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Schedule Adherence

Schedule Adherence is a metric revealing whether or not call center agents are adhering to their assigned schedules. The metric is defined as a percentage of the working day where an agent is available for calls.

Schedule Adherence plays an important role in call center performance.  Low adherence rates could result in poor customer service. The metric helps companies understand how to better optimize resources.

How Schedule Adherence Works

The Schedule Adherence metric is typically measured using the following equation:

(Call Handling Time + Post-Call Work Time + Other Work Related Activity Time) – (non-work related activities + break time)

Scheduled Time

= Schedule Adherence

A high adherence rate indicates that agents are sticking to their schedule and offering customer service when expected. During an 8-hour day, agents can’t be expected to always be on the phone taking or making calls. Otherwise, they burn out and become unproductive.

This is why an adherence rate of 100% is unrealistic. Most call centers aim for an Agent Schedule Adherence (ASA) score just below 100%.  However, if the target score is too low, then companies are operating inefficiently.

Like with other metrics, it is important to establish a benchmark figure. As scores are calculated, companies can then see whether adherence rates are improving or not.

Here are a few reasons companies have reported receiving a low Schedule Adherence number.

  • Agents spend too much time on personal activities, such as texting or checking their email, Facebook or other social media accounts
  • Agents arrive late to work and leave early
  • Agents spend too much time socializing with coworkers
  • Agents change their status to “Away” or “Busy” to avoid taking calls
  • Agents take unscheduled or longer breaks
  • Agents don’t show up to work when expected

All of these factors result in fewer customers being helped. And when there aren’t enough agents to help customers, the agents who are available take on an unfair workload to compensate for absent coworkers. Customers also face a longer wait time.

However, measuring Schedule Adherence is the first step needed for making improvements. If companies don’t measure it, then they can’t fix the problem.

How to Improve Schedule Adherence

Companies struggling with Schedule Adherence can encourage agent productivity a few ways:

1. Optimize training for productivity

Agents should be taught the importance of Schedule Adherence from the very beginning. Teaching them the correct methods during the on-boarding process is a lot easier than letting them develop bad habits. Emphasize how important it is for them to be available for customers.

2. Monitor agent statuses

Using call center technology for monitoring agent statuses helps managers identify how agents are spending their time. Are agents setting their status as “busy” even when they aren’t helping a customer?

3. Coach agents who aren’t adhering to their schedules

Offer productive feedback to agents who aren’t sticking to their schedule. Identify why they aren’t adhering to the schedule and provide them with information for overcoming whatever challenge they may be facing.

4. Create a reward system to encourage productive agents

Offer incentives such as rewards and recognition to agents who set an example for others by being productive and adhering to their schedule. This will help keep top performers motivated while also motivating less productive agents.

5. Make fairness & productivity a part of your company’s culture

Emphasizing how important it is for agents to pull their weight can inspire them to be productive and available when expected. Create a culture of fairness and respect where agents see each other as teammates they want to help.

The Benefits of Measuring Schedule Adherence

Companies measuring how well agents are sticking to their assigned schedules gain needed insight for improving workplace culture and fairness while also taking action to increase efficiency and productivity.

1. Increase efficiency

By optimizing schedule adherence, call centers can increase efficiency as a whole.  Knowing exactly how many agents are available for helping customers enables companies to hire the exact number of staff needed. Meanwhile, individual agents should be working to become more efficient during their assigned “online” time. Individual efficiency can be measured via Average Handle Time.

2. Increase productivity

By giving agents the breaks they need, agents will consequently be more productive when helping customers during their scheduled hours. This not only helps companies utilize resources more effectively, but also improves the customer service experience.

3. Increase fairness in the workplace

Monitoring Schedule Adherence helps increase fairness in the workplace by ensuring that everyone gets the same amount of break time. This helps agents increase productivity since they are neither overworked nor taking too many breaks. It also helps agents move forward as a cohesive team by eliminating any unfairness that could cause an employee to become disgruntled.

4. Improve internal planning

Understanding how call center agents are using their time gives managers information needed for effective planning. For example, if they know exactly how many agents are available to help customers each time of day, the call flow will run much more smoothly and enhance customer service. If any agents aren’t adhering to their schedule and helping customers when they should, managers can take necessary action, so that no customers are left waiting too long.

Why Schedule Adherence Matters

Monitoring Schedule Adherence and working to improve it results in increased happiness for agents and customers. When agents are more engaged, they are servicing customers better.  Furthermore, companies hitting their target SA numbers can utilize resources more effectively and save money.

Want to learn more about what Schedule Adherence as it realizes to Workforce Optimization? Then head over to our Workforce Optimization section.