Creating Contact Center Efficiencies through Workforce Management

July 28, 2015 Ben Chacko

workforce management in the contact centerLast month, I attended Call Center Week in Las Vegas and shared my thoughts on the key trends coming out of the show. There was a lot of chatter about how new technologies are helping to create enhanced efficiencies in the contact center setting. A more efficient contact center results in cost savings for your company, healthier agent and employee morale and, most importantly, a better customer experience, which can build loyalty and drive sales.

This month I want to share insight into why workforce management is a key piece of architecting an efficient, effective customer experience. A properly executed workforce management strategy will help you to work smarter, be more productive and improve the overall customer experience through better interactions.

What, Exactly is Workforce Management and Why Does it Matter?

You could liken workforce management to the “engine” of a car—without it, your contact center wouldn’t be able to function. Workforce management is a blend of actions including forecasting, scheduling and managing teams in real time. A good workforce strategy ensures your contact center is properly trained, staffed well at all times and always providing outstanding customer service. And in the long run, can minimize costs and lead to great morale and a working environment agents want to be a part of—all while improving the customer experience and overall satisfaction. 

You probably feel like you don’t have a whole lot of extra time to properly plan and forecast for future success and efficiency. The priority for many supervisors and managers is always the end customer and ensuring that incidents are being taken care of in a timely and efficient manner. But, it is more important than ever, particularly in today’s digital world where one bad experience can lead to a social media headache, to implement proper workforce management.

Tools and Training: Getting Started with Workforce Management

To get started, you need to understand the latest contact center software and marketing automation tools that help streamline process and react to real-time data—and implement the tools that are best suited to help you achieve your particular goals. Contact center data can be a gold mine for uncovering future incident levels and workload. Having the right software tools in place can alleviate a lot of daily tasks that may currently be conducting by an agent or being neglected all together.

Once you have the right automation tools in place, it is important to focus on innovative training that can help expedite new agent on-boarding and increased efficiencies with your current workforce. Ideally, when agents are handling incidents 85 percent of the time, you can leverage downtime to offer continuing education programs and ongoing development that will ultimately result in an outstanding customer interaction. With the right software, this training can be automated—sent to the agents during their downtime—and then you’re assured it is done.

Plan, Plan, Plan

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it is to never under estimate the importance of proper planning in workforce management. Done well, it will lead to better forecasting of workload and incidents, as well as preparing staff requirements and schedules and the ability to respond well to marketing programs and other corporate initiatives.

A contact center is only as good as the agents who are handling customer incidents. Accurate forecasting can help reduce turnover and attrition and help agents feel fulfilled and satisfied on the job. Through proper planning, agents will be given more breathing room between incidents and allow for appropriate scheduling to reduce burnout. We have found that the more incidents an agent is required to handle each day, the longer those incidents take to be resolved. Proper planning can unveil critical synergies between how your contact center is being run and what your proper staffing needs really are today, tomorrow and in the future.

Creating Memorable Customer Interactions

At the end of the day, any good contact center should be laser-focused on providing a memorable and outstanding customer interaction. The right workforce management strategy can help achieve this by:

  • Creating stronger, smarter agents by avoiding staffing surpluses or shortages and decreasing agent retention
  • Implementing ongoing education, learning management tools and training in easy-to-retain chunks
  • Reducing wait times for customers through training in the workplace. This makes it easier for agents to immediately become available for calls if volume increases.
  • Increasing success/conversion rates through educated and well-trained agents. Your staff will be able to answer technical and non-technical questions quickly and exceed satisfactory levels of support, resulting in a more loyal customer and a healthier call center environment

As I’ve said before, managing a contact center is tough work. However, taking the time to create and execute a proper workforce management strategy can pay off in dividends and make life much easier for you through proper planning and forecasting. Take the time to execute proper workforce management and start seeing efficiencies and successes in your contact center today.

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