thinks are available are incorrect, your adherence measure will make little sense. As such, you need to make sure your resource management and/or administration team manages agents' schedules correctly.

Common mistakes include:

  • Failure to update schedules to show the agents on unplanned leave.
  • Failure to show 1:1, coaching or training time in schedules.
  • Out-of-date shift patterns that don't reflect the actual hours worked.

If any of your agents or teams report an adherence to schedule in excess of 100 percent, you should know something is wrong. Regularly check your daily reports to spot these errors, and flag problems with your resourcing team immediately.

Management in isolation

Effective call center managers know that they cannot rely on one measure to accurately track performance. Adherence to schedule shows the percentage of time that agents are available to work, but the measure cannot tell you how effective your people are once they log in.

As such, it's important to look at adherence to schedule as part of a broad range of measures, as this can help you track performance issues. For example, somebody with a good adherence to schedule may have an excessive average call handling time because he or she holds each call in wrap for longer than other agents.

Failure to communicate the value of the measure

Adherence to schedule is a measure that everyone in your call center should understand. What's more, everybody should understand why the measure is important. Call center agents can quickly grow tired of numbers and targets if their managers don't highlight the value of the measure.

One way to engage with your agents is to convert the report to a cost in dollars. For example, your scheduling team can work out the cost of each 'lost' minute or hour in your adherence measure daily. You can then communicate this result through team meetings and huddles. Once everyone understands the true cost of poor adherence, your agents may realize the measure is more than just a number.

Failure to drill down

A daily adherence result may suggest there is a problem, but you'll generally need to look deeper to find out what the issue is. In a call center that operates for fourteen hours a day, you may only have an issue in a single 30-minute period, so you need to have the tools to drill down and look more closely at problem periods.

It's important to invest in software that allows you to do this. What's more, you should also investigate trends. For example, if the adherence measure always drops on the third Thursday of the month, you may have an inherent problem with your shift patterns.

Setting unrealistic targets

The adherence target can vary between call centers. Factors to consider when setting the target include the average handling time of calls, the possibility that agents will get long calls and other barriers that mean agents reasonably have to do other things. Adherence performance also tends to vary between agents who work different shift lengths.

Don't forget the link between the target and performance. If the target is too high, you're setting up your agents for stress and failure, so you need to find a realistic, worthwhile benchmark that is demanding and achievable. Remember that you should review and adjust the target on an ongoing basis as required, too.

Adherence to schedule is a vital call center metric that many call center managers fail to use effectively. Make sure you have the tools, working practices and management skills to make the most of this valuable measure.