Agent Schedule Preferences: The softer side of scheduling.

We recently released the Agent Preferences feature for Interaction Optimizer so I thought it would be appropriate to blog about some of the benefits of using preferences as a scheduling method.  In addition to preferences, there are several methods of assigning schedules in the contact center including skills-based scheduling, shift-bidding and random assignment.   Regardless of which one you use, schedule assignment can be a very sensitive subject and if done poorly, it can even cause employee dissatisfaction and attrition.  At the end of the day, there will always be a business need to be met and not everyone can always get exactly what they want but using preferences can help soften the scheduling process and can even help improve other areas of the business.     

First and foremost, using preferences allows your agents to have a voice in the type of schedule they will be assigned without sacrificing schedule efficiency.  Depending on the process you use for schedule ranking (i.e. tenure vs. performance vs. both) preferences can also have benefits in a few unexpected places. 

For contact centers that use tenure for schedule ranking, preferences can help motivate agents to remain with the contact center for a longer period of time since the longer they stay, the better their schedule will get.  This helps reduce the attrition rate as it encourages newer agents to stay longer in order to achieve their preferred schedule while also encouraging tenured employees to stay longer to maintain their preferred schedule.   

For contact centers that use performance for schedule ranking, preferences can be a great way to emphasize your core performance metrics and can help improve overall performance in quality, efficiency, customer satisfaction and even compliance.   A “good” work schedule is a highly coveted thing in the contact center so using performance-based scheduling with preferences can really increase the focus and impact on overall performance management while also minimizing the risk of attrition. 

These are only a couple of the methods of schedule assignment but I would love to hear from some of you.  What method are you using to rank your agents for scheduling and how many of you are already using agent preferences to gain some of these benefits? 

Troy Plott