Many industries are implementing permanent work-from-home and flex-time policies, including allowing customer service agents who serve as the face of the organization to self-select portions of their shifts. However, this is difficult, if not impossible, for many organizations, and banking leaders are struggling to solidify how these new ways of working apply (or not) to their teams.
Across industries, flextime has become a key tool for recruiting and retaining employees. In fact, a recent Future Forum survey found that 95% of workers want flexible hours and 78% of workers want geographic flexibility. Employees who benefit from a high degree of flexibility are 4 times less likely become a retention risk, according to a Quantum Workplace report.
While financial firms have been among the most eager white-collar employers to get workers back to their desks in 2022, the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has given way to a new openness to flexible working hours. . Even within the contact center, an area of business that historically relied on physical offices for agents and supervisors tasked with ensuring they meet customer service KPIs, we are seeing increased interest in flexible working hours and work. the work-life balance that today’s employee increasingly demands. Here’s what you need to know.
Technology is changing planning practices
The AI-powered technologies available in the market today automate the process of providing flexible scheduling and ensuring that business needs are met. Intelligent automation enables bank managers to improve staffing through proactive, rules-based schedule adjustments and employee self-service.
Some ways to give customer service agents greater control over their schedules while maintaining appropriate staffing levels include:
- Incorporate agent preference: Giving agents a say in scheduling makes them more engaged in their role, which increases productivity and satisfaction, motivates agents to provide better service, and reduces the risk of absenteeism . Consider allowing agents to set preferences for days off, hours or days worked per week, duration and lunch time, and stop and start times. Agents who are able to prioritize their preferences, such as having a longer lunch break in exchange for working weekends, can create a schedule that aligns with their ideal work hours, while allowing the contact center to offer a quality customer experience day. day and night.
- Encourage agents to define their availability to help you meet business needs: Consider assigning a unique numeric value to each interval of the day and defining agent availability rules, such as requiring a minimum of time available, a minimum number of points each week. or a minimum number of hours per week. The agent is then required to provide their availability according to your contact center policies, causing them to compromise with their availability. This allows you to ensure that business and agent needs are met and avoid the pitfalls of using agent preferences in scheduling (e.g. reduced efficiency when preferences of the agent take precedence over the optimal service). When agents understand the rules by which schedules are created and feel that their preferences are taken into account, they are more productive at work and miss fewer shifts.
- Automate schedule change approvals: Intelligent automation allows you to automatically offer schedule changes that benefit staffing. Automated approvals for RFPs, time off, trade requests and more drive agent engagement and schedule flexibility.
- Provide anytime, anywhere access: Contact centers can take flexibility to new heights by allowing agents to do things like swap shifts or set schedule preferences while on the go. Give agents easy visibility into up-to-date custom schedules, vacation balances, and time off allocations for their group by date. When there are new schedule change opportunities, automatically alert agents of available shifts, trades, and time off via mobile app, desktop app, pop-ups, email, or text .
Schedule flexibility yields tangible results
Bank executives who are still unconvinced by the concept – and the viability – of flexible working hours need look no further than a large bank in North America, which has found that increasing flexibility in its scheduling practices increased employee satisfaction while simultaneously reducing costs. The bank’s scheduling solution allows employees to view and interact with their schedules through a mobile app and get automatic confirmation of pre-approved vacations, schedule changes, overtime, shift swaps , sick days and more. The bank also proactively alerts employees of overtime and time off opportunities through multiple channels and automatically notifies frontline managers of activities affecting business efficiency.
Bank agents say they are very satisfied with the flexibility and quick approval of scheduling requests, with 100% of employees saying they would recommend the scheduling solution to colleagues and 80% saying it improved their work balance /personal life. The initiative also resulted in a 70% reduction in manual scheduling activities and significant savings in reduced administrative and intraday management activities, increased scheduling efficiency and better staff coverage.
The demands we place on our customer service agents are only increasing as customer demands evolve and more interactions move to digital channels, and agents are better prepared to meet these new demands in a flexible workforce environment. Whether you’re bringing agents back to work in-person in the contact center, allowing them to continue working remotely, or taking a hybrid approach, scheduling flexibility will allow you to optimize staffing while keeping those happy and engaged frontline key workers.