I started my career in resource planning, not quite at the time when you had to use string and a plastic cup to listen to calls, but not long after.
Big Brother was watching.
My first job was in the Real-time team (fondly known as Big Brother) whose main objective was to don the headset (Britney-esque) and chase agents whose after call work (ACW) was taking too long. Every moment in ACW was time wasted when calls were queuing.
We would monitor the screens, watch for that red flag to show and then pounce. Some of the excuses for not picking up the next call were legendary.
Average Handle Time (AHT) and ACW was a huge focus 15 years ago – indeed it still is – and alongside schedule adherence, these key metrics drove us to breathe down the necks of agents like demented drill sergeants.
Brave New World?
So, have things changed as we approach 2020? Does the Real Time “DJ booth” still exist, or has it disappeared off to Las Vegas with Britney?
Real-time monitoring is still a critical part of the resource planning function, but there is a definite shift from “policing” to “engaging” with agents. This is a seismic – indeed some contact centres have moved away from targeting AHT, realising that it’s actually GOOD to talk, offering each caller the time and service they need.
We are moving away from the school of thought that to be productive, an agent needs to be ready and available as soon as a contact is finished. What if we use the Real-time information in a very different way?
Let’s get engaged
Where they have capacity in a working day, agents can use this for training, take time off, move a break, take an extended lunch. The rigid systems of the past, dictated by others, now seem antiquated.
Encouraging staff to improve their own schedule on their app/desktop empowers them to make requests to better utilise their time. Engaging agents in this process, contributing to their own time management and letting them see how their productivity can improve, is a huge leap forward in Workforce Management.
Engagement is a far more positive and powerful way to manage time and agents than policing ever was. We are at a time when work/life balance is vital for staff retention, but how do we continually meet both client needs and the needs of our employees without continual investment in recruitment and scheduling – well Employee Engagement is proving to be the answer….
I’m off to find my headset …..
Donna Baxter is Workforce Optimisation Consultant at SVL Business Solutions
For additional information on SVL Business Solutions visit their Website