Have you invested in workforce management (WFM) software and implemented cost savings strategies, only to find there is a leak in your plan? Regardless if you are doing everything else right, agent retention is a drain on your budget and can impact your bottom line. Maintaining customer service and balancing operating costs is a tightrope walk and call centers need every available tool for preserving their bottom line. With the right purchase decision, the WFM software you select can also be an agent retention tool.
In the current economic situation, investment in training and retaining qualified agents is more important than ever. Losing qualified agents is both frustrating and costly. Studies show that agents sign on with companies because of factors such as pay, location, benefits, etc. However, they often leave because of human factors such as poor leadership, lack of communication with supervisors, and a lack of perceived value to the company. Agent empowerment has been identified as a contributing factor to retention. Agents who feel powerless in their jobs may tend to leave more frequently.
Critical to reduced attrition is a comprehensive agent retention plan. Part of that plan should include software which provides benefits for both agents and supervisors. Software plays an important role in improving agent morale. Agents who have flexibility with their schedules, and are kept informed by supervisors, have been shown to have a sense of loyalty which directly impacts attrition rates.
Your workforce management software can enable agents to have control over their schedules and reduce clerical tasks for supervisors. To ensure your workforce management software is an effective agent retention tool, it should include the following benefits.
To work as an agent retention tool, agents should be able to do the following in your workforce management suite:
- View work schedules by the day, week or month.
- Request schedule modifications for partial days, ful days or weeks.
- Request vacation time.
- Sign-up for overtime.
- Report absences through a Web browser.
- Swap schedules with other agents.
- Use the vacation planner to check accrued and used time-off, view available vacation slots, submit vacation requests, and add their names to wait lists
In addition, supervisors should be able to do the following:
- Approve or deny requests.
- Make schedule changes.
- Record exceptions with a click; and manage the entire vacation planning process online, including establishing vacation limits, wait lists, and blackout and non-operational days. Vacation limits and accrual hours information should be imported from Excel files.
Electronic bulletin boards and messaging systems can be used to post trade requests and facilitate agent-to-agent and agent-to-supervisor communication. These capabilities lessen the burden on call center managers and allow agents to see how time off is allocated, thus giving agents a certain amount of control over their schedules. Using workforce management software to automate agent scheduling gives supervisors more control over requests and allows agents to have instant visibility into their schedules.
One of the most important ways to empower agents is to give them the greatest amount of flexibility with their schedules. That in itself is a major agent retention tool. A win-win situation can be created for both agents and the company by having a workforce management system which allows agents to customize their schedules to accommodate the needs of the company. For example, if Wednesdays are historically slow days for call volume, agents can submit schedules in which they work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, eliminating the risk of overstaffing on Wednesdays. When agents have the ability to schedule their work in accordance with their personal preferences, it creates a huge incentive for them to stay with the company.
As with solving any complex problem, start with the simplest solution first. Help empower both agents and supervisors by automating the process. This wil create a paperless environment, reduce administrative overhead, and allow agents to perform many of the routine schedule related tasks. The end result is increased agent satisfaction, improved employee retention, quality of service, and the bottom line.
Pipkins, Inc. is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the cal center industry. For the past twenty-seven years, Pipkins has consistently created and delivered superior workforce management products for cal centers of al sizes. Pipkins maintains its reputation as an industry leader with thirteen industry-first applications. Pipkins’ premier product, Vantage Point, is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across al industries worldwide.