calltalk-caramels-2.pngBy definition, schedule adherence is the percentage of time agents are where they are supposed to be, according to their assigned schedules – – which can include work time, lunch and break time, training time, team meeting time, etc.  Poor adherence can be surprisingly expensive for a center. We can calculate that a single agent who is regularly “short” on work-time adherence by 20 minutes per day throughout the year, costs the company 83 hours of lost work and $1,000 in wages (based upon an avg. $12/hr.). This extrapolates to nearly 1,000 customer calls not handled by that agent over that same period!

Research suggests that there are two major reasons for poor performance in schedule adherence. The first is a general lack of understanding by agents of the importance and impact that schedule adherence has upon the company,  The second reason is poor supervision and management.

Of call centers surveyed, 71% track or follow adherence to schedule whereas 28% do not. Of those centers that track adherence, 66% use commercial WFM systems. About 42% of centers surveyed revise their workforce schedules as required, without established intervals; 20% of respondents revise schedules on a monthly basis, 15% revise on a quarterly-basis, and 4% revise weekly.

The following Best Practices are suggested by experts to help managers gain control over adherence:

  1. Communicate your expectations to agents; show them the financial impact of poor adherence, and coach towards compliance. Explain the metrics, get team member involvement and gain their buy-in. Ask them what they think the standard should be.
  2. Don’t be too strict on your policies. Attempting to attain adherence to schedule levels of 100% is not advisable as it puts too great a burden and strain on agents. Be reasonable when setting adherence goals.  Also, keep in mind that agents who move out of adherence because they are finishing a call should not be penalized.  You prefer them to finish the call well and be a few minutes out of adherence, rather than hang up on the customer to stay in adherence.
  3. Best Practice adherence levels are 90% – 95%.

Adherence to schedule is a great enabler to promote good work habits and should never be used as a “Big Brother” whipping tool or a device for punitive actions.

Tip of the Week: Make Adherence a part of your rewards system. Celebrate success and make it popular to be the person that is in the right place at the right time!

This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb.  It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Erica Cockfield, entitled “ Adherence: The Problems, The Policies, The Best Practices”.   To listen to the entire episode click play below:


calltalk-caramels-2.pngCallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore.  “Caramels” distills key moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.

Topics: Adherence, CallTalk Caramels, Contact Center Articles