There’s never enough hours in a day. Every employee has experienced the reality of this statement at least once in their career. But it hardly rings more true for anyone else than it does for call center agents. Whether you’re working the phone exclusively or you’re mostly on email duty, if you’re working in customer service, you surely know that the work never ends. You feel this on your skin every single day. One call is done and your phone is ringing again.
A hectic work day like this can quickly end up making you feel like you’re always struggling to keep up. The reason for this is more often than not bad time management.
There are many things that you can do and habits that you can adopt to help with your time management at work, from good planning to using computer tracking software to track your time on tasks. In this article, we’ll share six time management tips that can help call center agents get through their busy schedule more efficiently and with less stress.
With that, let’s dive right in!
The first essential step towards better time management is proper planning. This doesn’t entail just listing every single assignment that you have on your plate, but knowing how much you can accomplish, what needs to be given top priority and what can be put off. This is the difference between planning and good planning. Now, most of your job comes in real time when the client calls, but there are some scheduled and ongoing tasks that can be planned, so focus on those. It’s best if you make a to-do list for this purpose, because you’ll have your tasks visually available, which will make you take them more seriously.
There are a number of ways in which you can plan your day effectively. For example, you might choose matrix method, which segments your priorities according to whether they’re urgent, important, both, or neither. Evaluating your tasks like this will help you set your priorities. Sometimes, something that’s urgent may seem important to do, but in reality you can delegate it and save yourself some time.
Next, decide what you’re going to do first. One way is throwing yourself at the top priorities at the beginning of the day, since that’s when you’re most productive. For example, this may be solving a serious problem that one of your big clients has. This way, you’ll make sure that the most important tasks are done and that they’re dealt with properly.
Alternatively, you may choose to start your day with quick wins - small tasks that you can cross off your to-do list right away, such as routine emails or short follow-up calls. This isn’t a bad idea either because it’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to get on with your day and tackle some more demanding tasks.
2. Follow Through
Once you’ve made your to-do list, don’t just forget about its existence. This plan should be your road map through the day, so try to stick to it as closely as you can. And don’t forget to tick the tasks off when they’re completed - this will be your motivation to keep going. You may also choose to follow through your tasks with computer tracking software, just to make sure that you stay on schedule, but we’ll talk more about this in the next section.
You might also choose to give yourself small rewards for completing important or difficult tasks, which will provide you an additional push. For example, after taking 10 calls, you can treat yourself with 5 minutes of scrolling through Instagram. You can also make up punishments for not completing assignments on time, but this is slightly less effective as a tactic.
3. Use Computer Tracking Software
Another way to improve your time management is to actively use computer tracking software to keep tabs on how much time you need for certain tasks. But the real value of this tool is that you can do much more with it. For instance, you can use it to pinpoint which apps and websites are most distracting to you so that you can try to avoid them. Or you can see which time of day you’re most productive and do the most important tasks then. Finally, you can analyze the effectiveness of your other time management strategies - which tools are most efficient, what kind of workflow works well for you, etc.
4. Learn to Delegate and Refuse
As we’ve said at the beginning, there will always be more work and never enough time to do everything. Which is why you need to learn how to delegate and say no every now and then. If the calls, issues and email keep coming, don’t accept it all and try to do everything because you’ll soon get overworked. It’s important to know your limits if you want to manage your time better.
If you’re in a position, delegate some urgent but not so important tasks to other people - for example, you can check within your computer tracking software to see who’s available to help you out. If you can’t do this, don’t be afraid to say no to a task or a call that’s likely to stretch up if you feel that taking it won’t leave you enough time to do some more important things.
5. Don’t Overwork Yourself
Being constantly available as call center agents by definition are, can easily lead to overworking. And while working constantly seems like an epitome of being productive, it’s a really bad idea in the long term because it’s a road that’ll take you straight to burning out.
So, it’s important to remember to take frequent breaks. Some computer tracking software solutions let you set alerts that will remind you when it’s time to take a break, but you should strive to make this a habit anyway. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated, stand up and stretch, and take your eyes off the computer screen from time to time. This won’t help your time management directly, but it’ll make you more focused and healthier, which is a prerequisite for keeping up with your tasks.
6. Prepare an FAQ Cheat Sheet
Our final time management tip is specifically tailored for call center agents and customer support. In order to save yourself some time, you should look to automate and formulate as many responses as you can. You probably have quite a few customers calling in to ask for the same information or because they have the same problem. Try to note the most common inquiries and issues down as you go, along with the answers and solutions. By doing this, you won’t waste time finding the same set of information or instructions over and over again. Your calls and emails will be shorter and quicker, so you’ll have time to accomplish more.
Working in a call center isn’t easy. With a busy schedule and large workload, getting things done on time might seem like an impossible task. But giving these time management tips a chance will enable you to find a system for accomplishing your goals without getting stressed out or burning out.