Unpaid break time for contact center agents

Unpaid break time for contact center agents
US008594303B1
(12) Ulllted States Patent
(10) Patent N0.:
Noble, Jr. et al.
(54)
US 8,594,303 B1
(45) Date of Patent:
UNPAID BREAK TIME FOR CONTACT
CENTER AGENTS
Nov. 26, 2013
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Noble Systems Corporation, Maestro 2010.1.1 Manual, vol. 4: IVR,
(71) Applicant; Noble systems Corporation’ Atlanta’
GA (Us)
(72)
Inventors: James K. Noble, Jr.,
Marietta, GA (US);
I
1318b y Amastha Flelds’ Smyrna’ GA
( )
.
_
_
GA (Us)
Notice:
1101119‘
S yStems C orporat_lOIl, M aesUO 2010 . l . l M 3111.13.l ,
0 e
l 3I
VO .
Reports, Aug. 18, 2010, pp. 1-124, Noble Systems Corporation,
Atlanta, GA.
Noble Systems Corporation, Maestro 2010.1.1 User Manual, vol. 1,
(73) Asslgnee' Noble systems Corporatlon’ Atlanta’
(*)
Oct. 27, 2010, pp. 1-318, Noble Systems Corporation, Atlanta, GA.
Noble Systems Corporation, Maestro 2010.1.1 User Manual, vol. 2,
Aug. 3, 2010, 416 pages, Noble Systems Corporation, Atlanta GA
Aug. 17, 2010, 454 pages, Noble Systems Corporation, Atlanta, GA.
Noble Systems Corporation, ShiftTrack Plus User Manual 5.5.0, Jun.
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
2010, 1281
.
pages
* Cited by examiner
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
. NO ...
(22) Filed:
(51)
(52)
(58)
,
Primary Examiner i Thjuan
Mar. 15, 2013
Int_ C]_
H04M 3/00
H04M 5/00
us CL
(57)
ABSTRACT
An agent’ 5 request for a break is indicated by a pause request
and pause code, Where the pause code indicates the reason for
the break. In one embodiment, a pause request is analyzed to
determine if the agent is alloWed to request a break associated
(200601)
(200601)
USPC ................ .. 379/265.04' 379/242- 379/265.03
With the Pause Code- The Pause Code may be further analyzed
Field of Classi?cation Search’
3
USPC
378/265 03, 379/265 05 242
to determine if it is of an unpaid type, in Which case the agent
is requesting an unpaid break. If the break is of a paid type,
"" "- """""""" "
'
’
-
'
S ee app l leat Ion ?l e for Comp l et e Seamh h15t Dry.
(56)
’
References Cited
then a threshold timer may be started at the beginning of the
break that When expires indicates that any remainder of the
break is processed as unpaid time. This can be accomplished
by noting an event associated With the threshold timer in an
agent Work history log or by automatically logging off the
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
agent at the expiry of the timer.
6,044,142 A *
3/2000 Hammarstrom et al.
8,081,749 B1 *
12/2011
8,306,854 B1
11/2012 Bray et al.
379/223
Shaffer et al. .......... .. 379/26601
20 Claims, 9 Drawing Sheets
9
Data Store
1L
Payroll
Processing
System
185
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 1 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
Procesing
Payrol System185
SDtaorae 175
Inter
FIG.
1
Inter 123a
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 2 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
200\
WORK SHIFT
9:00 AM. 10:00 AM. 11:00 AM. 12:00 PM. 1:00 PM.
I
2:00 PM.
225
I
4:00 PM.
235
On-Duty
On-Duty
Rest Break
210
3:00 PM.
Lunch
Break
Rest Break
220
230
240
FIG. 2
300\
310 \\
315 \\
320 \\
325 ‘\
\t
\1
\\
Break Type
Start
End
NA
NA
335 \V/
Smoking
340 \ /
Rest
345 \ //
350 ‘V/
\\
Length (Mins.)
10
10:45 AM. 11:00 AM.
15
Lunch
12:30 PM.
1:00 PM.
30
Rest
2245 P.M.
3:00 PM.
15
FIG. 3
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 3 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
400
\
405 N
415 \
405 AM:
ALERT
l
ta/ert
4
>
420a/ tPause
FIG. 4A
440 \
444 X
4
446
Paid
’ 4
405'
Unpaid
’
'
ALERT
N442
l
talen‘
4
460 \
4
tthreshold
>
420b\/‘tPause
FIG. 4B
464 \
/
-
Lo
Pa'd
466
ed Out
> 4L
405 N
N462
l
I
>
468~tLogged-out
FIG. 4C
Back In
l
/?/
ALERT
<
Agent Logs
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 6 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
600 \
602
Identifier
0134
058
604
r6
06
r
608
Number
Event
1
Log-in
08:00:32
02/05/2013
2
Pause Type 3
09:45:12
02/05/2013
3
4
Resume
Pause Type 5
10:03:12
10:45:28
02/05/2013
02/05/2013
5
6
Resume
Pause Type 1
10:55:44
12:02:28
02/05/2013
02/05/2013
7
Alert
12:47:28
02/05/2013
8
Threshold
12:50:28
02/05/2013
9
Resume
12:55:06
02/05/2013
10
Pause Type 3
15100105
02/05/2013
11
Resume
15214236
02/0'5/2013
12
13
Log-out
Log-in
17:00:32
07:59:22
02/05/2013
02/05/2013
FIG. 6
Time/Date
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 7 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
Pause Code Pre-
700
Processing
705
Receive Pause Code from Agent
/
J
710
Is Pause Code of
Allowed to be Used?
No
Yes
715
Is Pause Code
Allowed to be Reused
No
>
by Agent?
Yes
720
is Pause Code Use
Exceeded?
Yes
No
730
ls Pause Code for
Scheduled Event?
Yes
Is There a
Corresponding
Scheduled Event?
Yes
No
735
as Aggregate Time
Limit for Pause Code
Yes
Type Exceeded?
i
Request Agent to 30
Select Unpaid
NO
Pause Code
|
”
FIG. 7
US. Patent
Nov. 26, 2013
Sheet 8 of9
US 8,594,303 B1
Pause Code
800
Processing
805
801 "F
I
Receive Pause Code
/
|—'/
810
ls Pause Code of
Unpaid Type?
820 \
[825
Start Threshold
Record Event in
Timer
Agent’s Work Log
l
r830
Wait for Resume
from Agent
Resume Received?
845
Receive Resume
Has Threshold
T'
Ex ired?
imer
p
From Agent
v
[855
/_ 850
Record Event in
Record Event in
Agent's Work Log
Agent’s Work Log
or
863
[870
Log Off Agent if
Threshold Timer
expired
FIG. 8
US 8,594,303 B1
1
2
UNPAID BREAK TIME FOR CONTACT
CENTER AGENTS
as paid Work time. This can be done by excluding this time
from the agent’s total Work time, Which is then used as the
basis for calculating the agent’s Wages. In another embodi
ment, the agent may request a pause code that is of a paidtype.
This time is included as paid time, but Within limits.
In one embodiment, the paid pause code may be variously
analyZed to determine if the agent can invoke the pause code,
e.g., take a break of the type indicated. In various embodi
ments, restrictions can be de?ned to limit the types of breaks
that may be alloWed for a given agent. If the pause code is
alloWed, then an alert timer may be started When the break
begins. The expiry of the alert timer may initiate a message
providing noti?cation or a Warning that the agent is taking too
BACKGROUND
Agents Working in a contact center may handle incoming
or outgoing communications, such as voice calls, texts, or
Web chats With remote parties for a variety of applications.
Agents handling these communications are often located in a
contact center Workplace, such as in a cubicle in the contact
center. In other embodiments, agents may Work remotely,
including from a home of?ce in their residence.
Contact center agents are typically scheduled to Work in
shifts and each Work shift typically includes one or more
long of a break. This message may be sent to the agent, a
breaks. Depending on the length of the Work shift, the agent
may be provided tWo rest breaks and a lunch break, during
Which they are not handling communications. There are other
instances When an agent is not handling any communications
from remote parties. For example, When an agent completes
handling a communication, such as a voice call, the agent may
be involved in “after call Work” activities during Which no
further communications are offered to the agent. After call
Work time may include activities associated With resolving or
completing the purpose of the call. To the extent that a “break”
20
is de?ned as being unavailable for handling communications,
25
supervisor, or provided to a dashboard application. A second
timer, the threshold timer, may also be started When the break
begins. In certain embodiments, this is set longer than the
alert timer. When the threshold timer expires, this signi?es
that the remainder of the break, i.e., the time until the agent
ends the break, is unpaid time.
The demarcation of the point When a break changes from
paid time to unpaid time may be accomplished in various
Ways. In a ?rst embodiment, an event notation is made in an
after call Work time can be considered as a break.
agent’s Work history log indicating the threshold timer
expired. When the agent requests to “resume” Work, thereby
Typically, certain types of breaks are scheduled for set
ending the break, a resume event is recorded in the agent’s
times, and agents only have limited control of their scheduled
break times. Noncompliance With the scheduled break time
frequently is due to the agent failing to begin the break at the
Work history log. The duration of the time betWeen this
threshold event and the resume event may be processed as
30
is engaging in inappropriate break-related behavior. For
35
example, an agent involved in an after call Work break may
take some additional time for personal activities before mak
ing themself ready to accept the next call. Since the agent is
typically paid based on the assumption that they Will only take
the allotted times for breaks, agents taking more break time
than alloWed are Working less than the time they are being
unpaid time by subsequent systems, including, but not limited
to, payroll processing systems.
scheduled time, or returning from a break later than the sched
uled time. An agent taking too long of a break, or too many
breaks, results in loWer productivity for the contact center.
In some cases, it may be dif?cult to determine that the agent
40
paid.
In a second embodiment, the agent is logged off from the
call handler system once the threshold timer expires. This
event is also recorded in the agent’s Work history log. In this
embodiment, the agent is not paid for time When the agent is
logged off. Thus, once the agent desires to resume handling
calls, the agent Will have to log back into the call handler
system. At that point, the agent Will be considered as Working
and Will be paid for their time after logging into the call
handler system.
As is discussed in greater detail beloW, the subject matter
disclosed herein may be implemented as a computer-con
Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive tool that is
easy to use and that controls hoW break requests from agents
are processed. Agents abusing a break policy in a contact
center should be informed When their performance is in non
compliance and should be informed When they are not being
paid for such time. It is With respect to these considerations
and others that the disclosure herein is presented.
trolled apparatus, a method, a computing system, or as an
45
article of manufacture such as a tangible computer-readable
storage medium. These and various other features Will be
apparent from the folloWing Detailed Description and the
associated draWings.
This Summary is provided to exemplify concepts at a high
level form that are further described beloW in the Detailed
50
BRIEF SUMMARY
Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key or
essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it
intended that this Summary be used to limit the scope of the
In general, embodiments of the present invention provide
claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject
computer program products, methods, systems, apparatus,
matter is not limited to implementations that address any or
and computing entities for ensuring that agents in a contact
center are not paid for inappropriate breaks. In various
embodiments, the agent may initiate the beginning of a break,
Whether scheduled or otherWise, by requesting a “pause” to
the call handler system. In one embodiment, “pausing” an
55
agent initiates a break and ceases offering any further com
60
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL
VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
munications betWeen the agent and call handler system,
regardless of Whether the communication is incoming or out
going, until the agent “resumes.” The agent may indicate a
pause code along With the pause request, Where the pause
code indicates a reason for the break.
In one embodiment, the agent may request a pause code
that indicates an unpaid break. This is time that is not included
all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.
Reference Will noW be made to the accompanying draW
ings, Which are not necessarily draWn to scale, and Wherein:
FIG. 1 shoWs one embodiment of a contact center archi
tecture that may be used to practice the various concepts and
technologies as disclosed herein.
65
FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of a Work schedule
comprising breaks in accordance With various embodiments
of the present invention.
US 8,594,303 B1
3
4
FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of a data structure indi
cating breaks for an agent in a contact center in accordance
intended to limit the concepts to only inbound calls or voice
calls, unless the context dictates such.
Depending on the embodiment, inbound voice calls may
With various embodiments of the present invention.
FIGS. 4A-4D illustrate various concepts associated With
paid and unpaid breaks in accordance With various embodi
ments of the present invention.
phone types. For instance, a calling party may originate a call
FIG. 5 shoWs a message How betWeen various contact
public sWitched telephone netWork (“PSTN”) 115 using an
analog plain old telephone service (“POTS”) line 11611. The
originate from calling parties using a variety of different
from a conventional analog telephone 1101) connected to a
center components related to the concepts and technologies
disclosed herein in accordance With various embodiments of
call may be routed by the PSTN 115 and may comprise
various types of facilities 1161!, including, but not limited to:
T1 trunks, SONET based ?ber optic netWorks, ATM net
the present invention.
FIG. 6 shoWs one embodiment of an agent Work history log
Works, etc. Various types of routers, sWitches, bridges, gate
data structure in accordance With various embodiments of the
invention.
Ways, and other types of equipment may be involved in the
processing of the calls.
Inbound voice calls may also originate from a smart phone
FIG. 7 shoWs one embodiment of a process How for pro
cessing break requests in accordance With various embodi
device 1100, such as a smart phone, tablet, or other smart
ments of the present invention.
FIG. 8 shoWs another embodiment of a process How for
processing break requests in accordance With various
embodiments of the present invention.
device, Which Wireles sly communicates With a mobile service
provider (“MSP”) 112. The voice calls may be routed to the
PSTN 115 using an integrated services digital netWork
20
FIG. 9 discloses an architecture of a component in a contact
center for practicing the concepts and technologies disclosed
herein.
(“ISDN”) interface 116!) or other types of interfaces that are
Well knoWn to those skilled in the art. In particular embodi
ments, the MSP 112 may also route calls as packetiZed voice,
referred to herein as voice-over-IP (“VoIP”) to an Internet
provider 1231) using Internet-based protocols. For conve
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
25
any type of facility 1160, 11611, or 1160 providing voice calls
to, or from, the contact center, regardless of the type of pro
tocol or technology used. Speci?cally, a “trunk” is not limited
Various embodiments for practicing the technologies dis
closed herein are described more fully hereinafter With refer
ence to the accompanying draWings, in Which some, but not
all embodiments of the technologies disclosed are shoWn.
Indeed, the embodiments disclosed herein are provided so
to time-division multiplexing (“TDM”) technology. Inbound
30
voice calls may also originate from a calling party employing
35
a so-called “IP phone,” “VoIP phone,” or “soft phone” 11011.
In one embodiment, this device may comprise a computing
device 105, such as a laptop, computing tablet, or other elec
tronic device, Which interfaces With a headphone/microphone
combination, also referred to as a headset 106. The computing
that this disclosure Will satisfy applicable legal requirements
and should not be construed as limiting or precluding other
embodiments applying the teachings and concepts disclosed
herein. Like numbers in the draWings refer to like elements
nience, unless indicated otherWise, the term “trunk” refers to
throughout.
device 105 may in turn be connected to an Internet 12311.
Embodiments of the invention may be utiliZed in various
industries, as Will become apparent to those of ordinary skill
in the art as they read the disclosure. For instance, embodi
ments of the invention may be used for ensuring factory
Those skilled in the art Will recogniZe that a variety of proto
cols and facilities may be used to convey voice calls.
In various embodiments, inbound calls from callers to the
40
contact center may be received at a call handler 131, Which
Workers taking breaks are not paid for inappropriate break
time. HoWever, for purposes of this disclosure, applications
involving contact centers are mainly used for illustrating vari
could be, e.g., an automatic call distributor (“ACD”). In par
ticular embodiments, the call handler 131 may be a special
ous embodiments of the invention.
various conditions. The call handler 131 may route an incom
ing call over contact center facilities 165 to an available agent.
iZed sWitch for receiving and routing inbound calls under
45
Exemplary Contact Center Architecture
Depending on the embodiment, the facilities 165 may be any
suitable technology for conveying the call, including but not
FIG. 1 shoWs one embodiment of a contact center archi
limited to a local area netWork (“LAN”), Wide area netWork
tecture 100 illustrating the various technologies disclosed
(“WAN”), ISDN, or conventional TDM circuits. In addition,
herein. The contact center shoWn in FIG. 1 may process voice
calls that are inbound-only, outbound-only, or a combination
of both (sometimes referred to as a “blended” contact center).
Thus, in some instances, the contact center may be referred to
as a call center When referring primarily to the context of
50
handling calls. Although many aspects of contact center
operation are disclosed in the context of voice calls, in various
55
the facilities 165 may be the same or different from the
facilities used to transport the call to the call handler 131.
In various embodiments, calls may be routed over facilities
165 to an agent for servicing. That is, for example, the party
may speak With an agent to receive customer service. An
agent typically uses a computing device 16011-1600, such as a
personal computer, and a voice device 16111-1610. The com
embodiments, the contact center may process other forms of
bination of computing device 16011-1600 and voice device
communication such as, for example, facsimiles, emails, text
messages, video calls, and chat messages.
instances, the computing device handles VoIP so that refer
16111-1610 may be referred to as a “Workstation.” In many
Since the contact center may handle calls originating from
a calling party, or initiated to a called party, the term “party”
or “remote party” Without any further quali?cation, refers to
a person associated With a call processed by the contact cen
ter, Where the call is either received from or placed to the
60
party. The term “caller,” if used, Will generally refer to a party
communicating With the contact center, but in many cases this
usage is exemplary. Thus, use of the term “caller” is not
65
ence to the “computer Workstation” or the “agent’s com
puter” refers to the computer processing device of the Work
station, but Which may be closely integrated With handling
voice as Well. Thus, for these particular embodiments, the
Workstation can be assumed to have at least a data capability
and may have a voice capability.
In various embodiments, the call handler 131 may place an
incoming call in a queue if there are no suitable agents avail
US 8,594,303 B1
5
6
able, and/or it may route the call to an interactive voice
mented by the contact center, including by integrating it into
response system (“IVR”) 135 to play voice prompts. In par
the WFM in certain embodiments. Other variations are pos
sible, as Well.
Although a number of the above entities may be referred to
ticular embodiments, these prompts may be in a menu type
structure and the IVR 135 may collect and analyZe responses
from the party in the form of dual-tone multiple frequency
(“DMTF”) tones and/or speech. In addition, the IVR 135 may
as a “component,” each may be also referred to in the art as a
be used to further identify the purpose of the call, such as, for
example, prompting the party to enter account information or
otherWise obtain information used to service the call. In other
con?gurations, the IVR 135 may be used to only provide
porate a local data store and/or interface With an external data
“computing device,” “unit” or “system.”A server may incor
store. Use of the Word “server” does not require the compo
nent to interact in a client-server arrangement With other
components, although that may be the case. Further, the
above components may be located remotely from (or co
announcements.
located With) other components. Furthermore, one or more of
Depending on the embodiment, the interaction betWeen the
call handler 131, IVR 135, agent computers 160a-160c, as
the components may be implemented on a single processing
device to perform the functions described herein. In addition,
Well as other components, may involve using a local area
the contact center architecture 100 may be provided as a
netWork (“LAN”) 170. In particular embodiments, When an
agent is interacting With a called or calling party, the agent
hosted solution, Where the call processing functionality is
provided as a communication service (a so-called “commu
may use his computer 16011-1 600 to further interact With other
enterprise computing systems, such as, for example, a cus
tomer relationship management (“CRM”) server 140 using
facilities 168. A CRM 140 may be used to integrate informa
tion from various enterprise business systems to facilitate the
agent servicing the call. The agent can also transfer the call to
another agent or supervisor, if required.
In addition to receiving inbound communications, includ
nication-as-a-service” or “CaaS”) to a contact center opera
tor. Thus, there is no requirement that the components iden
20
ti?ed above must be actually located in a contact center
location or controlled by a contact center operator. In addi
tion, depending on the embodiment, the agent positions may
be remotely located from the other components of the contact
center, sometimes referred to as a “virtual contact center.”
similes, the contact center may also originate communica
Those skilled in art Will recogniZe FIG. 1 represents one
possible con?guration of a contact center architecture 100,
and variations are possible With respect to the protocols,
tions to a called party, referred to herein as “outbound”
facilities, components, technologies, and equipment used.
25
ing, for example, voice calls, emails, text messages, and fac
communications.
In some embodiments, a call handler 131 may comprise a
30
dialer, such as a predictive dialer, to originate outbound calls
Agents in a contact center are typically scheduled to Work
at a rate designed to meet various criteria. In various embodi
ments, the call handler 131 is typically con?gured to dial a list
of telephone numbers to initiate outbound calls. Data for the
Service OvervieW
for certain times on speci?ed days. Quite often, the Work
schedule is developed for an upcoming period, e. g., an
35
upcoming Week or tWo. From the agent’s perspective, the
calls may be stored in a data store 175. After the calls are
originated, a transfer operation may connect the call With an
time allocated for each day can be referred to as their “Work
shift” or simply “shift.” The agent’s Work shift may be a full
agent or a queue, or in some instances the IVR 135.
day, e.g., seven or eight hours. In other instances, the agent’s
Work shift may be a partial day, e.g., a half-day comprising
Finally, the contact center architecture 100 may include
incorporate a Workforce manager (“WFM”) 155 component.
The WFM maintains information to generate agent’s sched
ules to effectively handle inbound/outbound calls. The
agent’s schedules may include scheduled break times. The
WFM 155 may also maintain a log of historical agent activi
40
ties, such as When any particular agent logged-in, logged-out,
45
requested a break, and returned from a break. This informa
tion may be updated for each shift or at the end of each day.
Typically, the WFM receives this information for each indi
“break.” For a full-day Work shift, there may be a rest break in
the ?rst half of the shift and another rest break during the
50
not provided on a half-day shift.
These concepts are illustrated in FIG. 2, Which shoWs an
one or more Work history logs via a netWork 181 to a payroll
cesses the agent Work history log to generate payroll for the
agents. In one embodiment, the time When the agent is
logged-in to the call handler system is the time for Which the
agent is paid. Thus, When the agent is logged-off, it is pre
sumed that the agent is not Working and is not paid.
In one embodiment, the payroll processing system may be
55
60
provided by the payroll processing system may be imple
exemplary Work shift 200 comprising a full day of an agent.
The shift 200 begins at 9:00 am. and completes at 5:00 pm.
During this time, there are several times When the agent is
“on-duty,” e.g., available for handling communications. This
includes a time segment 210 betWeen 9:00 am. to 10:45 a.m.;
a time segment 220 betWeen 11:00 am. to 12:30 p.m., a time
segment 230 betWeen 1:00 pm. to 2:45 p.m., and a time
segment 240 betWeen 3:00 pm. to 5:00 pm. Also shoWn are
rest breaks 215 and 235 for ?fteen minutes starting at 10:45
am. and 2:45 pm. A lunch break 225 is shoWn beginning at
12:30 pm. and continuing to 1:00 pm.
a separate service provider from the contact center. The pay
roll processing system may operate a service that receives
Work time data (e. g., time sheets) indicating When the agent
Was logged into the call handling system and computes pay
roll for the agents. In other embodiments, the functionality
second half. Another common break is a lunch break, Which
typically is longer in duration than a rest break and occurs
mid-Way through a full-day shift. Typically, a lunch break is
agent Work history log. More likely, the WFM 155 transfers
processing system 185. The payroll processing system pro
The nature of these breaks can vary. One frequent type of
break is termed herein a “rest break,” also referred to as a
vidual agent from the corresponding agent’s computer 160,
and then collates the data into an aggregate agent Work history
log that encompasses all the agents in the contact center.
The WFM 155 may generate payroll information using the
four or ?ve hours. The exact times are based on the agent’s
Willingness to Work longer/ shorter hours and the needs of the
contact center. Typically, various contact center policies and/
or employment regulations require that the agent has avail
able, or takes, breaks at certain times.
65
The “on-duty” time 210, 220, 230, 240 means that the
agent is available for handling communications, not that the
agent is necessarily actually handling a communication. In
US 8,594,303 B1
7
8
many instances, the agent may be Waiting for a call to occur.
Thus, these systems may not be con?gured to automatically
In other instances, the agent may have completed handling a
resume offering calls to the agent, since the agent may not be
communication With a customer and may be performing vari
ous activities to “Wrap-up” the matter. This is called “after call
at their position.
In other instances, such as ACW breaks, the break typically
Wor ” (“ACW”) time.
begins once the call ends. In some cases, the ACW time can
automatically begin after a call is completed, anticipating that
This particular example of a Work shift 200 includes vari
take their lunch break at the same time, as it may result in an
the call Will likely involve some ACW time. HoWever, typi
cally only the agent knoWs When the necessary tasks are
completed With respect to ACW time. Thus, in many
instances, it is not feasible to automatically end the ACW
insuf?cient number of agents available to handle calls. Thus,
break after a pre-determinate amount of time. In summary, it
some agents may start a ?rst break at 10:45 am. and others
may start at 10:30 am. This ensures, e.g., that suf?cient
is typically the agent that controls the end of the ACW break.
This is because if the agent is not ready to handle calls, callers
routed to the agent Will likely encounter “dead-air.”
ous breaks scheduled at certain times. The contact center may
have a number of agents and the scheduling of these breaks is
typically staggered. It Would be undesirable for all agents to
numbers of agents are available to handle calls at all times.
Although FIG. 2 only identi?es rest breaks and lunch
A common risk is that an agent may take a break, but not
breaks for the agent, there are other forms of breaks that may
return back in time. For instance, if the agent takes an
unscheduled break, such as a smoking break, the agent may
be alloWed in a contact center and each contact center may
de?ne the types of breaks that employees may request. These
may be categoriZed differently so that the type of break can be
not return back in a timely manner. In the case of ACW time,
20
tracked, analyZed, and reported to management. For example,
contact centers may de?ne a “smoking break,” Which alloWs
employees Who are smokers to leave their Work position to go
to a designated smoking area. Other types of breaks may be
“bathroom” breaks or so-called “health-breaks.” These may
be taken as needed, and may be shorter than a rest break.
Other breaks may be de?ned for “emergency” reasons, train
25
ing purposes, coaching, etc. These breaks may be personal in
nature or business oriented.
Each of these breaks denotes times When the agent is
30
unavailable to handle contact center communications. Given
this de?nition of a break, there are other times When an agent
is not available to handle calls that can also be classi?ed as a
break. For example, a “training break” can be a time When the
employee is being trained on, e.g., neW calling campaign
details. In this instance the employee is not free to do What
ever they please (as they may be alloWed to do on their lunch
break) but nonetheless they are unavailable to handle calls.
There are other forms of breaks that may exist Where the agent
35
40
is involved in Work activities, although not directly handling
the agent may linger and perform other (non-Work related)
tasks at their computer before returning to being available to
handle communications. This means the agent may be paid
for Working When they are not.
Typically the agent is required to request a break at their
Workstation computer and When the break is completed, are
required to indicate the end of the break. Further, an agent
typically indicates the type of break that is being taken. This
alloWs tracking of the number and types of breaks taken, and
alloWs statistics to be developed regarding the duration of the
breaks, and hoW Well an agent adheres to scheduled breaks.
In various embodiments, information about scheduled
breaks and other breaks an agent may request may be de?ned
in a data structure, Which can be stored or processed by
various contact center components, including the WFM 155
or the computer Workstation 160. One example of a very
simple data structure is shoWn in FIG. 3. In this embodiment,
the data structure is a table 300 that comprises columns indi
cating a break type 310, a start time 315, an end time 320, and
a break duration or length 325. In this embodiment, the ?rst
agent is unavailable to handle calls. ACW refers to activities
roW entry 335 indicates a smoking break. Since this is not a
scheduled break, it has no scheduled start or end times, but it
is indicated to have a maximum length of 10 minutes. The
next entry 340 is a rest break, Which begins at 10:45 a.m., ends
at 11:00 a.m., and lasts for 15 minutes. There is a similar entry
345 for another rest break scheduled for the afternoon.
performed by an agent after completing communication With
Finally, there is an entry 345 for a lunch break, Which begins
a party. For example, a caller may call the contact center
at 12:30 pm. and ends at 1:00 pm.
In other embodiments, more or less information may be
maintained about the breaks. For example, a maximum num
calls.
One form of break mentioned Where the agent is Working,
but is not available to handle calls is ACW time. Frequently,
this is not referred to as a “break” per se, but it is time When the
seeking to exchange an item previously purchased because
the retailer shipped the Wrong item. The agent handling the
45
50
ing a technical problem, and could average an hour or more.
ber of smoking breaks during a day or shift may be indicated.
Other information may indicate other aspects of breaks that
are alloWed for certain agents or the average expected dura
tion of non-scheduled breaks. Depending on the embodiment,
a variety of information about limitations or expectations
regarding the breaks may be indicated in the table 300.
Some breaks may be initiated and/or terminated by the
agent. For example, an agent may initiate a smoking break
ing a “pause” function at their Workstation. This typically
call may require time after the call is completed to arrange for
sending a return postage paid box to the party, shipping a neW
item at no shipping cost, updating records, etc. Depending on
the circumstances, this may take a feW minutes or more. In
other contact centers, ACW may involve the agent research
55
Agents typically request the beginning of a break by invok
When the need arises. Presumably, after completing the ciga
rette, the agent returns and indicates the end of the smoking
60
tions to the agent. Invoking the pause function typically
alloWs any existing communications With the agent to be
maintained. HoWever, pausing an agent does not log-out the
break. In other instances, the agent may be more limited as to
When the break may begin. For example, an agent’ s rest break
is typically schedule to begin and end at scheduled times. In
some embodiments, systems can be con?gured to automati
cally cease call handling operations for an agent in anticipa
tion of the agent beginning a scheduled break, but once the
agent leaves, the agent may not return at the appropriate time.
results in sending a pause message to the call handler system
(“CHS”) to instruct it to cease offering further communica
agent. For example, an agent can be involved in a call and
65
invoke the pause command to prevent any further calls being
offered to the agent after the agent completes the call and
further complete the ACW activities. In addition, in particular
US 8,594,303 B1
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lighting on a dashboard indicator that an agent has taken more
embodiments, the pause may function to cease routing other
forms of communications to the agent such as, for instance,
than the expected time for a break. HoWever, such mecha
texts, Web chats, emails, etc.
nisms do not necessarily resolve the concern of contact center
In certain embodiments, the contact center can automati
operators in that an agent is being paid to handle calls When
cally invoke the pause command on behalf of the agent. This
they are not available to do so. That is, such mechanisms do
not resolve the issue of an agent being paid for time that is not
may occur after completing a call or When a scheduled break
arrives. However, automatically invoking a pause may not be
feasible for unscheduled breaks (e.g., a bathroom break).
Thus, an agent typically must at least manually enter a pause
being Worked.
Potential solutions to this problem are illustrated using the
diagrams shoWn in FIGS. 4A to 4D. Turning ?rst to FIG. 4A,
command for an unscheduled break. When the agent com
pletes their break, they can enter a “resume” command to
indicate the break is over. In many instances, it is not feasible
for the contact center to automatically invoke the resume
command for scheduled breaks, since if the agent is not
present or not ready to resume handling calls, any calls
the break 400 illustrates a pause time period similar to one of
the breaks shoWn in FIG. 2. In this instance, the break begins
at the beginning point 405 and ends at the end point 415. The
duration of the break is referred to as tpause 42011. This break
400 may be considered a paid break in that it is considered as
part of the normally included breaks in a shift.
directed to that position Will not be handled properly.
In various embodiments, When an agent enters a pause
command, a “pause code” is indicated that informs the con
tact center (including the CHS) of the purpose or nature of the
break. For instance, depending on the embodiment, a pause
code may be inherent in the type of pause message sent or
may be a parameter in the pause message sent. Accordingly,
In some embodiments, an alert message may be initiated at
20
time tale” 405. The alert message may be sent to the agent,
supervisor, or both and may inform the recipient that the agent
has been taking too long of a break. This may, in effect,
function as a Warning message. For unscheduled breaks, the
time tale” 405 may de?ne an average break duration as mea
as a result of receiving a pause code, the contact center knoWs
sured by past values across an agent population for that type
the type of pause requested and Why the agent is unavailable
of break. For example, a smoking break may have ta 18” set to
10 minutes. An ACW break may have time tale” 405 de?ned
based on the average duration for agents Working on the same
shift, or in the same campaign. In other instances, the ta 18” 405
may de?ne the scheduled break duration. For example, a
lunch break or rest break may de?ne tale” as the break dura
to handle further calls. HoWever, in some instances, agents
may ?nd Ways to game the rules With respect to taking breaks.
For example, agents may take a greater number of unsched
uled breaks, or take longer breaks than appropriate. In some
circumstances, longer breaks are necessary. For example,
some ACW instances may involve resolving complex issues
25
30
ing a simple question from a caller, Which may involve little,
if any, ACW time. Therefore, While an average ACW time
may be knoWn, it may not alWays be clear Why a given pause
did or did not conform to the average ACW time. Using a
pause code informs the CHS of the nature of the break, and
alloWs application of statistics to determine the average dura
tion of that type of break.
In many instances, a pause for implementing a break is
generally vieWed as superior to approaches that are based on
35
In a variation of the break 400 shoWn in FIG. 4A, the pause
request could be instead for an unpaid break. In this case,
there may not be any alert message or tale” 405 de?ned in
40
logging in and logging out. Second, the CHS typically per
45
speci?c information and update various databases and sys
tems each time an agent logs-in. Similarly, When the agent
logs-out, cached information may be stored and other systems
Work time. HoWever, in certain circumstances this may be the
Transitioning to Unpaid Break Time
50
signi?cantly complicate analysis of the breaks, since in many
time tale” 405 may be de?ned to occur at the same time.
55
HoWever, after a certain time after the alert, another time,
tthmho 1d 442, de?nes a threshold time. The tthmhold 442 value
indicates the beginning of the unpaid portion 446 of the break
440. This can be de?ned to have different values based on the
campaign, agent, or other criteria. In a typical application, the
60
Working.
In particular embodiments, mechanisms may be de?ned
for measuring and reporting hoW many and What type of
breaks an agent has taken and comparing that to past agent
behavior and/or comparing the duration With other agents.
This may include sending noti?cations to supervisors or high
One embodiment for providing the necessary incentive to
have agents terminate a break is shoWn in FIG. 4B. In this
embodiment, the break 440 is divided into tWo portions: a
paid portion 444 and an unpaid portion 446. The break 440
still comprises the same duration of tpause 420b, and the alert
instances a log-out for a break appears to be the same as a
considered as Working (i.e., they are “off-the-clock”). Thus,
While logging an agent off may result in the agent being
unpaid, it does not by itself re?ect Why the agent is not
doubt agents Would prefer to avoid using this type of break,
since the entire break time is typically excluded from reported
most appropriate pause code for an agent to use.
may be updated. Thus, using a log-in/log-out approach for
log-out at the end of a shift. Thus, a log-out by itself Without
any indication of Why it occurred cannot be analyZed to
ascertain the reason for the log-out nor alloW easy prediction
of its expected duration. Typically, in many contact center
implementations, after an agent logs-out, the agent is not
conjunction With the break. An unpaid pause code could be
de?ned Which alloWs the agent to inde?nitely take a break.
Since the agent is not being paid, there is no need to Warn the
agent of an unnecessarily long break via the alert message. No
process may be easier and quicker for the agent as opposed to
taking a break is typically not preferred as it unnecessarily
increases processing in the contact center. Further, it may
needed to motivate the agent to return from a break in a timely
manner.
logging in and logging out the agent. First, the pause/resume
forms various functions When an agent logs-in or logs-out.
For example, the CHS may load and process various agent
tion or as a set time before the end of the break (e.g., a
tWo-minute Warning). The value of tale” 405 may be de?ned
different for different campaigns or types of calls. Since the
entire pause period may be treated as paid Working time for
many of the types of breaks, some other form of incentive is
that take a signi?cant amount of time, as compared to ansWer
agent may take a break and receive a tale” Warning that too
much time has been taken for the break. Once tthmho 1d 442 has
been reached, then the remaining portion of the break Will be
converted to unpaid time. In various embodiments, the agent
may or may not receive an indication of When the unpaid
65
portion begins. In various embodiments, the tthmhold 442 may
be determined by a set time from the beginning of the pause
or a set time from When t alert 405 occurs.
US 8,594,303 B1
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12
An alternative embodiment is shown in FIG. 4C. In this
the agent completes the ACW activities, then a resume
request input 495 is sent that transitions the agent back into
the logged-in state 482.
embodiment, rather than divide the break time into paid and
unpaid portions, the break 460 is divided in a paid portion 464
and a logged-out portion 466 as separated by point 462, Which
occurs at the expiry of tlogge (your 468. After this point 462, the
agent is automatically logged out from their Workstation, and
Continuing With the ACW example, if the agent dWells too
long in the paid pause state 486, a threshold timer 497 may
trigger (i.e., expire). In one embodiment, the agent transitions
to the unpaid pause state 484. This corresponds to the
example illustrated in FIG. 4B. In this state, the agent is not
being paid, as it is assumed that the agent is not engaged in
meaningful Work. If the agent initiates a resume request input
493, then the agent is returned to the logged-in state 482. At
this point, the agent is ready to handle the next communica
tion.
In another embodiment, if the agent is in the paid pause
state 486 and the threshold timer 494 triggers, this Will cause
a transition to the logged-out state 480. This corresponds to
the example illustrated in FIG. 4C. Because this state transi
tion results in the agent being logged-out, this means that the
agent cannot continue any ACW. In other Words, in this
to resume, the agent must log back in. This embodiment may
be better suited for some contact center implementations
Where logged-out time is automatically considered as unpaid
time. Thus, this implementation may result in feWer modi?
cations to other systems that process the Work data to generate
the agent’s paycheck. In this embodiment, an alert message
405 may still be used to provide a Warning indication to the
agent or supervisor. In this embodiment, the agent has taken
a break for a total time of the paused portion (i.e., tloggedwm
468) and the logged-out portion 466. HoWever, the paused
portion is recorded as only being of duration tloggedwm 468.
Thus, in this embodiment, the agent’s pause time is recorded
as being shorter in duration compared to FIG. 4B even though
the total break time is essentially the same. This is because the
20
portion of time occurring after tloggedwm 468 is treated as
being logged out and technically Would not be considered as
embodiment, if the agent is engaged in resolving a dif?cult
issue, then transitioning the agent to the logged out state Will
result in interrupting the agent as they are logged-off.
In various embodiments, information regarding When a
For this reason, if the result of the threshold time is to
log-off the agent, the alert time may be used to Warn the agent
of the impending log-off action. The agent may be asked to
verify via the alert message to con?rm that they are engaged
in appropriate ACW to reset the threshold timer. If the agent
does not con?rm, then the transition to the logged-out state
occurs, and if they are responsive, then they return to the paid
pause state 486. In another embodiment, a monitoring mod
ule tracks the user’s interaction With the Workstation com
break began, When it ended, and any timers that may have
puter to ascertain Whether the agent is engaged in ACW
a paused break. In some embodiments, in order to distinguish
this situation Where the agent is logged out automatically
from an agent logging out manually, the logged out indication
25
could identify Whether it Was agent initiated or system initi
ated. If system initiated, then a reason for the log-out occur
ring can be recorded in conjunction With the break preceding
the log-out.
30
occurred during the break are recorded in an agent’s Work
activities. This can cause a reset of the threshold timer and
history log. The Work history log (or simply Work log) con
prevent the agent from being logged-off as they resolve the
tains times and events associated With the agent’s shift that
alloWs a reconstruction of the agent’s Work schedule and
35 rssue.
related activities. In particular embodiments, the Work history
log records information associated With pauses occurring
during an agent’s shift, including those described above in
conjunction With FIGS. 4A-4C. Further structure of the Work
40
history log is presented beloW.
State Diagram
the scheduled break. HoWever, if the agent is taking too long
on ACW, it may be suitable to delay logging off the agent or
con?rm that the agent is engaged in ACW.
Finally, it is noted that the agent, once in the logged-in state
Various concepts regarding the types of breaks and pause
requests are shoWn in FIG. 4D. FIG. 4D is a state diagram that
shoWs various states that can be de?ned for the agent’ s status
45
and Workstation according to various embodiments.
The initial state is the logged-out state 480. This state is
482, could request an unpaid pause request 491 placing the
agent in the unpaid pause state 484. This may be used if the
agent knoWs that there is a need to take a break and that it
should be classi?ed as an unpaid break. In addition, once in
entered When the agent poWers up their Workstation and an
application program executed by the operating system
requests the agent to enter their log-in credentials. At this
point, the agent is not queued for receiving calls or other
Further, in various embodiments, various states may be
de?ned for different types of pauses, each With different
threshold timers and the potential for different treatment. For
example, if the agent is late from returning from a lunch
break, it may be suitable to log-off the agent upon the end of
50
the logged-in state 482, the agent could initiate a log-out
request 492 and transition to the logged-out state 480. This
Would represent an agent completing their shift.
forms of communication. The agent’s credentials comprise
lo g-in information that corresponds to the lo g-in request input
Component Messaging
490. At this point, a number of actions occur. For example, the
agent’s pro?le is identi?ed and loaded, a check is made as to
shoWn in FIG. 1 is illustrated in FIG. 5. FIG. 5 shoWs a
The messaging that may involve the various components
55
Whether the agent is scheduled, various other campaign
With the agent Workstation 160, the call hander system 131,
the WFM 155, and the payroll processing system 185. The
process begins With the agent at the Workstation 160 logging
related information may be loaded as necessary, etc. Once all
these housekeeping tasks are completed, the agent is then
ready to receive calls once the logged-in state 482 is entered.
Assume the agent does handle a call in the logged-in state
482. After the agent completes handling a call, the agent may
invoke a pause request (paid) 496 to complete various ACW
activities. This places the agent in the paid pause state 486.
This is referred to as “paid” since the agent is engaged in Work
related functions and is paid for such Work. Thus, even though
the agent is not con?gured to receive calls (e.g., the agent is in
pause mode or on a break), the agent is still Working. When
messaging diagram 500 that illustrates messaging associated
60
65
in, Which results in a log-in message 502 being sent to the call
handler system 131. The call handler system 131 updates a
log in operation 504 that records the times for various events
associated With the agent.
At some point in time, the agent may initiate a pause along
With the corresponding code indicating the type of pause. A
corresponding pause and code 508 are sent from the Work
station 160 to the call handler system 131. The call handler
system pauses the agent, and an update to the agent’s Work
US 8,594,303 B1
13
14
history log occurs again in operation 510. The Work history
i.e., event number 2, a “Pause Type 3” is recorded at 9:45 am.
As mentioned, a contact center may de?ne the various pause
types, and for purposes of illustration, it can be assumed that
Pause Type 3 is a rest break. In this example, the agent
resumed Working in event number 3 at 10:03 am. Thus, the
agent spent approximately 18 minutes on a break that Was
log may be maintained in the call handler system 131 as
shoWn in FIG. 5, or it may be maintained in another compo
nent, such as the agent’s Workstation 160.
After some period of time, Which may be de?ned for the
speci?c type of pause and other factors (e.g., the campaign
type, agent experience level, etc.), the call handler system 131
scheduled for only 15 minutes. Thus, this agent has already
shoWn a propensity to take breaks longer than authoriZed.
Skipping over to event number 6, a “Pause Type 1” is
sends an alert noti?cation in message 512 to the Workstation.
The message may be structured in various forms, and may
also be sent to a supervisor, or a module maintaining current
recorded around noon, Which can be assumed to be a lunch
agent status information (e.g., an agent status dashboard).
After the alert message is sent in operation 512, another
break pause that is de?ned in this embodiment to be 40
minutes long. At 12:47 p.m., Which is 45 minutes past the start
of the lunch break, an alert is recorded. This may correspond
With an alert message sent to the agent indicating a “tWo
update to the agent’s Work history log occurs in operation
514.
At some later time (Which could be coincident With the
alert noti?cation or later), a no-pay noti?cation in message
516 is sent to the agent by operation 518. This message may
inform the agent that the break is about to transition to unpaid
break time. This message may be triggered by the occurrence
of tthmhold 442 in FIG. 4B, for example. Again, an update to
minute Warning,” for the agent to end their break, after Which
any further time Will be considered unpaid. In particular
instances, the alert may be sent to the agent’s mobile device,
since presumably, the agent is not at their Workstation to see
any messages displayed on the Workstation. Thus, tWo min
20
utes later, at 12:50 p.m., a threshold event is recorded as event
number 8 indicating that any subsequent time is to be unpaid.
the agent’s Work history log is performed in operation 518.
At some later point in time, the agent may send a resume
Thus, When the agent resumes in event number 9 at 12:55
message 522 indicating the break is completed. The time
period 520 betWeen the no-pay noti?cation message 516 and
p.m., the agent may have incurred unpaid time from 12:50
pm. to 12: 55 pm. In other embodiments, the agent may have
the resume message 522 may be considered as unpaid time.
25
been instead logged out at 12:50 as a result of the threshold
30
timer triggering the agent to be logged out. This Would have
also resulted in unpaid time after the threshold timer.
The data structure for the Work history log 600 shoWn in
FIG. 6 may correspond to the embodiment shoWn in FIG. 4B.
That is, the unpaid pause time begins With expiry of tthmhol d
The call handler system again logs the receipt of the resume
message 522 in the agent’ s Work history log in operation 524.
At some point later, typically at the end of the agent’s shift,
the call handler system may update a WFM 155 using mes
saging 526. This alloWs the WFM 155 to store a copy of the
that occurs at some time after the issuance of the alert Wam
agent’ s Work history log. At a subsequent time, the WFM 155
may then transfer a plurality of agents’ Work history logs at
the end of a pay period to a payroll processing system 185
ing. In other embodiments, tthmhold and ta 18” may be coinci
dent (e.g., a time difference of Zero), so that the alert Warning
is effectively the beginning of unpaid time.
using messaging 528 so that appropriate payroll processing
may occur.
35
The determination of the exact structure of the Work history
log of FIG. 6 may vary and re?ect the type of approach used
for indicating When the unpaid time begins, such as illustrated
in conjunction With FIG. 4B or FIG. 4C. Returning to the
example of FIG. 6, the unpaid time begins With the threshold
40
message in event number 8 and continues until the agent
resumes in event number 9. In another embodiment, a “log
off” event could have been recorded in event number 8
The message example of FIG. 5 corresponds to the
embodiment discussed previously in FIG. 4B. Suitable modi
?cations to FIG. 5 are possible to correspond to the embodi
ment discussed in FIG. 4C. Speci?cally, a “log-out” message
could have been sent in lieu of the no-pay noti?cation mes
sage 516. This Would have logged out the agent, and the agent
Work history log Would have recorded the agent as having
been logged out. Then, When the agent resumes, a “log-in”
message could have been sent in lieu of the resume message
522. The transfer of the agent’ s Work history log to the WFM,
and then to the payroll processing system could occur as
indicated.
45
event number 9.
The approach used, and hoW the Work history log 600 is
de?ned, may depend on hoW payroll processing is performed
Exemplary Agent Work History Log Data Structure
for the agents. For instance, if the contact center controls the
50
processed. For example, the contract center can de?ne that the
cally, the agent Work history log is updated Whenever an event
payroll processing system construe the time betWeen event
number 8 (Threshold Alert) and event number 9 (Resume) as
occurs such as, e.g., the agent logging on, logging out, paus
55
time buffer of a certain time period after an alert occurs (e. g.,
tWo minutes) as marking the point When unpaid time begins.
roll for the agent based on the time Worked. An embodiment
60
that occurred at approximately 8:00 am. For the next entry,
In this embodiment, it Would not even be necessary to record
tthmho id as an event in the Work history log. Speci?cally, the
payroll processing system could be programmed to effec
tively process the Work history log by treating it as if a
Work history log 600 is shoWn as a tabular data structure
comprising an agent identi?er column 602, an event number
column 604, an event type indicator column 606, and a time/
date column 608.
Referring to the ?rst entry, this pertains to the agent iden
ti?ed by Agent Identi?er 0134 and identi?es a log-in event
unpaid time.
Alternatively, the payroll processing system could de?ne a
periodic basis (e. g., daily) to the WFM, and then by the WFM
to the payroll processing system that then calculates the pay
of an agent Work history log is shoWn in FIG. 6. In FIG. 6, the
payroll processing system, then it may have greater ?exibility
in de?ning hoW the agent Work history log 600 is to be
The agent’s Work history log includes a series of events and
times, Which are associated With an identi?ed agent. Typi
ing, resuming, or a timer expiring such as ta 18” or tthmhold. In
one embodiment, the agent Work history log is sent on a
instead. This Would require a capability in the computer
Workstation to automatically lo g-off the user. Then, When the
agent resumes, a “log in” event Would have been recorded in
threshold event Was present after a set amount of time after the
65
alert. For example, the payroll processing system could be
programmed to recogniZe a tWo minute Warning period after
an alert indication, and treat the time after the tWo minutes to
the end of the break as unpaid time. This embodiment requires
US 8,594,303 B1
15
16
that the agent unpaid break rules are re?ected in the payroll
invoked during a shift, pay period, or some other time period.
For example, a pause code may be de?ned for agent perfor
mance revieW. In this case, the revieWs may be done periodi
cally, every month. HoWever, in no instance are tWo revieWs
processing system, as opposed to the agent Work history log.
Thus, the functionality for recognizing unpaid break time can
be shifted to various components, depending on Which
embodiment is preferential for a contact center.
In other embodiments, the contact center may outsource its
in one month ever performed, let alone on the same day. This
test may limit the agent from requesting this type of pause
code Within a certain time WindoW (e.g., tWice a day). Other
restrictions may limit the pause code being invoked under
payroll processing and may not have ?exibility to de?ne hoW
the payroll processing system interprets the Work history log
600. In such cases, the contact center may simply provide the
certain conditions. For example, if contact center volumes are
Working times for the agent to the payroll processing system.
Typically, any time When the agent is logged-off is unpaid. In
very high, certain breaks may be restricted.
Another test that may be performed on the pause code is
shoWn in operation 720. This test is similar to the previous test
and involves determining Whether the agent has invoked the
pause code too many times. The contact center policy may
other Words, the time betWeen a log-on and a log-off is
deemed to be time to be paid and time betWeen a log-off and
log-on is unpaid. In such instances, recording a “log-off” in
response to an extended break Would effectively reduce the
alloW a maximum cumulative usage associated With certain
Working time to be paid.
The processing of the pause requests by a payroll system or
type of pause codes. For example, an agent may request up to
three smoking breaks a day, but not four.
Another test that may be performed on the pause code is
other contact center component can be augmented in other
Ways to compensate for agents taking inappropriate breaks.
For example, agents that are non-smokers may request smok
ing breaks simply to have more break time. Such agents may
be prohibited from taking such breaks. Or, agents may take an
20
shoWn in operation 725. This involves determining if the
25
pause code is for a scheduled event. For example, if the pause
code is for scheduled agent training, its use may be restricted
so that it can be invoked only When there is training actually
scheduled for that agent. Assuming the pause code is for a
scheduled event, then a subsequent test in operation 730 may
excessive number of ‘emergency’ breaks, Which are not War
ranted. In certain situations, it cannot be readily ascertained
Whether an agent requires an excessive number of emergency
breaks or not. A policy may be de?ned that an agent may be
alloWed one or tWo of certain break types during a time
period. After that, the agent is alloWed or requested to take an
unpaid time break. Thus, instead of lo gging off, the agent may
be requested to take an unpaid break. This Would be a neW
30
type of pause code Which could be interpreted by the appro
priate payroll processing system as unpaid time. In an alter
nate embodiment, the agent Work history log could record
each smoking break for an agent, and the payroll processing
system could be programmed to treat the ?rst tWo such breaks
in a shift as paid and the remainder as unpaid.
It should be appreciated that each of the events shoWn in
FIG. 4D, Whether initiated by the agent or by a contact center
component, are recorded and time stamped in the agent’ s
Work history log in various embodiments. This alloWs a
reconstruction of What states and What events occurred during
the agent’s shift, so that a proper accounting of the agent’s
35
40
45
and more convenient for the agent to invoke. Further, logging
be multiple unpaid pause codes de?ned. This may alloW the
50
contact center operator to better diagnose the reasons for the
non-paid breaks. Finally, using an unpaid pause code is likely
to avoid the additional processing associated With logging-off
and logging-on the agent from the call handler system.
determine Whether the pause code can be given its effect. The
55
Whether the pause code can even be invoked by the agent.
Certain pause codes may be unavailable to certain agents. For
Those skilled in the art Will recogniZe that not all the tests
shoWn in FIG. 7 have to be performed in all embodiments, and
that other ordering of the tests is possible. Further, additional
test than those shoWn in FIG. 7 can be de?ned. In this
instance, the embodiment shoWn in FIG. 7 illustrates some of
example, non-smoking agents may be restricted from invok
ing a smoking break. Other breaks, such as for mentoring or
issue escalation, may be unavailable to junior agents. Restric
requested to invoke an unpaid pause code. A pause code can
be de?ned that the agent may request for a break, but the time
accrued during the break does not count as paid time. This is
off does not alloW for a reason to be indicated, and there may
Turning to FIG. 7, the process How 700 involves processing
the pause code provided by the agent using various tests to
process begins in operation 705 With receiving a pause code
from the agent. A test is performed in operation 710 to see
tive time of sixty minutes has been reached.
If the pause code requested by the agent is not alloWed for
any of the above identi?ed tests, or for variations thereof, then
the process How continues to operation 740 Where the agent is
functionally similar to logging off, but may be slightly faster
?gures. For example, the process How shoWn in FIG. 7 may
supplement the process How of FIG. 8, or each How could be
used on a stand-alone and independent basis from the other.
codes. For example, an agent may receive multiple coaching
sessions in a day (or some other time period), but this should
not exceed sixty minutes total for a given day. Thus, three
coaching breaks, each tWenty minutes long, are alloWable, but
another coaching break may not be invoked once a cumula
time can occur.
Process How
One embodiment of a process How for processing pause
requests from an agent is shoWn in FIGS. 7 and 8. There are
a number of variations possible for the process How of these
determine Whether there actually is a corresponding sched
uled event for the agent.
Another test that may be performed on the pause code is
shoWn in operation 735. In this case, a test is performed to
determine Whether the aggregate time has been reached for
previously taken breaks having the same pause code. For
example, the contact center policy may alloW a maximum
cumulative time usage associated With certain types of pause
the more common tests that can occur, but no doubt more
60
focused tests can be de?ned to address particular break-tak
tions of Which pause codes can be used may be de?ned on a
ing abuses by agents.
per-agent basis, a per-campaign basis, a per-agent experience
level, etc.
Once it is determined that the agent can invoke the pause
code, then the processing shoWn in FIG. 8 may occur. The
process 800 begins With receiving the pause code in operation
Another test that may be performed on the pause code is
shoWn in operation 715. This involves determining Whether
the agent can re-invoke the pause code. An agent may be
805. This pause code may have been received as an output
from process 700 via input 801 or the pause code may have
limited as to hoW many times a particular pause code can be
been received from the agent.
65
US 8,594,303 B1
17
18
Speci?cally, this could be implemented as a softWare module
A ?rst test is made in operation 810 as to Whether the pause
code is of the unpaid type. If “yes”, then the receipt of the
pause code is recorded in the agent’s Work history log in
operation 825. The system then Waits in operation 830 for the
executing in the computer of the agent’s Workstation. In gen
agent to send a “resume” command. Once a resume command
desktop computer, tablets, smart phones, notebooks, laptops,
eral, the term “processing system” may be exempli?ed by, for
example, but Without limitation: a personal computer, server,
is received in operation 845, the event is also recorded in the
distributed systems, servers, blades, gateWays, sWitches, and
agent’s Work history log in operation 850 and the process is
the like, as Well as any combination of devices or entities
completed. Although not shoWn, the resume command Would
terminate the break and make the agent available for subse
adapted to perform the functions described herein.
As shoWn in FIG. 9, the processing system 900 may
quent communications. In this embodiment, there are no
include one or more processors 901 that may communicate
restrictions associated With invoking an unpaid pause code.
Ifthe pause code is not “unpaid” in operation 810 (i.e., is of
a paid type), then a second test is made in operation 815 to
With other elements Within the processing system 900 via a
bus 905. The processor 901 may be implemented as one or
more complex programmable logic devices (“CPLD”),
microprocessors, multi-core processors, digital signal pro
cessors (“DSP”), system-on-a-chip (“SOC”), co-processing
determine Whether a threshold timer is de?ned for that pause
code. The threshold timer indicates a threshold time When the
entities, application-speci?c integrated circuits (“ASIC”),
?eld programmable gate arrays (“FPGA”), programmable
logic arrays (“PLA”), hardWare accelerators, other circuitry,
break time changes to unpaid break time. The threshold time
may be distinct from the alert time. If there is no such thresh
old timer, then operations 825-850 are performed.
If there is a threshold timer, then in operation 820 the
threshold timer is started. In operation 840 a test is performed
or the like.
20
timer has expired. If not, then the process loops back to
operation 840 and Waits for a “resume” to be sent or the
threshold timer to expire in operation 860. Once the “resume”
command is received, or the threshold timer expires, then the
corresponding event is recorded in the agent’s Work history
25
distributed data interface (FDDI), Ethernet, asynchronous
transfer mode (“ATM”), or frame relay.
The input/output controller 903 may also communicate
point 863. In one approach, the agent is logged off in opera
tion 870 if the threshold timer expired. This corresponds to
the embodiment associated With FIG. 4C. In essence, the
beginning of unpaid time commences With logging off the
agent. In another embodiment, the process loops back to
30
operation 840 to Wait for a resume. This corresponds to the
35
The input/output controller 903 may also communicate With
output devices or peripherals, such as displays, printers,
40
access memory (“SRAM”), and other forms Well knoWn to
those skilled in the art. The non-volatile memory 907 may
45
50
(“EPROM”), ?ash memory, and other forms Well knoWn to
those skilled in the art.
The non-volatile memory 907 may store program code and
data, Which also may be loaded into the volatile memory 906
at execution time. Speci?cally, the non-volatile memory 407
may store one or more computer program modules, such as a
55
pause processing module 909, and related event data 910,
and/or operating system code 908 containing instructions for
performing the process and/or functions associated With the
technologies disclosed herein. In addition, the pause process
60
may include the agent Work history log) in the non-volatile
ing module 909 generate or access the event data 910 (that
Exemplary Processing Device Architecture
embodiment to practice the technologies disclosed herein.
comprise various technologies, including, but not limited to:
storage media such as hard disks, ?oppy disks, read only
memory (“ROM”), programmable read only memory
(“PROM”), electrically erasable read only memory
rules as to hoW breaks are to be treated. In one embodiment,
As discussed in conjunction With FIG. 1, the contact center
architecture 100 may comprise various components that com
prise a processing system. FIG. 9 is an exemplary schematic
diagram of a processing system 900 that may be used in an
may comprise various types of memory technologies, includ
ing, but not limited to: random access memory (“RAM”),
dynamic random access memory (“DRAM”), static random
agent Work history logs for other agents. This is compiled into
a center Wide agent Work history log, and periodically (e.g.,
for each pay period) is transmitted to the payroll processing
the threshold events are recorded in the agent Work history log
and used by the payroll processing system to treat the remain
der of the break as unpaid time. In other embodiments, addi
tional rules may be applied to indicate if and When unpaid
time is to be applied in generating the contact center payroll.
speakers, headsets, banner displays, etc.
The processor 901 may be con?gured to execute instruc
tions stored in volatile memory 906, non-volatile memory
907, or other forms of computer-readable storage media
accessible to the processor 901. The volatile memory 906
and the process loops back until a resume is received.
The result of the process How of FIG. 8 is the agent Work
system. In other embodiments, the call handler system may
maintain the center Wide agent Work history log and transmit
that to the payroll processing system.
As noted, the payroll processing system can apply various
With one or more input devices or peripherals using an inter
face 904, such as, but not limited to: a keyboard, a mouse, a
touch screen/display input, microphone, pointing device, etc.
embodiment associated With FIG. 4B. In this embodiment,
the threshold timer may expire, but the agent is not logged off
transmitted to the payroll processing system. In one embodi
ment, a daily agent Work history log is maintained in the
Workstation computer used by the agent. This is transferred to
a Workforce management system, Which collects the daily
municating data via the local netWork With various external
devices, such as other components of FIG. 1. In other embodi
ments, communication may be via Wired, optical, or Wireless
netWorks (or a combination thereof). The communication
may use a variety of data transmission protocols, such as ?ber
log in operation 855.
At this point, a processing option is possible at junction
history log. The log must then be processed by a payroll
processing system to determine and generate the payroll for
the agent. This requires that the agent Work history log be
In one embodiment, the processing system 900 may also
include one or more communications interfaces 902 for com
to see if a “resume” has been received from the agent. If not,
then a test is performed in operation 860 to see if the threshold
memory 907, as Well as in the volatile memory 906. The
volatile memory 906 and/or non-volatile memory 907 may be
used to store other information including, but not limited to:
records, applications, programs, scripts, source code, object
65
code, byte code, compiled code, interpreted code, machine
code, executable instructions, or the like. These may be
executed or processed by, for example, the processor 901.
US 8,594,303 B1
19
20
receiving a pause request at the Workstation indicating a
These may form a part of, or may interact With, the pause
processing module 909 and/or event data 910.
pause code from the agent requesting the break during
the shift;
The technologies described herein may be implemented in
various Ways, including as computer program products com
prising memory storing instructions causing a processor to
recording a pause event comprising the pause code and a
corresponding pause event time in an agent Work history
perform the operations associated With the above technolo
gies. The computer program product may comprise a tangible
10%;
suspending the agent from receiving further communica
non-transitory computer readable storage medium storing
tions from the contact center in response to receiving the
applications, programs, program modules, scripts, source
interpreted code, machine code, executable instructions, and/
pause request;
starting a threshold timer at the beginning of the break;
upon an expiry of the threshold timer, recording a threshold
or the like (also referred to herein as executable instructions,
event and a corresponding threshold event time in the
code, program code, object code, byte code, compiled code,
instructions for execution, program code, and/or similar
agent Work history log re?ecting expiration of the
terms). Such tangible, non-transitory computer readable stor
threshold timer, the threshold event indicating that a
subsequent duration of the break is unpaid time;
age media include all the above identi?ed media (including
volatile and non-volatile media), but does not include a tran
receiving a resume request from the agent;
sitory, propagating signal. Non-volatile computer readable
recording a resume event and a corresponding resume
storage medium may speci?cally comprise: a ?oppy disk,
?exible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, compact disc read
only memory (“CD-ROM”), compact disc compact disc-re
Writable (“CD-RW”), digital versatile disc (“DVD”), Blu
20
terminating the break in response to receiving the resume
request from the agent Wherein the agent can receive
25
2. The method of claim 1, Wherein the agent is not paid for
the subsequent duration of the break after the expiry of the
threshold timer.
3. The method of claim 1, Wherein the pause code indicates
event time in the agent Work history log; and
further communications from the contact center.
rayTM disc (“BD”), any other non-transitory optical medium,
and/or the like. Non-volatile computer-readable storage
medium may also comprise read-only memory (“ROM”),
programmable read-only memory (“PROM”), erasable pro
grammable read-only memory (“EPROM”), electrically
erasable programmable read-only memory (“EEPROM”),
after call Work is to be performed as a result of the agent
handling and completing a communication from the contact
?ash memory, and/or other technologies knoWn to those
center.
skilled in the art.
30
CONCLUSION
Many modi?cations and other embodiments of the con
cepts and technologies set forth herein Will come to mind to
one skilled in the art having the bene?t of the teachings
35
presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated
to determine if the agent is alloWed to request the break
associated With the pause code received, Wherein the
40
step of suspending the agent from receiving further com
munications is performed upon the test determining the
agent is alloWed to request the break.
6. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of:
performing a test in response to receiving the pause request
45
to determine if the agent has exceeded a ?xed number of
breaks associated With the pause code Within a de?ned
For example, a contact center may track all the unauthorized
break time for an agent during a Week. Suppose this time
totals to 20 minutes. When generating the agent’s schedule
for the folloWing Week, this time may be deducted from the
agent’s lunch breaks. Thus, for the folloWing Week Where
lunch breaks may be normally e. g., 40 minutes, the agent may
be scheduled for tWo lunch breaks at 30 minutes, or four lunch
breaks at 35 minutes. The cumulative shortening of the lunch
breaks compensates for the total accumulated unauthorized
time. In other embodiments, the agent’ s pay for the pay period
could be reduced by the total unauthorized break time.
Therefore, it is to be understood that embodiments other
period of time, Wherein the step of suspending the agent
from receiving further communications to begin the
break is performed upon the test determining the agent
50
55
cations to begin the break is performed upon the test
determining the agent has not exceeded the aggregate
time previously taken on breaks.
The invention claimed is:
1. A method for an agent in a contact center to request a 60
break during a shift of the agent, the method comprising the
steps of:
8. A non-transitory computer-readable storage medium
storing instructions that When executed by a processor cause
the processor to:
receive a log-in from an agent at a Workstation at a begin
receiving a log-in from the agent at a Workstation at a
beginning of the shift of the agent;
Workstation of the agent after receiving the log-in from
the agent;
to determine if the agent has exceeded an aggregate time
previously taken on breaks associated With the pause
code Within a de?ned period of time, Wherein the step of
suspending the agent from receiving further communi
limitation.
directing communications in the contact center to the
has not exceeded the ?xed number of breaks.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of:
performing a test in response to receiving the pause request
than the embodiments disclosed herein are intended to be
included Within the scope of the appended claims. Although
speci?c terms may be employed herein, they are used in a
generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of
of the alert timer.
5. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of:
performing a test in response to receiving the pause request
draWings.
For example, agents that take additional unauthorized
break time may be paid for the entire break, but the additional
unauthorized break time may be deducted from future breaks.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
starting an alert timer at the beginning of the break;
recording an alert event in the Work history log of the agent
upon an expiry of the alert timer, Wherein the alert timer
expires before the threshold timer; and
providing a visual noti?cation to the agent upon the expiry
ning of a shift of the agent;
65
direct communications in a contact center to the Worksta
tion of the agent after receiving the log-in from the
agent;
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