Effective time management for call centers.

A lot of people don’t know this but I get really cranky if I don’t get at least 2200 calories of Egg McMuffins in the morning. Granted, the 2200 is more of an estimate because some more generous McDonalds employees will put an extra slice of cheese on, but it’s about what I need to get my day started.

This morning I got to McDonalds 5 minutes after they stopped serving breakfast. Despite the fact that I started crying, they wouldn’t make me one. When i got back to the office, I was pretty much useless. This got me thinking about time management and productivity. We’ve all heard that the key to improving productivity in the workplace, and in general, is time management. For some of us, properly budgeting our time is second nature. For others, not so much. So when it comes to your call center, what can you do to address the problem of time management at an organizational level rather than leaving it to individuals?

In order to achieve the stringent productivity and quality control metrics vital to a successful call center, you need to stick to schedules and start making time management an organizational priority. Just like managing any finite resource, time should be tracked and properly controlled. As the famous management guru Ronald McDonald never said but probably may have at one point: “I’d love to help, but I can’t. It’s 10:00. You had your chance for the last 4 hours.”

3 Easy Ways Call Centers Can Manage Their Time Better

  1. Have a ‘Time-Budget’ for Senior Administration: Managers need just as much help managing their time as everyone else. Creating an organizational time budget and properly allocating senior administration time in line with the strategic direction of the call center is the first step towards an organization-wide time management exercise. This philosophy makes sure senior admins don’t waste hours on projects that may not be in alignment with the center’s overall strategy. It will also prevent burnout at the top and contribute to a friendlier work environment. Happy bosses usually equal happier employees. Every project proposal should explicitly include the time requirements of the leadership team. In the event that there is not sufficient bandwidth, then the call center should either not pursue that account or readjust other commitments.
  2. Evaluate ‘time feasibility’ of change: Before introducing a new technology or process change, call centers should always evaluate the technical feasibility and the financial viability of the project. However, it is also necessary to evaluate the project’s ‘time feasibility.’ For example, let’s say that a new technology’s return on investment looks compelling enough to vouch for the financial viability of the project, and the ROI is calculated assuming that it will go live in 2 months. Now, if the team that is expected to coordinate this project is already overworked and does not have enough time to apportion for it, then the ‘go-live’ date would slip, and consequently the project would fail.
  3. Have a ‘time tracking tool’ for Individuals: Ensure that your call center has a proper time tracking tool and that every employee from the agents to executive management logs their time. In order to guarantee people will actually do it, make time logging a factor of employees performance evaluations. Time tracking can also help identify time sinks in your call center where beneficial process improvements can be introduced. Some of the data points that can be evaluated include the time spent on meetings, training, and post-call paper work. Instead of just measuring that XX% of agent time was spent on training, the analysis can be made more granular by including insights on whether the training was aimed towards improving key metrics on which the call center is focusing. This kind of analysis would help the center manage time effectively by prioritizing the day-to-day activities of each employee and aligning them in such a way as to offer superior customer service in the most efficient manner.

Time is money and Egg McMuffins are awesome. By approaching time as a commodity and optimizing its use, your call center will be well on it’s way to becoming world-class. The three steps above may seem like a lot to implement but, rest assured, it will be time well spent.

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