Nikki Quinn at Playvox explains how to improve contact centre productivity with WFM software.
The requirement to provide a better customer experience while improving productivity and controlling costs is paramount in contact centres at the best of times. During a recession, it could be the difference between survival and failure.
Workforce management (WFM) continues to be one of the most important contact centre productivity tools. By optimizing the use of the new generation of WFM solutions, contact centres can reduce staff-related costs by 10-20%, enabling them to come through the recession with minimum impact on service levels and the customer experience.
While it is always important to define the right HR strategy for workforce management, it is even more important during an economic downturn.
Focusing on the strategy, along with an analysis of the current situation and the future perspective of the business is critical. Investing in a future-proof workforce management tool that offers agility, flexibility, and fully supports end-to-end digital interactions is also key.
What is Workforce Management Software?
Workforce management is a software solution that helps organizations streamline and automate the processes that manage employees’ time, organize and deploy their labor force efficiently, enable employee and manager self-service, and maximize contact centre productivity.
When you use workforce management software, you can gain invaluable insights into your employees’ work habits, your distribution of labor, and other key metrics that affect your employee-business relationships.
Workforce Management Strategy
In times of economic slowdown and recession, new business challenges appear. How should contact centre strategies change in order to manage the workforce during a recession?
The strategy should not only focus on surviving an economic downturn but also develop unique practices and restructuring organizational processes to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, consider not just focusing on cost-cutting, but these other areas.
Restructuring the Organizational Processes
Identify future potential and new ways of doing things. It’s time for change and your WFM tool needs to support this.
Some questions you may consider include:
- Are you considering introducing low-cost service channels to handle your customer engagement strategies?
- Can your workforce management tool cope with this?
- Can you track all interactions (and forecast and schedule accordingly)?
- Are you able to track not just at the ticket resolution level, but also all of the interactions it may take to resolve a single ticket (e.g., billing, membership services, etc)? Are you forecasting to accommodate all these interactions?
The workplace has changed and this will continue to do so with the introduction of Generation Flex who demand flexibility in the workplace.
With this comes new challenges whereby contact centres will need a WFM solution that supports remote working whilst still giving employees transparency regarding performance and flexibility around working patterns.
Increase Contact Centre Productivity and Flexibility
Think about the people in your organization in an agile way. Things you may consider include:
- Agent available hours of working
- Time spent on each type of interaction – text, email, etc.
- Understanding where your over-staffing and under-staffing is impacting service levels (SLAs)
- Finding out if your current shifts are still feasible with a model that includes end-to-end digital and voice interactions.
- Optimizing your off-channel activities to occur at the best time for the business? And, discovering if agents are able to state their available hours of work.
Unlocking the Potential for Future Growth
Retaining your top performers can strengthen the goal of rightsizing and optimizing performance by increasing operational efficiency and productivity.
Reduce those laborious, manual, repetitive tasks and look towards effectively automating forecasting and scheduling. Empower your people by enabling them to self-serve in terms of annual leave and shift swap requests.
This is the time of the VoE (Voice of the Employee) and it is here to stay. Work/Life balance is more important than ever, as is mental health and well-being and these are all important considerations with workforce planning today.
Anticipate the future needs of the businesses and look at your resources and demographics so that you can realign for future needs.
By spending more time on strategy for long-term workforce planning, organizations may be able to reduce the need for layoffs.
Agility and flexibility are crucial elements of any WFM solution and will not only help you in these current times but will future-proof your investment moving forward by supporting the new wave of Generation Flex. You will need a WFM solution to support their need for flexible working moving forward post-recession.
Do you have the insight today to be able to have a clear understanding of whether your current shifts are working for your organization and indeed your people? Right people, right time, right skill set, right channel, right now.
Rightsizing Your Workforce
Rightsizing is different from downsizing. It’s more thoughtful. It strategizes the actions of restructuring by reducing or rearranging its workforce and processes in order to streamline the business.
It’s about adjusting the workforce to get it to the right size, while downsizing is a specific action and is short-term. Rightsizing should be done on an ongoing basis with long-term vision. AS you rightsize your workforce and leverage a WFM solution, ask these questions:
- Does your WFM solution enable you to create an effective capacity plan?
- Are you able to create effective long term forecasts? If you are currently trying to achieve any of this manually, what would you do with the time that you get back through the automation of these processes with a WFM tool?
The recession should be considered as an opportunity for HR to contribute strategically in the area of people management.
Time is changing, business expectations are increasing and in this diverse time, HR Professionals must play a proactive role in managing the challenges of recession by helping to manage the workforce to maximize both productivity and profit.
Recessions happen. It’s best not to fear them, but rather to look ahead to figure out how fluctuations in the market can help your business, rather than hurt it.
When introducing non-voice channels into your organization, there are new areas to consider from a planning perspective.
Monitoring concurrency is key in a digital first world and being able to measure a new metric known as AFAHT (average first average handle time) comes into play.
It is also important to have real-time productivity insight at your fingertips regardless of channel, agent location or indeed the agent themselves.
You can’t change what you can’t see! Realtime dashboards play an important role in Workforce Management, as they give timely insight around forecast versus actual performance across all customer service channels, enabling organizations to monitor and make any necessary changes to avoid negative impact on Customer Experience.