If You Want to Keep the Doors Open, WFM Should NOT Be an Afterthought

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Imagine you go to a restaurant. It has a Michelin star chef, so the food is superb. However, the restaurant only always has one server, named Pierre, and five constantly booked tables (you know, one of those fancy exclusive restaurants).

Now, Pierre is an incredible server. His service delivery is great because the restaurant has a very strong quality management and training team. Also, Pierre is very engaged because the restaurant also has a strong performance management program, letting him know how many tips he’s receiving in real-time and providing additional incentives for how quickly he can cycle through customers.

However, the restaurant owners weren’t expecting that it would get so popular so fast or anticipate the need to hire more servers, and there just isn’t enough of Pierre to go around.

His service delivery starts to suffer, and the restaurant’s Yelp page starts get filled with comments like “Great food, but the service stinks. Not going back!” So naturally, Pierre’s performance continues to suffer, those five booked tables are now empty, and another restaurant bites the dust.

I’m sure you’ve caught on at this point — I’m not really talking about that hip new restaurant down the street. I’m talking about your contact center.

So often I hear contact centers say: “We are looking for quality management and performance management, but we don’t really need workforce management.” They might think they are too small to warrant a workforce management (WFM) program, but the reality is that all contact centers can greatly benefit from WFM.

Many contact center leaders hear WFM and then think purely forecasting, scheduling, and intraday, but really WFM is so much more. Thinking of it as an afterthought to the rest of your workforce optimization program really puts you and your customers at a disservice.

Like our fictitious restaurant, you might have the best product and agents in the world, but if you don’t have the right number of agents to support your volume now and into the future, your customers are going to get frustrated with long queue times, delayed responses, and overall poor quality.

Additionally, even the best agents can’t perform their best when they are overloaded and frantically trying to juggle more than they can handle. It doesn’t matter how good your quality management and coaching programs are, you’re not going to get exemplary performances out of overworked, frazzled agents.

So, your agent engagement starts to drop, your agent churn starts to increase, and you’re caught in the revolving door of hiring and onboarding new agents.

Yes, workforce management allows you forecast contact volumes, create schedules, and manage intraday staffing activities — which are incredibly critical to the success of the contact center and which ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time to meet your customers’ needs.

However, a great workforce management platform also empowers you to anticipate future staffing needs with long-range planning, provide the tools to help you hire the right people, and keep employees engaged in their work.

So next time you think “WFM would be nice to have, but we don’t really need it,” remember that posh restaurant around the block that was there yesterday but that is gone today.