In the following post, we discuss some of the challenges of managing customer service employees, and in particular how to deal with scheduling, vacation tracking, and leave management for these employees. Many of the challenges of dealing with customer service employees’ schedules can be effectively tackled with the use of a leave tracker or leave management system.
The Challenges of Scheduling Customer Service Employees
Managing customer service employees can be a challenge. Customer service leaders and managers want a team that’s well-trained, and has the resources to do their job well, and be the face (or voice) of the business.
When it comes to a business that has customer service employees, these objectives can be challenging. One of the biggest challenges for a lot of customer service businesses is how to deal with scheduling and time off. In a business where employees do work but don’t interact with the public, of course, time off has to be managed, but there’s more flexibility.
In a customer service-based business employees have to be there, and they have to be working directly with customers, whether that’s over the phone or in person. Having a gap in scheduling or overlapping vacation requests can quickly turn into significant problems for a business.
If you’re managing employees who work on the back end and there’s overlap in time off requests, the work can be made up for in other ways. If a business is understaffed in terms of customer service, it’s really difficult to fill the gaps.
So, how can customer service leaders and managers effectively and efficiently manage the scheduling of customer service employees? One of the best ways is to use a modern, streamlined leave tracker, but before getting into what to look for in this type of software, we put together some generally helpful tips.
General Customer Service Scheduling Tips
The following are some tips to help optimize customer service team member schedules to maximize productivity and reduce obstacles while ensuring that service delivered remains excellent:
- Managers and customer service leaders should sit down and think about what their peak times are that they need their best employees to be present. By knowing peak times of day and also peak times of the year, managers will be better equipped to forecast their personnel needs accurately.
- In some cases, customer service representatives may be able to work from home, and when possible employers should be willing to create flexible work schedules. Of course, an in-person retail customer service employee isn’t going to be able to do that, but employees who take calls or work through email can work remotely sometimes. This can help minimize absences because of issues like minor illnesses or scheduling conflicts.
- When you’re hiring customer service employees and creating their schedules, let them have input wherever possible. For example, some employees might prefer to work fewer days each week, but to work longer shifts. If it’s something that can work out well, don’t be afraid to try it just because you don’t want to stray from the normal scheduling routine.
- Provide incentives to employees who are willing to work during peak times, or holidays and other times where many employees are simultaneously asking for time off.
- Cross-train employees. If you do have employees who are taking their allowed time off, you want to make sure their work is covered. Cross-training employees is a good way to ensure there aren’t coverage gaps, but it’s also empowering for employees and can help develop them to take on leadership positions.
- When you hire new customer service employees, it’s so important to ensure that they know all time off policies right away. They need to know boundaries and expectations, and also what happens if they’re not meeting expectations.
Scheduling with a Leave Tracker
Our final tip is the most important—when managing customer service employees there’s no better tool than a modern leave tracker or leave management system. Having a leave tracker makes scheduling easier for both employees and employers. It’s possible to see when people are taking time off, and the data derived from the leave tracker can be used for forecasting labor needs in the future. When searching for the right leave tracker, consider the following features:
- Look for a leave tracker that is user-friendly and lets customer service employees log in to the system and submit their own requests, and then check and see if they’re approved. A self-service leave tracker is good for employee satisfaction, and it creates a sense of flexibility and autonomy on the part of employees. Plus, when employees can log in and see whether or not their requests are approved based on the automatic setup of the rules engine, it’s likely going to reduce frustration and conflict that can stem from one employee feeling like another is being favored when it comes to taking time off and when requests are approved.
- An automated system is essential. An automated leave tracker lets customer service team leaders or managers set everything up based on their own policies, and they can create groups based on the departments within the workplace. Employers and employees can then leave notes, and the requests can quickly and efficiently be approved or rejected. A leave tracker provides for paperless vacation leave filing and approvals, and everything can be updated quickly within the system.
- When you have the centralized visibility available with an automated leave tracker, there’s less of a chance you’re going to be short-staffed. What happens without a leave tracker is often that people in charge of scheduling will overlook who’s already going to be off during a certain period. Then, they approve someone else’s time off, and they’re left short-staffed. That can be expensive, and since we’re talking about customer service employees, it can be disastrous for the businesses’ brand. Just one less than stellar customer interaction can lead to negative reviews online. It’s much easier to have one central place where customer service team leaders can go and see who will be off and when.
To learn more about using a leave tracker, and what CaptureLeave has to offer, contact us or try us out for free.