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Tips for More Effective Call Center Workforce Management

This blog provides practical information on all aspects of workforce management for contact centers, including quality monitoring, call recording, performance management and analytics

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Slow Summer? That’s Opportunity Knocking

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Ah, summer. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and according to one song the time is right for dancing in the streets.

Well, that’s one way to spend the season.

But if your contact center is one where call levels typically drop from June to August, why not resist that urge to work on your tan and instead work on getting ready for the time when call volume is going to rise?

This is the time to reassess business practices, experiment with new procedures, and brainstorm ways to improve customer service, so you’ll be ready when business picks up. 

Need help getting started? That’s why we’re here. Ask yourself these questions:

1. How is Our Stand-By List?

Have you checked in with any of your temp agents since they said goodbye at the Christmas party last year? Do you know how many will likely still be available for this year’s holiday rush? If you’ve lost a few to other positions, take this time to start interviewing potential replacements.

2. How is Training?

Agent training should be an ongoing activity, but when things are busy these sessions tend to get squeezed into shorter windows, and may not be as effective. If the phones are quiet right now, this is an opportunity to take a closer look at the data you have on each agent (assuming you have a workforce optimization solution) and provide customized training on specific areas of concern. 

3. How’s the Family?

No, not yours. But that’s a question you can ask your agents during the summer slowdown. Get to know them better. Find out what they like about their job and what is causing them problems. By taking an interest you may build relationships in ways that keep agents around longer. Their feedback may also contain good ideas that can be implemented throughout the contact center. 

And if you start now on these efforts, you should still have some time left over to get outside and enjoy that summer sunshine. 

If you don’t have a workforce optimization solution to help you with training and so many other everyday activities, check out a demo of Monet WFO here.

What is Unified Workforce Optimization? This blog has the answer.


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Managing Wait Times to Reduce Customer Frustration

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There are two types of people in the world: those who hate waiting, and those who really hate waiting.

Patience used to be a virtue; now it’s an endangered species. And that’s important when you run a contact center, as one of your most important objectives has to be the reduction of wait times.

You might think one minute on hold before an agent picks up is no big deal; but get out a stopwatch and let it tick off one minute while you sit and do nothing – which is what your customers are likely doing as they wait for an agent to respond.

So the challenge is reducing average speed of answer. One way to do that is to shorten all of your calls so agents can handle more calls each day. Here are a few ideas on how to make that happen.

  • Skills-Based Routing: Agents that specialize in certain types of calls will almost always be able to handle them more quickly. 
  • Automated Processes: Switching from spreadsheets to workforce management reduces average handle time.
  • No Cold Transfers: If a call must be transferred, always make sure the customer’s relevant data is transferred as well, so the same questions won’t have to be asked a second time.
  • Reward Top Performers: Give an agent a special prize for reaching maximum number of calls per shift - as long as they're achieving this goal in a way that also provides courteous and attentive service.

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that will boost your contact center’s efficiency in myriad ways, including the time it takes for agents to greet callers.


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Call Recording Challenges: How to Avoid Them

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There are many different call recording software solutions available. While their essential purpose remains the same, there are variations in functionality, implementation and cost that should be reviewed by contact center management so that an informed purchasing decision can be made.

The objective is to add all the advantages that call recording provides, without introducing new challenges. Like these:

1. Finding Specific Calls

The data stored on call monitoring software won’t be as useful if it takes forever to find it. If a manager needs to locate a specific call or series of calls, and the effort proves frustrating and time-consuming, the system is useless. The system should carry out the call retrieval function based on any number of “tags” that can be affixed to a specific call. Typically, the response to a command such as “Find Alan Martin’s most recent call” should be done in seconds.

2. Protecting Customer Information

At a time when there are too many news stories about security breaches, and customer data falling into the hands of hackers, it has never been more essential to utilize a call recording solution that is safe. It should assist in the prevention of information theft, and restrict information access to specific individuals or groups. Make sure data collected is secure, encrypted if necessary and protected from hackers and other threats.

3. It Should Integrate Into Your Current Technology

Conversion to new call recording software will inevitably involve some business disruption, but it should be minimal. Find out how long it takes for initial set-up of the system, as well as how long it will take to train contact center staff on its proper usage. Another important element is the integration to other workforce systems. It is always beneficial to have call recording working with workforce management, as you’ll find in Monet’s Workforce Optimization solution. 

4. It Shouldn’t Cost Too Much

Is there an initial upfront equipment/hardware investment and software license fee? Are there any costs that may be necessary for call center staff training, as well as internal operation costs and any future maintenance and subscription fees? Are there any other costs for implementation and integration with other systems? By investigating cloud solutions, even smaller call centers with limited budgets and resources can afford a system with the same benefits and advantages traditionally enjoyed by companies with much larger IT budgets. 

Find out more about the benefits of Monet’s call recording solution here

Call recording can build a valuable knowledge base for your contact center. This blog explains how


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5 Golden Rules for Service Desks

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Most of us learn the golden rule in elementary school: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

That’s pretty good advice for a help desk as well – when you treat customers the way you would like to be treated, you stand a much better chance of keeping that customer’s business.

Of course, knowing what to do and figuring out the best way to do it are often two separate challenges. So here are five more “golden rules” for service desks that, if followed, will result in efficient case resolutions and happier customers.

1. Listening is As Important as Talking

Agents have a field-tested script that usually delivers results. But help desk customers also want to be heard. Many of them will be angry or upset, and they don’t appreciate taking time out from their day to listen to your menu options. While a favorable case resolution is always the primary goal, it’s also important for help desk agents to allow callers to vent, and to express empathy and an apology when warranted (and not just one read from a page).

2. Complaints are As Valuable as Compliments

Agents may not enjoy listening to them, but a complaint often contains important advice that could lead to positive changes in company policy.

3. Anticipate Needs Before They’re Expressed

If this is your tenth call about the same service issue, you can save time and deliver better service by having the solution ready.

4. Don’t Value Procedures More Than People

All help desks have procedures regarding how tickets are submitted and how issues are handled. Such rules are important, but they should never stand in the way of delivering the best service possible. It’s easier to change a rule than lose a customer.

5. Give Your Agents the Tools They Need to Succeed

At many helpdesks, agents log customer requests and schedule them for the next available specialist to either contact the customer or visit that customer’s location. Sometimes, that results in service delays and angry customers. While agents will never (or should never) be trained technicians, there are likely some common issues that can be resolved if agents can access real time information while speaking with a customer.

Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce can deliver that information, and reviews of recorded calls can help service desk agents recognize these issues and be better prepared with answers. 

Faster, better service – and fewer service calls? WFM for Salesforce makes it possible. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce

Download our free whitepaper: Workforce Management: A Beginner’s Guide for Help Desks and Service Desks


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5 Lines That Should Be in Every Call Center Script (WFM)

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You can’t make a great movie without a good script, and you can’t run a great contact center without one either.

The script your agents use should establish a helpful tone and encourage conversation that results in a positive outcome. 

Is it time you took a fresh look at your script? If so, and rewrites are needed, here are five lines that will almost certainly make it better.

“I understand”

It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it communicates the empathy an agent should feel when a customer calls with a complaint. These callers want to know that the person at the other end of the line gets that they’re not happy.

“Let’s take care of that for you.”

Note the use of “Let’s" (let us) – that puts the caller and the agent on the same side of the issue, rather than the agent coming across only as a representative of the company that disappointed the caller. It’s a subtle change but it does make a difference. 

“Do you mind waiting for a moment while I get that answer for you?”

Putting customers on hold is never a welcome action from their perspective, so when it becomes necessary it’s best to do it as a request and not with a “please hold,” that doesn’t give that caller any other option. Yes, asking the question could lead to some customers saying no and hanging up, but by the time they’ve gotten this far most will hang around to get the resolution they desire.

“My name is…”

When an agent introduces him- or herself by name, it reinforces the fact that the customer is talking to an actual person and not a recorded voice.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

While shorter calls are better for KPIs, this question can lead to an upsell or an additional sale. That’s always worth an extra few minutes.

What lines have proven most valuable in your contact center script? Share them on our Facebook page.

Want to make the most of every customer interaction? Speech analytics can help. Sign up here for a live personalized demo of how it works.


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5 More Benefits of Speech Analytics

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In several previous blogs we’ve listed some of the ways in which speech analytics could improve customer service at your contact center. We’ll link a couple of those at the end of this piece in case you missed them. 

But before you take a look, here are some additional benefits of contact center analytics. Isn’t it time you started taking advantage of them?

1. Anticipating (and Eliminating) Follow-Up Calls

How many times have you purchased something that worked fine, but there was still some confusion over one of its functions, or how to complete some task, that necessitated a follow-up call with the manufacturer? Speech analytics will track patterns where such questions come up frequently, so it’s possible for agents to provide information about this issue at the time of purchase. That reduces call volume while helping customers avoid the frustration of having to contact you again. 

2. Keeping Up With Competitors

“You know, Cheapo Electronics has the same product you’re offering for $20 less.” Speech analytics captures these comments, so they can be passed on to marketing and sales teams. Thus, if you’re losing business to a competitor, you can react with your own discount and keep those customers. 

3. Cutting Through the Clutter

There’s a problem somewhere – a disconnect in how your agents are handling calls that is having a negative effect on customer service – but it is difficult to pinpoint the specific issue with so many variables. A speech analytics solution is able to sift through thousands of calls based on a wide range of parameters, from call duration and repeat calls to the use of specific words in conversations. With this data, it may be easier to find the reason for the disconnect ¬– and get rid of it.

4. Finding Stress in Speech Patterns

Many of us tend to talk faster when we’re upset. And while you might think angry people usually talk louder, there are some that express their frustration in low, even tones, as if they’re trying to keep a lid on their emotions. Speech analytics can help managers interpret the amount of stress in customer voices, so that information is delivered to agents who can then respond accordingly. 

5. Reducing Reliance on Surveys

Today, your customers are inundated with unwanted phone calls and emails asking them to “participate in a short survey.” This will inevitably lead to more people ignoring these requests, which is not good for your marketing analysis efforts. But speech analytics can pick up the slack, by delivering that insight into customer attitudes without agents having to ask for it.

Looking for more reasons to add speech analytics to your contact center? Check out these blogs:

Speech Analytics: Without It, Here’s What You’re Missing

The Ascent of Analytics at Call Centers


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Is Your Contact Center Prepared for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

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In May of 2018, the European Union will officially adopt the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new legislation created to provide consumers with enhanced safeguarding of their personal data. 

There has been a greater volume of media coverage about the new regulations in Europe, but GDPR also affects American companies; Contact centers deal with personal data and many of them serve global markets, including Europe. Personal data is used to identify and assist customers, and businesses handling this type of information should pay attention to the new law as well. 

Here’s what you need to know: 
  • GDPR will be effective on May 25, 2018, and applies to all organizations handling personal data in the 28 countries of the European Union.
  • Any information relating to “an identified or identifiable natural person” is considered personal data. This includes not just names but online identifiers and data that track a person’s location.
  • Customers now have the right to have their data erased or transferred from one data controller to another.
  • Contact center agents have access to customer personal data to be able to assist them and they need to be compliant to the new regulation.
  • Compliance with GDPR is mandatory; failure to comply is punishable by fines as high as 20 million EUR or 4% of a company’s annual revenue.
Concerns about being compliant? Here’s how to get started: 
  • Perform a complete data inventory to identify the information currently being collected and used. 
  • Monitor and adopt officially approved/sanctioned best practices to enjoy any safe harbors regulators afford.
  • Consider, where applicable, creating a limited-liability establishment in the EU jurisdiction that offers regulatory oversight. 

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Five Questions to Ask Before Investing in Quality Management (QM)

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Ready to take your quality management efforts to the next level? Great! Obviously this is an investment you only want to make once, so here are five questions that will help you get it right the first time. 

1. Will this system record all of our calls?

For many years, selective call recording has been deemed sufficient for determining if agents are performing up to expectations, and whether customers are getting the service they need. But contact centers rise and fall on data, and today’s top quality management solutions can record every call so you get a true picture of how your business is performing. And with every call recorded, you can use the software to analyze the data for patterns (call wait time, content, issue resolution, etc.). 

2. Will the solution be easy to install?

Concerns over implementation and ease of use have kept too many contact centers from acquiring the technology solutions they need. But there are quality management solutions that will ease the transition from any previous technology, allow for easy customization as needed, and generate reports that provide the necessary data in a clear and concise manner. The objective is a minimal transition period for your personnel. 

3. Is there an easy way to find the data we need?

Every quality management solution will collect data ¬– but what if you need to analyze all the calls about one specific product, or all of the calls from one particular customer demographic? The data stored on call monitoring software won’t be as useful if it takes forever to find it. Effective call recording also means effective call retrieval from the server to the system, from any location. Deleting calls and adding comments to records should also be an efficient process. 

4. Will the solution grow with our business?

Technology upgrades are beneficial. Repeatedly upgrading the same technology to keep up with your contact center’s needs is not. Call recording software should have the flexibility to grow with your business. Review all features listings and compare them with the features most important to your call center. 

5. Will our data be protected?

Call monitoring introduces a number of internal and external security issues. Effective call recording should always be safe, and implemented with the proper restrictions regarding employee access. Make sure data collected is secure, encrypted if necessary and protected from hackers and other threats.

See Monet’s Quality Management solution in action in this demo
How important is call recording to the success of your business? Read our free whitepaper


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What is Unified Workforce Optimization? (WFO)

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If improving agent productivity is one of your goals this year, the most important step you can take toward its achievement is the addition of a workforce optimization (WFO) solution. WFO provides insight into customer interactions and service levels, delivering the data necessary to make important decisions about optimal management of personnel.

However, as with any other solution, it works best if you use it correctly.

Workforce Optimization is great. Unified workforce optimization is even better.

What’s the difference? In a word: togetherness. When everyone at the contact center works together, customer service improves. But in some businesses you may have one team focused on scheduling and staffing, another team dedicated to call recording and quality management. But there should also be an effort to analyze how both of these groups are functioning, and establish goals that may require changes in procedures from each of them.

However, as much as we may want these team members to cooperate, at too many call centers they are forced to make isolated decisions and act independently because they do not have access to information outside of their area or function. They need immediate access to information traditionally found in other areas and they need information automatically passed to them to eliminate slow, error-ridden manual processes.

A unified WFO solution delivers business integrations that let your contact center make faster, more informed decisions with a new level of visibility into workforce performance, customer service processes and customer intelligence across the enterprise.  You can quickly get to the right information to drive a new level of performance improvement.

In this short video, you’ll find out how a workforce optimization framework brings diverse functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. 

Watch the WFO video

For more tips on how to improve the efficiency of your contact center, check out this webinar.


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The Importance of Tracking Schedule Adherence

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You know the importance of schedule adherence. And you know that determining whether your contact center is in adherence requires some effort in tracking – which can be made much easier by a workforce management (WFM) solution.

But here is something you may not know - all WFM solutions are not created equal when it comes to tracking schedule adherence.

If you are going to achieve your goals in service levels, productivity and cost management, your adherence tracking system must be comprehensive. That means every activity that goes into a schedule, even non-call activities, must be tracked regarding adherence.

Some WFM offerings can't do that. They lack the flexibility to track different agent activity types classified usually by "customer states." They won't allow you to program custom thresholds and variances designed to meet the specific needs of your call center.

After-word activities? Outbound preparation? Unavoidable at contact centers, and often a cause of adherence issues. But with some workforce management solutions, you won’t be able to monitor them.

With Monet WFM you can monitor adherence in real-time on a dashboard that lets you know immediately if you are in or out of adherence. Our solution supports customizable adherence tracking, resulting in a new level of accuracy in managing performance. 

Want to see how it works? 

This video shows how easy it is to monitor schedule adherence in real time with Monet WFM

And for more tips on how to boost schedule adherence at your contact center, download our free whitepaper: Strategies for Improving Adherence


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Scheduling: The Difference Between Adherence and Compliance

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We’ve often discussed the benefits of workforce management (WFM) in improving schedule adherence at the contact center. The data delivered by WFM boosts the accuracy of forecasts and schedules, while also allowing managers to assess adherence in real-time, and make adjustments as needed so customer service levels are maintained. 

Many contact centers recognize the importance of adherence. But not as many pay equal attention to schedule compliance – in fact, some may believe they are both terms that describe the same thing. But that is not the case.

Schedule Adherence

Adherence is a measurement of the time agents are scheduled to work, that takes into account lunch, paid breaks, training sessions and other variables. Any time an agent returns to duty five minutes late for lunch, or stays eight minutes longer at training, he or she is out of adherence. A few missed minutes may not seem like much, but when that is multiplied by dozens of agents over hundreds or thousands of shifts every year, it impacts efficiency and costs money. 

Fortunately, contact centers with a WFM system can easily generate reports that identify adherence issues. With Monet WFM, the data is created while the adherence issue is still happening, so it can be corrected immediately. 

Schedule Compliance

Compliance starts at the forecasting stage, when contact center managers use historical data to anticipate call volume for a given day or shift, and then schedule agents based on those results. These schedules include specific time windows for agents to take breaks, attend meetings or go to lunch. 

Problems arise when agents make lunch plans with friends that fall outside the window of that scheduled time off. Managers can force agents to stick to the schedule, but that may result in unhappy agents and an increase in attrition if agents get angry enough to leave because the schedule is too strict. 

Avoiding Adherence and Compliance Issues

It starts with WFM so managers have the information they need. It also begins at the hiring and training stage for new agents, so expectations are clearly defined and the importance of working assigned hours is stressed. 

Monet WFM incorporates forecasting, scheduling and other functions into a coordinated effort to optimize your workforce resources. Service and contact center efficiency is enhanced when the right numbers of agents (with the necessary skills) are taking care of your customers every hour, every day.

What’s better than workforce management? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action



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Speech Analytics: Soon to Be a $2.5 Billion Market

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According to the new report Global Speech Analytics Market, published by KBV research, the international market size for speech analytics technology is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2023, rising at a market growth of 17%.

Why is this happening? At the contact center the answer is obvious: merging call recording with speech analytics can significantly boost lead conversion rates, as well as increase customer retention levels. At the same time, it’s a way to be 100% assured that agents are always in compliance with federal and industry regulations. 

Speech analytics generates automated alerts triggered by voice data, whether that’s the use of profanity, or the word “cancel,” or the mention of a specific new product or service. By being alerted to these calls in real time, managers can react in time to impact their outcome, which could mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer.

In addition, with speech analytics integrated into a call recording solution, the contact center can link customer feedback with specific customer interactions; that means you are not working from a random sampling, but with a subset of calls that have been flagged as important because of the key words or phrases used by the customer. 

Sure, some of this data might eventually be collected through call recording alone. But time is money in business, and with speech analytics this vital information can be accessed far more quickly, and is more detailed as well. Now managers can delve into caller patterns that will further refine the company’s customer service efforts. What used to take weeks can now be achieved in just minutes. 

These are just some of the reasons why the market is growing so quickly. If it’s time you took a closer look at this technology, please check out Monet Analytics. You can find more information here, or schedule a live demo to see Monet Analytics in action.


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Creating a Positive Call Center Work Culture

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To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.

--Zappos

If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning.

--Whole Foods Market

You have to be a place that’s more than a paycheck for people.

--PF Chang’s

Those are quotes from three companies with little in common except for the following: They are very successful, and they recognize the importance of creating a positive workplace culture. 

Can this philosophy be translated to the contact center? Why not? It may be more of a challenge here, because most people that become contact center agents aspired to do something else - it can be a good job, but it’s not a “dream job.” Add to that the challenge of dealing with demanding customers, and the tedium that accompanies repetitive data entry tasks and script reading. 

Still, there are ways to encourage a positive culture. Let’s start with the obvious: a competitive salary with bonuses and incentives for those who excel, and a clean, pleasant working environment with a well-stocked break room. Also, make sure agents have the technology they need to deliver great customer service. 

Don’t discourage a little fun, especially when call volumes are down. Music, games, and dress-up days can all make going to work a little more enjoyable. 

The relationship between agents and management is critical to a positive work culture. Communication is key: when management listens to and welcomes feedback, and includes agents in decisions that affect the entire contact center, it makes for a more cohesive organization. 

Some agents look on that job as temporary – a stepping-stone to moving up within the company. Those that do so should be encouraged in this and even helped along the way. 

Do you have some tips for creating a positive work culture? Share them on our Facebook page



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Five Bad Habits to Break at Your Call Center

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The tough thing about bad habits is that they are so easy to fall into, and so difficult to stop. 

These are five of the most common bad habits found at contact centers. If you are contending with any of them, here is how workforce optimization can make them go away.

1.  Inefficient Scheduling

Sound, accurate schedules are created consistently with workforce management software. It’s especially useful at a time when agents are balancing school, family and other obligations, and would appreciate more input into the shifts they work. With WFM it’s easier to provide personalized scheduling options and to allow agents to change their own schedules. Usually this results in better coverage, and better service. 

2. First Come, First Serve Call Routing

Yes, that’s the way it’s always been done at some contact centers – every call automatically goes to the first available agent. It’s not necessarily a bad habit, just an inefficient one. But by routing calls to agents based on specific criteria, it’s possible to boost first call resolution and overall customer service. The most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

3. Taking Too Long to Collect Basic Information

There is no getting around asking for a customer’s ID information (date of birth), account information or contact information. But too many questions at the start of a call can be frustrating for the customer and time-consuming for the agent. A workforce optimization solution that includes analytics can deliver caller information more quickly. 

4. Quality Monitoring With Random Calls

As with item #2 on our list, the bad habit here is relying on systems that were used for decades because they were the only systems available. Now, there’s a better way. With speech analytics, every call can be monitored and categorized based on pre-set criteria. This provides more insight into business practices and will also improve your training efforts. 

5. Reactive Management

A shift ends, and you look at the numbers and see what went right and what went wrong, and try to make adjustments so the next shift is better. Instead, why not get proactive, with workforce management that provides real-time monitoring, so adherence issues and other problems can be corrected while they are still happening? 

Monet Workforce Optimization contains the tools needed to help break all of these bad habits. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Optimization

Or see Monet WFM in action in this online video demo


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Average Speed of Answer: Establishing a Goal

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Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is one of the more critical contact center KPIs. In fact, some surveys have shown that more than 60% of callers will abandon a call if they’re not speaking to an agent after one minute. And no, those friendly “your call is important to us” pre-recorded messages aren’t doing much to change their minds. 

To improve ASA, start by establishing clear goals. 

Your contact center may already have a service level they strive to achieve; the most common is 80-20, meaning 80% of calls are answered within a specific time frame (usually 20 or 30 seconds). 

Today, customers can reach out through other channels as well, requiring contact centers to set similar goals for email, chat and perhaps even social media responses. Do you want all of your emails answered in two hours, four hours, or by end of day? Is 30 minutes a reasonable goal for responding to a Facebook post?

Obviously factors will vary widely depending on the size and type of your business. But it is still important to establish a service level, measure results, and then fine-tune procedures to see if that level can be improved. 

All of the burden for meeting service levels should not fall on the agent’s shoulders. The contact center must provide the tools necessary for that agent to do his or her job, as well as provide forecasting and scheduling that assures the presence of enough agents to efficiently handle incoming communications. 

That used to be handled with spreadsheets but can now be covered with a workforce management (WFM) solution. With the advanced functionality and the more accurate forecasting and scheduling made possible by WFM, as well as the data it delivers on agent performance, schedule adherence and KPIs, contact center managers can always be assured the contact center’s resources are being utilized in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. 

What’s better than workforce management? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action


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Should Contact Centers Be Forced To Reveal Where They are Located?

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It happens almost every year: A bill is introduced in Congress to address contact center outsourcing. 

The 2018 version comes from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who has proposed legislation requiring contact center employees in India and other foreign locales to reveal their location during each call, and offer customers the option of being transferred to an agent within the United States. If that offer isn’t made, customers can request it. 

If you polled the average consumer about this, they’d probably be delighted. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as calling a company to request information about one of their products, question a billing charge or place an order. After waiting (and waiting, and waiting) on hold for a customer service representative, your call is finally answered by a distant-sounding voice with an indistinguishable accent. 

But companies that outsource argue that it’s an economic necessity. No one argues that the service is better when it comes from the other side of an ocean; but by doing so agents can be hired for a fraction of the salary they would make at home. 

Senator Brown’s bill would also create a public list of companies that outsource call center jobs, and give preference in federal contracts to companies that haven't shipped these jobs overseas.

The good news for companies that outsource is that such legislation has not passed when previously proposed. But, there’s always a first time. 

Do you believe contact centers should be forced to reveal their location? 

Share your thoughts on our Facebook page 


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Workforce Optimization: The Solution to Overstaffing and Understaffing

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Remember the days when 10-20% of the calls a business receives would be questions about what time the doors closed, or how long that holiday sale would last? 

Today, such basic inquiries are answered through the company website. Customers only call now with more substantive issues – why is this product I purchased not working? Who can I ask about whether this product can function if attached to this component? My credit card statement shows a purchase that suggests my account was compromised – I need some information…etc. 

And when they call, they want those answers now.

Keeping these customers satisfied requires well-trained agents, and a forecasting and scheduling solution that makes sure your contact center always has enough personnel available to efficiently handle the incoming inquiries. 

Workforce Optimization Gets You There

A workforce optimization (WFO) solution is primarily designed to help call center managers put the right number of agents with the right combination of skills in the right place at the right time. That solves two of the biggest problems call centers face: overstaffing and understaffing.

Overstaffing

Is it better to err on the side of overstaffing? Probably – at least you know the calls will get picked up quickly. But companies don’t like to pay agents to idle in their cubicles, or chat with their equally un-engaged neighbors. 

With WFO, you’ll eliminate these situations with forecasts that will let you know what to expect on Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning or the day after a holiday. You’ll have the staffing information necessary to assign shifts to agents available to handle them. 

The numbers won’t lie, though if you’re still using spreadsheets they’ll probably deliver inaccurate results because they can’t take all of the variables into consideration. 

Understaffing

This is trouble for obvious reasons. Customers that wait too long on hold may not be customers anymore – especially those calling to report a negative experience. It also places a greater burden on your agents; too many days of staring at a computer screen of 12 calls in the queue can impact call center performance, and may send those agents away to seek less stressful employment. 

But when forecasting and scheduling is based on analytics delivered by a WFO solution, agents are busy but not too busy, customers get the help they need and companies aren’t signing paychecks for an idle workforce. 

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that includes workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics and performance management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

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The Pros and Cons of Hiring College Students as Call Center Agents

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With summer fast approaching, many college students will re-enter the workforce. Contact centers, especially those that struggle with attrition year round, will suddenly have more applicants. Should they be eager to embrace the college crowd? Here are some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Availability

You don’t need a college degree to be a call center agent, making the position ideal for students –  especially those studying business that would gain experience dealing with customer service issues and challenges.

Con: How long will they stay?

No call center wants to train a student to become a reliable agent, and then have him or her quit to return to school for the fall semester. Call centers using a workforce optimization solution will be better suited to accommodate flexible schedules, and might be able to keep those students if they can work shifts around their class schedules.

Pro: Part-time preferred

Some call centers have shifts that are best filled with part-time staff. Many college students are only seeking part-time employment, as they have other interests and may be taking a summer school course or two. They’ll also be content with the compensation, as they don’t have to find a job that must support a family. 

Con: Lack of professional experience

Contact center agents represent your company to your customers – and they might be responsible for a positive or negative first impression. You may prefer someone with more experience and maturity in that role. 

Pro: They get technology

College students have grown up with computers, so they will acclimate more quickly to whatever software you are running that provides client data and other important information. 

Con: Unwelcome networking

You might bring in a student who takes the job just to gain access to those who might hire him in an executive position after graduation. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but all that networking might draw his focus away from the actual job at hand. Call center agents are not interns who are only there for on-the-job training – they perform a vital function that requires their full attention. 

Have you hired college students at your contact center? How did it work out? Let us know on our Facebook page

A workforce optimization solution like Monet WFO can make it easier for all of your new agents to deliver outstanding service. Find out more

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Seven Tags to Use in Call Recording

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A call recording system should do more than maintain a record of all incoming customer calls – it should make it easy for you to retrieve specific calls and types of calls for quality management and training purposes.

This is achieved through tagging, which acts as a ‘bookmark’ to identify calls that may be useful for these and other reasons. Every contact center assigns different tags to sets of calls. Here are some of the most common. 

1. Issues with a specific product or service

If too many customers are having the same problem, this is important information that should be passed on to those responsible for its creation and execution. The recordings will let them know exactly what is wrong. 

2. Questions that can’t be answered

It is the agent’s job to answer customer inquiries, but it’s not uncommon for questions to arise for which the agent is unable to respond. These should be tagged and reviewed later, so answers can be put forth. 

3. Angry customers

There is a difference between dissatisfied customers and those who start yelling as soon as the agent says “How may I help you?” Tag these calls so agents will have some advance warning if that customer calls again. These are also contacts that can be routed to an agent that specializes in handling bad-tempered individuals. 

4. Compliments

Why not put together a feel-good file that includes praise for the company, its products, and (hopefully!) even the call center? Agents like to occasionally be reminded that they are doing a good job.

5. Threats

Any call that contains threatening language against the company or any of its personnel must be tagged, and perhaps even passed on to law enforcement. In these dangerous times there is no such thing as being too careful. 

6. Suggestions

Sometimes the best ideas come from outside the company. Tag these calls for both quantitative (how many suggestions did we get?) and qualitative (what did customers suggest?) analysis later. 

7. New customers

The objective with new customers is to turn them into frequent customers. Tag first-time callers/buyers so it is easier to track their progress. 

With Monet Record, an agent or supervisors can tag content as it happens and label it accordingly. Management may then (or later) assign access restrictions to that tag. Reviewing tags should then be as simple as visiting the recording detail page and clicking on the appropriate view link for the desired tag. 

Find out more about Monet Record

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Three Call Routing Strategies That Work

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Many contact centers now use WFO or speech analytics to route customer calls to the agent best suited to deal with each caller’s issue. It’s a strategy that ensures calls will be handled faster, and customers will be happier. 

Often calls are simply routed based on the length of wait time for customers in the queue; sometimes a company’s best customers receive greater priority. But the most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

However, there are other options available that may also pay dividends. Here are three suggestions:

The Door Closers

The contact center may be the first to discover that a customer is “halfway out the door” already. But if you have an agent that specializes in addressing these customers’ concerns and keeping them in the fold, it can make a huge difference in customer retention. With a WFO system such calls can be routed more quickly as well, so these customers will get the attention they need.

Top Priority

In businesses where one account can equal thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, such prospects should receive preferential attention throughout the engagement. When calls from a specific company name or company rep come in, they should be identified immediately and routed to someone familiar with their needs.  

What Happened to Mary?

For a contact center customer there is nothing more frustrating than connecting with an agent, answering all their account questions and providing all the requested information, explaining the reason for the call, and then being put on hold or having to call back, and being transferred to someone else who asks all the same questions again. With WFO it’s easy to route these calls back to the first agent who handled them. 

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

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Contact Center Digital Transformation: It Starts With Moving to the Cloud

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The phrase “digital transformation” has been trending throughout corporate America for that past decade, and the contact center is no exception.

What is it exactly? You’ll find a lot of definitions online, but let’s keep it simple. We all know what transformation means – not just a change, but also a change for the better. Unsightly caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies. 

And ‘digital’? It refers to technology that brings people and practices together in a more efficient manner. 

For the contact center, this means new business models that improve the customer experience, often by empowering the workforce that interacts with those customers. 

A workforce optimization solution is helpful here, as it delivers such advantages as:

  • Workforce management for more accurate forecasts, schedules and adherence
  • Quality monitoring that includes call recording and screen capture
  • Performance management for tracking of KPIs and real-time alerts
  • Speech analytics and desktop analytics

But the first step in an effective digital transformation is the movement of all of these services into the cloud. 

Why? Because technology evolves a lot faster than it used to, and it’s imperative for contact centers to keep up. New versions and new upgrades are no longer events that happen every year or every other year. With the cloud, updates happen automatically (and at no extra charge), so technology is always up to date without the repeated development and testing of new features from each vendor. 

Cloud systems are also scalable, so it’s impossible to outgrow your technology solution as your business expands. 

If you want to be part of the digital transformation revolution, there is no better place to start than by exploring cloud technology solutions, such as Monet Workforce Optimization. 

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

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Don’t Be Afraid of Change at the Contact Center

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“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” 

― Winston S. Churchill


It’s easy to fall into ruts, whether it’s Friday night dinner at the same restaurant, or contact center guidelines for how agents should handle specific customer situations. 

There is something to be said for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what if the processes you have in place now could be made even better? 

You’ll never know until you try. Here’s how to start. 

Identify a Need

Chances are you’re doing better on some KPIs than others. Select one where you suspect the number could be better. Or, let your customers make this decision for you by reviewing whatever feedback you’ve received. 

Let’s use Average Handle Time (AHT) as an example. How can this get better? Include managers, coaches, trainers, and agents in this brainstorming session. Collect all suggestions and discuss the potential of each one. Just don’t try two or three at the same time, because then you won’t know which one did the trick. 

Take It For a Test Drive

Perhaps the solution that has the most support at your contact center is eliminating cold transfers. So make the changes necessary so that when a call is transferred, that customer’s relevant data is transferred as well, so the same questions won’t have to be asked a second time. Try it for 30 days.

Review the Results

Once the 30-day period is over, find out if the change had the desired impact. Has average handle time been reduced? Great! If not, try the next most promising suggestion, or refine the information transfer process and repeat the experiment. 

Keep trying and you’ll see positive results. 

A workforce management solution delivers the metrics you’ll need to begin planning positive changes at your contact center. First time considering WFM? This blog will let you know what questions to ask as you being exploring the options available. 

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Solving the Biggest Service Desk Challenges

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Many service desks, or help desks, lack the technology and insight to meet their escalating business requirements. As a result, they are not immune to such challenges as:

  • Growing ticket volume – it’s easier to manage with better activity tracking, which improves response time. Without that capability, an ever-increasing volume of tickets will damage customer service. 
  • Ticket management – how are tickets routed? How are they updated? Without a workforce management solution in place, it is difficult (if not impossible) to route each incoming ticket to the staff member best suited to resolve the issue. 
  • Lack of metrics insight – many help desks still lack sufficient visibility into how requests are fulfilled, how quickly resolution is achieved, and how well agents perform their duties? 

The answer to all of these challenges is workforce management. 

Thousands of companies have already discovered how Salesforce delivers faster service at a lower cost, while streamlining communication between customers, employees and partners. But for all of its outstanding features, it can’t deliver the WFM that eliminates guesswork and time-consuming processes. 

The Solution: combining Monet’s award-winning workforce management solution with Salesforce. 

Seamless integration between the two efficiency solutions is easily achieved with no required hardware. Data passes to Monet WFM for Salesforce through a widget atop a console via a streaming API. 

Now, with data that clearly shows what is working what is not, new methods can be implemented (such as matching employee skills to specific tasks) to optimize agent productivity. 

If you’re a Salesforce customer, isn’t it time you find out what you’ve been missing?

Find out more about WFM for Salesforce here

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Quick and Easy Contact Center Quality Monitoring

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We all know the importance of quality management. But we also know there are only so many hours in the day, and that a quality monitoring program can sometimes take too many of them.

If you find you’re up against time constraints, however, do not abandon quality monitoring entirely. Instead, streamline your efforts by streamlining the checklist you use for monitoring calls and agent performance. 

How many questions are on your current form? Some have as many as 25 – and they’re probably all important. But for those seeking a faster and more efficient approach, this is the place to start. 

Limit your form to seven questions. If they are the right questions (speed of answer, effectiveness of script, clarity of agent communication) they should be sufficient to pinpoint issues and suggest corrections. 

A shorter form may deliver bigger dividends for the agent as well. Facing a checklist of 25 potential hurdles may seem daunting. But with just seven areas to focus on, agents are more likely to understand what they need to do, memorize best practices techniques, and understand what is most important. 

Finally, since any quality monitoring effort must include customer feedback, keeping your inquiries to a minimum will increase the likelihood of more responses. Did you ever start taking an online “How did we do?” survey and give up halfway through because there were too many questions? By requesting responses to just 5-7 questions, you stand a better chance of getting the data you need. 

Also Helpful: The Right Call Monitoring Software

Without the right software, a quality monitoring program is going to struggle. Monitoring of customer interactions should be simple for agents, and the intelligence gathered through the system should be easy to analyze for managers. Also, consider future growth – the software you select should be able to grow with your company, and meet your needs not only today but tomorrow. 

Want more great ideas about quality monitoring? Download our free whitepaper Seven Strategies for Effective Quality Assurance in Your Call Center. 

You can find out more about Monet’s Quality Monitoring solution here


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Tips to Boost Speed and Accuracy in After-Call Work

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What do your agents do after a call or chat session ends? The answer may include updating a customer’s file with new information, or adding details to a new order, or perhaps even sending an email to someone else at the company to follow up on that customer’s case. 

All of this, which is sometimes referred to as after-call work (ACW) may be necessary but it takes time – time that could be spent with the next customer. Rushing through these post-call steps, however, can result in errors that will prove costly later on.

It’s a delicate balance (but what isn’t in this business?). Here are some ideas for maximizing the impact of ACW in the shortest amount of time. 

Copy/Paste

A lot of ACW is comprised of the same procedures. Instead of having agents enter the same text in a dozen different files every day – prepare a block of text that can be copied and pasted in a few seconds. 

Abbreviate

Can agents type ‘cu’ instead of ‘customer’? Or ‘6’ instead of ‘Product 67850?’ Any type of shorthand, as long as it will be understood by anyone in the company who sees it, will save time.  

Coaching/Training

As with every aspect of contact center work, training delivers more positive results. Perhaps start with a greater focus on ACW with new agents, so they develop efficient habits from the outset. Then, make ACW reviews part of the scoring process you employ as part of your performance management strategy.

Time Management

The time between calls that is devoted to ACW can sometimes be extended by agents to include a quick chat with a fellow agent, or a check of one’s Facebook page or a visit to the break room. Try to keep such instances to a minimum. 

By incorporating after-call work into performance management, you can encourage both accountability and self-motivation, and bring the time numbers down to where they should be. 

Find out more about Monet’s Performance Management solution here

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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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