Workforce Management Hints, Tips & Best Practices
When you really think about it, there isn’t any aspect of the call
center experience that is not enhanced by quality Workforce Management
(WFM) tools. Ask any manager about their goals, and you’ll probably hear
• Better customer service and customer satisfaction
• Higher productivity, preferably accompanied by lower costs
• Employee motivation and transparency
Workforce Management tools can’t do it alone, but it can certainly make
these goals more attainable by providing call center managers and
supervisor more insights and and a better way to plan and react based on
call pattern and other events.
Better Customer Service
WFM generates accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and
ACD integration. It also creates flexible schedules that incorporate
foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes
to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.
When forecasting and scheduling are done right, customer service
improves. Another WFM benefit is call routing, so agents with specific
skills are available to take the calls they are most qualified to
By creating optimized employee schedules, WFM improves productivity
while reducing call center costs triggered by over-staffing or
under-staffing. And in addition to forecasting and scheduling, WFM also
creates data on call answer times, first call resolutions, transfer
rates and other key metrics that are the key to consistent productivity.
With WFM, staff satisfaction will increase, as the system eliminates the
uncertainty of manual scheduling, allowing agents to manage their own
schedules and set their own schedule preferences as a reward for
outstanding performance. By establishing a ranking system, agents are
motivated to do a better job.
If you are still using spreadsheets and consider a workforce management
system, we encourage you to read one of the following whitepapers:
Read More About 3 Reasons to Use Workforce Management Tools
When the objective is agent engagement, the one option that should always be off the table is to do nothing. But as this recent
ICMI article describes, that’s exactly what some call centers do.
When you do nothing, that’s exactly what you get in return. And how do
think customers react when they are forced to deal with uninspired,
unmotivated and perhaps even incompetent call center personnel?
So why do some call centers take the attitude that since agent turnover
is already high, it’s a waste of time and resources to invest in agents
that may be gone next month?
The probable answer is that employee engagement takes more than a quick
fix to get right. One technology upgrade in workforce optimization
software or workforce management can solve a slew of problems, but alone
it won’t create positive attitude adjustments among the agents using
Here are 5 steps you can take that should make a difference. Add these
to a workplace where employees are respectfully treated, and watch how
agent turnover slows.
1. Ditch the Assembly Line Attitude
It’s right to expect all of your agents to possess the same job skills,
or train them toward that goal; it is not right to treat them all like
the same generic person. The last conversation a manager has with an
agent should not be the one that took place at the job interview. Get to
know them as individuals.
2. Listen to Them
Agents are on the front lines of customer service, and they will have
ideas on how methods or scripts can be altered to better serve
customers. Listen to those ideas and reward those that are implemented.
The more an agent feels like he or she is part of the company, the more
likely they are to stick around.
3. A Little Praise
The old adage about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar is
absolutely true. If John is doing a good job, let him know – don’t wait
for his next employee review or training session.
4. Free Stuff
Another way to recognize valuable agents is to reward them. A gift
certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater can do wonders for
morale, and create a healthy competitive environment among shifts as
other agents strive to be recognized.
5. Manage Mistakes
Did an agent mishandle a call? It’s going to happen, especially with
newer hires. This is a training moment, a coaching moment, but not a
“verbally dress down the agent on the floor” moment. Nobody’s perfect.
Take the necessary steps to minimize such incidents, but insults and
threats are not going to result in better performance or motivated
Read More About Engaging Your Call Center Team
While every call center is different, there are some qualities that
remain consistent throughout the industry, and these are the qualities
that can provide a basis for your forecasting and scheduling process.
Some variations may be possible based on specific call patterns and
staffing, but this guideline should be helpful in establishing a process
that achieves results.
1. Collect and analyze data, including call type, call volume, and call patterns.
2. Use this data to forecast call center workload (by day, by hour, even by quarter-hour).
3. Forecast special days or any other events that influence call
volumes. These may include company promotions and events, holidays,
seasonal fluctuations or other unique trends.
4. Calculate and plan resources requirements. These will be specified
once you have defined acceptable service levels on ASA, AHT and other
5. Review additional staffing considerations, including cost, personnel
skills and specialties, flexibility, availability and occupancy.
6. Create a schedule that balances agent needs vs. call center capabilities, and accounts for shrinkage and exceptions.
7. Manage daily operation based on the created schedule. Track key
metrics and adherence, and adjust forecast/schedule based on actual call
volume and pattern.
8. Review, report and analyze, then repeat the process starting with step #1.
We invite you to watch any of the forecasting and scheduling videos to visualize these process steps.
Read More About How Efficient is Your Call Center Forecasting and Scheduling Process?
It’s a situation that a call center manager faces every week – in larger
call centers, it probably happens every day. You prepare to start a
shift and realize that one or more agents forecasted and scheduled to
work will not be coming in today. What should that manager do?
If he (or she) is using spreadsheets for scheduling, panic might be a
good first step. But with the right workforce management (WFM) software,
not only is the crisis averted, it never becomes a crisis at all.
Choose a WFM solution with an Exceptions feature that streamlines the
tracking process on no-show employees. Once the missing agent is noted,
the list of assigned employees is automatically adjusted accordingly.
This same capability also covers agents who miss part of their shift,
either through a training session, a special project, or just because
they were late. And for those enterprising agents that work overtime,
their efforts are recorded automatically as well.
Such data is about more than just staffing; it’s about 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 a
Wednesday. 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. For more information, please
watch this video about schedule exception planning and management.
Read More About How Do You Handle Today’s Schedule Exception?
What does a call center supervisor think of using spreadsheets for scheduling, analyzing statistics on call volume and other key metrics? As our new video shows, it’s a system that has its limitations, and has now been surpassed by workforce optimization (WFO) software.
Supervisors always have a lot on their collective plates, so the sooner they can get the information they need for accurate forecasting and scheduling, the faster they’ll be able to move on to other issues. Of course, they also need to have confidence in the schedules they have created – and that becomes easier as well with data as detailed and extensive as what WFO provides.
From tracking call history, adherence and performance, to call recording capabilities, WFO makes almost every aspect of the supervisor’s job more efficient.
Click on the video to meet Mary, a call center supervisor facing many of the same challenges that may be present at your call center. Did WFO work for her? Then, click on the link at the end of the video to view a more detailed demo of how WFO can make a difference at your call center.
Read More About The Story of Scheduling Spreadsheets in Call Centers
What’s the short answer to what customers want from a call center?
Everything. People are busier than ever these days, and technology has
made them accustomed to placing orders, changing orders, canceling
orders, asking questions and registering complaints with near-instant
efficiency. It’s a challenging task to meet such lofty expectations, but
by delivering on the most important points, your call center should
receive consistently positive feedback.
1. Fast Access
No one likes to be kept on hold, listening to music that is regularly
interrupted by a “Your call is important to us” recording. Using
Workforce Management for accurate forecasting and scheduling improves
the odds of having enough agents in place to answer each call quickly.
Customers expect call center agents to be pleasant and understanding –
even when they are calling to complain. Every agent’s training should
include the skills to remain calm under stress and speak with a smile in
the voice. A friendly greeting and a “thank you for your business”
before hanging up should be mandatory.
3. Limit Questions
Many customers call a call center to ask questions about a product or an
order. They don’t want to be peppered with questions in response.
Obviously an agent will have to collect some information, but if a call
has to be transferred, it can be frustrating for a customer to have to
repeat that information again, especially if they have already entered
it once before even speaking to an agent. Whenever possible, call center
technology should display accurate, up-to-date customer information on
the agent’s computer so many of these questions can be eliminated.
4. Knowledgeable Staff
Customers expect their questions to be answered. As most will relate to
the company’s products, services and policies, agent training should
prepare call center personnel for responding to these queries.
Occasionally, when a more unexpected question is asked, an agent should
have access to communication with other agents or a manager who can
deliver an answer quickly.
5. A Successful Resolution
Ultimately, the most important result to strive for with each customer
call is a successful outcome – an order placed, a question answered, or a
problem solved. Well-trained agents and quality call center technology, working together, improve the likelihood of a successful resolution.
Read More About What Customers Expect From a Call Center – and How to Deliver
We offer a wide range of free resources on our website, including
whitepapers on several important subjects related to call center
technology and the call center industry. From the number of downloads,
it is apparent that schedule adherence is a key topic of interest for
many call center managers.
However, many of these managers also indicate that they have no
Workforce Management (WFM) solution in place, and are still relying on
spreadsheets. Without WFM, the vital practices of tracking, monitoring
and improving schedule adherence is much more difficult, if not
With an automated solution in place, a call center manager has the
capability to streamline schedule adherence goals and practices. Here’s
how it works when you have the right tools for the job: Forecasting – through simulations based on historical data, you can create a reliable schedule. Schedule Creation – adherence is improved when a schedule takes into
account agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks and other
variables. Intra-day Management – when adjustments are necessary, WFM provides
real-time updates so schedule goals are met regardless of changes. Real-time Adherence – this is the fastest way to compare forecasted
data with actual daily activity. The results will aid in future
forecasting and scheduling, toward the goal of more consistent
adherence. Performance Analysis/Metrics – how do you know which agents are
doing their part for schedule adherence and which may require additional
guidance or training? WFM dashboards and real-time alerts provide the
To find out more, read our
schedule adherence strategy brief, or review the whitepapers available on our call center resources page.
Read More About Schedule Adherence Automation
In a previous
blog post, we discussed how customer satisfaction could be positively impacted by call center employee satisfaction.
Workforce Management (WFM) can play a prominent role in engendering
employee satisfaction. That certainly hasn’t always been the case. When
such technologies were first introduced, they were perceived as a means
to control a call center workforce, to make sure they were producing as
expected, and to keep an electronic eye on them at all times.
But in today’s call centers, agents and managers have discovered how
workforce management improves communication, transparency,
accountability and schedule flexibility: Skill-based Scheduling allows managers to better match agents with
the types of calls they are most comfortable and experienced in
handling. This boosts both employee confidence and customer service. Flexible Schedules are more easily managed with WFM, so agents can
balance obligations in their personal lives with work responsibilities. Online Collaboration between agents and supervisors makes it easier
for agents to bid for shifts, and to handle changes as needed. Exception Calendars keep all call center personnel informed and
prepared for issues, while giving agents a way to better deal with
emergencies and other unplanned activities. Reporting and Transparency Tools provide more accurate assessments
of agent performance, so they can be monitored and reviewed fairly.
All of these capabilities help call centers to engage agents in the
planning and management process, and that makes for happier agents.
Please take a look at our
workforce management learning center to learn more.
Read More About Use Workforce Management to Engage Employees, not Control Them
Based on a recent call center analysis, we discovered that approximately
20% of call centers still use spreadsheets for forecasting ad
scheduling. Those that do are missing out on the convenience,
efficiency, flexibility and functionality of workforce management.
Is there an optimal use for spreadsheets? Perhaps – for a call center
where the call flows are the same every hour of every day.
Unfortunately, such a call center does not exist. When call volume
changes, spreadsheets are insufficient.
Here are 5 ways that WFM represents a quantum leap forward in forecasting and scheduling:
Flexible Schedules – spreadsheets are fine for fixed schedules – but
call center schedules rarely stay fixed. A WFM system provides the
flexibility to manage start times, end times and break times.
Call History Forecasts – the most accurate call forecasts are those
that rely on call history data. This can be done manually with a
spreadsheet, but it’s much faster and more accurate to work with
real-time and historic call data collected by a WFM system.
Adherence Tracking – tracking and schedule adherence are difficult,
if not flat-out impossible, with just a spreadsheet. Spot-checks are
fine as far as they go, but without the real-time tracking provided by
WFM there is a higher risk of over/under staffing, shrinkage and missed
Forecast Simulation – WFM allows for more detailed and accurate forecast simulations. Exception Handling – All exception considerations are handled
automatically through WFM. Spreadsheets cannot match this speed and
efficiency, which results in unhappy agents and higher shrinkage.
To find out more about why WFM is the better solution, even for smaller call centers, sign up to receive a
Read More About Are You Still Using Spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling?
What is it that contact center managers have to actually “manage”? If it
were only one element, their jobs would be a lot easier. However, most
are required to oversee the allocation of resources, costs and staff,
all of which require multiple decisions on a daily basis. At a busy
contact center, that is a full-time job.
And while all of these aspects of the operation are important, the best
managers also realize that their job really begins and ends in just one
place – customer satisfaction. Those who leave this responsibility to
their agents are neglecting the most significant part of their business.
Too many contact center customers now hope for the best and expect the
worst. Miscommunication, being put on hold for interminable amounts of
time, being transferred to three different representatives to get a
question answered – these are the contact center customer nightmares.
Agents play their role, of course, but it is the responsibility of
management to take customer needs and the customer experience into
consideration, and distribute resources, budget and staff to turn those
nightmares into rave reviews. The first step toward doing so is to
create a comprehensive contact center strategy. We’ll provide steps for
doing so in our next blog. In the meantime, you can also download our
whitepaper to learn about strategies to improve quality and customer experience.
Read More About Contact Center Management Should Start With the Customer in Mind
described how call centers and contact centers are taking a more prominent role in how a company engages with customers, with other departments and with the community at large.
If a call center exerts more influence on product development and company policies, training of call center personnel takes on even more significance, and must be amended to achieve these cross-functional purposes. When devising future training practices, keep these thoughts in mind:
1. Maximize the Impact of Quality Monitoring
A quality-monitoring program aids in agent training, but can also serve as a valuable data source that can shape company processes and organization. Make sure the knowledge gained from customers through call recording is put to more than one good use.
2. Consistency in Data Results
How has quality monitoring impacted customer satisfaction, service levels, revenues or employee satisfaction? All of these elements are interrelated, but too often managers take a micro-view when a macro-view can lead to better improvements. Do not underestimate the connections between seemingly disparate goals. Quality monitoring data can be invaluable in establishing consistency in performance throughout the call center.
3. Check Results
Once you’ve established best practices in both technology use and agent performance, make sure the guidelines that have been implemented are actually working. One way to do this is to arrange an independent evaluation of a sample of call interactions. If their results do not match yours, it may be time to make some changes.
For more information about quality monitoring strategies, please
download our new whitepaper
Read More About How to Improve Training Effectiveness In Your Contact Center
When first looking at the range of workforce management systems
available, it can be confusing trying to figure out which might be best
for your call center. So for those in need of a quick primer, here are
the most significant capabilities of workforce management, and why they
are critical to the success of your business.
– By using historical data, and through simulations to calculate future
call volume, WFM generates forecasts for appropriate staffing, call
handle time and other factors to maintain optimum call center
performance for any time interval of the day.
– Accurate forecasts create accurate schedules. A WFM scheduling engine
should incorporate all call types and other activities. A staffing
schedule is only valuable when it is optimized for all necessary
factors, including agent skill sets, staff availability, holidays,
breaks and service levels.
– Scheduling an agent for a shift is not enough – WFM should provide a
graphical display of variances in agents’ schedules during the workday
for breaks, lunch and other exceptions. Real-time updates allow managers
to compensate during surpluses or shortages for each time period.
– Choose a WFM solution with an integrated exception calendar, that
simplifies the scheduling of agent exceptions for training, time off and
– Use WFM to compare planned agent activity to actual activities
throughout the day, while also reviewing forecasts for key performance
indicators such as call volume and handle time.
Configuration/Administration – WFM should adjust to your call center
regardless of how it is organized. Choose a system that lets you build
an unlimited number of center splits or agent groups with separate
service objectives and guidelines. Use WFM to manage multiple sites and
time zones, and set service level goals down to 15-minute intervals.
Performance Analysis/Metrics – WFM provides actionable insights on all agent activities through dashboards, key performance indictors and real-time alerts.
Ease of Use – Technology cannot benefit a business if it is not easy
to use, and if it cannot be incorporated into the center with minimal
training. Agent Collaboration – Communicate with agents on schedule changes,
exception planning and shift bidding. WFM should also issue automated
alerts and notifications to maintain schedule adherence.
For more advice on workforce management system selection, please download our "
How to Select a WFM Solution" whitepaper.
Read More About What are the Key Components of a Workforce Management System?
The most critical and useful step in the
process is forecasting. The more precise the forecast, the more likely
a call center will be to avoid such issues as over-staffing or
under-staffing, while providing consistent customer service.
Forecasts are subject to a wide array of variables and challenges, which
places great demands on a workforce management system. When choosing a
solution for your business, make sure to review the following
capabilities that will improve the likelihood of optimized schedules.
Detailed Data Analysis
The system must use work history data to anticipate future call volume,
agent requirements, average call handling time and other performance
indicators, not just for a particular day but also for different times
throughout that day.
The necessary data is gathered through analysis of call types and
routing policies, but should provide updates throughout the day when new
data suggests changes are necessary.
A workforce management system should quickly generate automatic
forecasts for multiple call center sites based on their unique needs.
The system should not just generate accurate forecasts, but analyze
alternative scenarios based on changes in staffing or call volume.
Managers can then run “what if” simulations that can help prepare the
call center for such fluctuations.
For more information, please check out these videos about call forecasting and Intra-day management.
Read More About Advanced Forecasting Methods for Your Call Center
Call center schedules are only as accurate as the data used to determine
them. Usually if there’s an issue, that’s the place to begin your
search. However, the problem may also be caused by other call center
policies that impact scheduling data. Here are 5 reasons why your call center schedule may not be getting the job done: 1. Insufficient Historic Call Data This
is an issue with newer call centers who cannot trace two years of
calling patterns to determine future volume. But it can also be a
problem at call centers for companies that undergo significant expansion
or contraction, changes in product lines, or even expansion/contraction
of call center resources. If last August was different than this one
for any reason, that makes the challenge of forecasting and scheduling
more difficult. 2. Call Related Activities Scheduling
must take into account all call- and non-call related activities, not
just managing the incoming call load and the actual time on each call.
Lunches, other breaks, training sessions, meetings and correspondence
should also be calculated. 3. No Simulation Forecasting
simulation can help managers analyze their routing policies and
incoming call volume to develop more accurate forecasts, which lead to
more accurate schedules. 4. No Flexibility The more
rigid the schedule, the more likely it will fall short of expectations.
Building in some flexibility allows managers to be more prepared for
unforeseen fluctuations. It’s also better for call center agents, who
will appreciate being able to take a few extra moments away if they need
it. 5. Slow Reaction to Changing Call Volumes Some
sports cars can change direction in a few seconds. An aircraft carrier
might take hours to accomplish the same task. If call volume changes
unexpectedly, a call center needs to react quickly and adjust the
schedule accordingly, or risk the pitfalls of overtaxed agents and
Read More About 5 Reasons for Call Center Schedule Issues
These young adults today – if you’ve ever said that about the younger agents hired for your call center, you’re not alone. But while the so-called Generation Y come with their own management challenges, they also have a number of positive attributes, as described in this
article in Contact Professional
Sure, the Gen Y workforce is more accustomed to informal communication between management and employees, and many won’t understand the concept of company loyalty if a better opportunity comes along. But they’re smart, they take feedback well, and may be highly motivated to succeed, even if they look upon your call center as a stepping stone to future endeavors.
The article provides four tips for engaging Gen Y, but all of them are equally appropriate to agents of any age:
Frequent Feedback and Coaching
Balancing Work and Life
All of these goals are also easier achieved with a
workforce management solution.
The metrics provided on call center goals and employee performance provides the substance of communication.
Call recordings can improve coaching sessions.
Scheduling can make it easier for Gen Y agents to achieve their desired work/life balance, perhaps even through working from home.
As call centers become contact centers, agents can be trained in new customer engagement areas, from webchat to email, thus expanding their skill set and moving them forward on their professional journey.
And if these techniques work for your Gen Y workforce, go ahead and try them on those “over-the-hill” 30- and 40-somethings in your center. They’ll appreciate the extra attention as well.
Read More About Managing Younger Agents in Call Centers
Forecasts determine schedules, but what determines forecasts? There is
both art and science involved in predicting future call volume and agent
staffing needs, and
technology can make the forecasting process more accurate. But the starting point should always be a review of call history data.
Past activity is always the best predictor of future activity,
especially when broken down into ever-smaller increments of time. This
makes it easier to identify anomalies and prepare accordingly.
You’ll want to have monthly and weekly stats to review, and then dig
deeper into daily and hourly numbers. Finally, examine work periods as
short as 15 minutes. You may be surprised at the stats for these
intervals, and it may help in determining when agents can take breaks,
and whether personnel are beginning or ending their shifts on time.
Obviously you’ll need at least one year of historic data, but it’s
better to have at least 2-3 years to spot patterns and trends that can
help fine-tune future forecasting.
Pay particular attention to lower or higher numbers, which should be
apparent as they tend to stand out amidst otherwise consistent call
volumes. Determine the cause for the variation, whether it was a holiday
or a new company promotion, and adjust your forecast accordingly for
that same time period.
Many changes in traffic volume are not likely to repeat – on a day that a
major news story breaks, call volume will go down. On a day when
computers are knocked offline due to a technical glitch, call volume
accuracy will be thrown off. Until you determine the cause, you will not
be able to forecast a point estimate (the theory that a point in the
future will be comparable to a similar point in the past).
Once all of this data has been reviewed, you’ll be ready to prepare a forecast, assess staff requirements and create a schedule.
Read More About Use Call History Data for Better Forecasting and Scheduling
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) has been an
invaluable resource for helping contact centers get the most out of
their agents and managers. Recently, the ICMI offered
five valuable tips on call center scheduling that are worth your time.
Some of this you may have heard before – but it’s so easy to get off
track when sometimes it’s all you can do to keep up with the day-to-day
pressures of personnel, technology, forecasts, scheduling and adherence.
A refresher course is always welcome.
You can click on the link for the full story, but here are the basics:
Senior management, supervisors and agents all need to be pulling in the
same direction. That means clearly delineated procedures and
professional values that will guide the schedule-making process, and
contingency plans for when a schedule goes awry. Having these
conversations first can resolve numerous issues later on.
Sample schedules and dry-run scenarios can be useful in testing schedule
accuracy and catching problems before they impact customer service.
Experiment with different alternatives until you find one that achieves
all of your objectives.
Scheduling should incorporate not just calls, but all of the activities
and practices associated with that process, as well as other projects
that require time from your agents or managers.
4. Conflict Resolution
Scheduling is never immune to issues from agents, new product/service
launches, unforeseen changes in shifts and other outside factors. How
well a contact center adjusts to these scheduling challenges will
indicate whether it is performing well. However, if conflicts become too
frequent, that suggests a systemic issue that should be corrected.
Related to #4 above, scheduling should be fluid but not so loose as to
create confusion. Adjust schedule horizons as needed if those created
two weeks away frequently prove inaccurate, take agent preferences into
account when possible, and have alternatives in place before they become
If you would like to learn how to implement these tips, please also watch our workforce management videos and see how clarity, testing, inclusion, conflict resolution and flexibility are "built-in".
Read More About Call Center Scheduling: 5 Important Tips
At a time when all of us rarely go out or even walk around our home
without a telephone in hand, it’s hard to believe that the “call” aspect
in call centers is now being challenged by webchat as a preferred
outlet for placing orders and other basic services. This
article Call Center Helper
offers information on how to incorporate webchat into your contact
center in a way that provides those customers with the same level of
service they would receive via telephone.
Should Webchat Replace Calls?
It will never do so altogether, but as webchats increase, call volumes should go down.
There seems no end to our continued reliance on online communication,
particularly for those under the age of 25. So if you have yet to make
special allowances for webchat communication, the time to do so is now.
Approach webchat the same way you approached phone calls when the call
center opened, by establishing best practices, preferred communication
procedures and goals for first contact resolution. Unlike telephone
engagements, webchat is a customer contact that can be engaged by the
contact center agent, so make sure agents are trained in when and how to
reach out to customers.
Ultimately, what will make your webchat strategy soar is meticulous
planning, which can be greatly aided by workforce management software,
and all of the automated solutions you may already be using for
traditional call center contacts.
Once customers come to rely on webchat, they won’t want to be kept
waiting any more than a caller placed on hold. Forecasting based on
webchat patterns should be reviewed and used for agent scheduling. A multi-channel workforce management strategy can keep your customer satisfaction levels high no matter how they reach you.
Read More About Managing Webchat in Contact Centers
Agent adherence is a metric that can be measured and tracked, but
knowing how your call center is doing in this area and making changes
for the better are two very different things.
If an agent goes off script, training and call recording can make
certain they go back to using the company-approved verbiage. Some calls
taking too long? Again, coaching and strategic changes can probably
shave a few minutes or seconds off the typical customer engagement.
But agent adherence is a trickier challenge, because even outstanding
agents can be vulnerable to distractions and other outside factors than
can impact job performance. You can create a schedule that should be
sufficient, but keeping agents focused and aware throughout their shift
requires additional support.
Why? It’s human nature to get distracted, and distractions can emerge
not just internally but throughout the call center environment. Agents
may not be aware of how these “mental check-outs” impact not just the
service level they provide, but that of other agents and the entire call
Also, as call centers become contact centers, engaging customers through
email, chat and social media, it can be more difficult to assess
adherence across these multiple channels, and make sure all are getting
the attention they deserve.
However, there are strategies that have helped call centers with their
adherence issues. We have published a whitepaper that outlines
strategies for improved agent adherence and we hope that this might help you get new ideas on how to address this issue in your call center.
Read More About The Challenge of Agent Adherence
used to be complicated and expensive. That meant only the biggest
companies with the most sophisticated IT departments could afford to
make a workforce management system investment, and employ the in-house
expertise to make the most out of the technology. Workforce management (WFM) software Call centers
that peruse WFM solutions today may find that the situation has not
changed. There are still products out there that require a substantial
upfront investment, and integration that necessitates extensive
personnel training. However, there is an alternative that places
sophisticated and effective WFM capabilities within the reach (and the
budget) of smaller and midsized call centers. Best of all, it is not a
scaled-down solution with limited functionality – it offers all the same
bells and whistles as expensive systems, at a fraction of the cost. That
solution is workforce management in the cloud. The software is
delivered over the web, and since it is provided as a subscription
service, there is no need to invest in additional hardware and software,
or installation. Set up and and configuration of the system is simple
and is done in weeks, not months or years. The cloud-based
workforce management model also offers some performance advantages over
traditional call center WFM software, especially when more than one call
center is involved. Since all data is stored “in the cloud,” it can be
retrieved at any call center workstation, as well as on mobile devices
away from the office. With more companies hiring telecommuting
employees, or working out of their home part-time, that flexibility can
be invaluable as the industry continues to evolve. Finally, the
playing field has been leveled between the largest and the smallest call
centers. No matter where you are located or how many agents you have on
staff, the many benefits derived from WFM are within your reach. To
learn more about this topic, please take a look at our workforce management whitepaper that illustrates the difference between cloud-based and on-premise based software.
Read More About Workforce Management Software for the Masses
So you’ve finished your call center scheduling duties and are ready to
focus on other tasks – until you discover that the average call wait
time is longer than it should be, and either something was missed on
forecasting or a lot of customers just felt this was the day they needed
to place an order or ask a question.
What do you do? If you’re locked into your scheduling, you may end up with angry customers and frazzled agents.
Situations like this are going to happen. They should be rare if you’re
using the call center scheduling and forecasting tools at your disposal
in a workforce management (WFM) solution; however, sometimes even the
best laid plans can go awry.
When they do, hopefully you can count on a call center scheduling
solution with real-time updates that will allow you to adjust forecasts
and schedules accordingly. When external conditions change, managers
should be able to review the call center metrics, in real time, that
will help the business get back on track.
By reviewing forecast vs. actual call volume and agent adherence,
managers can then re-run forecasting and scheduling based on what is
happening in the call center at that very moment. Then, they can update
the schedule based on current conditions, and adjust staffing as quickly
as possible so customer service is restored to optimum level. Please
watch this short video to see intra-day call center scheduling in action.
Call center scheduling may not be an exact science, but real-time WFM
will expose any glitches, so they can be corrected before they cause too
Read More About Call Center Scheduling in Real Time
Annual stats, monthly stats, weekly stats, daily stats – all of this
information is important for tracking progress on quality assurance and
customer satisfaction goals.
But when you review the daily stats, you may find situations where a
real-time response could have improved customer service, rather than
finishing a shift with a staffing issue. All it takes is a few hours to
lose a lot of customers.
That’s why it is critical for call center management to also keep track
of key metrics throughout the course of the day. It’s a practice made
considerably easier through workforce management software. Dashboards
provide visual displays of call center data, providing insight into
every key WFM process:
Forecasts – did unforeseen circumstances render your predictions inaccurate? Schedules – Too many agents this shift? Not enough? Did more agents than expected call in sick? Adherence – Are one-hour lunch breaks becoming 90-minute breaks? Did an agent leaves ten minutes before his shift was over?
Workforce management dashboards provide call center management with an
instant snapshot of what is happening at every moment throughout the
day. Now you have the information you need to make changes before the
customer experience can be affected.
To find our more, check out Monet’s
intra-day workforce management
Read More About Call Center Management Throughout the Day - What’s Important?
Mobile devices allow call center managers to stay in touch with what’s
happening at their business from home or on the road. Such flexibility
is an advantage, however, that doesn’t mean the workforce management
features available on a mobile device
have to be as comprehensive as those you can access from the office.
In almost all cases, forecasting, staffing and scheduling will be done
on a desktop or laptop,
where the full range of metrics that would influence such decisions are
accessible. With a cloud-based solution, there is some mobility and
flexibility already "built-in", since workforce planning and scheduling
be done on any computer or even a tablet from anywhere with Internet
So, what is the more realistic usage scenario for mobile workforce
management for contact centers? When you’re on the road, or in an
airport, or taking a day off to
attend your son’s soccer game, and you just need to check in or obtain a
status report, there’s no need to have every workforce management
feature on your phone or tablet. As long as you get automated alerts and
metrics, and take action on any adherence issues that require immediate
attention, that should be all you will want or need from mobile
capabilities. We think that mobile WFM for contact centers is based on
two main use cases:
Automatically getting alerts of key metrics (e.g. adherence, service level, call volumes, etc.) Immediately taking action by logging into the web-based WFM solution from wherever you are
We would like to hear from you about your mobile workforce management needs. Please
, we are looking forward to talking to you.
Read More About Mobile Workforce Management for Call Centers
Workforce management (WFM) software lends accuracy and consistency to
the scheduling process in a call center. Given the impact that
scheduling has on call center performance, doing it right is necessary
for call centers to save time and money. Plus, when scheduling can be
handled more quickly, it frees up time for managers to focus on other
responsibilities. Once configured, WFM should provide real-time
data by call center or by department, that covers every aspect of the
scheduling process. Start with forecasting, which helps to
determine how many agents will be needed on a given shift on a given
day, taking into account special days such as holidays or the first day
of a new company sales promotion. Next, factor in employee
availability, with data on vacation schedules, approved days off, and
matching individual skills to forecasting and scheduling preferences.
The goal is to have the correct number of agents in place for the
expected workload on that shift – no more, no less. Too many agents on a
shift means wasted resources; not enough means longer call wait times
and frustrated customers. During the shift, tracking metrics keep tabs on agents that leave early, show up late, or take longer breaks than allowed. Unfortunately,
once schedules are set they are not immune to revision. Last minute
changes are often unavoidable, but WFM should resolve any issues before
they can impact performance. If an agent can’t make it to work, WFM
should identify a replacement with a comparable skill set, determine his
or her availability, and expedite the change. Other issues
related to scheduling, such as employee shift swaps and separate
rotations for trainees, can also be coordinated through WFM. Once
generated, schedules should be easily accessible to all concerned
parties so there’s never any confusion. To see call center scheduling
in action, please follow this link to watch a series of videos about
forecasting, scheduling, staffing, exceptions handling and intra-day
Read More About How to Schedule your Call Center Workforce
While different call centers have different needs, it’s hard to imagine a
call center that could not benefit from a workforce management (WFM)
solution. Whatever the specific goals of your business – lowering costs,
improving efficiency, better customer service – workforce management
can help to achieve them.
But how should you select a WFM solution? Here are the key capabilities to look for, and why they are important.
Call Volume Forecast – by using historical data and real-time
ACD integration, the system should produce accurate forecasts that will
impact scheduling. Schedule Creation – The system should be able to create schedules based on shift patters, skill levels and other criteria. Intra-Day Changes/Exceptions – No two days are alike in any
call center. WFM should be able to consider variables and perform ‘on
the fly’ scheduling when needed. It should also be able to measure agent
adherence on both typical and atypical days. Real-time Metrics - Getting alerts when something is not
working as planned, and tracking performance and adherence metrics in
real-time on a dashboard are critical. Implementation – How long does the system take to install,
and how long before it begins to pay for itself? Will additional
hardware or software purchases be necessary? How long will it take to
train agents on its proper usage? Anything too complex may end up having
the opposite effect on efficiency. Cost – Calculate both upfront and ongoing costs of installation, implementation, integration, maintenance and support.
workforce management software selection guide
provides more details and helps you ask the right questions to find the best solution for your call center.
Read More About Workforce Management Solution 101 - what's important?