Businesses are working smarter, faster, and constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency by reducing waste and increase productivity. Contact center operations have always been in a pressured position to better manage cost while continuing to drive a great customer experience. Workforce Management (WFM) is one of the key components in meeting these objectives. But not all WFM solutions are created equal and many of them rely on technology that is outdated and proven to be inaccurate and inefficient.
But where do you begin?
A natural starting point is to identify and fully understand your business needs and then begin the search for potential solutions. In a recent webinar, I detailed the 5 workforce processes you shouldn’t live without, and I’ve included a little cheat sheet for you here.
- Accurate forecasting
Most WFM solutions use an Erlang model to create the forecast. This model works well in certain environments, however is subject to significant error for operations with less than a few thousand phone agents. Now some of you may be reading this and think, “well, we only have 20 agents, I don’t need to forecast.” This is not true at all. Forecasting is appropriate in any business, and the right WFM technology can still deliver efficiency improvements that save money and/or aid in ensuring all service level objectives are achieved. The advanced WFM tools leverage multiple forecasting algorithms with a goal of delivering the most accurate forecasts in the industry. The right solution will flex and support you as your operation grows and evolves as your business needs and priorities change.
- Efficient scheduling
There are three kinds of scheduling optimization (static, linear, and concurrent), but the most beneficial would be concurrent. It’s the most advanced and will minimize labor waste while ensuring all the necessary service level objectives are protected. Concurrent schedule optimization looks at the labor force and all of their shift activities as a single body and adjusts and fits everything together simultaneously. The result of this improves utilization and can significantly reduce labor waste.
- Helpful intraday management
First things first, you need to think beyond your over/under reporting abilities and focus more on the speed and accuracy of your reaction to real-time volume impacts that require adjustments. Not only should you have real-time or near real-time updates but everything should have the option to view in a standard chart or graphically to ease your effort in identifying areas needing attention. Look for WFM solutions that focus on an intuitive intraday interface with all of the necessary advanced features you need.
- Simplified user interface
This comes down to one thing – ease-of-use. Sophistication of a solution doesn’t mean it has to be complex, you need it to match your business needs and goals and performance. If your WFM component takes 4 weeks of training, that should be a red flag. A good solution will take a couple of days to learn and should require less than a month to become proficient. An easy to use product also allows the contact center to look inward for WFM staff, rather than hiring more expensive experience WFM experts.
- Advanced intelligence
Implementing a workforce management (WFM) component should be looked at as part of a larger picture – workforce optimization (WFO). WFO includes several components, and WFM is one of them and needs to be tightly integrated with the other components (Quality Management, Performance Management, and voice/screen recording). Although may not immediately see the value behind this the impact could save you time and money while also having a positive impact on your employee engagement and ultimately the customer experience. An intelligent unified WFO solution will allow for systemic rules to deliver automated delivery of notifications, schedule coaching, or even alert leadership of notable occurrences within the operation in real-time. Not only should your WFO tools work for you but they should work with you by providing supplemental features that make the management of a contact center easier and more in depth at the same time. Intelligent contact center technology is available today but almost exclusively within solutions that have a cloud deployment model due to the connected nature of this approach.
Your interest in this information is a great first step – next up, start shopping for a solution that meets your business needs, shop around, and use question derived from articles like this one when working through your prospective vendor list.