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Workforce Management

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

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The One-Word Key to Help Desk Efficiency

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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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Optimizing Labor Day Weekend at Your Contact Center

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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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Workforce Management: Optimizing Its Benefits

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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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The Importance Of the Human Touch

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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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Declare Your Independence From Spreadsheets

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

Experience a free online demo of Monet WFM


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Why Flexible Shift Scheduling is Now Essential

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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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5 Golden Rules for Service Desks

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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

1. Listening is As Important as Talking

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

2. Complaints are As Valuable as Compliments

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

3. Anticipate Needs Before They’re Expressed

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

4. Don’t Value Procedures More Than People

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

5. Give Your Agents the Tools They Need to Succeed

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

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

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

Find out more about Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce

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


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

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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

“I understand”

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

“Let’s take care of that for you.”

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

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

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

“My name is…”

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

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

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

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

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


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The Importance of Tracking Schedule Adherence

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to see how it works? 

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

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


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Scheduling: The Difference Between Adherence and Compliance

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

Schedule Adherence

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

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

Schedule Compliance

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

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

Avoiding Adherence and Compliance Issues

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

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

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

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action



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Average Speed of Answer: Establishing a Goal

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

To improve ASA, start by establishing clear goals. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action


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Don’t Be Afraid of Change at the Contact Center

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

― Winston S. Churchill


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

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

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

Identify a Need

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

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

Take It For a Test Drive

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

Review the Results

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

Keep trying and you’ll see positive results. 

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

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


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Solving the Biggest Service Desk Challenges

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

The answer to all of these challenges is workforce management. 

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about WFM for Salesforce here

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


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Four Steps to Better Contact Center Performance in 2018

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

Classic: Workforce Management

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

Cutting Edge: Speech Analytics

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

Classic: Agent Coaching and Training

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

Cutting Edge: Millennial Hiring

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

Find out more about Monet WFM

Find out more about Speech Analytics from Monet


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Tips for Hiring Effective Remote Agents

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

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

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

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

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

1. Previous Experience 

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

2. An Entrepreneurial Spirit

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

3. A Good Team Member

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

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

Find out more about Monet WFM

Or, watch a free online demo to see our WFM solution in action



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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


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Conquering the Challenge of Helpdesk Service Level Staffing

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Of all the factors involved in operating a successful, cost-efficient helpdesk, staffing may be the most significant. More than half of every dollar spent in helpdesk costs is related to labor. That makes staffing decisions pivotal to the operation of the business.

While different helpdesks have different priorities and different functions, the challenge of staffing remains relatively consistent. Regardless of size or specialty, the cases never stop coming.

One way to meet that challenge is by staying ahead of the technology curve. Solutions are available that can boost agent visibility while also providing consistent customer service. Is your helpdesk taking advantage of them?

One may already be familiar to you: Salesforce™ Service Cloud™. But you may not be aware that Salesforce™ Service Cloud™ can be integrated with Monet’s award-winning workforce management solution. 

When that happens, you’ll instantly achieve greater visibility into the day-to-day operations of your helpdesk, resulting in more efficient staffing, as well as: 

  • Improved case and chat management
  • Better forecasts
  • Real-time insight that corrects service issues quickly
  • Greater customer satisfaction

The best part? With one solution you’ll have the confidence of knowing you are on the cutting edge of business software. And once you’re there, you’ll stay there. Any new updates, versions or changes are automatically installed at no additional cost. 

Ready to achieve better staffing results than ever before? 

Read how one company used Monet WFM to improve the accuracy of staffing projections

More accurate staffing starts with accurate forecasts – here’s how Monet WFM can help

Find out more about Monet WFM for Salesforce by scheduling a demo 



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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



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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


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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



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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!). 



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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


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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