Emerging WFM Trends to Look Out For

Workforce Management Trends on colorful paper note with calculator and pen on red background.
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We asked our panel of WFM experts about the latest trends contact centre leaders need to know. Here’s what they said…

Email, Webchat, and Social Media Could Overtake Phone Calls

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the phone call have been greatly exaggerated.

But channels such as email, webchat, and social media are overtaking phone calls in contact centres. That trend is set to accelerate.

When it comes to WFM, this means there will be a more complex skills set-up. Agents need knowledge of their organization’s products and services and they must also possess the skills needed to effectively use the various channels.

High-performing call handlers don’t necessarily have the writing skills needed for email, for example.

The skills landscape needs to be accurately reflected in the WFM system. You also need to factor into your staffing calculation the reduced effectiveness of agents who are in the process of being trained.

And you need a WFM application that lets you schedule multiskilled agents in a way that achieves multiskill pooling efficiencies without huge effort.

Automation Is Driving Up Average Handling Times

Chris Dealy at injixo
Chris Dealy

In the future, contact centres will increasingly utilize customer data and AI-driven technologies to deliver highly personalized experiences.

Advanced analytics will allow contact centres to gain a deep understanding of customer preferences, history and needs, enabling agents to provide tailored solutions and recommendations.

Again, this has ramifications for WFM. Agents who provide a personalized customer experience are better equipped to answer all the customers’ questions and close sales.

Result: longer average handling times.

That goes against the usual mantra of trying to reduce AHT to improve efficiency. The name of the game is to monitor AHT, level up the forecasting of AHT, and optimize for efficiency, customer experience, and profitability.

Machine Learning Improving Forecast Demand

AI and machine learning are revolutionizing how WFM tools forecast demand and create schedules through predictive analytics.

These technologies can analyse vast amounts of historical data and predict future trends with remarkable accuracy, helping to optimize workforce scheduling, reduce costs and save time.

For instance, Emovis implemented an AI-driven system that could predict workload based on various factors like historical data, seasonality, and market trends.

This predictive capacity drastically reduced their instances of under- or overstaffing, leading to increased efficiency and a reduction in operating cost of over £250k per year.

Contributed by: Chris Dealy, WFM Evangelist, injixo

Intraday Automation Updating Schedules as Events Unfold

Simon Beck, Head of Sales at QStory
Simon Beck

WFM does a great job of handling various factors when making the long-term plan. The plan is as good as it can be when it’s created, but for a contact centre to run as well as possible, you need to adapt to changes as they happen.

There is simply too much data for Real-Time teams to handle, and manual adjustments are too slow to be effective.

Intraday automation uses hundreds of algorithms to adapt as events unfold. Schedules and related systems are automatically updated, agents are working on the most productive activities and service levels are met.

Contributed by: Simon Beck, Head of Sales, QStory

The Emerging Concept of the Extended Contact Centre

Nicolas Marcoin, Product Marketing Manager, Odigo
Nicolas Marcoin

As a key element driving effective resource management and cost optimization, WFM will naturally follow the major technology trends in customer relationship management: AI, CCaaS, CRM and UCaaS.

This leads to three major trends, the concept of the extended contact centre, omnichannel, and AI:

  • The newest trend is how to maximize on the expertise of everyone in an organization. No more front office only, customer relationships can be extended to all employees regardless of location or primary job role. When it comes to managing these interactions, WFM is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
  • Omnichannel service is not new, but it is still normalizing. Ensuring seamless coordination and allocation of resources among new and emerging channels is paramount for maintaining customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
  • AI influences WFM both in terms of evolving agent roles and the direct impact on WFM tools: personalization of agent schedules, more targeted training, conversational tools for WFM interfaces and data-driven performance management.

Contributed by: Nicolas Marcoin, Product Marketing Manager, Odigo

AI-Powered Microlearning Fitting Into Agents’ Busy Schedules

Andrea Meyer at Centrical
Andrea Meyer

The key to a successful contact centre is a knowledgeable, motivated, engaged, and performing frontline workforce that delivers an outstanding customer experience.

This can be achieved through:

AI-Powered Microlearning

AI-powered microlearning delivers short, relevant learning modules within the flow of work as they are needed. These modules help reinforce learning and can be completed in just a few minutes between calls.

Augmented Coaching

Augmented coaching helps supervisors quickly prioritize who to coach and spend more time on meaningful coaching sessions by reducing administrative tasks.

Real-Time Performance Insights

Real-time performance insights give agents and managers access to metrics in the moment, helping to determine where improvement is needed and how to get there.

Gamification

Gamification taps into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, keeping contact centre agents motivated, engaged in their work, and performing at their best with friendly competitions, rewards, and recognition.

Contributed by: Andrea Meyer, Content Marketing Manager, Centrical

Ticket Deflection and Agent Assistance

Kaytlin Louton at Assembled
Kaytlin Louton

Where will AI have the most impact? Most companies working to develop AI-powered solutions for the CX space are myopically focused on ticket deflection.

But if deflection is all you care about, you’re missing out on the big-picture opportunity presented by AI.

At the end of the day, it’s your cost per case and customer satisfaction scores that actually drive value over the long term.

We believe a combination of AI for deflection where appropriate and AI for helping agents quickly and confidently connect customers to answers will be the sweet spot for AI’s success in the contact centre.

Contributed by: Kaytlin Louton, GTM, Assembled

Remote and Hybrid Work Models Will Take Their Toll

According to Calabrio’s recent State of the Contact Centre report remote and hybrid work models are taking their toll, with nearly half (40%) of contact centre managers ranking them in the top three challenges they face today.

The good news is automated workforce management (WFM) continues to accelerate the path towards effective remote and hybrid working. Therefore, expect to see wider deployment of this technology.

The latest WFM solutions can predict best shifts and agent fit while data-driven AI allows planners to pre-plan their remote situation rather than just know in their own mind that agents are working from home.

Self-Service Scheduling Apps Becoming Popular

Dave Hoekstra
Dave Hoekstra

Meanwhile, app-based self-service scheduling gives agents the freedom to add days of work, move breaks or lunches, and trade partial-day shifts anytime, anywhere using their mobile devices.

Conversations with customers indicate that agent-self-scheduling usage has rocketed – up 200% – in the last 12 months.

The added bonus of self-scheduling is that planners get extra flexibility when creating base schedules, which helps manage all sorts of issues that planners have dealt with in the past, but no more!

Blurring Lines Between WFM and QA

WFM and QA are the most powerful when they work together, knitting together workforce and quality management data to provide an extra layer of value that optimizes contact centre performance.

For example, WFM self-scheduling solutions encourage high levels of self-awareness so that if an agent knows they aren’t at their best first thing in the morning, they can volunteer for more afternoon or evening shifts.

Analytics-powered dashboards give agents all the visibility they need to form their own self-assessments and personal development plans while harnessing WFM to automatically plan their training at a time to suit their WFM and hybrid lifestyles.

The best contact centres will think differently, perhaps using quality scores to impact schedules rather than create schedules based purely on agent skills.

They will blend WFM and QM systems with automated performance coaching to develop a robust QA framework that continuously identifies skills gaps, improves training, and monitors agent performance over time.

Contributed by: Dave Hoekstra, Product Evangelist, Calabrio

Increasing Integration Between WFM and WFO for a More Holistic Approach

Brian Spraetz
Brian Spraetz

In the evolving space of workforce management (WFM), contact centres must remain proactive in adopting key trends:

AI-Driven Forecasting

Artificial intelligence is reshaping WFM with more precise and adaptable forecasting models that quickly adapt to changing patterns.

Flexible Scheduling

Modern WFM tools offer flexible scheduling options, catering to agents’ demands for work-hour flexibility, thereby boosting agent satisfaction and productivity.

Real-Time Adherence

WFM systems are moving toward real-time adherence monitoring, enabling quick adjustments in response to changing circumstances.

Self-Service Portals

Agents benefit from self-service tools that allow them to manage schedules, request changes, and access information, granting them greater control over their workday.

Contributed by: Brian Spraetz, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Five9

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