Published: March 26, 2013 | Comments
Adherence to schedule is a measurement of how much time during an agent's shift he or she is logged in and handling contacts or at least available to do so. Most centers choose an adherence objective around the 85% to 90% range, meaning that each agent is expected to be available to handle contacts .90 x 60 minutes, or 54 minutes each hour.
Adherence is comprised of time spent interacting with customers, as well as time spent in after-call work, making necessary outbound calls and waiting for calls to arrive. Time taken for lunch, breaks, training, etc., is not counted as time assigned to handle contacts, and thus, is not factored into adherence to schedule measurements.
While adherence has always been an important metric in contact centers, this particular metric has taken on an even more significant role in recent years as centers have learned to focus more on what really matters, and on what agents can – and can’t – control. Best-in-class contact centers have discovered that with adherence as the primary critical metric, agents were ‘ slaves’ to measurements such as average handle time and calls per hour, and that these metrics are not indicative of whether staff is in the right place at the right times. Agents can't control the number of calls that are coming in or how long a transaction might take on the customer side, but they CAN be held accountable for where they are and what they are doing.
That said - this does not negate the need for centers to identify how many calls a typical agent is handling and how long those calls are lasting – both of which are integral to help pinpoint any scheduling adjustments that may need to be made. The true lesson here is this: When placing a stronger emphasis on adherence to schedule by having agents in the right places at the right times, you’ll discover that you don’t need to focus on areas such as average handle time and calls per hour. This is, however, is assuming your center has taken time to provide agents with adequate training and a quality mindset, and that the center has done a decent job of forecasting and scheduling.
One other cautionary warning in this metric: be aware of the danger of focusing too stringently on adherence to schedule -- watching agents' every move with the help of workforce management technology can inevitably elicit cries of micro-management from them.
You can learn more about forecasting accuracy and other imperative contact center metrics by watching our recent complimentary webinar - Critical Metrics for Standardizing your Contact Center.