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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

Performance Management: The Agent Assessment Form

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The fundamental goal of performance management is to promote and improve employee effectiveness. One important aspect of that undertaking is the agent assessment form.

The assessment form plays a central role in framing discussions between agents and managers with an aim toward setting specific performance goals, measuring progress, providing feedback and coaching for improved performance, and rewarding achievements. But the results won’t be as successful if the form does not provide the necessary content to move those discussions forward. 

The Basics

Let’s start with the obvious – the name of the agent, the assessment period under review, and the date of preparation. 

The Goals

There are two ways to proceed  – a standard list of goals for every contact center agent (faster response times, lower average handle time, more upsells, etc.) based on the objectives of the business and the areas that present the greatest ongoing challenges. This is where you would also list any attributes, or relative competencies, that you expect from every agent (teamwork, problem solving, etc.) Or, the form can be customized for each agent, providing specific areas where improvement is needed most.

The Ratings

How specifically do you wish to address performance? You could use a 1-10 scale, ten being the best – but that’s not as precise as it could be. What real difference is tangible between a 5 and a 6 rating – and if someone improved from a 6 to a 7, would that be cause for celebration?

Try fitting all answers into as few choices as possible. We prefer just three:

Exceeded expectations

Met expectations

Fell short of expectations

Each of these categories is clear and leaves little room for confusion. Plus, it will be more obvious when an agent moves up (or down) within such a limited scale, thus triggering greater reward or more training.  

The Signatures

Having the manager and agent both sign the assessment form might seem like a formality, but it’s still important. If the agent wishes to add any additional comments prior to signing, such feedback should be encouraged. You never know where the next great idea might come from.

Do you have any tips on assessment forms that have worked at your contact center? Share them on our Facebook page

Find out how Monet Metrics can turbo-charge your performance management efforts


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Helping You Prepare for Dreamforce

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Getting ready for Dreamforce? So are we!

With more than 2,500 sessions, 350 companies in attendance, and events happening at all hours of the day and night, planning ahead is mandatory to maximize your time at one of the largest software conferences in the world.

Here’s our to-do list – maybe it will help you prepare as well.

1. Dress for Everything

Pack so you’ll be ready for warm days, cold nights, rain, wind and anything else San Francisco may throw at you. You’ll be inside most of the time but Dreamforce takes place at multiple venues around the city, so be prepared for unpredictable weather. And while you’re packing make sure you have some comfortable shoes in the suitcase as you’ll have walked several miles by the time the show is over.

2. Don’t Miss the Concert

Dreamforce always draws an ‘A’-list band or singer to headline its annual concert and party. Past performers include Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keys.

3. But Remember, You’re There to Work

So carefully review the itinerary in advance and select 7-10 sessions that best pertain to your business goals. Any more than that and you won’t have time to catch your breath or really take in the information being shared. Calculate your travel time between venues if necessary. And when you make the rounds, keep your eyes and ears open – you never know when you’ll make a valuable connection. 

4. Stop By the Monet Booth

Obviously, that’s not on our to-do list, as we’ll be running the booth. But if your contact center or help desk is facing customer service challenges, one of your best Dreamforce moves this year would be a visit to Booth #1201 at the Moscone Center. That is where you can have a chat with one of our friendly team members about our Next Generations Workforce Optimization solution. It integrates seamlessly with Salesforce Service Cloud or Sales Cloud case management systems to provide an advanced omnichannel WFM solution directly from Salesforce.

If you’re planning to attend, there is still time to sign up for a free demo of Next Gen WFO. If you have a helpdesk you owe it to yourself to discover how this innovative solution represents a significant step toward optimizing your internal organization and scheduling processes.

Sign up for a demo at Dreamforce


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Healthcare Contact Centers: The Open Enrollment Crunch

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October, November and December will be here sooner than you think. For many people, that means festive holidays and cooler weather and the start of football season. But for healthcare contact centers, the last three months of the year can be summed up in two words:

Open Enrollment.

This is the time every year when thousands of people begin exploring their health insurance options. And since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, such activity has increased significantly. Just the thought of it can make the most experienced contact center agent break out in a cold sweat.

Are you ready for the open enrollment crunch?

You will be – if you have a workforce optimization solution.

With WFO, contact centers can more accurately forecast and plan personnel needs by running “What If” scenarios and analyzing the results. Once the level of increased demand has been determined, scheduling becomes more efficient and flexible, ensuring better utilization of limited resources and improved cost management. 

Of course, public sector and government healthcare agencies are often further challenged with resource constraints. Thus a flexible cloud model becomes more desirable, as it allows healthcare organizations to effectively manage costs as workforce demand fluctuates. Plus, with the cloud delivery model there is:

  • Minimal upfront investment
  • Fast set up
  • An expedited learning curve for users
  • A low predictable monthly subscription
  • Security to protect data and information
  • Scalability to address fluctuations and peak hours

Find out more about Monet’s Next Generation Workforce Optimization solution here
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The One-Word Key to Help Desk Efficiency

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We won’t bury the lead this time. The one-word key to help desk efficiency is:

Consistency.


Think of it – what are some of the biggest challenges faced by help desks?

  • Frustrating caller wait times
  • Help desk staff attrition and frequent turnover
  • Insufficient documented procedures 


Just one of these can be a hazard – all of them result in a snowball effect that results in a poor level of service to the end user.

Consistency is the answer. Make it a priority. Doing so becomes much easier with a workforce management solution designed specifically for help desks.

With WFM, managers can be proactive, taking the data gathered from historic performance and creating processes for scheduling, staffing, and how each type of case should be handled.

When a help desk can rely on consistently having the right number of agents on each shift, with procedures in place on how to provide assistance, customer service inevitably improves.


How does WFM help with attrition? Ask your departing agents why they are leaving. Many of them may describe the stress of the job, the confusion and frustration that can result from not having consistent procedures to follow.

Monet’s WFM for Salesforce delivers advanced scheduling that incorporates all forecasted casework, voice channels, and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors including: agent availability, work rules, holidays, breaks, service levels, and center budgets.

And because it’s cloud-based and delivered as a service, help desks using Salesforce can access secure web-based applications at a competitive cost with no large upfront investment.


Find out more about WFM for Salesforce


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5 Tips to Optimize Contact Center Scheduling

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Ask contact center managers which challenge keeps them up at night, and many of them will single out scheduling.

Here are five tips that will help you optimize your scheduling solution – and one bonus tip to make all of them work more effectively. 


1. Consider Everything

Not just anticipated caller demand and agent availability, but weather, special events, regional variables, and anything else that may impact scheduling. 

2. Maximize the Skills of Your Stars

Whenever possible, schedule your best agents on the shifts where call volume is highest, or when your most important customers are likely to call. 

3. A Talented Bench

Sometimes life happens and good agents can’t show up for a shift. That’s when you’ll be happy to have a roster of on-call reserve agents who can step in on short notice.

4. Consider Telecommuting

If you allow some agents to work from home, you’ll have a wider talent pool to choose from when hiring, as well as agents who can accommodate more flexible schedules.

5. Incentives

Offer agents additional motivation to work peak periods.


Bonus Tip: Workforce Management Software

Spreadsheets simply cannot handle fluctuations in call volume, agent preferences and call center activities as efficiently as a workforce management solution.

With WFM, its easier to analyze call metrics, after call work, time spent in training and coaching sessions, break durations and other non-call related activities to optimize forecasting and scheduling. You can monitor agent activity in real-time, and make adjustments so unforeseen service hiccups don’t last the entire shift.

You’ll also be able to employ skill-based scheduling, while giving your agents more flexibility in changing their schedules and swapping shifts with co-workers.

Finally, WFM also boosts forecast accuracy – which in turn boosts scheduling precision.


Find out more about Monet’s cloud-based WFM solution

Or experience the difference for yourself with a free online demo


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What is the Formula for Successful Quality Management?

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Fortunately, for those of us who are math-challenged, not every business problem can be solved with an equation. But quality management (QM) can – and the formula is a surprisingly simple one:

Call Recording + Speech Analytics = Quality Management

Why are more contact centers not aware of this? Perhaps they haven’t changed their approach to quality management for more than a decade. They have not considered the impact that speech analytics, which wasn’t even widely available until recent years, can have on QM.

Call recording has always been part of the formula – collect the calls, review the calls, score the calls, learn from the calls. That won’t change as long as people still use telephones to contact businesses.

The advent of speech analytics offers the possibility of gaining even more insight from every customer communication. When call recording is combined with speech analytics, the result is a strategy that increases the value and effectiveness of your quality management program.

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 your agents are always in compliance with federal and industry regulations.

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.

With all the different touchpoints now available to customers, and with call content changing as a result of these communication options, is it really still enough to just evaluate a handful of randomly-selected calls every month? How many sales opportunities may be missed? How many customer service issues will remain unnoticed?

The technology is here – now – to track and evaluate the entire customer experience, and use that data to improve contact center efficiency. 

Find out more about the Monet Speech Analytics solution


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Optimizing Labor Day Weekend at Your Contact Center

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Labor Day weekend is approaching, and while most people are looking forward to the extra day off, contact centers should be looking ahead to analyze how the holiday will impact call patterns.

You’ll have agents laboring on Labor Day – but will you have enough to meet consumer demand? These four steps should help to answer that question. 

Step One: Collect the Data

If you have a workforce management (WFM) solution, it will be easy to gather reports from past Labor Days to tabulate call volume, call patterns and other key performance indicators. Without a WFM solution, you may need to start now to have any chance of finding those figures by September.

Step Two: Account for Variances

A holiday is a variance in itself so that will obviously be taken into account, but watch for other issues that might be responsible for lower or higher numbers.

Step Three: Find the Pattern

What if last year, call volume dropped on Friday as more people were preparing to get out of town for the weekend, which also resulted in lower call volumes on Saturday and Sunday. But by Monday, most folks were back home and wrapping up some business matters before the work week resumes. Does that sound like a reasonable outlook for this year, or is there some reason it might change? 

Step Four: Check with Marketing

Has the company announced a new Labor Day sale or promotion? Is there any reason to believe it will result in higher or lower call volume than last year’s sale?

Once you have this information, it will be much easier to calculate staff requirements to meet service goals.

Still not enjoying the benefits of workforce management? Try this free online demo to see what you’ve been missing!


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Four Tips to Become a Better Contact Center Leader

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The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. – Ronald Reagan

Leadership is an essential quality for a contact center manager. But there are many different ways to lead. For decades the drill sergeant approach was among the most popular, but that’s not as effective anymore, especially with millennial employees. While enforcing business rules and maintaining discipline must always be considered, here are four tips that will make the intrinsic but harsher aspects of leadership more acceptable. 

1. Join the Team

Agents know the manager is in charge. But a good manager will send the message that we succeed as a team and we fail as a team. By presenting one’s self as an ally rather than an adversary, there is a better chance of inspiring better agent performance.

2. Lead by Example

“Do what I say, not what I do” is a recipe for a hostile work environment. The best managers follow the same rules as their employees, leading by example and demonstrating confidence in the policies that have been put in place.

3. Notice and Reward Performance

Focusing on team goals should not preclude recognizing outstanding individual performances. Reward those agents that go above and beyond. Doing so will have a positive effect not only on the person being recognized but his or her coworkers as well. When agents understand their efforts are appreciated, it will raise morale across the entire organization.

4. Listen

Agents are on the front lines of customer service, and they will have ideas on how methods or scripts can be altered to better serve customers. Listen to those ideas and reward those that are implemented. The more an agent feels like he or she is part of the company, the more likely they are to stick around.

Do you have any tips on effective contact center leadership? Share them on our Facebook page


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Workforce Management: Optimizing Its Benefits

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So, you are finally ready to make the switch from spreadsheets to workforce management (WFM). Great! Now just two steps remain. First, choose the WFM solution that has the capabilities your contact center needs, at a price you can afford.

We believe Monet WFM will be a good fit for your business. Check out its capabilities, and the cost-saving benefits of our cloud solution, here.

Step two happens after WFM is implemented. You’ll discover an enormous array of capabilities that you either didn’t have before, or could not achieve without many more hours of work. It may seem a little overwhelming at first, so here’s a short-cut list of ways in which WFM should be utilized.

  • Given the attrition rates at contact centers, require ongoing WFM training to avoid knowledge erosion
  • Refine your data gathering processes regularly to make sure the numbers are accurate
  • Monitor shrinkage and balance it correctly into forecasts
  • Set realistic adherence targets, and apply real-time calculations to achieving them
  • Make sure intra-day forecasting is consistent
  • Let the system manage holiday and shift swaps, so managers can focus on other tasks
  • Daily forecasts will usually be top priority, but do not ignore midrange and long-term calculations that can be important to future planning
  • Invite agents to input schedule and vacation requests directly into the system

When you know what to look for, when you have the information you need, when you need it, and when you can act upon it quickly, that’s workforce management made easy.

Find out more about Monet WFM in this free online demo


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It's (Past) Time to Get Serious About Speech Analytics

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By now, you’ve certainly heard of speech analytics. So for those that have not added this capability to your contact center, we would simply ask: Why not?

It’s a solution that will boost the operational efficiency of your contact center. It will help your agents quickly identify why customers are calling, resulting in faster resolutions and improved average handle time. Properly used, it will also reduce the number of calls and repeat calls.

This is particularly true if you are already using a workforce management solution. Together with speech analytics, you’ll be able to disseminate call center data and deliver analytics insights into the KPIs that matter most.

Today’s speech analytics software automates the search process for important words and phrases, and provides automated alerts when certain issues or opportunities arise. The faster these issues are addressed, the better the customer service.

Let’s face it – even the most qualified, experienced agents cannot mine each call for relevant data in real time. It’s simply more efficient to automate this practice so calls are instantly categorized by purpose and/or outcome, while the agent is clear to focus only on delivering a positive engagement. 
By combining the more precise capabilities of speech analytics, such as keyword spotting, with a more general review of how customers and agents speak with each other, a contact center is better equipped to proactively solve issues before they can impact the company.

Is it time for your contact center to discover the benefits of analytics?

Find out more about Monet Analytics


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Three Steps to More Effective Quality Management

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If your contact center is already recording calls and monitoring calls, then you are two-thirds of the way toward an effective quality management program. Aligning these efforts toward specific performance goals will keep service from sagging.

The objective is to measure agent performance, and initiate changes in training or procedures as needed to boost customer service. Sounds easy, but some contact centers still struggle with their quality management strategies. Following these three steps should help your program achieve the desired results.

Step One: Ditch the ‘Random’ Approach

Random sampling sounds good – you assume you are getting a representative cross-section of customer calls when you create a list for review. But while it is certainly important to provide great service to every caller, there are some calls that are more important than others – these would include high-value customers, and/or those related to a specific promotion or upsell opportunity. So why not make it a point to score those for quality management? Desktop analytics software (available from Monet) can make it much easier to classify calls and find those that meet any pre-determined criteria. 

Step Two: Close the Loop

Quality management does not work as a standalone program. It should be part of a customer service cycle that ends with satisfied customers, and begins when agents are hired and trained. Think of quality as a proactive process that fuels every contact center action, and necessitates regular updates based on customer feedback. 

Step Three: Refresh Your Training Procedures 

Training is a vital component in agent performance, so regular training sessions should be a necessity, and should not be approached as an afterthought, or something to squeeze into brief respites of low call volume. Also, make sure training is supplemented with ongoing coaching that provides positive reinforcement and support. Even if you believe what you are doing now is working, there is always room for improvement. 

With Monet Quality Management it is possible to record not only the call itself but also score the call quality, capture the activity that took place on the agent's screen, and score 100% of these interactions, giving an accurate and comprehensive view of agent, team, and overall contact center performance. Only then, by connecting the dots, can you deliver great customer experiences.



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Finding the Perfect Greeting

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What goes into the perfect contact center agent greeting?

After five minutes on hold, the agent could say anything and the customer would be grateful. But your business is better than that. You use workforce management to create accurate forecasts and schedules, so there are always enough agents on the floor to answer calls promptly. But now the real work begins.

What is the first words or sentence in your script? One recent survey suggests that “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” is preferable to “Welcome to ABC Industries…”  And that makes sense, as it is more polite.

Some call centers prefer to open with “Thank you for calling ABC Industries…” which also sounds polite. However, at contact centers where a high percentage of calls come from people who are confused about a product or angry about a purchase, thanking them for making a call they didn’t want to make sets the wrong tone.

There are companies that prefer to be more formal: “ABC Industries, this is Bob, who am I speaking with?” But today’s customers, particularly millennials, would likely prefer a greeting that is more casual: “Hello, this is Bob with ABC Industries. How can I help you?”

And in keeping with formal vs. informal, “How can I help you” is slightly higher on the informality scale than “How may I help you.”

Is it important for the caller to know the agent’s name? The survey we referenced earlier suggests that they should – in fact, more than 90% of those who responded believe that helps to establish a one-on-one connection.

So let’s put that all together. A perfect greeting just might be: “Good morning, this is ABC Industries. My name is Bob. How can I help you?”

Agree? Disagree? Let us know on our Facebook page.


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Accomplish Your Contact Center Goals with Roadmapping

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Business goals are like destinations. The best way to achieve them is to determine the path forward that will be most effective. If you were driving toward an actual destination, you’d use a road map.

For a contact center goal, you can do the same thing.

Roadmapping is a process that refers to the actions that must be taken, the steps that execute those actions, and the resources needed to achieve those steps. It’s a plan that turns a vision into reality.

For instance – your goal is to increase first-call resolution. The road map here will have that as the final destination. How do you get there?

Start by gathering a team of those whose work is integral to that objective: agents, managers, coaches, trainers, and customers if you can – if not, conduct a customer survey that asks what went wrong with that first call. In this research phase you are gathering facts and opinions from those involved.

Now the strategic planning can begin. Take a fresh look at components, such as your script. Review your forecasting and scheduling procedures. Are there times when an insufficient number of agents are working, which may prompt those that are extra-busy to wrap up calls faster to cut down on wait times?

At the end of this phase, you should have a series of steps that should lead to more first call resolutions. The final step is creating that road map, and making sure everyone in the organization is using that map and heading in the same direction toward the same goal.

Try making road mapping part of your performance management efforts. Monet Metrics can help with this as well. It 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 for Performance Management

See a demo of Monet Metrics in action


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The Importance Of the Human Touch

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A positive result is always the goal at a contact center – an order placed, a question answered. But these days those outcomes can be achieved entirely through technology. Orders can be completed online; questions – that’s why there is an FAQ page on your company website.

But when customers call into a contact center, they are giving you an opportunity to deliver more than a positive result. By using workforce management to accurately forecast and schedule agents based on anticipated call volume, and by training your agents the right way, you can deliver a positive impression of your company that cannot be replicated by technology alone.

Placing an order online is efficient, but it doesn’t generate positive emotions. Speaking with a friendly agent who refers to the customer by name and makes them feel appreciated will go much further in building a strong relationship and encouraging loyalty.

Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to this. A poorly trained agent can have the opposite effect, and drive that customer away.

So make sure your agents are trained in human interactions, including customer service and conflict-management techniques and emotional intelligence. A well-trained agent who listens to customers and provides acceptable solutions can transform your brand image. 

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

Of course, 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. 

Get the facts about Monet WFM 

Take a free online demo of our WFM solution


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The Contact Center in 2025

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Predictions are tricky things.

Everyone likes to peer into the future and guess what life and work will be like in five or ten years, but often after that time passes we look back on those prognostications and shake our heads at how wrong we were. 

Two years ago, we gave our predictions for what you’d find in the 2020 contact center. We saw more agents being used in multiple roles – handling not just calls but chat and email as well. We saw a need for better agent training, as customers could access basic product and service information themselves, and would only call with a more complex issue.

But even as the role of technology increased, we believed agents would also need to retain the qualities that companies require of them now – strong communication skills and listening skills, courtesy and empathy, and the ability to make decisions and resolve issues through their own initiative.

For contact center managers, we predicted a transfer out of a primarily operational role in favor of a more “big picture” outlook on the organization. Rather than monitoring KPIs, managers will be meeting with executive teams from other divisions on how departments can successfully work together to deliver a more efficient end-to-end customer experience. 

Finally, we saw workforce management playing a more prominent role in tomorrow’s contact centers, as the drive to optimize resources will always be key to running a successful business. In the contact center that means accurate forecasting, as well as analytics, skills-based routing and capturing important customer data. 

Actually, looking back now I think we were right on the money.

Recently, we came across an article written by an industry executive that dared to guess what the contact center would look like in 2025. Not surprisingly, there was a belief expressed that artificial intelligence would play a more prominent role in how companies and customers communicate. But like every other kind of technology, it can be more efficient than humans but will never replace them.

Thus, in 2025, as will likely be the case in 2035, 2045 and beyond, a company’s responsibility to its customers is to deliver satisfaction, and part of that involves delivering a personalized experience. And for that, you’ll still need people. This feature originally appeared in our monthly newsletter. Click here to start receiving this newsletter in your email box.


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The Case For Desktop Analytics

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While Monet is pleased to offer both speech analytics and desktop analytics solutions, we tend to focus more on speech analytics because we’re hearing more customer interest in this capability, and its adoption into forward-thinking contact centers has become mainstream over the past few years.

However, downplaying desktop analytics (DA) does a disservice to an application that is just as valuable.

Perhaps it’s time to also consider adding DA to your business. What benefits could you derive from being able to capture and analyze all agent desktop activity? What process issues and bottlenecks might be avoided with more scrutiny into the systems you have in place now?

We’re not sure why DA hasn’t caught on yet with most businesses. Perhaps it’s still not understood as well as it should be. Or maybe the functionality of speech analytics is more easily explained than what a desktop analytics implementation provides.

So, let’s make the case for adding DA to your contact center: it will provide you with insights into your systems and activities that will help identify costly issues that have a negative impact on customer experience. It can monitor and identify compliance issues that could put your organization at risk.

Where speech analytics is primarily customer-focused, desktop analytics (DA) delivers insight on your agents and your processes. It captures and analyzes all agent desktop activities in real time, and it improves process automation and workflow. 

What makes (DA) unique is not just the capability of turning a spotlight on system, operational, or staff-related issues; it is the system’s ability to provide guidance and improve process automation, so these problems can be solved without scheduling meetings and taking time away from the day-to-day challenges of running a contact center. 

Desktop analytics is available as a standalone product, but our DA solution is one that works within and enhances our WFO suite. It is yet another tool available to managers trying to figure out why some processes have slowed and where issues need to be fixed. 

Are you Ready for Desktop Analytics? 

If you want more transparency into how your contact center functions, what agents are doing at their desks, whether your business is in compliance with government or industry guidelines on information gathering, and where your procedures are falling short of expectations, desktop analytics may have the answers. 

Schedule a live demo with a Monet Account Manager


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Declare Your Independence From Spreadsheets

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This is the month we celebrate Independence Day, and across the country, companies are crafting special offers with some sort of historic or patriotic theme.

So why should we be any different?

We think it’s time your contact center declared its independence from spreadsheets.

Ask yourself, as America’s early colonists asked about King George: how are we benefitting from this arrangement? How has it made our lives better? Are there things we can’t do now that we could do if we tried something different?

Take schedule adherence as an example. With spreadsheets, only limited spot-checking is possible. Without real-time adherence, shifts are more likely to be over-staffed or under-staffed. When that happens, resources are wasted and service levels are missed.

But where spreadsheets fall short, workforce management delivers real time adherence and monitoring. Result? Consistent, accurate service levels, and shrinkage cut by as much as 15 minutes per agent day. 

Down with Downtime

The scheduling of lunches and breaks, and how well agents adhere to their schedules can have a tremendous impact on ROI. At most contact centers, shrinkage rates can be greatly reduced with an effective WFM solution, depending on the size of the business. And when shrinkage rates fall, productivity and profits increase.  

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Declaration of Independence states that all of us are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Contact center managers are happiest when their business is operating efficiently. When an increase as low as 1% in productivity can significantly impact the budget, it is imperative to identify areas where efficiency can be improved. 

One of these areas is flexibility – the limitations of spreadsheets result in fixed schedules that can produce higher shrinkage and overstaffing. But with WFM, it is easier to manage start times, end times and breaks with an ease of flexibility that dramatically improves service levels.  

Managers can also consult more detailed and accurate call histories with WFM, resulting in better forecasts.  

Scheduling? Also much faster. Some managers can save as much as 25% of the time once devoted to filling in spreadsheets – time that can now be used for additional agent training or to attend to other matters. 

Ready to declare your independence from spreadsheets? Find out more about Monet WFM

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Four “Must Have” Qualities in a Quality Management System

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“Quality,” that elusive attribute for which a contact center strives, is always a challenge to achieve consistently.
But maintaining quality is critical in every aspect of a company’s operation, and especially in the contact center where thousands of people have their first experience with how that company treats its customers. A positive impression can lead to a long and profitable relationship; a bad one can end it before it has a chance to start.

Do you have a quality management (QM) program? If so, when was the last time you reviewed its success (or lack thereof)? Whether you are starting a new QM effort, or giving the old one a makeover, here are four attributes that must be handled correctly.

Call Scoring

This is perhaps the most critical aspect of quality management, so it is best decided with the participation of as many employees as possible. Divide each call into sections – greeting, closing, speed, issue resolution, courtesy, empathy, etc. – and then score each segment. This could be done with a letter grade like in school, or on a 1-10 scale. Then, compare results. Don’t be surprised if assessments vary – you are still early in the process and this is how you will determine what qualifies as a great call, a good one, and one that was not well-handled. The more participants become acclimated to the QM system, the closer the scores should get. 

Training

If training consists of the same procedures every week or month, agents will tune it out. Have trainers use varied methods to maintain a higher level of engagement. And as much as you trust your coaches and trainers to maximize agent performance, their work must be regularly monitored as well. 

Customer Involvement

Serving your customers better is the reason to introduce QM – so it makes sense to include their feedback instead of just assuming what they want from your business. Review customer satisfaction scores against QM results, and address any gaps or discrepancies. Update customer surveys frequently. 

Technology


Without the right software, a quality management 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.

Find out more about Monet’s Quality Management Solution

Or, take our QM system out for a test-drive in this free online demo


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Why Flexible Shift Scheduling is Now Essential

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Ask a contact center manager what his (or her) agents want most from their jobs, and you might get answers like “more money” or “not having to be yelled at by angry callers.”

But a recent poll found that 43% of agents would actually choose the ability to control their shifts over an increase in salary.

That should be greeted favorably at contact centers. It doesn’t cost you any more to utilize flexible shift schedules, and doing so may not only help you keep your best agents, it will also help you to save money by utilizing agents on more part-time shifts, so they can work when they are needed.

And it’s not just good news for the budget. 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 and increased service levels.

When 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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Three Ways to Motivate Your Agents (Besides Money)

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The old adage “you get what you pay for” may be true, but there are times when it is simply not possible to reward your best agents with the raises they may deserve.

Thankfully, there are other methods that can be just as successful, and keep those superstar agents from seeking other employment. Try these three ideas and let us know if they work!

1. Encouragement in Coaching

Too often, training sessions focus only on what an agent did wrong. After too many of those, the agent will either quit or tune out the feedback.

Agents that only get things wrong won’t be with you long anyway, so it’s safe to assume that the rest are doing a generally good job – there are just some areas where improvement is possible. Make training about what went well – praise the areas where each excels. And when some correction is needed, help them to understand why the change is necessary, so it doesn’t sound like criticism for the sake of criticism. 

2. Meet Your Customers

“Customer service is our top priority” is a nice slogan, but by itself it won’t motivate an agent to a better performance. However, such messages are more effective when delivered not from the manager, but from the customers themselves.

Share any customer data you have with agents, from surveys to interviews to recorded calls. Or take it one step further and set up one-on-one conversations between agents and your best customers. Let them meet the people that rely on them for a quality experience. If they can picture a real customer in their minds as they take every call, it will motivate them to bring their ‘A’ game every time.

3. 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.

And here is one extra tip: Monet Metrics, which delivers the means to analyze agent performance, and personalized scorecards that motivate agents to self-manage their performance.

Find out more about Monet Metrics

What agent motivation techniques have worked at your contact center? Share them on our Facebook page


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Service Levels: Why They Suffer, and What You Can Do About It

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Service level is just one element that contributes to a customer’s positive call center experience – but it’s an important one. 

People are more impatient these days, and calls that are not answered promptly will turn into missed calls much more quickly than they would ten or even five years ago.

If your business is like most contact centers, you calculate service level by the percentage of calls answered within a pre-determined time period – for example, answering 80% of calls in 20 seconds or less. When you miss your goal, it is likely a result of one of these challenges:

Longer Calls

When new agents take longer than they should, or product issues requiring longer explanations, the number of calls-per-hour handled by agents drops, creating a domino effect that impacts when new calls are answered.

Faulty Forecast

If call volume or call patterns are different than what was anticipated, it will affect service level.

Incomplete Schedule

If scheduling does not take into account all activities, including non-call activities, meetings, etc. it can result in not having enough agents on the floor in a shift to maintain optimal service level.

Adherence Issues

When agents fall out of adherence, service level is certain to suffer.

What can you do to improve the situation? The answer is Workforce Management (WFM).

With WFM, call center forecasts will be much more accurate than spreadsheets. By utilizing call history data and running scenarios based on previous volumes and arrival patterns, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and can plan accordingly.

Better forecasts mean better schedules, and with WFM it’s easier to build flexibility into scheduling so start times, end times, break times and training sessions won’t hurt service level expectations.

Finally, WFM allows contact center managers to track adherence throughout the day, while monitoring service level alongside other key metrics. By accessing this information in real time, managers can make adjustments and rapidly put things back on track, resulting in more consistent service levels, hour after hour, day after day.

Do you have any tips on improving service levels? Share them on our Facebook page

Find out more about the benefits of Monet WFM


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Volunteer Projects Support Call Center Unity

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If you work with people you like, going to work every day is a little easier. And if you work for a company that seems to not only care about its employees but about the community as well, it can make you feel a little better about your job.

One way to achieve both of these goals at your contact center is by supporting volunteer projects.

Encouraging agents and other employees to participate in community projects is not just good for morale – it’s the right thing to do. It allows agents to help organizations that are important to them and it can generate some positive media coverage for your company as well.

There are two ways to go about this: one is to give each agent a few days of paid leave every year to pursue projects that will have a positive effect on morale and on the community. 

The advantage to this is that every agent will be able to make a difference for a cause they already care about. You should also encourage networking, as its possible agents will discover common causes, such as animal rescue, or cancer research, and work together for their benefit.

Another option is to have all of your agents, or all of the agents from a certain shift, choose a common cause that they can all help together. Perhaps that would mean giving up a few hours on a weekend to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, or organizing a fundraiser for a local nonprofit organization.

These are all good things to do in and of themselves. But you may be surprised at how much they will also help you achieve the quality and service goals you’ve set for your contact center.

According to a Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT survey, 61% of millennials said a volunteer program would be a factor “when choosing between two potential jobs with the same location, responsibilities, pay and benefits.”

Once on the job, employees also feel better about their corporations — and themselves — when they’re presented with the opportunity to volunteer. Deloitte found that over 50% of millennial employees that volunteer are very loyal toward their company, proud to work there, satisfied with their employer, and likely to recommend their company to a friend. their work culture as “very positive,” as compared to those who don’t volunteer.

Do you have any recommendations for nonprofit or other organizations that need volunteer help? Share them on our Facebook page


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Five Things Customers Demand From Your Call Center – Do You Provide Them?

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By the time your average customer has punched in the ten-digit phone number for your contact center, he or she has already established expectations for what is about to happen. Customers know what to anticipate from an efficient and successful engagement, and that is what they want you to deliver.

This is what is on their minds. Is your contact center up to the task?

1. Someone Says Hello Within Three Rings

If a real person answers the phone, you may hear an audible sign of relief from the customer expecting a trying-too-hard-to-be-friendly recorded greeting, followed by a series of menu options that may or may not eventually get them to where they want to be.

2. Manners

Yes, they seem to be disappearing a little more each day, but most of your customers will still be delighted to hear a courteous greeting, an appreciation for their business, “please” and “thank you” when it’s appropriate, and conversation that doesn’t sound like it is being read off of a page.

3. Less Talk – More Listening

Many of your contact center customers are calling with a question. And they will quickly grow frustrated if they’re not allowed to ask that question because the agent keeps asking them questions first. Obviously an agent will have to collect some information, but every effort should be made to keep it to a minimum. And if a call has to be transferred, make sure the information collected is transferred with it, so the customer doesn’t have to say it again.

4. Knowledgeable Staff

When the customer finally gets to ask his or her question, they will expect an answer. As most will relate to the company’s products, services and policies, agent training should prepare call center personnel for responding to these queries. Occasionally, when a more unexpected question is asked, an agent should have access to communication with other agents or a manager who can deliver an answer quickly. Putting the customer on hold to obtain this is not a great option, but if an answer is forthcoming the customer will understand.

5. A Successful Resolution

Ultimately, the most important result to strive for with each customer call is a successful outcome – an order placed, a question answered, or a problem solved. Well-trained agents and quality call center technology, working together, improve the likelihood of a successful resolution.

A Quality Management solution can help your contact center deliver great service and improve customer satisfaction. Find out how

Call recording is an integral part of quality management. Check out this free online demo of Monet’s call recording solution.


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Introducing: Monet’s New Workforce Optimization Suite

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Something great just got even better.

Monet Software is proud to announce the release of our next generation Workforce Optimization (WFO) suite. We designed it to empower contact centers and help desks to improve customer experience and agent productivity, identify performance gaps, reduce costs, and deliver outstanding and efficient customer service.

New features? It’s loaded.

Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture

Monet’s cloud-based Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture integrates seamlessly into a cloud or on-premise contact center infrastructure to help deliver exceptional customer service. Businesses have access to a robust call search design, descriptive call, video and interaction tagging, desktop screen and call audio live monitoring, dynamic conditional evaluations, powerful group and personal inboxes driven by intelligent business rules, and descriptive reporting.

And of course, this solution integrates with our Workforce Management, Performance Management, and Speech Analytics solutions, enabling businesses to transform each customer interaction into actionable data, and to align each conversation with their business goals.

Long-Term Forecasting

Create long-range forecast calculations using historical volume and arrival patterns, which generate accurate staffing requirements. Planners can customize flexible ranges of months as unique long-term forecasts, each with their own overhead cost values, allowing “what if” scenarios for long-term capacity planning and cost projections. Special closed dates like holidays are recognized in FTE requirements, and anomalous data can be excluded so that long-term planning with Monet is both easy and precise.

UI Modernization

Our classic user-friendly UI has gotten a makeover! Our modern responsive UI makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes and increases the efficiency of performing day-to-day workforce optimization tasks by maximizing the available workspaces.

Optimized Deferred Work Scheduling

Improve the scheduling of deferred work tasks like email and cases. Using historical data from an ACD or CRM to drive the deferred work scheduling, Monet can find the optimal time of day to ensure deferred work tasks are handled while also meeting service level targets of immediate response tasks like calls and chat. 

What could your contact center achieve with these capabilities?  

Questions? Contact a Monet team member today


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Cut Agent Training Time in Half

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Training is the critical step that prepares new agents before they are ready to serve your customers. Obviously it’s important to get it right, but it’s also true that the time devoted to training is time when that agent is being paid, but not yet doing the job for which he or she was hired.

How much time are we talking about? As much as one month at some contact centers, and sometimes even longer.

While companies may be hesitant to cut training time, it is possible to do so responsibly – here are some ideas for how to make it happen.

Homework Content

Prepare materials that the agent-in-training can take home to study. Not just the script, but also a list of best practices and frequently asked questions. You can also create an audio file of successful customer engagements, so new hires can hear exactly what is expected of them.

Peer-to-Peer Training

Some contact centers have found that agents respond faster to training when it comes from another agent, rather than a manager or call center executive. There is less pressure in a peer-to-peer situation, and the new agent may feel more comfortable asking questions about the job and about why certain procedures are in place.

Get to That First Call Faster

It has to happen sometime – but do some agents really need four or more weeks of training and instruction before taking their first customer call?

It’s a big sink-or-swim moment, and should be closely monitored by a trainer who can jump in and take over if there’s an issue. But if the rest of your training regimen is sound, it’s worth trying to accelerate the pace to this training stage. It also gives you an actual call that can now be reviewed and scored using the quality management techniques already in place at your contact center.

Before providing this feedback, however, ask the new agent to assess his or her own performance – how did they handle the greeting? Was there a selling opportunity missed? How would that customer rate that service experience? Self-coaching should be an important part of the agent’s job, so it’s helpful to get a head start here as well.

Do you have any coaching techniques that have worked at your call center? Share them on our Facebook page

Would your new agents benefit from a better quality management solution? Here’s what Monet has to offer


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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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