Industry Insights: WFM Best Practices in the Contact Center

Workforce Management (WFM) is all about assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time- all to benefit overall contact center operations and ultimately customer service. Based on our experience, WFM in the contact center can and should be fluid; meaning managers must continue to evolve their techniques to achieve superior results over time consistently.

In this blog, we will look at how WFM tools can drive transformational, positive change for agents in the contact center and the business overall. Below we offer some food for thought regarding WFM best practices as they relate to shift bidding, social media, scheduling change, service level agreements (SLAs), and work-life balance.

Shift Bidding and Scheduling

Incorporating shift bidding into the scheduling process doesn’t have to be difficult; in fact, new tools exist that automate the process. Automation is critical because it can help eliminate confusion typically caused by asking agents one-by-one for their schedule preferences. It’s also tempting to give priority to agents based on tenure or seniority, but shifts should be assigned based on performance, quality monitoring scores and other elements that motivate agents to improve their personal performance. Finally, look to shift trading or even work-at-home agents (WAHA) to keep your contact center happy, especially during the holidays!

Social Media Intelligence

Social media is already a major communication channel for younger customers, and can be a valuable tool in the contact center to reach this audience and to gather critical intelligence from the chatter. Before you embrace social media, think about what resources to allocate to monitor and handle posts. Do agents need additional training? If your agents are responding to posts, ensure those who are monitoring social media are providing options for getting your customers in touch with the appropriate party. The idea is to make it easy for the customer to get the answers they are looking for. Empower your agents to make that connection.

Finally, what are you doing with all of the intelligence provided by customers on the social sites you are monitoring? This information is invaluable as it provides insight into the mind of a customer that can be leveraged to improve your products and services down the road.

Making Changes to Scheduling Practices

Be proactive -- leverage WFM tools that allow for monitoring of trends that can lead to transformational changes in agent scheduling practices. For example, if you recently added WAHA to your contact center, monitoring may tell you that you probably don’t want to utilize the same scheduling practices that you apply to on-site agents. Or, if you have recently added social media monitoring tools to your contact center, you probably want to look at trending data as it relates to new contact types and how they are handled. Such data is powerful and can significantly improve your workforce.

SLAs, Schedule Adherence & Work-life Balance

WFM tools can also provide insight into other staffing issues like achieving SLAs, schedule adherence, and work-life balance. Look beyond SLA achievement as another check box item, and examine how the SLA was achieved. Was the business objective met while we were overstaffed at the agent level? Review historical data sets to determine if you are delivering the proper level of service consistently throughout day after day, week after week.

Using these tools when reviewing schedules help ensure that agents are aligned to your business needs and goals. One way to keep everyone on the team involved in maintaining adherence is tying incentives or bonuses to adherence achievements. You may also consider applying WFM data to offer work-life balance perks – like working from home – to top performers.

Dive into the Data

WFM solutions can vastly improve contact center operations, but these tools require continuous refinement to keep up with changing business needs, market dynamics and customer behaviors. WFM data can help you navigate such change and provide insight to improving your business by empowering your agents.