Blog Post

Getting Crafty with Contact Center Staffing

Last night you were given a mandate by senior management to “do less with more” in your contact center.

You can stop celebrating now – it was just an “opposite” dream.

Back to reality.

Contact center professionals have historically had to devise ways to do more with less. The economy being down for the count hasn’t helped matters much. While some managers have resorted to prayer and medication to get through it all, others have rolled up their sleeves and gotten creative.

Especially in terms of contact center staffing. Try as some organizations might, you can’t simply replace agents with machines. The best contact centers have learned to be innovative and resourceful with existing employees – embracing unconventional and progressive staffing and scheduling approaches to get the most out of agents without breaking their backs.

Here are several ways you, too, can get crafty with staffing in your contact center to drive the sort of success that upper management demands and that customers expect.

4 x 10 workweeks. Many centers have introduced 4 x 10 workweeks (four 10-hour days) to the agent scheduling mix, thus enhancing coverage in the contact center during peak periods while simultaneously making agents happy with an extra day off. Schedules can be arranged so that the center has all hands on deck on the busiest days, like Mondays. And since 4 x 10 stints are popular, centers find that they have plenty of senior agents working through the evening, thus ensuring that service quality and efficiency doesn’t go down once the sun does.

Agent reserve teams. The contact center loses many of its best agents to internal departments like Marketing and Sales all the time. Crafty managers know how to steal them back – at least temporarily. Creating a crew of former agents who can help out on the phones during unexpected call spikes is a great way to keep service level without having to enter into a complicated outsourcing arrangement. It also brings some welcomed job diversity to those who serve on the agent reserve team, who more than likely miss their headset a little. After all, you can take the boy or girl out of the contact center, but you can’t take the contact center out of the boy or girl.

Home agents. I can’t say enough about the home agent model. When carried out with care, no other staffing approach has as big an impact on agent engagement, retention and performance, or on the center’s ability to staff flexibly and cost-effectively. The center is able to attract and keep top talent who rarely if ever call in sick and who don’t mind being “on-call” on occasion if it means getting to work in their pajamas every day. And kicking agents out of the contact center means the contact center facility needn’t be so big – and rent so expensive. Plus it’s all seamless to the customer, except for the fact that they might note a little extra joy in the voice of the agent with whom they’re interacting.


About the author

Author of Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact. He has written hundreds of feature articles, case studies, blog posts and research reports on contact center best practices trends and challenges. He is founder and principal of Off Center, which provides a variety of resources to educate, inspire and entertain contact center professionals. Levin is the former editor of ICMI’s pioneering publication Service Level Newsletter, as well as its highly regarded follow-up journal Call Center Management Review.

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