workforce optimization

Contact Center 101: What is Workforce Optimization?

Optimization is one of those buzzy words that gets thrown around a lot in the contact center industry. According to the all-knowing Merriam-Webster, optimization is the “act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.” So to state the obvious – workforce optimization from a software perspective are those solutions that directly improve and upscale the productivity, efficiency and quality output of your agents.

Being that the contact center is often one of the largest departments in terms of headcount, and has one of the greatest impacts on the customer experience, increasing efficiency and doing more with less is at the forefront of all leaders’ minds. One of the most effective ways to improve efficiency within the contact center is implementing workforce optimization solutions.

While you could argue that every piece of contact center software should increase agent efficiency and thus be considered a workforce solution, the contact center industry uses WFO as an umbrella term for four fundamental components:

  • Workforce management
  • Quality management, including quality management analytics powered by speech and text
  • Performance management, including contact center gamification
  • Voice and screen recording  

Understanding the WFO suite

While each workforce optimization solution offers huge benefits individually, their power is multiplied when deployed in concert.

Workforce Management (WFM)

Workforce management has often been described as part science and part art. Fundamentally, workforce management solutions help ensure you have the “right” skilled agents in the “right” place at the “right” time.  The ability to achieve the “right” staffing mix has a direct impact on customer service metrics like service levels (SLA), average speed of answer (ASA), and customer satisfaction (CSAT).

With people representing 67% of the cost of a typical contact center, “right” staffing also has a direct impact on operational metrics like labor cost, as you seek the perfect balance of meeting customer demand while avoiding over- or understaffing. While workforce management is a discipline with many detailed moving parts, WFM activities really boil down to four basic components – forecasting, scheduling, intraday management, and employee engagement. The best workforce management software will use AI powered algorithms to analyze past historical contact volumes in order to predict future contact volumes across all channels, like voice, chat, email, social, etc., as well as automate the creation and dissemination of schedules.

Quality Management and Quality Management Analytics

In simplest terms, quality management is evaluating agents’ interactions with customers to provide feedback and coaching to improvement customer experience. Quality management analytics – a newer concept in the contact center -- augments these processes by harnessing the power of speech and text analytics, and leveraging those insights to make quality programs more precise and efficient. Incorporating analytics into a quality program empowers managers to provide fairer, more targeted agent feedback. And you can do it faster and with more specificity when you can pinpoint specific interactions to evaluate. This means fewer – but higher quality- evaluations. The best quality management software solutions will provide one mechanism to evaluate interactions across all channels for both voice and screen, infuse analytics to improve evaluator efficiency and precision, automate feedback and coaching to agents, and make it easy to create and change quality forms and plans.

Performance Management

Performance management solutions do just what the name implies – manages the performance of contact center teams to improve outcomes and boost agent engagement. But how? Advanced solutions will aggregate data across disparate sources to create “one view of the truth” in the organization as it relates to performance against metrics and KPIs. Additionally, performance management software provides transparent dashboards for all levels of the organization, from the agent to the executives. Without real-time dashboards delivered by performance management software, agents are flying in the dark as it relates to their performance. This visibility empowers agents to self-correct and manage their own performance, and more empowered agents equals high engagement, which in turn drives productivity and revenue. Additionally, the best performance management software creates social and fun work environment through gamification and incentives.

Voice and Screen Recording

Voice and screen recording are considered part of workforce optimization because without this functionality quality management can’t exist. Voice recording captures the audio from customer interactions. Screen recording captures agent monitors during the interaction, providing insights related to agent process in order to amplify coaching beyond just the content of the conversation. There are a plethora of reasons to record your calls and digital interactions. For many contact centers recording is not a matter of choice due to industry regulations, while others choose to record for quality, analytics, and coaching purposes.  Luckily good recording software empowers contact centers by making capturing both calls and digital interactions – like chat and email – easier and safer than ever.

Understanding the key components of WFO gives an idea of its importance to the success of the contact center and why contact centers should consider adopting these solutions.

Thinking of implementing workforce optimization software in your contact center? Learn more about one of the key components – workforce management.