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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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Call Center Workforce Management Blog

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

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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? 

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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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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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

Watch a demo of Monet Quality Management in action


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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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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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. 

Or, check out a free online demo of Monet’s WFM solution


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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

Or schedule a free online demo to see WFM for Salesforce in action


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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

Or watch Monet Performance Management in action in this online demo


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Four Steps to Better Contact Center Performance in 2018

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Are there any new ideas under the sun? Sure - but that doesn’t mean it’s always wise to abandon proven strategies. 

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2018, here are four suggestions that can help you deliver a better customer experience. Some we’ve presented before – they would have worked ten years ago and they’ll still work now. But it’s beneficial to explore new innovations as well.

Classic: Workforce Management

As long as KPIs are important for measuring performance, workforce management will play an equally critical role in helping you evaluate where you are now, and create a strategy for improving those numbers through better forecasting and scheduling (among other benefits).

Cutting Edge: Speech Analytics

Sure it’s been around awhile, but if you implement a speech analytics solution in 2018 you will still be ahead of the technology curve. Why wait any longer to boost your critical business intelligence gathering capabilities? Speech analytics delivers real-time, automated alerts triggered by voice data, which could mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer. 

Classic: Agent Coaching and Training

You’re almost certainly doing this already. But if it’s not generating the desired results, try doubling down on your efforts, even if that means daily coaching sessions. Or, alternate between days with outside training efforts, and requiring each agent to self-coach by reviewing recorded calls and scoring them based on pre-determined factors. And if you do adopt speech analytics, be sure to incorporate that into your training as well. 

Cutting Edge: Millennial Hiring

This means more than just hiring agents in the millennial age group – it’s a strategy to recruit and retain the best this generation has to offer. This is achieved by recognizing how millennials view work – it’s no longer joining a company and staying there until retirement. This is a fluid workforce that changes jobs with unprecedented frequency. And with contact centers already dealing with higher attrition than most industries, that is not a welcome trait. Your best defense is to start at the hiring stage with behavioral testing and skill assessments. This will help you separate those looking for six months of paychecks from those with a more stable hiring profile. 

Find out more about Monet WFM

Find out more about Speech Analytics from Monet


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Survey Says – Time for Speech Analytics

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It seems like every time another survey is conducted on speech analytics, the results confirm what we already knew. 

There was a recent study by a speech analytics provider that found 47% of users are now able to identify customer issues and resolve them quickly. More than half reported that speech analytics improved the effectiveness of their workforce optimization efforts. 

We could have told you that. In fact, we have been telling you that since we introduced our own speech analytics solution a couple of years ago. 

At a time when customer experience has become a greater differentiating factor in what separates one company from another, both WFO and analytics play a vital role in expanding your customer base and maintaining customer loyalty. 

With workforce optimization, contact centers can automate such important functions as workforce management, call recording, quality management, screen capture, performance management and tracking key metrics. Analytics is more customer-centric, providing centers with insight into customer types and the nature of each inquiry, so calls can be routed to the agent best suited to deal with them. 

As both tools work toward the same goal, doesn’t it make sense to acquire them in a way that assures they will efficiently work together? 

At Monet, our speech analytics and desktop analytics are incorporated into our WFO solution to help maximize agent productivity and performance. 

For basic call centers or contact centers that offer omnichannel interactions between agents and customers, this powerful alliance of WFO and analytics can better meet your customer needs, help you to better utilize your resources, and improve service levels.

Find out more about Speech Analytics and Desktop Analytics solutions from Monet

Or, schedule a live demo with a Monet Account Manager


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Tips for Hiring Effective Remote Agents

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America is statistically at full employment at the moment, which is good news for the economy but bad news for contact centers looking to hire more agents. If more people are working, less people are looking for work.

One way to expand the potential talent pool is to consider agents who work from home. Technology – including the workforce management solution from Monet – makes it simple to acclimate to this arrangement. 

You might expect applicants seeking a telecommuting position would already have the skill set a remote worker needs ¬– but that is not always the case. Some just want to be able to watch General Hospital while they’re still on the clock. 

Here are three tips to help you find qualified work-from-home agents. 

1. Previous Experience 

Has the applicant held other work-from-home positions? If previous employers were happy with their professionalism, it bodes well for your business. 

2. An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ask applicants about their ultimate career goals ¬– do they hope to one day start their own businesses and work for themselves? These are the born self-starters who don’t need a manager hovering over them to put in a good day’s work. 

3. A Good Team Member

Independence is important for telecommuting employees – but these agents are still part of your contact center team, and should be able to attend meetings on-site when necessary, participate in all coaching and training programs, and communicate with other agents to answer questions or solve problems. 

A workforce management solution makes it easier to accommodate work-from-home agents. 

Find out more about Monet WFM

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Turning Angry Customers Into Loyal Customers

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At what point do you give up on a customer?

The right answer, of course, is “never.” 

Of course mistakes will happen, and products that should work won’t, and service calls will arrive late. Customers on the receiving end of such problems have a right to be upset. But a contact center agent has a chance to pull that relationship back from the brink with the right approach. 

The Walt Disney Company, one of the most successful in the world, is not immune to angry patrons, even if they’re wearing personally embroidered mouse ears. They try to keep those customers through a method called HEARD:

H – Hear

E – Empathize

A – Apologize

R – Resolve

D – Diagnose

Here’s how it works:

Hear

The first step toward bringing an angry customer back to the fold is listening, not talking. Contact centers want to keep average handle time low, but sometimes you need to allow those few extra minutes for a customer to vent before beginning the relationship rebuilding process.

Empathize

This means validating the customer’s feelings – “I understand why you’re angry.” Create an emotional connection with the customer. It’s a trait that should be more highly prized at contact centers. 

Apologize

Many businesses start here, and sometimes that’s all a customer really wants. But when it’s time to get to the “I’m sorry,” it should be said in a way that sounds authentic, and not read off a script – “ABC Industries apologizes for your inconvenience. Your business is very important to us….etc.” Have your agents say it like they mean it. 

Resolve

What can the agent do to correct the problem? Here, contact centers that allow agents more autonomy have an advantage, as these agents can take it on themselves to offer appropriate compensation without having to consult managers or put the angry customer on hold (which will not improve his or her mood).

Diagnose

Whatever the outcome of each call like this, use it as a learning experience for both the agent and the company. How can similar issues be avoided? What worked and what didn’t in making that customer feel valued?

Does your contact center have any techniques that have worked to turn customers’ frowns upside down? Share them on our Facebook page

Read more tips on how to spoil your customers in our Quality Management blog


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Maximize Accountability Through Performance Management

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A recent Harvard Business Review study found that 46% of high-level managers were rated poorly when it comes to accountability. 

How is that defined? As holding people accountable for their job performance, especially when they are not performing up to the company’s standard. 

In the contact center it’s easy to just blame accountability issues on agents not doing their jobs. But sometimes it is the manager that has not created an environment that encourages outstanding performance and accountability. Are the goals of the contact center clearly defined? Does every agent understand them? Are there compensation/bonus policies in place that encourage improvement? Are some managers uncomfortable about confronting agents that are slipping, because they’d rather avoid conflict? 

And most importantly – are these managers setting a good example themselves?

Performance Management Is Key

One way to maximize accountability is with a consistent performance management program. 

What is performance management? It’s a process of motivating employees through setting goals, measuring progress, providing feedback and coaching for improved performance, and rewarding achievements. If executed correctly, there will be far less instances of any employee falling short of accountability standards. 

The place to start is with a unified/integrated workforce optimization system. Performance management encompasses a number of moving parts, and it’s necessary to have one system that connects all aspects of scheduling, skills, quality, metrics and compliance. Both qualitative and quantitative information should be incorporated to emerge with a comprehensive assessment of how your contact center is working. 

Once this data is accessible, the next step is to clearly define what metrics drive performance. These will vary by the type of business, and perhaps by its size or the product or service involved. But managers know when they are delivering customer service up to expectations, and the metrics that measure their efforts. 

Use these metrics to set and communicate goals – is the average handle time too long? Are customers waiting too long for an agent? Are product upsells below expectations? Once that to-do list is in place, make sure all personnel are on board and working toward the same standard. 

Now, the excitement begins. Invest in a contact center management system that makes tracking metrics easy through one dashboard, and allows for the ability to react to key metrics and make the kinds of changes (scheduling, call recording, shrinkage) that will impact performance immediately.

Which one will do it? We’re glad you asked. 

Find out more about Monet’s performance management solution

Or watch a demo to see our workforce optimization solution in action


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Who Makes the Final Call at Your Call Center?

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Last year, the Harvard Business Review interviewed 7,500 customer service representatives from more than 30 countries around the world. It found there were three types of business cultures in this sector: 

Adherence

In these companies, everything is done “by the book”. Rules are established for how to handle situations, and no exceptions permitted. 

Personal Judgment 

Here, employees are allowed (and encouraged) to make decisions based on their best judgment and personal experience.

Group Judgment 

In this environment, employees seek guidance from other employees on the best way to handle situations, and use that feedback to impact their choices. 

You’ll find these cultures in contact centers as well. And adherence seems to be the one that is most prevalent. Personal judgment offers employees more autonomy, but can result in some agents delivering great service, and others falling short. 

It’s the network judgment model, according to the Harvard study, that delivers the most effective culture in terms of its positive impact on team performance and customer happiness. It empowers team members to make decisions, while informing those decisions with the experience and wisdom of their colleagues. 

With this arrangement, the answer to the question posed in the title of this blog is – everybody. 

If you are considering the adoption of a group judgment (also called network judgment) culture, here are some ideas to get started. 

  • More group activities: Bring agents, managers, coaches and trainers together to discuss how best to improve customer service
  • Agents training agents: Encourage experienced agents to work with new hires
  • Job switching: Let agents serve as managers for a day, and vice-versa. Let them see what the company looks like from another perspective
  • Hire team players: When interviewing prospective agents, look for those with a history of working well with others. Those that only have telecommuting experience, for instance, may have more difficulty with this transition. 
  • Encourage feedback: Whether it’s a Google community, regular meetings or a good old-fashioned suggestion box, make sure there are plenty of avenues available for sharing ideas. 
  • Performance Management: The right performance management solution can make it easier to set performance goals, and solicit the best ideas for achieving them. 

Monet Metrics helps you to easily track, analyze and manage agent, group and center performance to optimize your call center performance. With Monet you can create a culture of accountability and self-motivation.

Find out more about Monet Metrics

Or see Monet Metrics in action in this online demo


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

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Important data and critical insights are contained in every phone call fielded by your contact center. Are you making the most of them?

You are, if you have a speech analytics solution. 

If you have not added speech analytics to your business yet, there are messages being sent by your customers that agents may not recognize. And when those messages are overlooked, those customers may not remain customers for long. 

Without speech analytics, here’s what you are missing:

Greater Customer Insight

The more agents know about your customers the better they’ll be able to serve them. Speech analytics picks up on verbal cues and word choice and topic patterns that can help agents be more proactive in each situation. 

Script Development

Speech analytics can tell you more about how callers are reacting to scripted agent content, so you can change what’s not working before it creates an issue. 

More Upsell Opportunities

Will your agents pick up on responses that identify certain customers as good candidates for additional purchases? They will with the help provided by speech analytics.

Lower Customer Churn

This one is easy ¬– when customers are happy with the service they receive, they stay customers. Speech analytics may deliver the pivotal element in the overall customer experience. 

Studies show that a 10% increase in customer retention levels equates to a 30% increase in company value. Any opportunity to add or keep customers that is not acknowledged is one that, in effect, ignores potential sales and profits. With speech analytics, contact centers are assured of gathering all of the valuable data contained in every incoming call.

Find out more about the Monet speech analytics solution

Or see our speech analytics solution in action with an online demo


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Why Contact Centers Should Adopt a Flexible Shift Model ¬– And How to Do It

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As every contact center manager knows, there is stuff you can control and stuff you can’t. 

You cannot control the number of calls received every day – though a workforce management solution can deliver accurate forecasts to remove much of the guesswork.

But you can control agent start times and end times. It’s up to the manager to decide whether these should be fixed, or if it is preferable to adopt a more flexible shift model. 

Based on feedback we’ve received from many of our clients, it seems those that opt for flexible shifts are seeing positive results, including:

  • Fewer incidents of overstaffing and understaffing
  • Increased service levels
  • Lower agent attrition

The reasons for this should be obvious. If shifts are created based on forecasted caller demand, there is less likelihood of agents having too many calls to handle, or having nothing to do while getting paid. Service levels go up because shifts are staffed and timed to meet customer demand. And when agents have some say in which shifts they are assigned, they find it easier to balance work, school and home life obligations, and are likely to stay longer with a job that fits their lifestyle. 

Ready to make the switch? Here’s how to get started.

First, use the WFM data you’ve collected to determine what type of shifts best fit the call patterns at your contact center. 

The variations here are infinite – perhaps you’ll need 8 hours on peak days and 7 hours the rest of the week, or four 6-hour shifts and three 4 hour shifts. The idea is always to schedule more hours at peak times and fewer on slower shifts or days.

As you make the transition, keep your agents informed, and invite their input into which schedules they would find easier to work. Offer incentives to fill out the tougher shifts. And make the change gradually so everyone has time to adjust. New hires, of course, will acclimate more quickly. 

Once you have the flexible shifts in place, you may wish to tweak the schedule from time to time if your call volume varies by season, or based upon other variables. 

If you do switch from a fixed to a flexible schedule, let us know how it works out!

Workforce management delivers the data that makes flexible shifts possible – find out more 

See Monet’s WFM solution in action with this online demo


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Workforce Optimization: A 21st Century Idea

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While we all eagerly await the arrival of our flying cars and tourist excursions into outer space, it’s nice to know that some 21st century triumphs have indeed become part of our everyday lives. One of them is workforce optimization (WFO).

Wait, we hear you say – WFO is a concept that has been around for decades. 

It’s true that the idea of WFO – creating a more successful outcome by focusing on how a company’s workforce can achieve optimal productivity – is not new. But truly shifting a company’s focus to embrace this philosophy, backed by the WFO tools that make it easier to achieve, is a more recent phenomenon. That’s why some have described it as the next frontier in the evolution of business. 

Technology vs. People

Given how rapidly technology has evolved, at the contact center and elsewhere, companies have tended to amass greater technological processes and resources, without devoting the same attention to helping its human resources also reach their full potential. 

But that is changing now, perhaps as a result of the Millennial outlook that work is important, but people are more important, and a job should be just one aspect of a full and enriching life. Today’s workforce wants a job that will not only give them a paycheck, but also make them feel valued, and a part of the future of the company. 

Workforce optimization is the key to providing that employee engagement at the contact center. It empowers agents to make more decisions. It makes it easier to adopt a flexible shift schedule so agents can balance home and work demands. It tracks performance so top agents are rewarded for their achievement. 

Making this transition is easier than ever with the right WFO platform. Monet Live 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.

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution

Find out how one Monet customer, Catalina Express, made life easier for its customers by reducing their wait times and boosting speed of answer by 25%


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Cloud Excellence Award

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We are very pleased to announce that Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud, has received the 2017 Cloud Computing Excellence Award from TMC. 

“Monet Software was the very first to offer a true multi-tenant cloud WFM solution. Today, we are the industry’s cloud leader, and we continue to enhance our suite with new technologies such as Monet WFM for Salesforce”, said Chuck Ciarlo, Monet CEO. “This award is the acknowledgment that Monet WFO makes a real difference for contact centers and help desks to deliver a better customer service experience while reducing operational costs."

While we have received many awards for our contact center solutions, this one is particularly gratifying, given the ever increasing importance of cloud computing at contact centers. 

Cloud computing arrived not a moment too soon, as the demands on data centers had already grown to near capacity with no sign of slowing down. In the pre-cloud era, adding something as basic as call recording required the installation of an onsite PBX system with a VoIP packet that recorded calls onto a separate onsite platform. With the cloud? Installation can be achieved with the click of a button. 

Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type. Large contact centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller call centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location. 

For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?

Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud is a complete suite for contact centers and help desks to automate workforce management, quality management and performance analytics. 

Read our whitepaper comparing costs and benefits of cloud, premise and hosted solutions

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution


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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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