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Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Tommy Shaw wrote the song “Too Much Time on My Hands” for the triple platinum, 1981, Styx album titled “Paradise Theater.” Styx performed the first rock concert I ever attended – I am still in awe of their musicianship, still play their music loudly in my car, and still see them on tour. Now, I can say with a high degree of certainty that Tommy was probably not thinking of Contact Centers, Customer Experience, or Workforce Management when he wrote the following lyrics – but that is exactly what they bring to my mind right now.

I've got too much time on my hands
It's hard to believe such a calamity
I got too much time on my hands
And it's ticking away, ticking away from me”

Perhaps you have experienced an overstaffed condition. Many things can lead to it - including ramping up for high season, a system implementation, or a strategic business expansion. Perhaps you don’t know why you are overstaffed. While you choose whether to buy a vowel, phone a friend, or use the force to figure it why, how long it will last, or if it is your new normal, it is imperative that you use the time productively.

Oversaffed contact center

Here are some tips for handling too much time on your hands and avoid letting it tick, tick, tick away:

1. Good forecasting hygiene requires you to review all of the forecast assumptions every month. It is easy to think that good service levels mean that all of your forecasting assumptions are correct – easy, but potentially wrong.

Sometimes one particular assumption will be the renegade, sometimes multiple assumptions have a variance allowing you to meet service level, and still other times everything is actually aligned with the forecast. Once you have reviewed the assumptions to determine any variances, you must then determine what caused the variance, and whether it is temporary or not.

Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we need to investigate the usual suspects:

a. Call volume

b. Average handling time (multiple calls types may have different handle times so check each one)

c. Occupancy

d. Shrinkage

2. Ask yourself, since your last forecast, what was:

a. Added?

b. Changed?

c. Moved?

d. Deleted?

e. Or simply unknown when the forecast was made?

3. There are unintended consequences and perils of letting service levels ride high without using the time available. They include the following:

a. Creating a new and unsustainable speed of answer expectation for your customers.

b. Causing agent boredom.

c. Missing opportunities to add value to the business that may not be readily available later.

d. Wasting money through poor occupancy.

e. Breaking the cadence of working to meet goals and when things return to business as usual, it can be difficult to get back into the normal rhythm.

4. Maintain a list of things you can to do with too much time on your hands. It is easier to have a list already prepared when the situation arises. Here are some examples:

a. Train.

b. Coach and develop your agents.

c. Pair up agents to peer coach and share best practices – then have them share their key learning in a team meeting.

d. Invite agents to monitor a couple of their own calls and calibrate their findings results with their supervisor’s findings.

e. Assemble small teams to brainstorm pain points and potential solutions to improve customer experience, their engagement, and business efficiency.

f. Loan resources to back office departments to help clear a backlog.

g. Approve additional time off requests – if needed, solicit for more time off using either full or partial days.

h. Provide some paid time to do volunteer work in the community. 😊

Know this, whether inside or outside of the Contact Center, never, should you ever, let that time go tick, tick, ticking away.

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