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Managing Schedule Adherence: What Should We Do?

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I have been in the contact center industry for many years – man more than I care to admit, actually.  In all those years, one topic that I continually encounter is Adherence Management, and the best ways to handle exceptions.

How do we excuse adherence events?   Should we excuse adherence events?  Yes, I said should we

I have always been of the mindset that “you never want to penalize the agent”, but, what if we did not excuse adherence events?  Bear with me here. NOT excusing adherence events would give us a true picture of the adherence in our contact center vs. adjusting or fixing the adherence events for the supervisors and agents.

Here’s what I mean.

Rather than entering “late” exceptions or editing meetings that ran over their scheduled time, gain the buy-in from the agents to own their adherence on an individual basis. Make efforts to create the mind set of “I can’t go to that meeting because it is not in my schedule.” Empower agents to make these decisions. Emphasize the importance of schedule adherence.

Another option would be to create separate activity codes for adherence events. For example, a team meeting was scheduled from 2:00pm – 3:00pm and all the agent schedules reflected that (it was a scheduled event) but the meeting ran over by 20 minutes…. I know that never happens in a contact center… right?  But let’s say it happens.  The schedule would reflect a 60-minute team meeting (planned) and then you could either excuse the exception or edit the schedule with an (unplanned) team meeting code.

What will this accomplish?  As the workforce planner, you are responsible for the service goal in the contact center – answering 80 percent of calls in 20 seconds as an example.  You plan enough meetings / time off the phone to ensure your service levels are not too high or too low.  If a Call Center Manager comes to you the following week and says, “Why did we not make service level, it looks like you scheduled too much meeting time last week.”  You will be able to show that you schedule a 60-minute meeting, but it ran over by 20 minutes because you used an unplanned exception code for the 20-minute overage.

This will help you see what was approved by you, and what you were “told” to do. It will also offer a real-time look into adherence events and the effectiveness of meeting schedules.

By taking a different approach to adherence events, rather than simply excusing them, you can gain a more holistic understanding of your schedules and your agents’ commitment to adhering to them.

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John Watkinson

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