Charles Watson explains how workforce management (WFM) technology can boost a contact centre’s service level.
Achieving service levels consistently is critical to ensuring your customers can get through to your business. The customer’s first impression is how long they have to wait to get through.
This challenge can be incredibly difficult, and virtually impossible without the right technology supporting you.
So, how can a workforce management (WFM) tool help you achieve your service level?
1. Forecasting the Intervals
Every 30-minute interval needs to be planned and staffed across the day.
The interval requirement is a combination of the volume, handle time, and expected staffing.
WFM technology helps to bring this all together for you to understand what requirements you need to staff to in order to achieve your expected service level.
2. Building Schedules
Simple schedules can be created in a spreadsheet.
Doing that is time-consuming and incredibly inefficient. It is not easy to measure schedule efficiency.
However, WFM software will build efficient schedules that complement each other, so they fit together to align the staff to the need.
3. Time Tracking
Understanding where your employees are spending time is important in a contact centre. Tracking shrinkage, which is made up of categories like vacation time, breaks, lunches, meetings, and training, among others, is also vital.
Tracking shrinkage helps in planning, because it is one of the inputs into determining the total staffing requirements.
4. Modelling Service Levels
Service levels aren’t “one size fits all”.
Many contact centres use one service level across all call types, but you should test this and explore different service levels for different call types.
For example, technical support calls can generally wait longer, while in a sales environment, you want callers to get through quickly.
Using WFM technology, you can see staffing levels at an 80/20 and then at a 70/30 to see what the differences in staff requirements are.
5. Optimising Breaks
Over time, call-arrival patterns change.
Each day, you may have a different set of agents call in sick, and various team meetings and offline activities.
Using a WFM tool, you can optimise your breaks to help even out the staffing levels throughout the day and keep close alignment between where your agents are and where the customer need is.
6. Monitoring in Real Time
Even with the best planning, intraday variances will occur.
When this happens, your team needs to quickly identify the variance and take action. A good WFM system will show you “real-time adherence”, so you have a constant view of the number of agents out of adherence.
If you require 15 agents, have 15 scheduled, but only 12 are in adherence, you need to know the gap so you can get 3 more agents onto the phones.
7. Forecasting the Days of the Week
Just like interval forecasts, you need to be prepared to achieve service level every day.
This starts with understanding how the weekly volume will break down across each day of the week, so you can align the staff.
WFM technology will help you identify that a certain percentage of your volume comes in on a Monday, Tuesday, etc., so you can staff the same percentage of your agents on those days.
8. Intraday Performance Reports
These reports show every interval’s staffing requirements vs. schedule.
They can be viewed in advance of the day for planning, and on the day to identify gaps that need to be closed.
These reports can also be used to identify overstaffing in one queue at the same intervals as understaffing in another queue, providing you with the information to cross-utilise staff effectively.
9. Scheduling Meetings
When you need to schedule an activity, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. While this can be done manually, it requires an analyst to look for the best time.
With a WFM tool, this is easier, because you can leverage your intraday performance reports.
But WFM technology will also allow you to optimise the rest of the offline activities as well.
When queues and service levels are challenged, meetings have to be cancelled. Scheduling them at the best time up front is the best way to ensure they don’t have to be cancelled.
10. Using Different Scheduling Types
A great way to balance your employees’ needs with having an optimised workforce is to offer a lot of different scheduling types.
This provides your employees with variety, and allows you more options to fill the intraday and day-of-week call arrival patterns.
If everyone is working full time 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, you will be limited in how closely you can match the supply of agents to the demand of the customers.
This list is just a partial view of the overall benefits of using workforce management technology in your contact centre. It’s a core component of any well-run contact centre.
If you are currently doing many or all of these tasks manually or in spreadsheets, consider building an return on investment (ROI) calculation and business case for acquiring a WFM tool that suits your needs.
They often pay back in a very short amount of time and provide ongoing benefits not only financially, but also in allowing you to consistently achieve service levels for your customers.
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