The At-Home Agent model has dramatically changed call centers and created a paradigm shift in agent scheduling for workforce management (WFM). Gone are the days when supervisors had to manually create, print and distribute new intraday schedules, and talk to agents individually to solicit overtime hours. With technology now enabling agent self-scheduling, holiday planning just got easier. For centers employing or considering integrating remote agents, the benefits are immeasurable.
Centers using remote agents know the benefits that at-home agents offer through a larger labor pool with more scheduling flexibility. Brick and mortar centers can be confining and limit agent availability while remote agents can be located anywhere in the country. Remote agents are available for hard-to-fill time slots, a feature especially beneficial for accommodating holiday schedules. Additionally, at-home agents are proven to be more productive than on-site agents, with reported increased productivity of up to one-hour daily. Working in an environment with fewer, or no, disruptions allows agents to focus on meeting service level objectives.
Agent self-scheduling tools enable remote agents to pick and choose blocks of time in which they build their own shifts according to established company rules, business needs, and staffing requirements. While self-scheduling simplifies the process, supervisors are still responsible for ensuring their centers are properly staffed, and centers are still at risk for inaccurate scheduling without proper tools. Over- and under-staffing have the biggest impact on a center’s bottom line profits. When under-staffing occurs, the percentage of calls answered within any established
performance objective will drop, resulting in abandoned calls and lost profit. Overstaffing results in idle agents and wasted labor expense.
Holidays have presented special scheduling challenges in the past when agents requested time off and overtime was often needed. Agent self-scheduling tools eliminate the threat of over- and under-staffing by ensuring available slots are filled according to staffing needs rather than agent availability.
With the evolution of the at-home model, agents now have more control over their work/life balance resulting in improved morale and efficiency. Features of the new self-scheduling software tools expand agent’s capabilities by allowing: scheduling through an easy agent self-scheduling tool; a checkout method for self-scheduling to accommodate staffing requirements based on business needs; and schedules to be created in blocks of time to accommodate both the center as well as their personal needs.
Agent self-scheduling tools virtually eliminate complications of holiday and special event staffing, and the need for supervisors to limit agent time off. Holiday staffing requirements can be easily filled with no gaps in service as agents view available time slots and choose work hours compatible with their schedules.
Agents self-scheduling uses a checkout method for self-scheduling to accommodate staffing requirements based on business needs. The scheduling process ensures rules specific to organizational needs are met, including break and lunch times, hours worked, and any other specific needs.
With a limitless remote agent pool, supervisors have: various configurations of scheduling options; simplified staffing for special events and holidays by remote agents with flexible schedules; and accommodation for spikes in call volume on short notice by remote agents, ensuring holiday fluctuations are fully staffed.
Intraday optimization is simplified with agent self-scheduling. When agents cannot fill their allotted time slots, supervisors can notify remote agents and receive help quickly without disruption to service levels. This feature is critical for juggling holiday staffing
issues. Last-minute schedule changes and overtime requests can be sent to agents’ computer screens via pop-up messages. Supervisors can quickly review current-day staffing and recalculate those needs for the day through an intra-day analysis function,
with confidence that staffing needs will be accommodated by at-home agents.
While software tools are available for helping increase agent control over schedules, the at-home model supersedes software solutions offered to on-site agents. Remote agents can create schedules unique to their availability and segmented throughout the day. Schedules can vary on a daily basis to fill any required staffing need, creating a win-win situation for both the center and agents.
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 call centers of all 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 all industries worldwide.