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When agents adhere to their schedule (login time, breaks, etc.), they will be able to handle more calls, thereby positively impacting the customer experience. 

However, ensuring schedule adherence is not as simple as it looks. You have to consider factors that are beyond the agents’ control, such as calls that overrun into a lunch break.

That said, there are several ways to improve schedule adherence in the call center. But let’s first understand what schedule adherence is and how to calculate it. 

What is Schedule Adherence?

Often confused with occupancy rate, schedule adherence is a metric that helps determine whether or not the agents are working the amount of time they are paid to. Schedule adherence takes the time spent on breaks and non-call-related work into account. 

For a call center system with 50 agents with an average salary of $12/hour, a 15 minute of non-adherence would cost $39,000 in lost revenue per year. 

What is Schedule Adherence?

How to Calculate Schedule Adherence in the Contact Center?

Schedule adherence is calculated by dividing the total time an agent is available to take calls by the time they are scheduled to work. 

Schedule adherence = ((Time spent handling calls + other work-related activity time) / (Shift time – (lunch/dinner) – (break))) x 100

Here’s an example to help you better understand how to calculate schedule adherence. 

AgentsShift time (in mins)Time spent handling calls (in mins)Time spent in other work-related tasks (in mins)Lunch/Dinner time (in mins)Break (in mins)

Adherence for Agent 1: (310 + 30) / (480 – 60 – 20) x 100 = (340/400) x 100 = 85%

Adherence for Agent 2: (340 + 20) / (480 – 62 – 28) x 100 = (360/390) x 100 = 92.3%

Adherence for Agent 3: (315 + 26) / (480 – 64 – 31) x 100 = (341/385) x 100 = 88.5%

While there is no universally recognized schedule adherence benchmark, an 85-95% rate is considered acceptable. 

Best Practices of Schedule Adherence & how to improve it

Now that you know what schedule adherence is and how to calculate it let’s look at eight ways to improve it. 

How to Improve Schedule Adherence in the Call Center? 

1- Determine the Key Reasons for Your Agents Going Out of Adherence

The first step to improving schedule adherence is identifying the reasons affecting it. Here are some common reasons for non-adherence of schedule: 

Determine the Key Reasons for Your Agents Going Out of Adherence

  • The agent is frequently coming late or taking half-day holidays. 
  • Your advisors are unaware of how their behavior (long breaks, late login, etc.) affects their adherence.
  • The agent takes longer lunch breaks.
  • Your advisors lack the motivation to work efficiently.
  • The schedule is very inflexible, creating too much pressure for agents and the need to take extra breaks. 

2- Highlight the Importance of Schedule Adherence

When agents know the importance of schedule adherence from day one, they are more likely to follow it. Also, make them understand how adhering to the schedule can benefit them.  

Highlight the Importance of Schedule Adherence

For example, when the advisor doesn’t get on the phone on time, the team’s occupancy can rise, meaning that other advisors will have less time to destress between calls. 

3- Allow Your Agents to Adjust Their Shifts When Necessary

Employees are less likely to stick to a rigid schedule. Remember that even your best agents could get late sometimes. Therefore it is crucial to have tools that allow your agents to adjust their shift a few minutes here and there. This can significantly improve schedule adherence.

It would also be great if you can give your employees the option to work from home whenever necessary. 

4- Leverage Employee Management Tools

When it comes to improving schedule adherence, technology can be your best friend. Employee management tools can help you monitor breaks and active time in the office. 

Leverage Employee Management Tools

You can also set up business rules to automatically identify agents scheduled to go on a lunch/dinner within the next 2-5 minutes. Then prompt them to start their break early to prevent them from receiving a call that might run into their lunch/dinner. 


5- Allow Your Agents to Swap Shifts

There comes a situation when we need or want a day off at the last moment. From the call center’s perspective, giving leave at the last moment is not possible every time as you would need a backup to handle additional calls. 

The best way to combat this situation is by allowing your agents to swap shifts with colleagues so they can handle personal responsibilities as they arise without affecting your business. 

Many workforce management tools offer a trade shift module. It also allows agents to view their colleagues’ schedules, making it easier for them to swap shifts. This helps increase employee satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on schedule adherence. 

6- Show Advisors Their Schedule Adherence on an Ongoing Basis

This is yet another great way to improve schedule adherence. Show advisors their schedule adherence regularly, so it stays on the top of their minds every time. 

You can also incentivize agents who adhere to their schedule more often than others. This will encourage all the agents in your team to stick to their schedules. 

7- Coach Your Agents in Real-Time to Build Their Confidence

When agents are confident in their job, they are likely to spend more time on their desk, thereby adhering to the schedule. It also keeps them in a position where they can handle customers’ concerns better. This makes it imperative to coach your agents in real-time.

By monitoring calls in real-time, you can ensure they are saying the right things or barge into the calls if an agent needs support. This will improve your agent’s confidence and encourage them to spend more time attending calls. 

Wrapping Up

Improving schedule adherence can have a positive impact on your contact center’s efficiency. It can also help enhance the customer experience as your agents will be most of the time to handle your customer’s queries. 

Did we miss any essential strategy to improve schedule adherence? What other ways do you follow to enhance your call center schedule adherence? Let us know in the comments.

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