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How Workforce Management Benefits Call Centers

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 16:30
Workforce Management Optimization

How Workforce Management and Workforce Optimization can Benefit Contact Centers

Today’s call centers can be run from almost anywhere, thanks to advanced communication systems and equipment. Some call centers even have infrastructures comprised of employees working at home - almost anywhere on the globe - with calls forwarded through Voice over IP (VoIP) to their various locations.  

With these kinds of changes in technology, how are Contact Center Managers supposed to ensure their employees are fully productive, their costs stay low, and their customer interfaces are positive? They can utilize Workforce Management (WFM) and Workforce Optimization (WFO) to monitor, plan, schedule, and evaluate their employees, and the overall effectiveness of their call center.

Let’s begin by defining WFM and WFO and identify how they can be adapted to benefit today’s contact centers.

What is Workforce Management?

First off, what is meant by the term Workforce Management? Tech Target defines WFM as an integrated set of processes an organization uses to optimize the productivity of its employees – from an individual, departmental, and organizational level. WFM involves matching employee skills to specific tasks across a period of time. In doing so, they can ascertain and adjust the amount and types of labor necessary for task and job completion on a daily or hourly basis.

In practice, Workforce Management (as a part of the greater Human Resource Management umbrella) may consist of the following areas:

  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Employee scheduling
  • Demand prediction
  • Payroll administration
  • Benefits administration
  • Talent management
  • Training programs and assignments
  • Performance monitoring
  • Vacation and leave planning
  • Career planning
  • Crisis preparedness

What is Workforce Optimization (WFO)?

Now we’ll look at Workforce Optimization. As defined by Technopedia, Workforce Optimization (WFO) is a strategy for businesses that focuses on generating maximum customer satisfaction and benefits, using existing technologies, at minimal operational costs. Essentially, WFO can work to support businesses by producing key data on workforce performance. It is used to analyze, manage, and optimize staff and operational efficiency in order to maximize a customer’s experience.

A typical Workforce Optimization product suite consists of evaluative tools such as:

  • Call recording
  • Search and replay
  • Quality and performance management
  • Analytics
  • Customer feedback/survey tools

WFO can help integrate existing systems, resulting in reduced TCO and a greater ROI. Furthermore, performance management can be enhanced, along with experiencing an improvement in customer interactions, through integrated solutions for e-learning and process review. Implementing Workforce Optimization also often results in a smaller learning curve and therefore a reduction in overall training costs and increased employee satisfaction.

How can WFM and WFO be used together to Benefit Contact Centers?

So now that we’ve defined and explained Workforce Management and Workforce Optimization, how can these two strategies be combined and implemented to improve upon the typical Contact Center operation? WFM is often thought of as the tool or method used by the planning or resource committee to optimize the scheduling of agents across the organization, while WFO uses analysis and monitoring tools to evaluate employee performance and customer interactions.

Staffing can be one of the biggest obstacles managers face in Contact Center management; if staffing levels are insufficient, both profitability and productivity can be hindered. WFM can help reduce incoming call abandonment rates by scheduling the appropriate number of staff to meet the rise and fall of call demand. Using WFM in this way ensures that cost and service levels are balanced in the best way to meet customer demand while minimizing operating costs.

Also, specifically applied to Contact Centers, WFM assists with creating and maintaining schedules across all locations. Some WFM products can build upon captured historical data to forecast future demand – so that proper staffing levels can be planned for and maintained in order to maximize productivity, meet SLAs, and minimize frustrations from customers and employees alike.

Proper scheduling reduces the amount of unplanned overtime, vacations, and can result in lower transition times. Some WFM products include an advanced scheduling engine that can identify call types, making it easier to generate staffing schedules that take into account all possible factors like: agent availability, holiday and vacation schedules, and each agent’s unique skill set.

Moreover, cloud-based WFM and WFO tools can be used to access sophisticated real-time call-routing controls and reporting features across multi-site call centers and home-based agents for total transparency of call queues and agent activity. Furthermore, Workforce Optimization also works to monitor important performance criteria and call sessions. Additionally, using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based WFM and WFO solutions mean there is no investment needed for onsite equipment that has to be purchased, maintained, and upgraded.

Finally, using the right WFM and WFO program(s) to monitor and record the real-time status and availability of Contact Center agents – accounting for breaks, lunches, etc. - can lead the way for companies to meet and exceed customer Service Level Agreements. Using this monitoring interface, managers can review and compare actual agent actions against planned activities.

To summarize, when implementing Workforce Management (WFM) as an optimization tool for the scheduling of agents across the organization, as well as Workforce Optimization (WFO) analysis and monitoring tools to evaluate employee performance and customer interactions, organizations can realize better efficiency, productivity, and a reduction in costs.

Learn more about cloud contact center tools that improve productivity increase customer satisfaction.

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