Setting up the right call center shifts can be a complex, intensely manual process for any dedicated call center operation as well as any business running its own internal call center. Call volumes can be unpredictable, so planning for having the right number of representatives online at the right times is a challenge.
Set schedules bring numerous adjustments and time off requests, and flexible schedules bring just as many if not more headaches for Workforce Management (WFM) teams.
We have pulled together several tips for building ideal call center schedules. We’ll also share some resources about shift bidding and how you can implement this system in your call center.
Tips for Call Center Shift Schedules
Struggling to get your call center shift schedules working just right? Try these three tips.
Identify Employee Strengths
Your call center employees have a range of strengths. You likely have some high performers and some low performers. Some of your reps move through calls with shocking speed, while others are known for empathy and high customer satisfaction scores.
It’s smart to identify these strengths. There are countless times when you’ll need to decide between two employees for one slot, and matching strengths to customer needs means first knowing what those strengths are.
Create Patterns in Call Center Shifts
In most call centers, patterns and routines lead to the best productivity and consistent attendance. These are some of the most popular:
- Fixed shifts: traditional blocks of time such as weekdays 8 to 4, night shift, weekends, and so forth. Employees are assigned to a fixed shift, and that’s when they can expect to work.
- Flexible time: employees work set times during peak hours (say, 10 to 3) and can choose when to log the rest of their hours during non-peak. Employees love it, but managers (and customers) don’t because it doesn’t always work out.
- Rotations: fixed shifts, but employees rotate from one to the next. It’s fairer, but your employees will tend to hate it as they can’t build consistency into their personal lives.
- Split shifts: Workers take a lengthy mid-shift break to attend to their personal lives and refresh themselves. Works well for remote workers but requires creativity for keeping consistent staffing levels.
- Shift bidding: a popular method that reduces manual work and increases employee happiness (more on this later).
Encourage Employee Feedback
Having the chance to offer feedback helps to increase productivity among call center staff and increases staff contentment as well. Just make sure to act on feedback when you can so that your team knows you’re really listening and considering.
One newer approach to call center scheduling is called shift bidding. This system can be powerful, reducing manual work and increasing morale — as long as you implement it right and have the appropriate tools to do so.
Call Center Shift Bidding
Call center shift bidding is a somewhat newer approach to implementing a call center shift schedule, and it has much to offer to call center leadership and workers alike. If you’re wondering what shift bidding is for call centers, here’s what you need to know.
What is a Shift Bid?
A shift bid is an indication from an employee that the employee is interested in working a specific open shift. Within a shift bidding system, all employees can indicate their preferences for upcoming available shifts.
While not every employee will get their preference every single time, most employees get their ideal choice more often than without shift bids. And that leads to increased employee satisfaction, not to mention better attendance and lower no-shows.
How Does Shift Bidding Work?
A traditional call center shift schedule is straightforward but exceptionally manual. Workers are assigned to specific shifts or slots. These can be a consistent schedule, such as weekday first shift, or they can be manually assigned according to factors such as call center shift patterns or anticipated fluctuations in call volume.
Shift bidding doesn’t work that way. With shift bidding, your scheduling team determines how many of each position will be needed for the various shifts and slots covering the next period—but they don’t assign those shifts to employees yet. Next, each employee indicates their preference for shifts during an upcoming period (this is the “bid” in “shift bidding”).
Next, call center software fills shifts with employees according to the rules you establish. These rules can be based on seniority, work performance, or whatever else you establish. If desired, leaders can manually fine-tune scheduling results before they’re finalized.
Benefits of Shift Bidding
Shift bidding creates numerous benefits, both for your call center leadership and for your employees.
- Increased autonomy: employees love having some say in when they work.
- Increased job satisfaction: increased autonomy leads to higher levels of job satisfaction.
- Less manual work: Schedulers and call center leaders save tons of time because they no longer have to build schedules manually, deciding shift by shift who will work when and factoring in dozens of time off requests.
- Fewer individual requests: Letting people indicate their preferred work times allow them to deselect times that conflict with life events (doctor’s appointments, childcare, etc.), lowering the number of individual schedule change requests that come in.
Why Choose Workforce Management for Call Center Shifts?
Shift bidding can be a net win for your workforce and your management team, but by itself, it doesn’t completely solve the problem of manually scheduling who works when. Shift bidding alone tells you who wants to work when, but a manager or shift leader must still make the call for who does work when. There’s also the issue of setting call center shift patterns to create a call center shift schedule that meets the company’s needs — something that can involve a lot of guesswork and plenty of errors if done manually. Contact Intradiem to learn more today.