Agent Scheduling: what is it and why you should care

Getting agent scheduling right is critical for your support teams. Learn what agent scheduling is, what to do and what to avoid.

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Agent scheduling illustration

Agent scheduling is at the heart of CX efficiency. 

When people in WFM or CX hear “agent scheduling” they should think of efficiency. 
Done right, agent scheduling can lower support costs and increase customer retention, boosting profits.

But it can go beyond the bottomline. It plays a big part in balancing Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX). So you can imagine that agent scheduling plays a really significant role in boosting performance too.

I remember back when I worked in a contact center. We changed schedules quarterly.
And boy, was it a big deal across the floor. 

For most people, the liberty to choose a schedule that fits their lifestyle and needs is the main motivation to do well throughout the quarter. 

Of course, you’re always vulnerable to the unexpected and the unpredictable. Even the most perfect schedule is likely to face a few bumps in the road: agents calling in sick can cause queues to swell, or volume can sometimes be inexplicably much lower than expected.

What is Agent Scheduling, anyway?

Looking at it, an agent’s schedule isn’t very different to the schedule most of us had in schools growing up:
Specific tasks to tackle in specific hours, with breaks and lunches between them.

Your agents need to know their schedules on a yearly basis (are you open all year round, or will you close in August? When do you expect them to take their vacations? When can’t they go on holidays?); monthly basis (which days are they in and which days are they not), week-by-week (what shifts are they covering) or even down to an intra-day schedule.

Intraday agent scheduling (or intraday staff scheduling) means your agents know where they have to be, what they have to be doing and when they have to be doing it.

It sounds pretty easy and straightforward, right?

These schedules can be carefully designed by Workforce Managers, or automatically generated by a full-stack WFM tool. 

Some basic Do’s and Don’ts: 

Staff unavailability, ineffective scheduling systems, and inaccurate forecasting can impact your Customer Experience, and business in general. So you want to steer clear of all of this.

You should distribute tasks between qualified staff, assigning heavier workloads to competent individuals across all shifts. 

And you should spread out tenured agents and new hires evenly to ensure that workflows will not be disrupted, tasks are completed, and if they need to, new hires can also ask for help from seniors if there are enough of them on the floor during the shift.

Here are a few ways Agent Scheduling can positively impact your operations: 

Customer experience

Done right, intraday agent scheduling brings stability and increases productivity in the work environment.

Because it ensures that the agents with the right skills are assigned at specific times to provide support to enough customers, quickly enough.

Which, in turn, means that when your customers need help, it’s much more likely that they’ll spend less time waiting for someone with the right skillset to help them. It’s true: a seamless arrangement of schedule and tasks significantly reduces waiting time and leads to faster resolution of issues for your customers. 

Conclusion? Your customers have a much better experience.

Growth

A growing organization has growing needs. More customer inquiries, orders, and increasing product development require more manpower.

Having a good workforce scheduling system set up early on will be helpful in scaling and making sure that operations run smoothly despite ongoing changes. 

The complexity of roles and responsibilities in a growing organization can sometimes overlap too. This can lead to a decrease in efficiency among employees. 

Staff scheduling can help avoid this by regularly tracking queues, schedule adherence, and other metrics to ensure that the right roles are assigned in the right numbers per schedule

Employee Experience

It is good for your employees to have clear ideas of what they have to be doing, It removes confusion and reduces stress. Plus, it’s great if they know that their schedule and task assignments were arranged fairly and without bias to any employee. 

Let’s be honest, who would want to work for an organization that plays favorites, right?

Remember that Support Agents with good morale show up and perform tasks better.
And that this often translates to a significant increase in customer satisfaction.

So an efficient and fair scheduling enhances employee experience, and the customer experience too.

About Tymeshift:

We’re Tymeshift, an effortless WFM solution made exclusively for Zendesk to make workforce managers’ lives easier. Our workforce management tools include shift scheduling, forecasting and analytics. A perfectly intuitive Zendesk integration makes your CX agents’ lives easier. Learn all there is about us and our product on tymeshift.com

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