October 23 –

Do the words “change,” “realignment,” or “shift bid” strike fear in your call center? Does your workforce management team hide in the restroom when new shifts go into effect?

Here are a couple of techniques to try to alleviate some of the anxiety associated with these changes.

Begin the process well ahead of the time for the change.  Set up a committee to discuss issues and bring ideas. Have members from all areas of the center participate. Some issues to discuss can include seating, communications, and timelines. It’s very important to get call center reps involved in this process. They can bring insights and knowledge that the Workforce department needs. It also gives them a voice in the process.

Develop a chart that shows the workforce requirements to meet the current demand and how the current schedules match up.  Also show some ideas for ways that the shifts can be changed to better meet the requirements.  This helps agents to see the reason for the realignment and that is not just an arbitrary process.

Create a way for employees to ask questions. An e-mail mailbox, message board, or even a cardboard box would be sufficient. Be sure and answer the questions on a timely basis. Use these questions to send a regular FAQ list to all the center reps.

Meet individually or by groups with all reps to discuss the shifts available to them. This can be done by 5-10 minute intervals in order of the reps ranking for the re-alignment.

Consider a “mini-bid” process to add new shifts each time a vacant position needs to be filled in the center.  This can minimize the need for a major shift bid.

Change is never simple in a call center. Shift realignments can cause morale issues and be a de-motivator to reps. By being sensitive to the issues, Workforce Planners can begin to eliminate the challenges of realignments for all areas of the call center.

Note: This week’s tip was provided by Maggie Klenke. She may be reached at Maggie.klenke@mindspring.com