I watched a trucker finish filling up his gas tank the other day. I was truly astonished at the $680.00 charge for a single fill up. I had thought that the $55 to fill up my own tank was outrageous. I was shaking my head in derision at the cost when he smiled and said. “I know it is a lot. I am sure it is more than it needs to be because I have heard of the huge profits all oil companies are making. All my buddies talk about the extreme cost so much that to hear about it over and over again almost makes you want to quit and give up the business. But I look at it all kind of different than they do, and looking at it like that sort of keeps me sane and it helps me keep going.”
“Really?” I asked back kind of surprised. “How are you looking at it then?”
“Well,” he said kind of confidentially. “I am carrying electronics here on this load. Inside my truck is over half a million in goods. Against the money this load will make me and make the companies selling it, this cost is really still nothing. The truth is, my getting the goods to the right place by using this diesel fuel makes it possible for that half a million of stuff to actually get sold. So this fuel here is not really a cost. Instead it is something that makes all the rest of the profit possible. Thinking this way makes me feel a lot better about the cost involved.”
We talked for a few moments more about several different related points and I was glad he had been willing to interact with me that day because with his example about his work in mind I was able to find more clarity about a difficult point in my own work that had been bothering me.
Many individuals I know in contact centers around the world are very hesitant to purchase a good workforce management tool because the costs involved are quite significant. Not only do you need to purchase the use of the tool itself, but you have to pay for the training on how to use the tool as well. Then in addition it is just about a requirement to purchase additional consulting time to use when you finally have the tool up and running that will help everyone learn how to get the best benefit out of the tool. All of these purchases are not at all cheap and most people will look at the significant costs involved and shake their heads negatively in great concern. To add salt to the wound it is also extremely important that a WFM full time staff is hired to handle the tool correctly. A person who already has several other jobs like a supervisor or department leader cannot do WFM on the side as well. Hiring these task specific people will also cost a significant amount of additional money. But in spite of these expenses, my friends all still need the help of a good WFM tool for their contact center operations to be run efficiently. WFM is essential to assist in helping contact centers do business properly without waste and profit loss. They really cannot live without such a tool and still expect to stay competitive in the current fast paced market place.
But here is the crux of the matter as clarified in my conversation with the trucker. Using a WFM tool correctly does notcost you, instead it makes you money. One center I worked with who had a staff of 168 to start with; was able to optimize their workforce in such a manner as to save 1.68 million a year in payroll alone, while at the same time their service level rose to such a higher level that additional profits in income rose by 18% as well. Whatever the costs of purchasing and implementing the WFM tool were, it was nothing compared to the profit saved and made every year after the implementation was complete.
So like the trucker pointed out to me about his business, yes there were significant and obvious costs involved in transporting the material that was to be sold. But that transportation of the goods to the right place made all the rest of the real profit possible. And in the same light, a good WFM tool seems to cost a lot of hard cash up front. But in the end, a good WFM tool will actually make money when used properly. In business it is almost always necessary to spend money in order to make money. WFM is no different. But the savings involved are well worth every penny that is spent.