WEM or WFO? What’s the Difference, and Why Does It Matter?

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In this article, Tim Richter of Five9 explains the difference between workforce management (WFM), workforce optimisation (WFO), and workforce engagement management (WEM) and why it matters.

WFM, WFO, WEM – you’ve probably seen these acronyms, but some confusion exists over what they are exactly and how they relate to each other. Let’s dig a little deeper into each one – workforce management (WFM), workforce optimization (WFO), and workforce engagement management (WEM).

Workforce Management (WFM)

WFM has been around for a long time. It automates the forecasting of interaction volumes and generates agent schedules to match volumes throughout the day.

A common tag line used by WFM vendors was “right number of agents, at the right time, with the right skills”. Prior to its advent, many centres used Excel spreadsheets to create staffing plans. There were two major problems with this.

One, it was difficult to accurately predict future interaction volumes, which made it difficult to create good schedules.

Two, it was very labor-intensive. WFM fixed both and introduced new capabilities such as the ability to set business goals like average speed of answer or service level and omnichannel support. WFM has become indispensable to today’s contact centres.

Workforce Optimization (WFO)

WFO is an umbrella term that includes workforce management, quality management, interaction analytics, and performance management – to “optimize” performance.

This is where some confusion starts. WFO is not a product, it is a suite of products. It is not the same as WFM (but WFM is a part of a WFO product suite).

The WFO concept encouraged vendors to integrate the separate, standalone products in the suite. Lately, vendors have started incorporating AI technology into their WFO suites.

WFO served contact centres well for many years, but societal shifts necessitated changes in the way contact centres manage their workforce. WFO focused on minimizing operational costs, while WEM focuses on maximizing employee engagement.

Workforce Engagement Management (WEM)

WEM is the most recent of the three. The term was coined by Gartner back in 2016, but it took a while for it to be widely accepted.

Today, most vendors have changed to WEM. The change from WFO to WEM reflects the change in focus towards employee experience (EX), which companies should focus on just as much as they focus on customer experience (CX).

Initially, there was very little difference between WFO suites and WEM suites. The core WFO products are still included – workforce management, quality management, interaction analytics, performance management – but the definition Gartner created added some products to the suite.

These new products include employee feedback, recruitment, and onboarding. And, increasingly, newer AI-driven features such as Agent Assist are being discussed as part of WEM.

The core WFO products still provide cost reduction benefits to the company. Increasing engagement and improving employee experiences more holistically, regardless of product classification, is a positive shift that will drive increased agent retention and improved customer satisfaction.

As vendors work to improve their WEM offerings with AI and other emerging technologies, contact centres will see continued gains in engagement and its associated benefits. Contact centres will also become a better, more satisfying, and happier, place to work.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Five9 – View the Original Article

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About Five9

Five9 Five9 provides end-to-end solutions with omnichannel routing, analytics, WFO, and AI to increase agent productivity and deliver tangible business results.

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Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Author: Five9

Published On: 21st Jun 2024 - Last modified: 1st Jul 2024
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