Effective time management is one of the keys to success in any field, particularly in the demanding contact center industry.
Call center agents face hectic schedules and heavy workloads, so getting everything done on time, while also keeping standards high, can be a big ask. Fortunately, with the right time management strategies, you can keep your agents focused, productive, and empowered to perform at their very best. Get your time management in order, and the rest will follow.
Time management is about accurately estimating how long a task will take and allocating sufficient time to complete it. If you can do this much, you will have the basis of an effective time management strategy. Of course, in reality, things aren’t so simple. Unexpected distractions, poor prioritization, and rising stress levels can disrupt workflow and lead to lost time. For call centers, sporadic call volume, agent burnout, and mismanaged resources can make it especially difficult to manage time effectively. This has a huge knock-on effect, as poor time management prevents agents from promptly assisting customers, leading to lower CSAT and NPS scores and a host of other problems for call center leaders.
Good time management contributes to improved performance throughout the entire call center ecosystem, from better leadership to happier agents and, ultimately, more satisfied customers. At the end of the day, the customer is the primary focus of the contact center, so anything that could improve customer satisfaction is worth examining further. Developing an effective time management strategy for your call center can improve operational efficiency and agent performance and even increase revenue opportunities.
With Zippia finding that “the average worker spends 51% of every workday on low to no value tasks”, it’s essential that you get this figure under control within your own organization. To ensure a productive organization, you need to ensure agent productivity. Time management will allow you to deploy your most important resource—your agents—in the most effective manner possible. This would guarantee that your agents spend their time on customer interactions rather than mundane, repetitive tasks and mindless distractions. While some admin work is inevitable, it’s essential that your agents are primarily focused on key areas like handling support tickets and directly interacting with customers.
Agent burnout is a huge contributor to employee turnover rate, particularly in the call center industry, which had an attrition rate of 42 percent in 2021. Effective time management will reduce the chances of agent burnout as employees won’t feel overwhelmed or under excessive pressure to complete their daily tasks. To get a sense of what constitutes good time management from an agent’s perspective, be sure to listen to their feedback and implement their suggestions if appropriate. This will also give them a greater sense of control in their personal and professional lives.
In the call center industry, customer satisfaction is king. If you aren’t delivering quick, effective solutions to customers, vital KPIs like CSAT and NPS will suffer, leading to trouble for your organization. Customers don’t want to hang around on the phone; they want their issues resolved as soon as possible. If you employ an effective time management strategy, your agents will be better equipped to deliver this fast resolution. You can measure the success of your time management approach by monitoring metrics like call length, average hold time, number of transfers, and more to get a sense of what’s working for customers and what needs improvement.
A typical call center carries out hundreds of processes every day. The more effective your overall call center operations, the lower your costs and the bigger your profit margin. Through effective time management strategies, you can make the most of the tools available to you and your agents, ensuring that no resources are wasted. There are only a certain number of hours in a day and limited staff available to perform tasks, particularly for more specialized duties, so it’s essential that leaders use the resources they do have in a manner that best serves the wider organization. The money saved from streamlining operations can also be put to use elsewhere to scale the business, invest in new software, or recruit additional staff.
Everyone in the call center environment, from agents to CEOs, can benefit from effective time management.
For agents, time management techniques can alleviate stress, leading to a happier, more productive working life. Empowering agents to complete their tasks quickly without piling on pressure will result in better work and a happier team.
For CX managers, effective time management can be the difference between a mediocre customer experience and one that sticks in the memory, leading to stronger performance in key metrics like first call resolution and average handling time.
Like their CX counterparts, QA managers stand to benefit significantly from proper time management. More effective use of time can lead to stronger team performance, with better scorecard and evaluation results and a more accurate insight into which areas need improvement.
Operations managers can make the best use of time management to streamline communications, optimize scheduling, and enhance the overall workflow, leading to improved service levels and a happier customer base.
Business owners will be well aware that proper time management contributes significantly to the financial success of any organization. Time management allows for better allocation of resources, leading to reduced costs and a bigger profit margin while also freeing up funds to allocate to other areas.
Given the far-reaching impact of a time management strategy, it’s no surprise that there are a number of ways to assess its efficiency, from classic call center metrics to simple time tracking and agent evaluations.
Traditional call center metrics like response time, first call resolution, average handling time, and more can be used to measure the success of a time management strategy. By comparing KPIs from before the implementation of a new approach to the results afterward, you can get a sense of how effective, or ineffective, the approach has been. You can also measure these metrics against industry standards to get an idea of the overall performance and the impact of time management on that performance. For example, a change in time management strategy may allow agents to handle their after-call work more efficiently, leading to quicker resolutions for customer calls and a reduction in average handling time.
Through the use of tools like self-scorecards, agents can evaluate their own performance to get a clearer understanding of how their approach to time management is impacting their work on a daily basis. Rather than feel overly critiqued by an external evaluation, a self-scoring approach can allow agents to identify areas where they could better use their time and develop their own discipline and motivation. This gives agents a greater sense of control over their own time and a desire to make every second count.
There are plenty of different approaches you can take to improve call center time management. However, it’s best not to try too many new ideas at once, as this can muddle the results and make it difficult to identify which ideas are actually having an impact. The best thing to do is to test different approaches individually and evaluate whether or not they are improving your call center workflow. Be sure to ask for feedback from agents, customers, and management and assess the efficiency of your new approach. Once you’ve found a solution that works, it won’t be long before you see the positive impact throughout your organization.
Clarity is key when it comes to allocating responsibilities, streamlining workflows, and avoiding operational confusion. If everyone knows exactly what tasks they’re responsible for and what tasks can be delegated, the entire organization will run more efficiently. Be sure that agents are trained properly and have the capacity to handle any tasks delegated to them and, if necessary, create new standard operating procedures that better reflect the needs of the call center and allow for efficient time management. Additionally, consider the makeup of your team. You need to hire agents who don’t require micromanagement and train existing team members to take on new responsibilities with ease.
Tracking time spent on different tasks and daily duties is a tried and tested way of getting a handle on your time management. By keeping a precise record of how much time you spend on different activities, you can evaluate your performance and begin to understand where you could improve things. There are plenty of timer tools online, from simple stopwatches to more detailed logging tools, and you can’t go wrong with a trusty old pen and paper either. The important thing is to be accurate and honest, as a truthful assessment will give you a solid platform to build on.
Generally speaking, the more experienced and skilled you are at doing a task, the quicker you are able to complete it. This rule of thumb is true for call center agents as well—handling a customer call on your first day will likely take longer than the same call a year into the job. If you provide your agents with an in-depth understanding of their roles, their duties, and the best practices for each task, you can ensure that they are well-positioned to complete their work in a timely manner. By delivering targeted training on everything from soft skills to effective decision-making, you can help support your agents and eliminate wasted time.
There are countless time management techniques out there for someone looking to get a better handle on their day. The Pomodoro Technique, Eat That Frog, the Eisenhower Matrix—these are just a few popular ways to manage your time and develop discipline. Even something as simple as blocking off time in your calendar can help you to focus and get more done. Over time, you will get better at planning your time, and the defined limits will push you to work more efficiently. This idea of limiting time spent on a particular task can also apply to customer interactions. You can be empathetic and polite while also moving the interaction along and getting to a resolution in an efficient manner. After all, the customer is reaching out to solve a problem, so time management benefits them too.
According to a recent study, a third of people use a to-do list to manage their time and tasks. While a to-do list may seem simplistic compared to some of the techniques mentioned previously, it can be a deceptively useful tool for prioritizing tasks and allocating time efficiently. Using the Eisenhower important-urgent matrix, you can sort your to-do list based on the importance and urgency of the tasks you’ve written down, allowing you to optimize your workflow and handle the most important duties first. For example, dealing with support tickets in chronological order will ensure that no customer is left waiting too long for a response. Aside from prioritization, even the act of writing down what needs to be done can clear your mind and allow you to focus without feeling overwhelmed.
Accountability is a big part of effective time management. If you aren’t willing to take responsibility for how you spend your day, any improvements will be limited. In the call center, regular evaluations and performance reviews using tools like scorecards can help to identify where agents may be falling short in their time management, allowing you to implement new approaches and support them to develop discipline and enhance their productivity. You can also link their performance to key metrics like average handling time, first call resolution, and after-call work to make things more tangible. This focus on data-driven reporting will provide agents with a clearer picture of how effectively they are using their time and inject a sense of accountability.
With Reuters reporting that interruptions cost U.S. businesses as much as $588 billion annually, it’s clear that reducing the frequency of these interruptions is imperative. Through automation of repetitive tasks and auto-routing of calls, you can streamline the working day, simplifying the job for agents and delivering quicker results for customers. Getting the right calls to the right people avoids the need for excessive transfers and callbacks—two common disruptions in the call center. With proper planning and strategies in place to minimize interruptions, you can save time and money while improving the customer experience.
Remember that your agents have a life outside the call center. Striking a healthy work-life balance is essential to keep your team engaged, enthusiastic, and productive. Effective time management gives agents the platform to build this healthy work-life balance and minimize stress, ensuring that work doesn’t encroach on their personal lives.
Note that regular breaks are essential for mental and physical health, and call center leaders must take the risk of excess screen time into consideration. Furthermore, with 97 percent of respondents to a 2022 survey stating that they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the remainder of their careers, it’s important that work-from-home agents are taken into account when developing a time management approach. Different approaches may be required for WFH staff, so be sure to make a distinction when assessing the impact of any new time management strategies.
The rapid advancement of call center technology has made a huge impact on every facet of call center operations in recent years, and time management is no different. With quality assurance software, you can expedite processes using extensive monitoring and reporting tools, real-time feedback, and in-depth analysis of KPIs. Tools like scorecards can help agents get a sense of how they manage their time and allow supervisors to design targeted training programs based on both technical and soft skills. Other technologies like chatbots, call recording, and auto-routing can help to eliminate time-consuming tasks and free up agents to focus on more complex customer queries. At the same time, self-service options can reduce the overall workload by helping customers to find their own solutions.
In the demanding call center industry, getting everything done as quickly as possible without letting standards slip is a constant challenge. Thankfully, with an effective management strategy, you can improve operations throughout the whole organization while keeping agents focused, productive, and enthusiastic about their work. Scorebuddy includes purpose-built QA tools like customizable scorecards and an integrated learning management system, allowing you to identify areas where agents could improve their time management and deliver targeted coaching. You can also track the impact of any new strategies with detailed reports and in-depth metric analysis. Get in touch today to request a free trial and see how Scorebuddy could work for you.