Here are some recommendations for call center managers to that employers can do to help agents adjust to working the night shift:
1. Install full spectrum lights to keep the work environment brightly lit.
2. Minimize shift changes – do not ask agents to change frequently between night and day shifts.
3. Keep agents busy, even during slow hours. Suggestions for appropriate tasks for agents' off-peak hours include:
a. Online courses or call center eLearning programs: Establish/develop a library of online eLearning courses that agents can access to improve their knowledge, expand their skill set, or fulfill their development/career plan requirements. The courses should be set up so that agents can take them at their discretion and can start and stop a course as necessary.
b. Knowledge reinforcement/coaching: During low-volume periods, agents can use the quiet time to review online training and product materials. This helps build job knowledge and generally improves the quality of calls. If agents have performance development opportunities, such as low quality scores, high average handle times, etc., the low-volume periods are an ideal time to pair them with call center training agents who can help them improve their skills. This is an effective way to teach subtle, efficient communication/call management techniques and provide coaching and support. It is also a great way to recognize outstanding performers.
c. Assign agents to call center initiatives: The call center is a dynamic environment where constant change is the rule rather than the exception. New products and changes to policies and procedures are routinely introduced. During lulls in call volume, implement agent initiatives, such as updating online training materials, procedure guides, or quality criteria, to ensure that all materials are accurate and current. Additionally, agents can be trained as subject matter experts (SMEs) for a particular call center initiative. SMEs are valuable "go-to" resources, and can conduct informal up-training sessions to address questions from other agents.
d. Solicit ideas from call center agents: Agents are amazingly resourceful in coming up with creative, innovative and cost-saving ideas. Take advantage of off-peak hours to conduct brainstorming sessions with agents to gather their suggestions for effectively using low-volume time, ideas for improvements, or recommendations for call center initiatives to improve performance and morale.
e. Hold team meetings: If call volume is low, use the time to build camaraderie by holding team meetings.
This was first published in July 2009