Credit union automates call center scheduling

Dee Kirby says agents are happier, and calls are handled faster and easier, since the call center automated its scheduling.

(GCN Photo by Henrik G. DeGyor)

The Navy Federal Credit Union found Microsoft Excel spreadsheets a poor tool for organizing the schedules of 600 call center agents who field 600,000 calls a month.

The spreadsheets didn't provide enough flexibility, said Dee Kirby, operations call center analyst at the credit union. Call center agents went on lunch breaks together, instead of in shifts. And when staff members called in sick, many times there was not enough staff to handle the stifling call volume.

It was a scheduling nightmare, Kirby said.

'It was very difficult to meet the business needs. It was hard to do adjustments on the fly,' Kirby said. 'Call centers had static shifts. We didn't have an automated tool.'

Today, Navy Federal is using Maxima Advantage, work force management software from Pipkins Inc. of St. Louis, at its four largest call centers. The centers' 600 workers handle calls about consumer lending, credit card services, mortgages, equity, savings and membership.

Check the calendar

The software can calculate staffing demands based on the call routing system. The system also generates staff schedules based on peak loads, seasonal demand and special promotions that can boost call volume.

'We can do templates so it forecasts the different types of calls. It counts what type of calls are coming in,' Kirby said. 'It shows how many are related to an IRA, how many are related to consumer loans. We call each call a skill. If there are a lot of loan applications coming in, we want to adjust. It goes in and counts every half hour.'

Agents are happier now too, she added, and calls are handled faster and with more ease.

Hungry yet?

'Now the employees are entered into the system when they're hired,' Kirby said. 'They give us a range of times. Instead of shifts, they give us a 10-hour window that they can work and the software adjusts them. It assigns them their lunches and breaks as well. It's a pretty robust system.'

In June 2001, Navy Federal began using the software in its consumer lending center. The center was chosen to go first because of the 'huge peaks and valleys in its call handling,' Kirby said. The other major centers followed.

Navy Federal bills itself as the world's largest credit union, with 2.2 million members.

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