What Do Schedule Adherence, Multiple Channels, and Toilets Have in Common?

There are days when you’re truly amazed by stories in the media. For me, October 16 was one of those days. That’s when I heard about a government agency, Medicare Australia, requiring its call center reps to limit each toilet break to three minutes and to record the length of time spent in the bathroom. Apparently (according to the report), some managers even followed staff into the restroom to “hurry them along,” seeking to enforce schedule compliance rules requiring CSRs to spend at least 92 percent of their time on the phone.

After a newspaper investigation started, Medicare Australia prudently abandoned the policy. Certainly, its 92 percent schedule adherence goal was reasonable, allowing a full-time worker to be out of adherence 3 hours and 12 minutes per week. But requiring workers to log reports of their, ahem, private time and chasing them out of restrooms is going too far. Call center managers shouldn’t care how reps spend their non-compliance time as long as they meet their goals.

At issue has always been the non-inbound-call work that has been difficult to track with traditional schedule adherence reporting and real-time schedule adherence software. Things like paperwork, meetings and, yes, bathroom breaks—anything an automatic call dialer (ACD) can’t account for—can present a challenge to schedule compliance efforts. Add to that the fact that call centers are now managing more than just inbound calls. Some reps now handle outbound calls, emails, faxes and postal mail. Many more also handle instant messaging and text messaging, and a just-published NICE contact center benchmark report forecasts that these channels will grow more than 100 percent in 2010.

Not surprisingly, workforce management (WFM) vendors are supporting multi-channel schedule adherence to be able to track more than just adherence to ACD states.  You can now track schedule adherence for agents handling outbound calls, emails, instant and text messages, and using desktop applications.  These advances in schedule adherence can yield greater visibility to how CSRs are using their time…without invading their bathroom privacy.

Let me know what you think about these trends and if your contact center is measuring schedule adherence across multiple channels today.

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