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Workforce Management

Tips for more effective call center forecasting, scheduling and agent adherence

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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


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

Helpdesks Should Never Be Too Busy to Help

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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



Read More About Helpdesks Should Never Be Too Busy to Help

Agent Training On a Tight Schedule

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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


Read More About Agent Training On a Tight Schedule

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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



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

Getting IT Onboard with Workforce Management

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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!). 



Read More About Getting IT Onboard with Workforce Management

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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. 


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

The Role Contact Centers Play in Customer Loyalty

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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



Read More About The Role Contact Centers Play in Customer Loyalty

How the Cloud Helps Contact Centers with Disaster Management

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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 



Read More About How the Cloud Helps Contact Centers with Disaster Management

Workforce Management: The Annual Review

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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. 


Read More About Workforce Management: The Annual Review

Workforce Management With a Telecommuting Workforce

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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. 



Read More About Workforce Management With a Telecommuting Workforce

Maintaining a Safe Environment for all Contact Center Agents

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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.


Read More About 2018: The Year of the Agent Experience

Creating Accurate Forecasts From Irregular Call Volume

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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.


Read More About Creating Accurate Forecasts From Irregular Call Volume

Dreamforce 2017: Monet Receives a Thumbs-Up From Salesforce

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

It was a pleasure to meet so many clients and colleagues at last month’s Dreamforce event in San Francisco.

We were there, among 170,000 other attendees, primarily to launch Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce, which integrates with Salesforce’s case management system. Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce fills the gap and allows helpdesks to build accurate forecasts and optimal schedules.

We were delighted by the enthusiastic response this solution received from customers and partners, who told us how they look forward to using it to increase service levels while reducing operational costs.

Salesforce was pleased as well, and invited Monet to be a member of their Service Cloud Advisory Board.

If you missed this year’s event, these were the other two hot topics of discussion:

Artificial Intelligence For a Better Customer Experience

Improving and personalizing the customer experience remains a top priority for companies in attendance, and artificial intelligence is dramatically changing the game. At Monet, our product team has also been working on how AI can be leveraged in our solutions to help our customers deliver the best customer experience possible.

Humanity At the Heart Of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping the way we live and the way we do business. Dreamforce hosted several insightful conversations about equality, social justice, and human rights. Monet has always believed that companies must give back to society. As part of our corporate social responsibility initiatives, we are proud to sponsor 28 children and provide food, medical care and education through Compassion International

We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event!


Read More About Dreamforce 2017: Monet Receives a Thumbs-Up From Salesforce

Five Tips To Transform Good Agents Into Superstars

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Your agents are on the front line of customer service, product promotion and brand awareness. Their job performance resonates throughout the entire company, impacting marketing, sales and client research. So it’s imperative to do everything possible to find and train agents who can surpass “good” and achieve superstar status.

Here are five tips that can help them along that path.

1. Competition

As long as it doesn’t turn nasty, healthy competition between agents for some type of reward can result in better service. Some call centers will even pit a team of agents against their managers, to see who fares better. The chance to outshine the boss can be a powerful motivator.

2. Empowerment

Show faith in your agents by allowing them to make some decisions for customers without having to check with a manager first. This will increase their sense of responsibility, and shorten many calls as well – a boost to average handle time.

3. Communication

Listen to your agents. Schedule informal meetings where they are free to express opinions on any aspect of their job. For those that may be uncomfortable sharing their views in an open forum, provide a good old-fashioned suggestion box when ideas can be offered anonymously. An agent who sees his or her ideas implemented is one that will feel more like a valued member of the company.

4. Support

Agents often perform better if they feel appreciated. That means providing flexible shift schedules so those attending school or dealing with outside responsibilities. Those that wish to advance into managerial positions should be encouraged, and perhaps even trained, for that eventuality.

5. Reward

It’s basic, but it still works: provide incentive and bonuses to agents that exceed expectations, and don’t be surprise if service improves.


Read More About Five Tips To Transform Good Agents Into Superstars

Schedule Exceptions: How Do You Handle Them?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

The shift begins like any other at your friendly neighborhood call center. And then – something goes wrong.

Usually it’s an unexpected absence – an agent calls in sick at the last minute. Now the scheduling you’ve done for that shift isn’t going to work – if it has been completed on a spreadsheet. 

But with the right workforce management (WFM) software, not only is the crisis averted, it never becomes a crisis at all. 

By using the “Exceptions” feature in WFM, the remaining roster of call center agents for that shift automatically adjusts to compensate for the one agent that will be missing. 

Of course, there are many other types of exceptions as well. Agents may need to miss part of their shift because of a training session or other work-related event. An agent may show up late for his shift, or return from lunch ten minutes after he should have started. If you’re lucky you may also have agents who work overtime to complete a project, rather than letting it sit until the next day. 

The Monet WFM Live Exceptions feature covers all of these scenarios, automatically recording the times work stops and starts, and making changes as needed to avoid a drop in customer service. 

And while this is happening, the software is also measuring productivity, and making sure the records accurately reflect how many agents were taking calls at any specific moment of any specific day. By getting those numbers right, it’s much easier to create forecasts and schedules that match caller demand and other call center needs. 

For instance – perhaps you have discovered that customers waited an average of 60 seconds longer for an agent between 1pm and 1:30 on Monday. A spreadsheet might just show 20 agents working that half-hour. But WFM data will show that two agents didn’t start their shift until 1:10, since the lunch service was slow at Olive Garden that afternoon. Now you know that only 18 agents were at their desks, which likely accounted for the delays. 

With a few clicks, a workforce management system delivers information about employee status and availability, and the schedule exceptions that are critical for accurate future planning. 


Read More About Schedule Exceptions: How Do You Handle Them?

Call Center Security Survey: Is Your Business Safe?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

A new survey of call center agents provides some intriguing data on a very important topic – the security of customer information. 

A company that provides data security solutions conducted the survey, which suggests they have a stake in exposing risky practices in customer interaction, data collection and fraud prevention. But that doesn’t mean these problems do not exist.  

Among the survey’s findings:

  • More than 70% of call center agents who collect credit card and debit card information read that information aloud during the call
  • As much as 30% of call center agents reported that they are able to access a customer’s financial information, even when they are not on the phone with that customer
  • While just 7% of agents said they were asked by someone else in the company to access a customer’s payment card number, at a large call center that still adds up to thousands of customers. And of those agents that were approached, more than 40% did not report the situation to management. Just one breach can do major damage, as several companies have already discovered

When is the last time you reviewed the security procedures and protocols in place at your call center? 



Read More About Call Center Security Survey: Is Your Business Safe?

The Agent Call-Back: Risks and Benefits

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

During peak hours, or when forecasts and schedules prove inaccurate (an occurrence that can be reduced with workforce management), many call centers have introduced a call-back feature. This is a system in which callers are told that an agent will contact them at some future time based on their place in the queue. 

Is this an effective solution to long hold times? Let’s take a closer look from the perspective of both the call center and the customer.

The Customer

On the plus side, call-backs eliminate the annoying practice of sitting on hold for several minutes, listening to repetitive music and pre-recorded messages about how that customer’s call is important to the company, and how a representative will be with them shortly. 

The longer customers are forced to wait, the more likely some of them are to hang up, and take their business elsewhere. With call-back, that customer can go back to watching TV or doing some work at the computer, until being contacted by an agent. 

However, some customers might view the call-back as a rebuff: “Why are they taking other people’s calls and not mine?” Everyone is more impatient these days, and for some the offer to call a customer back just represents another unwelcome delay. 

The Call Center

For the call center, a call-back option provides a way to level out spikes in call volume that can increase the abandoned call rate. And when callers finally get to speak to someone after a long wait on hold, many will devote the first few moments of the conversation to complaining about the poor service, which also increases average handle time. 

However, the call-back still carries the inherent risk of losing that customer. As long as someone is on hold, they are still in contact with the company, and likely to follow through on whatever business inspired the call. When that connection is broken, there is no guarantee the customer will be around to answer the phone when the agent calls back. 


Read More About The Agent Call-Back: Risks and Benefits

Dreamforce is One Week Away!

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

It’s hard to believe that this year’s Dreamforce event is right around the corner. At Monet, we are looking forward to our week in San Francisco, and to meeting clients and networking with Salesforce experts from around the world.

If you’re planning to attend, there is still time to sign up for a free demo of Monet Workforce Management for Service Cloud. 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, while dramatically increasing customer satisfaction, customer experience, and service levels.

Sign up now for a demo of Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce Service Cloud at Dreamforce

Of course, one of the biggest challenges will be deciding what to do from a selection that includes more than 2,700 sessions, guest speakers like Michelle Obama and Ashton Kutcher, and the chance to network with more than 350 companies.

When you’re planning your strategy, these questions from the Dreamforce website may help:

What is my role and experience level?

How big is my company?

Which products and features do I want to learn about most?

How do I prefer to learn?

Depending on your answers to these questions, we hope that part of your itinerary is a visit to the Monet booth (#1300). That’s where you can learn more about Workforce Management for Service Cloud. We think it’s unlike any other product on the market, and once you’ve seen it in action, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Sign up now for a demo of Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce Service Cloud at Dreamforce

See you in San Francisco!


Read More About Dreamforce is One Week Away!

Your Guide to Getting Ready for Dreamforce

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Thinking about Dreamforce? So are tens of thousands of other people who will be heading to San Francisco this November to take part in the festivities. 

Monet Software will be there, showing off our Workforce Management for Salesforce Service Cloud solution. If you have a helpdesk that could benefit from more precise forecasting, scheduling and real-time adherence, you are invited to stop by our booth. 

Sign up now for a demo

If this is your first visit to Dreamforce, or you were overwhelmed by the size and scope of the event last year, here are five tips to help you prepare for what will undoubtedly be a busy and exciting week in November. 

1. Prioritize

With more than 2,700 sessions scheduled, you won’t be able to experience even 10% of the events at Dreamforce. So carefully review the itinerary in advance and select 7-10 sessions that best pertain to your business goals. Since these sessions are spread out among multiple venues throughout the city, calculate your travel time as well. 

2. Network

Everywhere you look at Dreamforce you’ll find Salesforce experts and people like you looking for innovative ways to improve their companies. More than 350 businesses will be there, and you’ll be able to learn something from many of them. When you make the rounds, keep your eyes and ears open – you never know when you’ll make a valuable connection. And make sure Monet is on your list of stops!

3. Use the Dreamforce App. 

For advance preparation, it’s hard to beat the Dreamforce app. It’s a way to start networking before your plane lands in San Francisco and to get more information about sessions and presenters so you’ll know if they’re worth your time.

4. Try to Take in a Keynote Address

The speaker lineup this year is impressive as always. You may not pick up any tips specifically related to your company, but why miss an opportunity to spend some time with a former First Lady of the United States (Michelle Obama) or a former cast member of That 70s Show (not Mila Kunis, sadly – but Ashton Kutcher should be fun too). 

5. Stay Fresh

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking. So wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and don’t lug your laptop all over the exhibitor areas.

Read More About Your Guide to Getting Ready for Dreamforce

For Immediate Release: Monet Software To Attend Dreamforce

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Monet will be offering demos of its Workforce Management for Salesforce Service Cloud, which represents a significant step for helpdesks wishing to optimize their internal organization and scheduling processes, while dramatically increasing customer satisfaction, customer experience, and service levels.

Dreamforce will take place November 6-9 at multiple venues throughout San Francisco, including the Moscone Center, the Marriott Marquis, Hilton Union Square, the Park Central and the Westin St. Francis. 

“We are excited to be a part of such a prestigious annual event, and look forward to interacting with Salesforce experts and showing them the benefits of our innovative workforce management solution,” said Monet CEO Chuck Ciarlo.

For the uninitiated, Dreamforce is a “family reunion” of sorts for the Salesforce community, and one of the largest software conferences in the world. Industry pioneers and thought leaders from around the world gather once a year to attend sessions on topics ranging from finding and driving more leads, to boosting productivity, to reporting tips and tricks. At this year’s event, more than 2,700 sessions are already scheduled. 

In addition, there is also an impressive lineup of guest speakers, including former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, and actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher. 

“While this much-anticipated event is still a few weeks away, we wish to invite all of our Monet customers to join us in San Francisco,” Ciarlo said. “There is no other time and place where customers can find more ideas for transforming their business. We believe our Workforce Management for Salesforce Service Cloud will fit right into this exciting customer-focused environment.”


Read More About For Immediate Release: Monet Software To Attend Dreamforce

Call Center Agents- Sleeping on the Job is a Good Thing?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

It’s yet another sign of how the world has changed. For years, getting caught sleeping on the job would lead to immediate dismissal. Now, some call centers are actually encouraging agent catnaps.

What has changed? Start with the fact that this is no longer a 9 to 5 world. When the internet evolved into what it is now, the traditional business day became a product of the past, and customers think nothing of contacting some companies at midnight to ask a question or place an order.

Another change – people are more stressed now, and that includes both customers and agents. Life moves faster, business moves faster, and when something doesn’t happen as quickly as we like, we tend to get frustrated. Agents are on the front lines of that frustration. 

Together these factors result in a demanding workplace, and agents that are more subject to fatigue and stress. And that’s why some call centers recommend that agents use their breaks to decompress with a quick nap.

It might be 15 minutes, or perhaps a half-hour or more, but the effects can be positive. When an agent is more relaxed he or she will also be more mentally sharp and more engaged in the conversation.

If you’d like to try this at your call center, you may need to set up a space separate from the usual break room that would make it easier to sleep on the job. Dimmed lights, comfortable couches, and a location far enough away from the noise of the main work area would be a good place to start.


Read More About Call Center Agents- Sleeping on the Job is a Good Thing?

Call Center Agents Out, Chatbots In?

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Good news – humans are still good for something.

One of the more provocative call center discussions going around these days is whether chatbots will one day take the place of real agents. You would think companies would be in favor of this since chatbots don’t collect a salary, call in sick or request vacation days. 

This debate has been made possible by advancement in chatbot technology. When they first arrived, they were only capable of providing basic answers to basic questions, like an online chat version of an FAQ page. That would suffice for callers asking about a return policy, but these bots weren’t much for conversation. 

Fortunately, the next generation could hold up its end of a longer discussion, and there are now even more advanced models based on adaptive unsupervised learning. 

We’re getting into the artificial intelligence neighborhood now, and proponents believe these top of the line bots can provide a customer experience that is comparable to that of an experienced agent. This movement has been accelerated by Facebook’s announcement that it would allow businesses to use them for online customer care. 

But before you start the mass layoffs, you may want to reconsider what role you want chatbots to play in your business. As an add-on to customer service, they can be a tremendous benefit. As a replacement for real people? Probably not, and here are three reasons why. 

1. 85% accuracy

Would you keep an agent that only provided customers with accurate, helpful information 85% of the time? Then forget about chatbots – that’s the batting average even for the best of them, and that is too high a risk of customer loss. 

2. Integration

Chatbots don’t always meld seamlessly into current call center technology. Most businesses would likely prefer to hold on to their customer support software and all the data it delivers than switch over to a system that will still require agents to work alongside the bots. 

3. Happy Customers

That’s still the goal, isn’t it? And customers are more sophisticated these days. Most can discern the difference between live online chat that is actually live, and the too-formal, marketing-speak responses provided by chatbots. And when they really want answers, they want a person on the other end of the phone to provide them. Chatbots just won’t do.


Read More About Call Center Agents Out, Chatbots In?

Changing Software Providers? Don’t Move Away From Monet!

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Switching ACD software/programs at a call center is not an uncommon practice. In fact, as more options become available many companies are considering a change, and weighing that against any potential loss of productivity during implementation and integration, as well as impact on agents and other team members. 

But if your business is considering a switch, there is a very good chance that the benefits you derive from Monet solutions can be incorporated into your next system. 

If like most Monet customers you’ve been able to drastically reduce the time you devote to forecasting and scheduling, and are now able to be pro-active when adherence issues arise, why would you ever want to leave those advantages behind? 

If your new software comes from any of these providers, good news! You can take Monet with you: 

• 3CLogic • 8x8 • Aastra • Acucall • Altigen • Asterisk • Asternic

• Avaya Aura Contact Center (rebranded Nortel Symposium ACD) • Avaya CMS

• Avaya CMS Real-time Wallboard • Avaya IP Office • Avaya IQ • Bright Pattern

• CallFinity • CCPro (ACD from West IP, formerly Magnetic North) • Cisco UCCE 

• Cisco UCCX • Collab • ConnectFirst • Contivio • CosmoCom • Digium • EasyRun

• Evolve IP • Five9 • Fonality • Generic & Generic Enhanced (supports Monet's Generic data formats) • Genesys/EchoPass • Genesys/Premier (formerly Angel.com)

• Genesys/PureCloud (rebranded Interactive Intelligence PureCloud) • inContact

• IndoSoft • Interactive Intelligence (CIC 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, CIC 2016, CIC 2017)

• Inter-Tel • M5 Networks • Mitel 5000 • Mitel MiContact Center (rebranded PairieFyre ACD) • NEC • Newbridge• NewVoiceMedia • Oracle Contact Center Anywhere (CCA)

• Oracle Contact On Demand (CoD) • Serenova (formerly LiveOps) • Siemens HiPath 

• Siemens OSCC • ShoreTel (Connect Cloud & Connect Premise) • Swyx • Syntellect

• Talkdesk • Taske • Teleknowledge • TFB • TouchStar • Transera • USAN • Vocalcom

• Vuesion • WFM for Service Cloud (Salesforce) • Xima • Zeacom

Don’t see your provider listed? There is still a good chance you can continue to enjoy all of the features Monet has to offer.


Read More About Changing Software Providers? Don’t Move Away From Monet!

Evolve IP + Monet WFM = Unprecedented Call Center Insight

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

What separates great call centers from those that just manage to get the job done? 

The answer may be insight. The more data call center managers have to review, the easier it is to create procedures that achieve better results. You can’t fix – or improve – what you can’t see. 

When Monet Live Workforce Management is added to Evolve IP’s award winning contact center solution, the result is the kind of insight that boosts efficiency, lowers costs, and improves customer service. 

How?

Better Customer Service

WFM generates accurate call volume forecasting 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. When forecasting and scheduling are done right, customer service improves. Another WFM benefit is call routing, so agents with specific skills are available to take the calls they are most qualified to receive. 

Lower Costs

By creating optimized employee schedules, WFM improves productivity while reducing call center costs triggered by over-staffing or under-staffing. And in addition to forecasting and scheduling, WFM also creates data on call answer times, first call resolutions, transfer rates and other key metrics that are the key to consistent productivity. 

Employee Motivation

With WFM, staff satisfaction will increase, as the system eliminates the uncertainty of manual scheduling, allowing agents to manage their own schedules and set their own schedule preferences as a reward for outstanding performance. When agents are more engaged in their jobs, improved efficiency is the result. 

Integrating these benefits into Evolve IP’s unified desktop management solution, which also expands insight while maintaining security and control of company data, delivers unparalleled support that just might inspire unparalleled productivity. 


Read More About Evolve IP + Monet WFM = Unprecedented Call Center Insight


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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