What Is Workforce Optimization (WFO) and Why Does It Matter in the Contact Center

With any industry that deals with a large labor force, the desire to maximize labor efficiency has historically been a key focus. Over the last few decades, we’ve all been part of innovation that has led to doing more with less. Efficiency is at the center of much of the innovation that is driving the tech side of contact center. The contact center industry spans virtually the entire world and touches nearly every company, regardless of size, and it often represents one of the largest departments in terms of employees. And with more labor comes a greater desire from leaders to improve efficiency in an effort to reduce costs. One of the most effective ways to improve efficiency within a contact center, is through the use of tools within the realm of workforce optimization (WFO). 

WFO is…

WFO is used to encompass a selection of tools all aimed at improving operational efficiency, quality, and performance. It is an umbrella term that references a suite of software products to include:

The market has several vendors offering limited components of WFO but few offer the full suite in a unified interface with easy data integration options.

Understanding the WFO suite

Each component of WFO aims to offer a unique overall benefit to those that utilize its services.

Audio and Screen Recording allows organizations to capture the information within phone conversations between your employees and your customers. Screen recording allows you to understand how your employees are navigating software and what websites are being used and when. Essentially, these tools enable an operation to have all the details of what an employee is doing while engaging your customers. These recordings can then be stored and recalls needed based on business needs.

Quality Management provides the ability to evaluate an employee’s performance while engaging with customers. For phone calls, operations would generally requires some sort of audio recording to be in place (screen recording can be added on for greater visibility). For non-voice channels like SMS, chat, email, social media a transcript would be in place of the recording. Quality Management enables organizations to review and score an employee’s performance using the sampling of interactions. Layering on a Speech Analytics component provides greater visibility with minimal extra effort.

  • Speech Analytics is the practice of analyzing and compiling the details within interactions to provide aggregated data to better understand the frequency and details of every single phone call. For example, if you wanted to know how many times all of your employees say “thank you,” this tool could provide that you information within seconds. A more practical example would be to receive an alert automatically any time an employee says something negative to your customers. The use of Speech Analytics is vast and these basic examples are barely scratching the surface of the true depth of insights that can be extracted.
  • Text Analytics is similar to Speech Analytics but simply applied to non-voice interactions like SMS, chat, email, and social media. The level and depth of information can be mined in a nearly exact fashion.

Workforce Management (WFM) forecasts volume for all communication channels within a contact center and then provides the accompanying labor requirements and agent schedules to serve the forecasted volume. Allowing an algorithm to project your future volume and labor needs has the potential to drastically improve the efficiency of your labor utilization. The potential gain in efficiency and thus cost savings are significant.

Performance Management represents tools focused on improving performance of contact center agents in any industry or specialization. Advanced solutions will aggregate data from nearly every fundamental piece of technology the agents use and quantify, trend, and graph the necessary components to simple performance analysis. By significantly reducing the effort required to mine data, leadership can apply more attention toward strategies for improvement.

  • Gamification is one aspect of performance management that focuses on making an agent engagement more fun and competitive. The aim is to make the measured aspects of a person’s job more interesting and to improve productivity in areas of sales, quality, and/or volume.

Rules-based automation enables operations to automate reactionary tasks based on defined inputs. For example, if an agent has an abnormally high handle time (defined input) when taking calls on skill “X”, the system can recognize this and reduce the agent’s proficiency (reactionary task) with skill “X” to minimize the number of calls they handle until coaching has occurred. This is a newcomer to the world of WFO and some organization have yet to group this in with the WFO category. The efficiency gain and the potential of this new type technology is vast.

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

Already implementing workforce optimization? Learn more about one of the key components – workforce management.