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Workforce Management

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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. 


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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



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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 



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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. 


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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. 



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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.


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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.


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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!


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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.


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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. 


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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? 



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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. 


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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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