In the dynamic world of contact centers, the emphasis has shifted from only controlling costs to a more sophisticated approach that balances costs, service level and employee well-being. The challenge lies in creating schedules that enhance agents’ well-being while keeping costs low and service levels high.
Exploring Real-World Scheduling Issues
Recently, at CCmath, we’ve explored a case that clearly shows the scheduling challenges many contact centers face. A client shared that creating schedules was very time-consuming because of the many manual changes, while at the same time agents were dissatisfied and submitted many leave requests. In response, we held a support meeting to investigate these issues further.
This particular contact center operates 24/7 and has agents working across four 8-hour shifts: early, mid-day, late, and night. They followed a rule that required a minimum 11-hour rest period between shifts, but that wasn’t enough to keep agents satisfied. For example, an agent could finish a shift at 20:00, start the next day at 9:00, work until 17:00, and then have a shift beginning at 14:00 the next day. This schedule meets the rest requirement but disrupts the agent’s daily rhythm.
Implementing the Bio-Cycle Rule
To address this, we implemented the “Bio-Cycle Rule” in our scheduling engine. This rule ensures that an agent’s next shift doesn’t start earlier than the previous one. For instance, after finishing a late shift, the agent’s next shifts would be either late or night shifts unless they have two consecutive days off for adequate recovery. Implementing this rule has reduced manual schedule adjustments, saving around 8 hours of weekly planning time per 150 agents.
Before this rule, planners spent a lot of time manually adjusting schedules to fit this pattern, and agents often had to swap shifts, increasing operational costs and decreasing service levels. The introduction of this simple, effective rule means schedules now automatically accommodate agent preferences and led to a 2% increase in service level.
At the heart of this initiative is happiness – for both agents and planners. The bio-cycle rule in CCschedule by CCmath didn’t just improve agents’ work-life balance; it also simplified the scheduling process.
Happier staff will naturally and irrevocably lead to a reduction in total personnel costs due to:
- Less staff turnover
- Less absenteeism
- Lower training and recruitment costs, and
- Higher productivity
A perfect case showing that all stakeholders benefit from superior scheduling.