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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

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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Helpdesks Should Never Be Too Busy to Help

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Oliver Pritchett, a columnist with The Telegraph, asked an interesting question in a recent piece: “Why are helpdesks always ‘exceptionally busy’? The whole world, he writes, “Seems to be on hold at the end of a phone.” 

Pritchett then goes on to imagine what is actually happening at these helpdesks, while he languishes on the phone listening to messages about how it’s an exceptionally busy time. Among the scenarios – everyone gathered around one desk to listen to one angry caller scream, and an empty office, because all of the agents are attending a course on how to be nice to customers. 

By the way, he notes, when customers call we are “probably pretty busy ourselves,” and have better things to do then spend that much time on hold. 

Obviously that’s not the way helpdesks are supposed to work. 

There could be many reasons why the helpdesk Pritchett called was too busy to efficiently handle his inquiry, but the most likely culprit is understaffing. The cases brought to helpdesks by customers often take time to resolve, so it’s important to have enough agents on every shift so there is always someone available to take the next incoming call. 

Adequate staffing is determined by accurate scheduling, and accurate scheduling relies on accurate forecasts. 

It sounds like a lot to have to get right. But all of these challenges can be effectively managed with Monet’s WFM for Salesforce. It represents a significant step for helpdesks that already use Salesforce, and wish to increase customer satisfaction, customer experience and service levels. 

Monet’s WFM for Salesforce is the result of years of research into the easiest and most reliable technology solutions that would allow a helpdesk to build accurate forecasts and optimal schedules in real time. 

Using knowledge picked up over more than 15 years of serving the helpdesk market, we’ve found a solution that maximizes casework efficiency by delivering more insight into how cases are managed, and the time investment required to address them. It’s the best way to avoid those “exceptionally busy times.” 

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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How to Shorten Every Customer Call By One Minute

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What can you do in one minute? 

Cook Minute Rice? Play Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” on the piano?

At the contact center very few calls will be completed in less than one minute. But add the number of the calls received during one shift, and consider how much time reducing the length of each call by a minute could save. What could be done with all that extra time? 

It’s an achievable goal – here are some ideas on how to get there. 

1. Shorten Your Greeting

Does your script ask agents to start with something like “Hello, this is Bobby from ABC Industries. It is my pleasure to assist you today. How can I be of service?” Why not cut that down to “This is Bobby from ABC, how may I help you?” It’s just as courteous, and you’ve already trimmed a few seconds from handle time before the customer says anything. 

2. Agent Incentives

Offer a small reward to agents who improve their average call handle times. Just make certain that any increase in speed is not detrimental to customer service or bringing each call to a successful outcome. 

3. Information Access

Keep customer profiles up to date, and make sure agents have immediate access to caller information (especially anything already verified through IVR) and answers to questions, on well-organized displays. 

4. Call Recording

By recording and monitoring agent interactions with callers, it is much easier to identify areas where calls can be shortened. 

5. No Cell Phones

If an agent has access to his cell phone or social media during a shift, he or she will inevitably be distracted, and it may result in customers having to repeat themselves, which is both frustrating and time wasting. 

6. Skills-Based Call Routing

Use scheduling to create tiers of employees for specific types of calls based on skills. Try to make sure calls are routed by subject to agents with the skill set to handle them most efficiently. Leave the easier calls for new agents and those with less training on complex issues. 

A workforce optimization solution can also help shorten calls, by making it easier to monitor customer interactions through call recording. Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action



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Agent Training On a Tight Schedule

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Even with the accurate forecasts and schedules delivered by workforce management, contact center shifts are busy things. When they get a little too busy one of the first activities to be dropped is agent training.

But training is important, so there should be ways to work it in whenever possible, even on the busiest days.

Here are five tips for agent training on a tight schedule. If you have more ideas, let us know on our Facebook page

1. Training Days

Instead of scheduling sessions during a busy day, set a full training day aside for each agent. This is easier to do with the flexible scheduling provided by workforce management. It’s also a nice break away from the phones for the agent, and an opportunity to review performance and morale in-depth, rather than squeezing a lot of instruction into the 30-minute break of a typical workday.

 2. Self-Training

Give agents access to call recordings of their previous customer engagements, and ask them to review three former calls per day, and report on where they think they did a good job, and what they could have done better. The few minutes devoted to this each day can pay significant dividends.

3. Instant Training

Offering feedback on calls as they happen through real-time dashboards can be effective, because you’re discussing performance as it happens, rather than assessing how calls from last month were handled. And here you’re not taking time out for training – you’re training while the agent is doing his or her job.

4. Deputize Your Best Agents

When trainers or managers are unavailable, allow your best agents to take on training responsibilities. Sometimes agents are more responsive to advice coming from a peer than a superior. And the agents you recruit for training will appreciate the trust shown in their skills.

5. Skipping Lunch

It’s not the best option and it certainly won’t be the most popular, but there may be times when scheduled breaks and lunches may have to be sacrificed for necessary training. When that happens, a restaurant gift card may help compensate for one missed meal.

Find out more about how workforce management makes scheduling of shifts and breaks more efficient

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


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ACD + WFM: Is An “All in One” Solution Always Better?

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Many contact centers with automatic call distributors (ACDs) choose to adopt the workforce management solution offered by that same provider. While there is some initial convenience in this arrangement, there are also limitations that can impact customer service. 

The alternative? Best of Breed Workforce Management that delivers better data and more accurate forecasts and schedules. 

Why are more contact centers switching to a Best of Breed solution like Monet WFM?

Quality

Telephony is the ACD vendor’s core competency. That company may provide WFM, but there is no guarantee that its solution is comparable to those offered by WFM specialists. 

With Monet WFM, contact centers are assured of accurate call volume forecasts generated from historical data and ACD integration. It also creates flexible schedules that incorporate foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports. Another Monet WFM benefit is call routing, so agents with specific skills are available to take the calls they are most qualified to receive. 

Compatibility

Your all-in-one solution will work with the ACD system for which it was designed. But what if your needs change and a new system is required? If you change one, you’ll have to change both. 

With Monet WFM, you can choose the ACD system that is best for your business, and keep the WFM solution that is already improving productivity while reducing your call center costs triggered by over-staffing or under-staffing. Our system is compatible with more than 65 cloud and premise ACDs. 

Omni-channel Support

A company that specializes in telephony may provide WFM that was sufficient when contact centers were merely call centers. Today, customers utilize both voice and digital channels, and such telephone-based options cannot deliver the resources contact centers need. Monet’s Best of Breed WFM is designed for omni-channel contact centers, so customers can easily transition from one channel to another within the same engagement. 

Find out more about why IT will love WFM in this infographic

Take a free online demo of Monet WFM and discover all the benefits it has to offer



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Getting IT Onboard with Workforce Management

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The time-saving and cost-saving benefits of a workforce management solution will always deliver efficient changes to every aspect of a contact center – and that includes the IT department. 

Here you’ll find the four “S’s” of WFM for IT (how’s that for alphabet soup?). Now you’ll be ready to address any questions or concerns from your IT experts on whether a workforce management solution will have a positive impact on the company – and how it can make their lives easier as well. 

Simplified IT Structure

Every time software is updated or new versions are introduced, someone has to call IT. But with an outsourced SaaS option, all of those calls will disappear. New versions and upgrades are installed automatically.

Scalability

Say goodbye to concerns over bandwidth getting tight. Growth spurts, downsizing and seasonal peaks are no longer an IT concern or a capital expenditure issue. Costs are tied to usage, and stay with operations where they belong. 

Security

Protecting technology from hacks, DDOS attacks and phishing scams is one of IT’s greatest ongoing challenge. Monet WFM removes one potential security weak point. Our advanced network, application security model and protocols protect data integrity, while not adding to the security headaches of your IT team.

Support

What is it with these contact center agents and their questions? Fear not – with Monet WFM, IT is removed from having to support users and infrastructure. Our strong customer support handles helpdesk questions, IT issues and application specific issues. That doesn’t just save time and trouble, it lowers IT department overhead. New pocket protectors for everyone! 

“Sure, it might help once it’s up and running,” your IT gurus might respond, “but implementation is bound to be a headache.” 

If anyone says that, just tell him that implementation for Monet WFM is completed in just four steps (two of which won’t involve IT at all!). 



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Three Types of Bosses that Resist Workforce Management – And How to Change Their Minds

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You know the tremendous positive difference a workforce management solution can make at your contact center. In fact just about everyone in the industry is aware of the benefits of WFM by now – except perhaps for your boss.

Sound familiar? Then your boss may be one of the following types: 

The “Spreadsheets Rule!” Boss

He’s the President of the Excel Fan Club. He uses spreadsheets for everything from his fantasy football team to keeping track of his relatives’ birthdays. He can’t imagine any online technology could be more convenient or easy to use.

What He Doesn’t Know

That spreadsheets make forecasting, scheduling and other everyday contact center tasks more difficult and time-consuming than they would be with WFM. That the hours he spends with his spreadsheets could be devoted to more constructive tasks – or taking some extra time off. 

The “You Get the Check, I Forgot My Wallet” Boss

When he takes a dollar out of his pocket, George Washington blinks because he hasn’t seen the light of day in weeks. This is a boss that hates to spend money, so the last thing he’d consider is investing in a WFM solution.

What He Doesn’t Know

That WFM actually saves money – on staffing, on labor costs, and by reducing costly shrinkage, among other benefits. And when WFM is delivered via the cloud, there is no large upfront investment.

The “I Like Things Just the Way They Are” Boss

She hates change and prefers to live in the past. She still has a rotary phone on her desk and a “Win With Nixon” bumper sticker on her car. She is certain that implementing WFM is going to be more trouble than it’s worth.

What She Doesn’t Know

That WFM in the cloud can be implemented in a matter of weeks, and with the right solution agents can quickly acclimate to the new system. That being behind the technology curve is costing her company money – and having a negative impact on customer service. 

Need help making the case for WFM? Monet has created an article that will prepare you for that meeting.  

Then, when you’ve convincingly made your case for WFM, which solution should you choose? Take a free online demo of Monet Workforce Management and discover all the benefits it has to offer. 


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The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Quality Monitoring

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Ask any consumer why they choose one business over another and their first answer is likely to reference quality – of the product or service provided, of how they were treated, of the convenience and ease of the buying process. 

If you’re not delivering quality, you’re not going to have customers for long. 

At the contact center, Quality Monitoring is the term applied for steps taken to make sure quality goals are achieved. 

Why Do It?

Change is a constant at a contact center. Agents leave and new agents are hired; the company grows and more agents are added; new products are introduced and new promotions launched, both of which will generate more customer calls. Quality monitoring offers a way to measure how customers are being treated amidst all these variables. In particular, it encompasses the business processes in place before and after each customer experience, which can be just as important as what happens during a call. 

The objective is consistency from agent to agent, shift to shift, day to day. 

When it’s executed correctly, quality monitoring can correct problems, improve contact center efficiency, boost customer service and lower costs. 

How To Do It

There are several components to a quality monitoring program. 

Call Recording: For most contact centers, call recording is one of the most basic tools employed in the improvement of customer service, as well as the establishment of industry regulation compliance and protection against potential legal disputes. 

Screen Recording: This helps managers gain insight into how well agents navigate and interact with screens and applications, which impacts customer service. It also provides a way to learn what customers want most from the contact center or the company itself, while also improving the overall processes of application use and service delivery.

Agent Training: Review the processes used and the data collected from monitoring agent performance. 

Scorecards: Scoring calls – grading them on a number of criteria – provides the raw data that illustrates each agent’s virtues and faults. Quality monitoring scorecards can be a valuable reference tool for determining which agents are doing well, which are missing key components of their customer interaction, and which need additional training.

Using call recording and quality monitoring tools such as those included in Monet Quality, it is possible to capture not only the call itself but the activity that took place on the agent’s screen and score 100% of interactions, giving an accurate and comprehensive view of agent, team, and overall contact center performance. 

To find out more, 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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The Role Contact Centers Play in Customer Loyalty

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The quest for new customers is never-ending at all types of businesses, but those efforts should never obscure the fact that your best customers are the ones you already have.

Contact centers can play a key role in encouraging customer loyalty, by delivering the level of service those customers have come to expect from a company they like. That means calls answered quickly, a minimum of hold time (if necessary at all), agents that can answer questions and take corrective action if needed, and an effort to make each customer feel valued and appreciated. 

It’s an important goal and there are two ways to achieve it: consistent agent training, and workforce management software. 

Agent Training

Training should begin with learning the contact center script and understanding contact center procedures – but it shouldn’t stop there. Agents should also be encouraged to show patience, understanding, and empathy. Role-play scenarios can test how well they respond to different situations. 

Workforce Management Software

All of the burden for customer service should not fall on the agent’s shoulders. The contact center must provide the tools necessary for an 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 calls. 

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. 

The benefits of the Monet WFM solution include:

  • Real-Time Adherence: Helps avoid overstaffing, understaffing and shrinkage
  • Skill-Based Routing: So customers connect with the agent best suited to help them

If it’s time for your contact center to consider WFM, we invite you to find out more about what Monet has to offer. 

Get the facts about Monet WFM 

Take a free online demo of our WFM solution



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How the Cloud Helps Contact Centers with Disaster Management

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Wildfires have dominated the headlines here in Southern California over the past few weeks. Many homes and businesses have been claimed by their destruction. 

These disasters are a reminder of how unpredictable life can be, and how companies need to be prepared for the worst at all times. 

Businesses that run on information, such as contact centers, may face severe consequences if that data is lost or compromised. Whether it’s a hurricane or an earthquake, a fire or anything that cripples your infrastructure, every precaution must be taken to ensure the security of data and a seamless business continuity. 

The best way to achieve this is by moving your contact center to the cloud.

In addition to the many other benefits of the cloud, from flexibility and scalability to easier implementation, automatic upgrades and lower costs, the cloud also offers the best protection against natural and man-made disasters. 

Even if the entire building that houses your contact center is destroyed, your data will be saved. That’s because it had already been uploaded to a one or more data centers located miles away from where the destruction is happening. These centers also employ multiple security perimeters, including electronic surveillance, 24/7 security staff and multi-factor access to keep physical intruders away. 

Is it time you experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing your customers’ information will always be safe and secure, regardless of the weather outside? 

Discover more of the differences between hosted, on-premise and cloud solutions in our free whitepaper.

There are also significant cost and convenience benefits to implementing a workforce management solution in the cloud. Get the details here 



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Workforce Management: The Annual Review

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Annual reviews are a tradition at many companies. At contact centers, these reviews typically focus on KPI measurements and whether goals were achieved, assessing the performance of agents, and determining whether your forecasting, scheduling and staffing methods are sufficient to provide excellent customer service. 

If you are preparing your checklist, here are four items that should be on it.

1. Are You Up-to-Date on Versions?

With on-premise solutions, software is updated regularly with additional capabilities to improve functionality, and correct bugs detected in previous versions. Because of budgetary restrictions, some contact centers may not upgrade as soon as these new versions become available. 

Of course, if your WFM solution is delivered via the cloud, like Monet WFM, there’s no need to worry about upgrades because they are installed automatically as soon as they become available, at no additional cost. 

2. How Well Do Your Agents Work With Your Systems?

Technology is supposed to make your life easier, and make it easier for your agents to do their jobs. But if the system is too complex, or doesn’t deliver helpful data when it can still be useful, it may be time to consider a change.  

3. Cost

This is a big one for many contact centers, and perhaps one of the main reasons they are still relying on spreadsheets. But with a cloud solution WFM is affordable, and also saves money on hardware upgrades, ongoing maintenance and IT support. Will 2018 be the year you make the switch? 

4. Is It Getting the Job Done? 

Many contact centers have realized that spreadsheets are no longer sufficient for accurate forecasting and scheduling. They step up to a WFM solution to access real-time metrics and reports that improve accuracy and make it easier to handle unexpected changes in schedules. If you have an on-premise WFM system, it’s possible your needs have changed since it was implemented ¬– do you have more communication channels now? Can you current system scale with the expanding needs of your business? 

If your annual review uncovers issues that need to be resolved, Monet WFM may be the answer. Click here to find out more about how our WFM solution optimizes your workforce resources. Or, experience a free online demo of how the system works. 


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Coming Soon: A Way to Salute Your Top Contact Center Team Members

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Over the years we’ve created several blogs about the importance of recognizing the top performers at your contact center. 

There are several ways to do this – but we’re about to introduce one more, and we think it’s pretty special.

Why? Because this is recognition that not just benefits the individual employee, but also offers a way to share knowledge about Monet solutions that could help other contact centers across the country achieve better customer service results. 

We’ll announce the details soon. In the meantime, start thinking about the agents, managers, coaches and trainers that make your contact center a better place. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some other ideas on how to motivate and reward your top performers, this blog might be of interest to you.


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Workforce Management With a Telecommuting Workforce

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There is an assumption that it is easier to oversee contact center agent performance when agents report to work every day in the same facility as their managers. 

But more contact centers are also beginning to recognize the benefits of allowing agents to work from home. These include cost reductions, hiring from a larger field of potential agents (who would not have to drive a long distance to work), and more flexible scalability than what can be imposed at a brick and mortar contact center. 

The key to making it work is communication. That means regular meetings either in person or via conference call to keep everyone in the loop.

Workforce management software has also made this arrangement easier to sustain. Cloud software provides the same service capabilities to an agent’s home computer as they would enjoy at the contact center. No installation is required and data sharing remains secure. 

With an automated, cloud-based workforce management solution, managers receive the same detailed reports and real-time information on employee performance, agent activities, shift assignments, schedule adherence and other data, regardless of whether the agent is working from home or elsewhere.  

Helping work-from-home agents achieve acceptable performance standards also becomes much easier with a quality monitoring (QM) solution. The in-depth analysis and consistent reporting provided by a QM system exposes areas where improvement is needed, and provides accurate measurement on changes that occur as new standards are adopted. 

Managing a virtual workforce may seem like a challenge, but with a few common sense initiatives and the right technology, it’s an arrangement that can be beneficial to everyone involved. 

First time considering WFM? This blog will let you know what questions to ask as you begin exploring the options available. 

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



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Contact Center Service: Easy is Always Better

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Answering calls at a contact center is work – that’s why agents are paid to do it.

However, calling a contact center to place an order or settle a dispute should not feel like work. That’s why most contact centers try to make customer engagements as quick and easy as possible.

How well does your contact center succeed at this goal? Let’s look at three typical scenarios.

Product Information

At some contact centers this is the primary reason customers call. Is it easy for callers to get the information they need? Are your agents trained to answer questions, access part numbers and prices, and provide assistance without transferring the call or putting customers on hold to look something up?

Purchases and Payments

Today’s customers are used to the ease of buying stuff online. A few clicks of the mouse and items are dropped into a virtual shopping cart, credit card information is entered and shipping details are provided – sometimes all in less than a minute. When customers opt to handle such transactions over the phone, agents should be prepared to not just provide good service, but to also take advantage of upsell opportunities, as long as they do not significantly delay completion of the transaction.

Help and Support

Why isn’t my new computer working? Why can’t I access broadband on my new television? My car is making a funny noise – should I be concerned? Contact center agents must field a wide range of questions from customers that may already be upset at having to call in the first place. The last thing these customers want is to be put on hold multiple times, and to move through a chain of support personnel to find the right expert.

Here, a workforce optimization solution can help. It allows you to classify incoming calls by subject matter, and route them to the agent most qualified to handle them.

Easy is always better. What can you do at your call center to deliver this type of customer experience?

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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Maintaining a Safe Environment for all Contact Center Agents

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The headlines have been everywhere lately – celebrities, Hollywood producers and politicians accused of sexual harassment. But such unacceptable conduct is hardly limited to movie studios and government offices.

In any professional situation there can be instances where those with power and position will use it to make inappropriate demands on employees and those seeking employment. That includes contact centers.

When is the last time you reviewed your company’s policy on how to deal with such incidents? Doing so will likely be on the New Year’s resolution lists of many companies. Here are some tips for how to get started.

Clear Guidelines

The fact that there are varying degrees and different definitions of what constitutes sexual harassment should not prevent your company from drafting guidelines on how you expect your employees to act at the office. Research the policies of the U.S. Department of State and other institutions to establish an appropriate basis on which to build.

Guidelines should not simply be a list of “don’t”s, but also specify what will happen to those who violate company policy, as well as establishing a safe way for employees to report concerns. An anti-harassment workshop is one way to get everyone on the same page.

Once the policy is in place, make sure it is posted in the office, and is part of every training session for new hires.

Vigilant Enforcement

A policy is only words on a page unless it is put into action. If an employee makes an accusation, it must be investigated immediately.

Put Office Romances in Writing

This one might seem awkward at first, especially considering how many people meet their significant others at work. Companies could simply forbid relationships between employees, but a better way to address couples that choose to date is by requesting that both parties sign a document stipulating that their relationship is consensual, and that both have read and understand company policy regarding sexual harassment. Yes, it’s the exact opposite of romantic, but in these contentious times it is best to take every measure to avoid issues later on.

How has your company addressed this issue? Tell us about it on our Facebook page



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2018: The Year of the Agent Experience

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An intriguing new report issued by Customer Contact Week listed several probable priorities for contact centers in 2018.

One of them is improving the agent experience. That makes sense, considering agents are on the front line of your customer service efforts. Your plans and strategies won’t achieve their goals if your agents do not carry them out. When they deliver outstanding performance, everyone benefits.

The real question is how to achieve this goal. The phrase “improve the agent experience” has a murky feel to it – as if it’s something managers always write down but never translate into concrete initiatives that might actually get the job done.

Over the years, we’ve offered several suggestions for creating better and happier agents. These include:

  • More authority – if agents feel empowered to make decisions to help customers without having to transfer calls to managers, it makes them feel more confident and more trusted by their employer.
  • Rewards – great performances should be acknowledged, and recognized with incentives. These could be anything from first choice of upcoming shifts to a gift card for a favorite store or restaurant.
  • A positive culture –That means a welcoming workplace with an appealing look, and managers and coaches that provide the support agents need to succeed.


Technology has a role to play here as well. A workforce management (WFM) solution streamlines and improves the accuracy of forecasting and scheduling, so agents can efficiently handle call volume. Agents can also serve customers better when they have the information they need to access each customer’s purchasing history and preferences.

First time considering WFM? This blog will let you know what questions to ask as you begin exploring the options available.

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


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Investing Wisely in the Digital Transformation of Contact Centers

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The digital transformation is already well underway at contact centers. However, adding channels and options for customers also adds to the company budget, so the key is to pursue solutions that accomplish at least one of two objectives:

  1. Improve the customer experience
  2. Generate customer data that will impact future marketing, sales and outreach efforts


That first objective is achieved by offering the communication channels customers prefer, whether that is online chat, email or social media. Doing so carries the added benefit of reducing live agent call volume, which can also reduce staffing costs.

Contact centers may also believe they are helping customers by “qualifying” them through a series of recorded questions and responses, that ultimately route their call to the agent best qualified to handle each query. However, this process may prove more frustrating than helpful. Customer reactions to an IVR tend to be more negative than positive.

If you must use an IVR, make sure it is designed with the following features:

  • Brevity – do messages get customers to their destination as quickly as possible – or do they delay that journey with long marketing pitches?
  • Clarity – Are the menu options clear? Do they cover all reasonable possibilities?
  • Inclusion – Are recorded messages available in more than one language?


The second objective – generating beneficial customer data – can be achieved by linking your IVR to speech analytics.

Every call that comes in is a valuable source of data. Contact centers have long understood this and try to mine the elements from each conversation deemed most relevant to company performance and customer service.

Speech analytics allows this analysis to go deeper than ever before. Managers will gain more insight into the effectiveness of agent scripts, by the reactions customers provide with their words and the emotional nuances that sometimes suggest more than what they’re actually saying.

The digital transformation of contact centers will certainly continue into 2018 and beyond. Investing wisely in the myriad options available can deliver ROI faster while providing customers with the convenience they prefer.

Find out more about Monet’s Speech Analytics solution.

Or check out a free online demo of our Analytics


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Two Techniques for Training Better Agents: Motivation and Monitoring

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It takes a great many resources to make a contact center run efficiently. But despite the advances in workforce management and workforce optimization technology, your employees, especially your agents, are the most valuable resource of all.

That is why it is so important that agents are qualified, capable and motivated to deliver outstanding service. Fortunately, technology can help here as well, especially with the two most effective techniques for producing better agents: monitoring and motivation.

Monitoring

It’s possible to monitor agent performance manually, but it’s also time-consuming. Plus, if a manager is sitting right next to the agent as he or she takes a call, it’s possible they are not going to hear the agent conduct that call the same way as if management wasn’t around.

An automated call quality monitoring solution, such as that offered in Monet’s workforce optimization solution, delivers recordings of calls, as well as data that can help a contact center track agent performance (attention to KPIs, script compliance, etc.) over a long period of time, establish improvement goals, boost productivity and provide targeted guidance for training sessions.

Motivation

Call monitoring also makes it easier to identify the best agents at your contact center, and to reward them for their efforts. Doing so will not only assure continued top performance, it can motivate the rest of the team to up their game and become eligible for similar compensation.

What’s the best way to motivate agents? There is no answer that will fit every contact center. The easiest way to find out is simply to ask your agents. What would they like (besides their paycheck) in return for improved performance? Some may respond to gift cards or movie passes or trophies and plaques; others may prefer first choice at future shift schedules, so they can work hours that are more convenient.

And while you’re asking agents about preferred rewards, why not also take that opportunity to solicit suggestions on what the contact center can do to help agents do their jobs, and deliver better service. These are the folks on the front lines of customer engagement – they may have ideas for creating a more effective work environment.


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Increasing Sales With Speech Analytics

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According to NewVoiceMedia, nearly 70% of consumers still prefer to resolve issues with product or service suppliers through a phone call.

That means even in this era of emails and social media and online chat, what customers tell you on the phone provides the best data on customer satisfaction and preferences.

And speech analytics is the most effective way to mine that data and turn it into actionable business intelligence.

A busy contact center will field hundreds – even thousands of calls every day. It’s unfair to expect agents to pick up on every verbal cue and every pattern of behavior during their shift. Speech analytics takes care of this automatically:

  • It tracks what words are used and what topics callers raise most often. 
  • It gauges customer satisfaction levels.
  • It boosts the effectiveness of quality monitoring.
  • It uncovers upsell opportunities. 
  • It identifies customers on the verge of switching companies, allowing agents a chance to keep them in the fold.

When all of this data is compiled and analyzed, it can reveal invaluable insights that can be forwarded to product development, marketing and sales.

Whether you are seeking to lower customer complaint rates or address compliance issues, speech analytics helps you to find the interactions you need, so you can spend less time searching and more time solving the problem.

With Monet WFO’s speech analytics capabilities, contact centers gain even more insight from their call recording solution. With automated alerts triggered by voice data, managers have access to critical business intelligence that boosts both agent performance and the customer experience.


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Performance Management: 6 Tips to Turbo-Charge Your Efforts

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“Performance management” is something of a catch-all term that incorporates a wide range of management aspects, from planning to developing agent skills, to evaluating performance based on metrics and making adjustments accordingly.

It’s an essential process, and it can be a difficult one without software that tracks and analyzes the performance levels of your contact center team.

It is also a process that benefits from refined tactics and new strategies. If your procedures haven’t been revised in a while, here are six ideas that may be worth trying at your contact center.

1. Weekly Challenges

You pay attention to several KPIs – why not focus on one each week, and challenge your agents to improve performance? Start with first call resolution, for instance, and then move on to average handle time and average speed of answer.

2. An Email After Tough Calls

If a call did not go quite right, send an email to that customer (whether the issue was resolved or not). It’s an easy and free way to reinforce that customer relationship.

3. Brighten Things Up

How does your contact center look? A more appealing, colorful workspace almost always influences agent performance in a positive way.

4. Covert Espionage

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Your agents might enjoy it as well: have them pretend to be customers and call other contact centers to find out how they handle the same challenges you do every day. It’s a great way to measure your performance against the competition.

5. Friendly Competitions

Divide the agents from each shift into two groups – boys against the girls, newcomers against the veterans, fans of opposing sports teams – and have them compete for better performance on specific customer service goals.

6. Daily Team Meetings

A brief meeting every day can bring out for discussion issues that could impact customer service. This is also a good time to share customer feedback from emails or recorded calls.


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Creating Accurate Forecasts From Irregular Call Volume

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At some contact centers, call volume stability is an occasional luxury. At others, it may seem like an impossible dream.

Or is it? Sure, an ever-varying deployment of sales and special offers and store openings and closings will all impact customer response. But with a workforce management solution it is still possible to detect patterns and predict future outcomes. Try these tips for more accurate forecasts.

1. Unique events aren’t always unique

Sometimes we tend to overlook the fact that next week’s sale isn’t really that much different from one last February, or that the blizzard that shut down the streets around the store had the same impact as a thunderstorm did last summer. Bottom line: few events that affect contact center call volume are truly unique. By reviewing 1-2 years of call history, you should be able to anticipate the impact of an approaching event, based on what happened when a similar event occurred previously.

2. Run scenarios

Forecasting simulations based on 2-3 potential outcomes can help managers analyze routing policies and incoming call volume. That leads to more accurate forecasts and schedules.

3. Include all activities

Events don’t just vary outside the contact center. Agent breaks, training sessions, staff meetings and other variables should also be considered when preparing forecasts and schedules. This is much easier to do with an automated workforce management system (as opposed to spreadsheets).

4. Stay flexible

The more rigid the schedule, the more likely it will fall short of expectations. Built-in flexibility allows managers to be forecast in a way that prepares for unforeseen fluctuations. And, as with including all activities, this flexibility is easier to achieve with a workforce management 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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