Empowering Agents with Performance-Based Scheduling

Agents always want better schedules and leaders always want better coverage.  It’s one of the natural conflicts in the contact center.  Since these two objectives don’t always match-up for each individual agent, they can sometimes try some pretty creative things to get the schedule they really want or need.  I’ve seen some crazy things over the last 15 years in the contact center including agents selling their schedule for a trade on eBay but there are better ways to give agents control of their own destiny when it comes to scheduling. 

“Don’t Try This At Home” Disclaimer:  If you are an agent reading this post and think selling schedules on eBay is a great idea, keep in mind that you may end-up unemployed for that sort of thing depending on your local labor laws. 

If implemented correctly, performance-based scheduling is a great way to give agents direct control over their schedules without sacrificing coverage.  While some agents will certainly disagree that it gives them direct control, in my experience the people who usually voiced those concerns were lower performers.  Of all the groups I would be willing to put at risk to achieve more efficient schedules and provide better service, lower performers are typically at the top of the list.  Is losing an agent with poor attendance and low quality when they do show up for work a bad thing?  Ask your top performers who provide excellent customer service or who generate revenue every day what they think about performance-based scheduling and you will find a great response. 

Performance-based scheduling is a far more empowering option than some of the other choices like random schedule assignment (where no one has control) or seniority-based scheduling (where their best option is to either wait on or encourage someone else to leave.)  It can also directly improve overall performance as agents are not only motivated to hit their goals for things like AHT and Quality but to also get a better schedule.  While performance-based scheduling won’t work in every environment (i.e. Labor or Union restrictions that require the use of fairness or seniority,) it can be used to improve performance while also meeting your staffing requirements.        

It is important to remember that successful implementation of performance-based scheduling requires that your agents understand the “how” behind controlling their destiny.  For example, if you use schedule adherence as part of their performance ranking but they don’t know what adherence is or how to achieve it, they will likely fail to see the value of performance-based scheduling. 

I’d love to hear from our readers on this.  Do you use performance-based scheduling in your contact center and if so, how’s it going?

6 comments to Empowering Agents with Performance-Based Scheduling

  • We’ve seen Snowfly customers offer performance-based scheduling as a "prize" in their incentive catalog that can be "purchased" with award points. Snowfly award points are earned by various activities as set-up by management and dictated by budget. It’s a great way to offer an incentive that does not have a direct monetary cost.
  • Troy Plott
    Hi Robert, Thanks for your comments. The award points program sounds like another great way to incent performance and give agents more control over their schedules. I havent used that exact program before but I have seen similar programs that allow smaller groups of agents to "win" better schedules. One program that also worked for well was an incentive for the top 5% of performers. As an agent, if you were in the top 5% of the department, we allowed you to design your own schedule from scatch as long as it didnt violate any labor laws. It was a very popular program that our agents enjoyed and it drove some friendly competition whenever it was time to assign new schedules.  In the end, any program that can achieve the efficiency you need as a business while also allowing agents control is a great way to schedule.  Thanks again.
  • Jim Z
    I like this concept, but it sounds like most of you are using dynamic schedules, where your agents get their schedules a week or month at a time. Is that correct?

    As much as possible, I like to give my staff static schedules, which don’t change often. Our call volumes don’t fluctuate wildly, so this isn’t a problem. Also, selfishly, building schedules weekly or monthly is a lot of work.

    I’d love to hear more details from some of you that have used performance-based scheduling.

  • Troy Plott
    Hi Jim, I have worked with two companies that also had very stable call arrival patterns and so they too had little need to change their schedules frequently. We typically only changed schedules every six/nine months depending on the stability of our call patterns and there were times where a set of schedules lasted a year before we had to revise them so it can definitely be used in environments where schedules don’t change that often. The main difference from an environment where you change schedules regularly is that the period of performance might need to vary to keep the agents focused. For example, in environments that implement new schedules every week or month, you can probably use the last month or even a specific number of weeks to drive performance. In my case, I used a rolling average of the last three or six months of performance so that agents were incented to maintain high performance throughout the year since we didn’t do schedule changes that often. I am sure other readers may have different suggestions so I look forward to hearing those as well. Thanks again for the post.
  • Lynn Lorrie
    IF no one can bend the system it would be great but when you watch people hang up on customers, ignore customer service and otherwise strive only to get on to the next call, its not so beneficial. You MUST find a way to stop the cheating before implementing.
  • Troy Plott
    Hi Lynne, Thanks for the comment. I agree, if agent performance data is corrupt then it’s not very practical to use it. That’s usually starts with good leadership and it’s critical to ensure that solutions are in place for those types of problems. Those solutions can vary pretty widely from one organization to the next but they include things like a fully developed quality program to ensure the focus is on customer service and not just the next call. There will always be people who try to work the system so ensuring that you have the capability to find and address that is key to ensuring fairness and success with performance based scheduling. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>