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Workforce Management

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

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Workforce Management Hints, Tips & Best Practices

Cutting Contact Center Costs by 20% – in 2 Easy Steps

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If your contact center is still using spreadsheets, you might lose money. Two of the key drivers for cost savings are schedule adherence and optimization of daily agent rituals like breaks and lunches. Spreadsheets are extremely limited in the impact they can have on these crucial challenges.

Schedule Adherence

With spreadsheets only limited spot-checking is possible. When you can’t monitor adherence in real time, there is bound to be higher shrinkage and either over- or understaffing. Result? Missed service levels, and wasted resources. By switching from spreadsheets to workforce management software, real time adherence and monitoring is possible. That restores service levels to projected levels, while reducing shrinkage by as much as 15 minutes per agent day. You can even get alerts on your mobile device if agents are out-of-adherence based on custom thresholds. 

Optimizing Downtime
How managers schedule lunches and approved breaks, and how well agents adhere to the time allowed for them, can have a tremendous impact on staffing costs and productivity. At most call centers, these shrinkage rates fall somewhere between 20% and 35% with an effective WFM solution, depending on the size of the business. And when shrinkage rates fall, productivity and profits increase.

When workforce management software is deployed in a way that increases schedule adherence and optimizes downtime, the savings to an average call center can add up to 10% or even 20%.

Find out more in this customer case study and learn how a contact center of a credit union reduced costs and improved service levels with workforce management software.


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100 Agents and Still Using Spreadsheets for Scheduling?

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Many small and midsized contact centers still rely on spreadsheets for daily forecasting and scheduling. It’s an imperfect system that could be improved by workforce management (WFM) software.

However, what’s surprising is that some larger contact centers, those with 100 agents or more, are also still using spreadsheets for scheduling. Here, the inefficiencies of the system are multiplied, resulting in much lower customer service (under-staffing) and higher costs (over-staffing) - often both, based on the time of day.

When an increase as low as 1% in productivity can significantly impact the contact center budget, it is imperative to identify areas where efficiency can be improved.

One of these areas is flexibility – the limitations of a spreadsheet 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 is also faster – some managers can save as much as 25% of the time once devoted to filling in spreadsheets – that time can now be used for additional agent training or to attend to other matters.

There are many additional advantages as well, from reducing the number of agents needed for a particular shift to improving agent morale by making it easier to match employees with the hours and shifts they prefer.

Find out more in the Monet whitepaper “The Cost of Spreadsheet Based Forecasting & Scheduling.”


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Six Steps to Improved Call Center Staffing

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Of all the factors involved in operating a successful, cost-efficient call center, staffing may be the most significant. Out of every dollar spent in call center costs, about 75 cents is related to labor. That makes these decisions pivotal to the operation of the business.

While different call centers have different priorities and different functions, the challenge of staffing remains relatively consistent regardless of size or specialty. These six steps can help a call center manager successfully traverse the staffing minefield.

1. Gather and Analyze Data


The most accurate and reliable guide to staffing, as anyone who studies workforce management can tell you, is to look back at past performance and call center history. Review the reports generated by the automatic call distributor for data on average handle time, number of incoming calls and other key performance indicators.

To create a staffing schedule for, say, the first week of April, the obvious place to start is with the data for the first week of April of the previous year, and the year before if that information is available. The more historical data used, the better the chance of an accurate forecast. Variations should also be considered – where does Easter fall this year? Will that impact call volume? Will more students be on spring break?

When consulting previous weeks/months/years of information, the two numbers that will most strongly impact forecasts are call volume and average handle time, either calculated per hour or per half-hour.

2. Crunch the Numbers for a Workload Calculation


There are three methods typically employed by call centers to translate historical data into a staffing forecast:

Point Estimate 
With this system the call center relies on a basic apples-to-apples comparison of a future point in time with that same point in the past. For example, forecasting next June 15 based on traffic numbers from June 15 of last year. While this is a good starting point, it will not be precise as it does not account for more recent calling trends or new products or promotions.

Averaging
With this method a manager would average relevant past numbers to predict call volume, preferably while relying more heavily on recent data (by creating a formula that uses these numbers more prominently). However, this may still not take into account some changes or events that would have figured into older data.

Time Series Analysis
With time series analysis, historical data is calculated alongside monthly or seasonal changes, as well as more recent events and other variables. It is a more comprehensive approach that typically results in better forecasts.

3. Staffing Calculations


Steps #1 and #2 are used to create the forecast. Now it’s time to formulate a schedule. The call volume forecast numbers are factored into workload predictions, workload being the number derived from multiplying the amount of forecasted calls and the average call handle time.

Most managers will add additional staff to whatever number of agents is deemed appropriate, both to compensate for unexpected absences and to maintain customer service levels should call volume be higher than anticipated. The unproductive hours designated as “shrinkage” – breaks, training time, tardiness, meetings – must also be considered. At most call centers, shrinkage rates fall somewhere between 20% and 35%, depending on the size of the business. In general, larger call centers can absorb these variables more easily because of a more favorable staff-to-workload ratio.

Another factor is how busy each agent will be during a shift, referred to as agent occupancy. The goal is to achieve an optimum balance between not sitting around for extended periods of time between calls, and not having a long queue of calls waiting that might result in rushing a customer call, to the detriment of that engagement. As a percentage, 85-90% is considered an acceptable occupancy range.

4. Create Assignments


Creating a staff schedule is all about getting the right number of the right people in position to handle the customer service needs of the call center. Once the calculations from the previous step have been completed, the manager should know how many agents would be needed for the shift in question.

As some call centers operate with full-time agents and others use part-time and telecommuting employees, this is when shift lengths and resources must be defined, days off specified and personnel scheduled. Depending on the size of the call center, there may be dozens, if not hundreds, of scheduling possibilities. If skill-based routing is also a priority, this will also affect staffing decisions. Once personnel have been selected, the manager also has the option of staggering start times by 15 or 30 minutes, which can reduce instances of too many agents taking lunch breaks or other diversions at the same time during a shift.

5. Management and Adjustment


There is no way to know if a plan is going to work until it is executed. Even with the preparations and calculations already described, staff schedules will likely still have to be adjusted every day. This ongoing management of staff and schedule is referred to as performance tracking.

The main components of performance tracking are call volume, AHT and staffing levels. Deviations from forecasting predictions may require staffing adjustments, assuming enough flexibility has been built into the schedule to make the necessary changes. If not, call center service goals may be in jeopardy. Tracking the number of a calls in queue may also require some “instant forecasting” to adjust the remainder of the shift accordingly. However, over-reaction should also be avoided, lest a random surge be mistaken for a full-day trend.

6. Review, Analyze, and Adjust


The end of a shift is the beginning of preparation for the next one. The challenge of staffing is ongoing, but each day’s results deliver data to analyze that may result in ways to improve performance, both for each individual agent and the entire team.

Conclusion
Many of the most persistent challenges of staffing can be mitigated when call center managers know what to look for, when they have the information they need, when they need it, and when they can act upon it quickly.

No one every said predicting the future was easy. But an effective, automated workforce management solution can make the necessary calculations, remove much of the guesswork and improve the accuracy of schedules and forecasts. Through real-time measurement of call center metrics, agents and managers gain the data visibility necessary to deliver the service that customers expect, and can react more quickly to issues and resolve them before they impact operations.

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Introducing Workforce Management to Agents

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As call center workforce management has evolved over the decades, its methods have become more refined, more specific and more advantageous. In doing so, however, it has also become more intrusive, at least from the perspective of some agents.


When it was all hard copy spreadsheets, or even after the advent of Excel spreadsheets, its tentacles seemed more distant. But with today’s workforce management software, it really seemed like “Big Brother” had finally arrived. It can generate fear and confusion, as well as concern over being controlled by a super-computer that will monitor what they are doing every moment of every shift.

This can pose a challenge to call center management when introducing this new technology into the workplace. How can the transition be eased into a system that will change the way schedules are created, shifts are assigned, exceptions are considered and hours are calculated?

Here are two approaches that might help.
  • The first focuses on reassurance. Whether this is done individually or collectively, let the agents know that the customer service goals of the call center have not changed – just the methods for helping to achieve them. Managers should be available to answer questions and address concerns. Most agent trepidation is rooted in a fear of the unknown – once the system is explained and demonstrated, many of these fears will subside.
  • Next, stress that the benefits of workforce management software are not limited to management. Now, it will be easier for agents to request shift swaps or days off, so they can better balance work with their personal lives. Walk them through the process until it becomes familiar.
Once agents have bought into the system as well, WFM software can deliver dramatic service improvements as well as agent motivation. If you have question or would like to learn from other call centers, please feel free to contact us - we are happy to share our experience in rolling out workforce management systems.

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The Enduring Contact Center Challenge: Agent Scheduling and Agent Adherence

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After so many years, and so much attention paid, why are scheduling and adherence still a challenge at so many contact centers? One reason, perhaps, is that each of these objectives incorporates a number of moving parts, and a wide range of variables that must be calculated in advance. If these calculations are off, even by a little bit, it can bring the whole plan crashing down.

Consider the contact center manager’s ongoing challenge:

Scheduling
Inaccurate forecast? There goes the schedule. If a manager schedules 20 agents on a shift and call volume is higher than expected, average wait time increases, other KPIs are impacted, and customer service suffers. If call volume is lower, agents are at their desks with nothing to do. The customers are happy, but accounting is not – no one likes to pay agents when they aren’t doing anything.

Sudden call volume change? It can happen. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances, even a change in the weather or a news story about a company’s product, can spike calls.

Then there are exceptions, and agents who call in sick at the last minute, and other KPI predictions that don’t pan out. Any one of these can make scheduling a frustrating process.

Adherence
Do your agents understand the impact of adherence? It was covered at hiring and reinforced during training sessions, but even the best agents sometimes forget. Are those that regularly fall out of adherence held accountable? If not, they have no reason to change their behavior.

Having a system in place to track adherence would be helpful, but some contact centers have yet to make this investment.

What’s the Solution?
Fortunately, one solution is available to address the wide array of scheduling and adherence challenges: Workforce Management (WFM) software. It’s the fastest and easiest way to track status, progress, and real-time activity at a call center. Dashboards provide a visual display of call center data, providing insight into every key WFM process.

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Forecasting
Both daily and long-term forecasts can be checked quickly through tables and charts on forecasting dashboards.

Scheduling
Review past call volumes to create tomorrow’s schedule. Find out who’s in, who’s on break and who’s on vacation.

Adherence
Adherence alerts on the call center dashboard identify instances where scheduled activities vary from the current call center status.

Metrics
Besides forecasting, scheduling and adherence, other key WFM metrics that can be reviewed via dashboard include call answer times, first call resolutions and transfer rates.

Of course, the wealth of information provided by WFM isn’t much good if it is not presented in a way that is clear, concise, and accessible to changes as needed. Choose a WFM system that allows for real-time changes to be easily implemented, that shows summaries of all agent statuses, including exceptions. If you can’t find the data you need quickly, look for another system.

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Call Center Management Tips: Can you answer these questions?

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Key performance indicators provide a snapshot into how a call center is functioning. They deliver numbers that denote whether customer service is outstanding, acceptable, or in need of improvement.

However, sometimes the numbers create new questions just as they answer older ones. Many call center managers have found themselves wondering:

“When I see that my agents’ Average Talk Time has exceeded the target, does this result in more abandons and a poor service level?”

or

“If a longer talk time is causing more abandons, are there agents that are still able to meet all of their quality monitoring goals while keeping a low talk time?”

Fortunately, it’s easier to find the answers with an integrated workforce optimization (WFO) solution. Now managers can check these KPIs against historical data, and figure out the answers by discovering not only what is happening, but also why it is happening that way.

How are some agents lowering average talk time while still delivering on customer service? Once these processes are discovered, they can be codified and taught to the rest of the team and put into practice throughout the call center.

Check the results in 30 days – chances are the new KPIs will indicate that this change has resulted in greater efficiency and less abandons.


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Hosted ACD in the Cloud – Now What?

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In several previous blogs we weighed the benefits and drawbacks of a cloud delivery system vs. on-premises hardware and software installation. However, while these examinations focused on an “either-or” scenario, there are many call centers now employing a combination of the two options.


This is especially true with Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). Some contact centers have jumped on hosted ACD or a cloud ACD system, recognizing the efficiency advantages of skill-based routing of incoming calls. The cloud system is particularly beneficial for contact centers with a decentralized workforce, as they can be connected to the system from home or anywhere without additional hardware installation.

However, if a contact center is employing an ACD system without a proper planning of an overall cloud strategy, it may be missing out on the cost and convenience benefits gained from a more comprehensive cloud solution.

Many traditional on-site WFM and WFO systems might not take full advantage of hosted or cloud ACD. When all of these vital functions are planned and handled based on on a complete cloud solution model, the result is a more simplified, streamlined operation, lower costs, improved reliability and scalability, and 24/7 security and management.

Monet’s WFO Live, for example, incorporates workforce management tools to improve scheduling and service levels, call recording capabilities for compliance, and quality assurance to help managers better evaluate the performance of their agents and the call center as a whole. All of these functions deliver the data that makes automatic call distribution more effective.

From forecasting and exception planning to call tagging, reporting and analytics, WFO Live is a one-stop source for call center efficiency, accessed through the cloud for better convenience and lower upfront cost.

If you have questions regarding an overall cloud strategy for your contact center, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to share our cloud expertise.

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How to Convince Management to Buy Workforce Management Software

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While the economy is steadily improving according to most measurements, companies are still taking a very cautious approach when it comes to new investment. That is one reason why some contact centers have hesitated when it comes to workforce management (WFM) software.

However, making the case for this purchase should not be difficult given the inherent benefits derived from its installation, not the least of which is a net cost savings within months, and a boost in efficiency that will also have a positive impact on the yearly budget.

Saying Goodbye to Spreadsheets
Workforce management software is used instead of spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling. These critical tasks can now be performed more quickly and more accurately, with data that is automatically collected and organized, rather than having to be entered manually into a spreadsheet.

With Workforce Management solution contact centers realize a high ROI by:

  • Providing more accurate forecasting and scheduling to reduce agent understaffing and overstaffing
  • Improving agent schedule adherence to reduce shrinkage
  • Enhancing supervisor efficiency by spending more time coaching and allowing agents to use the software’s self-service scheduling features
  • Reducing overtime expenses of agents by monitoring intra-day statistics and anticipating when additional agent resources will be needed
  • Decreasing agent turnover by enabling agents to manage their own schedules and empowering them to improve performance by reviewing their individual metrics
Cutting Costs with the Cloud
Still, even with so many potential benefits, some companies simply cannot afford the significant upfront investment required by a traditional WFM solution. But with cloud-based WFM, these costs are dramatically reduced. Plus, there are no maintenance or upgrade costs later on, and no need to have an IT professional on the payroll to handle system installation or repairs. Instead, contact centers pay a monthly subscription cost, and pay only for the capacity and infrastructure they need.

How to get started
Here are a few simple steps to take to convince management that your call center can benefit from a WFM solution:
  1. Identify the key challenges you face in your call center. What takes up too much time? What processes are bleeding money? What is the most frustrating and easily fixable thing you can do right now to make more money for the organization?
  2. Gather and analyze the data that impacts your performance and demonstrate how automated WFM will improve your call center’s performance.
  3. Create a presentation for management that shows how you can transform the company’s call center strategy with a WFM solution.
When these facts and the actual numbers involved in acquiring cloud-based WFM are presented to management, there is a much better chance of approving the investment. For additional information, please check out our whitepaper How to calculate cost savings and ROI of Workforce Management Software.

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Workforce Management and Scheduling

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workforce management
When you examine how many of the challenges inherent in operating call centers are connected to scheduling and workforce management, it becomes obvious that a consistent, reliable scheduling solution is essential to meeting customer service goals.

The problem, of course, is that scheduling encompasses a lot of moving parts, and requires the precise allocation of human and technological resources. And even when managers find a formula that works, thus achieving a perfect balance of call handlers with times of higher and lower tempo activity, it is not immune from last-minute changes and variables. All it takes is a few agents calling in sick just before the shift starts to render these perfect calculations worthless.

But for every issue that may arise, there is one solution – workforce management (WFM) software. It works because it addresses scheduling challenges before the shift begins, allows for faster reaction times to changes during a shift, and compiles data after each shift that can be used for future forecast and schedule creation.

Before the Shift
The majority of time devoted to scheduling takes place before the day or shift in question. This is when the call center manager will create a forecast for a specified time, then create a schedule based on that forecast.

This is when data will be reviewed based on historic trends dating back months or years. WFM compiles this data, factoring in quantitative judgments that make it easier for managers to build a proper schedule. Forecasts can be created based on both best case and worst-case scenarios, which will reveal opportunities to further improve efficiency.

Other factors to consider when creating a schedule include skill-based routing – to make sure calls are received by the agent best qualified to take them, and agent preferences that should be accommodated whenever possible to boost company morale.

Some call centers still rely on spreadsheets to track scheduled time, agent availability, and such daily occurrences as work breaks and training sessions. The same tasks can be accomplished more quickly and more accurately with WFM software, particularly at call centers with more than 25 agents.

During the Shift
This is when the best-laid plans sometimes fall apart. It’s also when WFM software proves its superiority over spreadsheets. One of its best features is intra-day management, a graphical display of real-time call center activity that lets managers check their schedule accuracy.

If the forecast and schedule is out of sync, customer service is suffering and so is the call center budget. Fifteen minutes a day may not seem like much, but if agents are out of adherence that long every day, the result can be tens of thousands of dollars in additional staffing costs.

Acknowledging adherence issues and addressing them on tomorrow’s forecast is not enough. With intra-day management, managers can review agent schedules and change them by dragging and dropping breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Surpluses and shortages are displayed for each pre-set time period throughout the day, so managers instantly know which resources are available and how they are being utilized.

After the Shift
There is value to the data collected from every shift. WFM software tracks agent performance, achievement of key performance indicators and schedule accuracy, as well as costs and revenue.

Choosing a Workforce Management Solution
There are several factors that can influence the selection of a WFM solution. While all of them will increase efficiency and service levels, it’s important to achieve these goals while also reducing costs and accelerating ROI. Keep these criteria in mind before you start the selection process:

Capabilities
A WFM solution should include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.

Implementation and Integration
Does the system work with a call center’s existing hardware? If so, how long will it take to implement, and for agents to get comfortable with the system?

Cost
Incorporate upfront costs, ongoing monthly or maintenance costs, and any hidden costs in the budgeting consideration. Can the system be used over the web without equipment purchase? Weigh the advantages of an on-premises solution vs. a Cloud solution.

Metrics
Besides forecasting, scheduling and adherence, other key WFM metrics that should be able to be reviewed via dashboard include call answer times, first call resolutions and transfer rates. The more metrics that can be tracked, the easier it is to zero in on issues that impact customer service – and the easier it is to correct them. 

Unification
How unified will the user experience be across solution components? Will the dashboards show everything necessary to monitor a call and discover how and where corrections should be made?

Scalability
Can the solution grow with the call center? Can modules be added without additional hardware costs?

Risk
What happens if the first system purchased doesn’t pan out? Can it be returned without incurring any financial risk?

ROI
What will the return on investment (ROI) be, and how quickly will the call center recoup that initial investment?

For more information, please download this Workforce Management Selection Guide which provides a more detailed check-list and criteria to consider when choosing a WFM system.


WFM Live From Monet Software
The call center is the perfect dance of call volume, agent availability and productive interactions – at least that is the goal for every call center manager. The challenge, however, is turning those goals into reality when trying to implement call center scheduling tools. Workforce Management (WFM) Live from Monet Software can help.

Monet solves contact centers’ two biggest business issues: meeting service levels and controlling payroll costs. Monet’s workforce management software is cloud-based and delivered as a service, avoiding a large upfront investment and painful hardware and software implementation.

Plus, the system is fully integrated into Monet’s Workforce Optimization Suite, which delivers web-based applications for call recording, quality monitoring and performance management a low monthly fee with minimal capital investment.

A simple set up (within 30 days in most cases) has agents and managers up and running quickly, with a level of functionality that meets or exceeds industry standards. Forecasting, scheduling, real-time adherence, ACD integration, intra-day management, exceptions handling, supervisor collaboration, reporting and more, all delivered within a secure, scalable and reliable system.


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Contact Center Management for Public Sector Healthcare Agencies under the Affordable Care Act

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Last year’s passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has introduced dramatic policy changes that will impact consumers, employers, insurance agencies and healthcare providers.

Today, as the rollout continues, thousands of Americans have questions about whether they can keep their current insurance, or if there might be something better available through one of the exchanges. Companies that provide employee coverage must confirm whether they are compliant with the new guidelines, and doctors and hospitals will also have to adjust to this new healthcare paradigm.

But while cable news pundits debate about whether ACA is wonderful or disastrous, many of the questions being asked about ACA are being routed into contact centers that serve both patients and providers, while also having to satisfy a high level of compliance and security regulations. 

Dealing with these numerous challenges is easier with Workforce Optimization (WFO) software. With WFO, contact centers can more accurately forecast and plan personnel needs by running “What If” scenarios and analyzing the results. Once the level of increased demand has been determined, scheduling becomes more efficient and flexible, ensuring better utilization of limited resources and improved cost management.

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

  • Minimal upfront investment

  • Fast set up

  • An expedited learning curve for users
  • A low predictable monthly subscription

  • Security to protect data and information
  • Scalability to address fluctuations and peak hours
 

Contact us to learn more about how a wide range of healthcare organizations at the city, county and state level are using Monet Software for their workforce optimization needs.

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Workforce Management, Forecasting and Scheduling for Credit Unions

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Credit unions are typically not-for-profit organizations, however, to stay in business and deliver great financial services at low fees to their members they have to micromanage every investment, in both technology and personnel, while trying to maintain a sufficient level of customer service.

Inevitably, this leads to challenges, particularly at smaller credit union call centers. Where a larger contact center might be able to absorb the traffic if one agent unexpectedly calls in sick, that same scenario can significantly impact wait times at an organization with 50 agents. An unforeseen spike in call volume can result in similar struggles to keep up with desired service levels. Both, forecasting and scheduling is often more challenging in smaller call centers than in larger centers because the performance, adherence and absenteeism of every agent has more impact. In this situation, a more accurate forecast, a more flexible schedule and increased schedule adherence become even more important.

Every type of call center can benefit from workforce management solutions (WFM), but credit union call centers often don’t choose to invest in what is seen as a costly, top-tier solution to a nagging but still tolerable problem. The resources simply aren’t there to add the kind of technology that will make forecasting and scheduling more efficient – or is it?

Cloud-Delivered Efficiency from Monet

Monet’s cloud-delivered workforce management solution doesn’t require a substantial upfront IT investment, and delivers rapid improvements within months. We’ve worked with credit union call centers of all sizes and types that have discovered the benefits of WFM. The flexibility of the system makes it ideal for small or midsize call centers, and there’s no intimidating learning curve – Monet WFM Live is easy to set up and incorporate into every day business practices. And all these time saving, cost-saving benefits are available for one low monthly subscription fee.

Credit Union Success Story
Read this  case study and learn how a Texas based credit union call center boosted its service and saved money with Monet’s WFM Live.


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15 Tips on Contact Center Scheduling

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One of the call center manager’s most important tasks is to create a schedule that balances agent needs vs. call center capabilities, while accounting for such variables as shrinkage and exceptions.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily – the right workforce management system streamlines the process and provides more consistent, accurate data.

If scheduling is still an issue, check out these quick tips:

  1. Don’t use spreadsheets – they are incapable of producing an optimized call center schedule. 
  2. Accurate scheduling starts with accurate forecasting.
  3. Track both call activities and non-call activities for better scheduling.
  4. Make sure all scheduling procedures are clearly delineated among agents, supervisors and management.
  5. Test schedule accuracy with simulations and dry-run scenarios.
  6. Build some flexibility into schedules so changes can be made on the fly.
  7. Take agent preferences into account – if agents can work the shifts they prefer, they will likely do a better job. 
  8. Make sure you are using sufficient ACD data (at least one year) for schedule creation. 
  9. Build in a shift-swapping procedure that is easier for agents to utilize, and easier for management to monitor.
  10. Incorporate agent skill levels and specialties into schedule creation. 
  11. Try this formula for calculating schedule adherence: [phone time + other work related activity time] / ([shift time] - [lunch/dinner] - [break] + [exception time] + [overtime]) = schedule adherence
  12. Personally address agent issues such as tardiness and extended lunch breaks so they do not become habitual, and have a detrimental impact on scheduling. 
  13. Take weather conditions into account when creating schedules, as they can impact both call volume and agent availability. 
  14. List the 3 greatest challenges to schedule adherence at your contact center, then meet with agents and supervisors to address how these challenges can be resolved. 
  15. Choose a Workforce Management solution that gathers and provides the necessary scheduling information through dashboards that are clear and concise.
Fore more details, please download our Contact Center Scheduling Tips whitepaper.

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A Workforce Management Case Study (Part 2)

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In our last workforce management blog post, we took a closer look at one customer’s experience with Monet’s WFM Live.

http://www.monetsoftware.com/call-center-documents/?file=CustomerCaseGECUThe Texas-based credit union GECU sought to improve efficiency and customer service at its contact center. Following an exhaustive search, GECU selected Monet and its cloud-based workforce management solution.

Just a few months after implementation, the results were in: Because of improvements in forecasting methods, GECU was able to reduce its number of agents, while delivering better customer service. With the more accurate scheduling made possible by WFM Live, there was a 30% reduction in unscheduled breaks. Costly overtime scheduling was reduced, while call volume spikes were managed more easily.

Today, the quality and service levels at GECU are solidly placed in the top 97% tier.

Best of all, these changes were all made through an economical solution that reduced upfront investment while achieving rapid ROI. One GECU executive reported that the system paid for itself after just a few months, with three years of subscription costs offset by savings in salaries, overtime and administrative costs.

There’s a reason why contact centers and businesses like GECU choose Monet to meet their forecasting, scheduling and budgeting challenges.

Read the full GECU workforce management case study here.


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Workforce Management: A Customer Success Story

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We’ve devoted many blogs to explaining why we think Monet’s WFM Live provides an outstanding workforce optimization software solution for call centers. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the experiences of one company who needed such a solution, and did their homework before making a purchase.

http://www.monetsoftware.com/call-center-documents/?file=CustomerCaseGECU

GECU is a credit union that has been serving customers in Texas since 1932. They provide a wide range of financial products, from loans to credit cards, through several channels, including a call center.

Making sure their members receive the best service is a significant concern. So when it came time to take a closer look at their contact center operations, and whether better member services could be delivered with fewer resources, GECU investigated software solutions from several workforce management vendors.

Ultimately, GECU selected Monet’s cloud-based WFM Live as the best available option. Affordability was a key component in the decision, as WFM Live provides such benefits as reduced IT investment, low implementation service fees and a more cost-effective per-user license model. GECU was also impressed by Monet’s technical support and post-implementation training services.

The product itself delivered the enhanced functionality that the credit union desired to achieve its goals. And with the easy to use interface, the company’s employees were able to boost their workforce optimization expertise even faster.

Implementation was completed within two months, an accelerated pace that would likely not have been possible with a non-cloud based solution.

What happened next? Check out our next blog to learn more about the dramatic changes at GECU since the implementation of WFM Live, or download the complete workforce management customer case study right now.

Read More About Workforce Management: A Customer Success Story

Schedule Adherence: Still #1 for Call Centers

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In a 2010 ICMI survey, one of the top challenges cited by call center managers was “consistent adherence to schedule.” Why? Here’s one factor – according to a 2009 Monet survey, 50 percent of call centers did not monitor schedule adherence.

Obviously, you can’t manage agent adherence without taking the time to measure it.
Four years later schedule adherence remains a concern, given its impact on shrinkage and service levels. And the best way to address this concern is still workforce management software. With real-time adherence, a manager always knows if his team members are adhering to the schedule. The reporting generated by WFM can analyze adherence by team or by time period, making it easier to pinpoint issues that result in lower service levels.

Check out our new video on schedule adherence. You’ll find out how WFM can:

•    Improve forecast accuracy
•    Help contact centers achieve service levels consistently
•    Control costs stemming from overstaffing or understaffing
•    Monitor agent adherence in real time
•    Track and analyze key metrics