How Staff Scheduling Affects Customer Service

221If you manage your customer service staff,mild mishaps in scheduling must be an everyday thing. Of course there are stickier situations when your best fail-safe plans can go awry, bringing your day to a grinding halt. Especially in the hospitality industry where your productivity rests solely on service.

Imagine your ace worker calling in sick at the last minute, or your super efficient serving staff or both your janitors going AWOL.Not finding quick replacements can leave you shorthanded, overburdened, yet grinning in front of your customers. The only rule that overrules everything else is: if service is disrupted, business will be hampered.

Inefficient Scheduling can Cripple your Business

The service industry is hugely dependent on employees who work around the clock to drive in sales. Strict monitoring of timesheets to curtail early clock-ins and clock outs is extremely important. If you have to schedule a huge workforce, it’s advisable to go for a staff scheduling system. But steer clear of using tools not meant for scheduling, they’ll only complicate things, wasting your time and resources.

Choosing a method for staff scheduling has a lot to do with the scale of your firm.Whether you run a coffee shop, eatery, heath care center or even a call center, make sure customers are neither left unattended nor treated inappropriately. These delays in service will only ruin your reputation.

If you have a relatively smaller setup,here are a few pointers for a head start-

How Important is Staff scheduling for you?

Identify your requirement–If your staff comprises of 10 or 15 people, communicating employee leave/shift guidelines to them clearly and managing them tactfully will do the trick. Make a few stern rules for your staff.

In cases of bigger staff, you’ll need a scheduling system. Here, you’ll need to set aside a budget for this system . There area variety of software available in the market that suits every pocket. Identify your requirements (like shift time, leave time, alert in cases of confrontations or when employees’ desert their desks for longer periods) and accordingly zero in on a software.

Pay attention to Employees’ preferences and dispositions

All employees aren’t similar. They have different temperaments and different working capacities. Some find certain work environments and timings suitable and some don’t. Knowing them better would benefit you.Assign them roles and responsibilities accordingly, so conflicts and dissatisfaction’s don’t arise in the first place.Convey this to your managers or supervising staff too.Also, spot who’s good at what, and make these strengths work in your favor.

Foolproof Communication is the key to great Coordination

Incorrect interpretation, unread messages, inaccessibility, failing communication devices are the cause of communication breakdowns. Make sure your means to inform shift timings to employees are foolproof. Many a times employees have to be informed at once about a swap in shift, upcoming event, time-off requests have to be turned down due to immediate business needs. Great coordination is half the battle won as you can reschedule comfortably.

Avoid assigning Split shift and Plan shifts (way) in advance

Assigning Split shifts with respect to time or location can get chaotic.If you’re doing it to slash your manpower costs, discontinue it immediately. It results in bitterness faster than you can imagine. Most employees would root for simplification in shifts.

Plan the timings at least a week in prior, don’t give your staff a cause to work unhappily.  If you can plan two weeks (or more) ahead, it’s even better. Encourage your employees to inform  you about their leaves as much in advance as possible. You can even offer perks to those who stick to their word.

Encourage cross-training

Respect the experience of your senior employees. They are aware of the ground reality and can fill the newcomers in, accurately. Motivate them to train the newer lot. Pair them up on duties. See that the new employees learn the ropes under a wise old hand. This will ensure seamless functioning of your Customer Service.

Bad Customer Service can be Disastrous

Recently, McDonald’s suffered a jolt with what’s been termed as ‘broken service’. It was apparently due to rude or unprofessional  behavior of their employees with customers.

As a result, McDonald’s employee policies came under fire. Since then it has been working on mending its service by deploying more work force during peak times and putting new systems in place to take orders.

Being standoffish to customers can have serious repercussions. If your business is new, your brand may never take off, let alone do well. And if you are an established brand then be ready for a harsh backlash, capable of destroying your credibility forever (if not controlled).

McDonald’s will surely be out of it soon. But firms like Walmart have been dealing with poor customer service for years.

In fact, bigger corporations are more vulnerable than startups. They have far more to lose.


Final Thoughts

The customer isn’t just the King anymore, they’re dictating terms! Thanks to social media, various customer grievances forums and other tools at their disposal,customers can point a finger at you whenever they want. They are a strong community, whom are uncountable in strength.

There are no shortcuts to see your customers smile. It comes from having great empathy towards their needs. A nice friendly gesture from a staff member can help retain a customer for life.

Never forget your customers have options too. It won’t take them long to find an alternative tomorrow. With the power of Internet and eCommerce, they can summon a product from half way across the globe.Right staff scheduling gives you the opportunity to not just serve them right, but to stand by them.

As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing. Image courtesy Blog Oh Sphere

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