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Workforce Optimization in the Cloud

Follow the latest trends on cloud-based contact center software and workforce optimization

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Introducing: Monet’s New Workforce Optimization Suite

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Something great just got even better.

Monet Software is proud to announce the release of our next generation Workforce Optimization (WFO) suite. We designed it to empower contact centers and help desks to improve customer experience and agent productivity, identify performance gaps, reduce costs, and deliver outstanding and efficient customer service.

New features? It’s loaded.

Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture

Monet’s cloud-based Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture integrates seamlessly into a cloud or on-premise contact center infrastructure to help deliver exceptional customer service. Businesses have access to a robust call search design, descriptive call, video and interaction tagging, desktop screen and call audio live monitoring, dynamic conditional evaluations, powerful group and personal inboxes driven by intelligent business rules, and descriptive reporting.

And of course, this solution integrates with our Workforce Management, Performance Management, and Speech Analytics solutions, enabling businesses to transform each customer interaction into actionable data, and to align each conversation with their business goals.

Long-Term Forecasting

Create long-range forecast calculations using historical volume and arrival patterns, which generate accurate staffing requirements. Planners can customize flexible ranges of months as unique long-term forecasts, each with their own overhead cost values, allowing “what if” scenarios for long-term capacity planning and cost projections. Special closed dates like holidays are recognized in FTE requirements, and anomalous data can be excluded so that long-term planning with Monet is both easy and precise.

UI Modernization

Our classic user-friendly UI has gotten a makeover! Our modern responsive UI makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes and increases the efficiency of performing day-to-day workforce optimization tasks by maximizing the available workspaces.

Optimized Deferred Work Scheduling

Improve the scheduling of deferred work tasks like email and cases. Using historical data from an ACD or CRM to drive the deferred work scheduling, Monet can find the optimal time of day to ensure deferred work tasks are handled while also meeting service level targets of immediate response tasks like calls and chat. 

What could your contact center achieve with these capabilities?  

Questions? Contact a Monet team member today


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Coca-Cola – Another Contact Center In the Cloud

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If you wanted to call Coca Cola in the United States, your call would be routed to one of five contact centers, employing more than 1,600 agents.

But recently, the company decided it was time to revamp this important part of its business. Doing so was viewed as a key component in the overall company goal of refranchising its North American market share.

The first challenge was to better integrate its communications configuration across the entire contact center suite, which company executives described as difficult to update and expensive to maintain.

To solve the problem, Coca-Cola did what many enterprise entities have done in recent years – it moved to the cloud.

The objective was to be more flexible and scalable, and to better employ capabilities such as workforce management, quality management and call recording. Since the migration, Coca-Cola has achieved these benefits, while reducing its contact center operating expenditures by 50%.

Still Considering a Move to the Cloud?

Cloud computing is not only ready for the enterprise, it is now the preferable option over traditional on-premise software.

Monet has created a whitepaper that analyzes this topic, at a time when more companies of all sizes and types are exploring their technology options. 

Use of cloud applications is increasing rapidly every year, which is not surprising given the array of benefits intrinsic to this service:

  • Scalability – Cloud service providers allow clients to increase or decrease existing resources as needed to accommodate changing needs on demand. 
  • Flexibility – Cloud applications are available from any computer or any device—any time, anywhere. That allows enterprise personnel to be more flexible in and out of the workplace. 
  • Cost – With a cloud system, larger companies can take advantage of scaled maintenance in a specialized data center, while investing the money saved in capital expense into other aspects of the business. 
  • Ease of Use – Since the cloud provider manages all updates and upgrades, there are no patches for customers to download or install. 
  • Security – The cloud offers a much higher grade of security than most internal IT departments. 

Monet is always available to help address the concerns of companies considering a cloud solution, and to identify the many ways in which the cloud can benefit your enterprise. 

Read the whitepaper

Check out our eBook on how to get your boss on board with the switch to workforce management in the cloud


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Building An Emotive Customer Experience

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Contact center trends come and go, but the renewed emphasis on “emotive customer experience” is one that should be here to stay.

Why? Because its focus is one that has been part of the contact center culture since the beginning – forging a genuine connection between the company and the customer.

But in recent years, as technology continues to encroach on personalized service, companies have sacrificed those connections for the efficiency and convenience of other forms of communication.

Make no mistake ­­– customers want those other options as well. They’re busy too. But when they can’t solve the problem, or when it is more important to speak with someone who will understand the challenge and know what to do next, a path to one-on-one communication, with minimal hoops to jump through to get there, is once again considered crucial for delivering a peak customer experience.

Establishing an Emotional Connection

What does that mean, exactly? We know it’s important because of the results of a recent Harvard Business Review study, showing that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable on a lifetime basis as highly satisfied customers, because they are more likely to repurchase goods and services and recommend the business to others.

No matter how well-designed the company website or mobile app may be, no matter how quickly the company responds to social media posts, and no matter how courteous an online chat responds to inquiries, none of these are sufficient for establishing an emotional connection. It requires a person-to-person interaction.

Ironically, the same technology that puts distance between customers and agents can also be used to establish that emotive customer experience:

  • Speech analytics helps agents identify frustration points and act appropriately.
  • Call recording allows managers to automatically review hundreds or thousands of calls for things to make sure the desired quality of human interaction exists, and that agents are spending sufficient time listening to every caller.
  • At help desks and service desks, Salesforce provides agents with access to important information about each caller, including which products they own, open cases, caller status (VIP) and sentiment, allowing them to personalize the interaction, and leave them with a positive emotional experience.

Monet can deliver these tools to help you in your quest to be there for your customers on their terms.

Find out more about our speech analytics solution

Find out about Monet Record, our call recording solution

Find out how our Workforce Management for Salesforce can assist help desks with increasing customer satisfaction


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Slow Summer? That’s Opportunity Knocking

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Ah, summer. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and according to one song the time is right for dancing in the streets.

Well, that’s one way to spend the season.

But if your contact center is one where call levels typically drop from June to August, why not resist that urge to work on your tan and instead work on getting ready for the time when call volume is going to rise?

This is the time to reassess business practices, experiment with new procedures, and brainstorm ways to improve customer service, so you’ll be ready when business picks up. 

Need help getting started? That’s why we’re here. Ask yourself these questions:

1. How is Our Stand-By List?

Have you checked in with any of your temp agents since they said goodbye at the Christmas party last year? Do you know how many will likely still be available for this year’s holiday rush? If you’ve lost a few to other positions, take this time to start interviewing potential replacements.

2. How is Training?

Agent training should be an ongoing activity, but when things are busy these sessions tend to get squeezed into shorter windows, and may not be as effective. If the phones are quiet right now, this is an opportunity to take a closer look at the data you have on each agent (assuming you have a workforce optimization solution) and provide customized training on specific areas of concern. 

3. How’s the Family?

No, not yours. But that’s a question you can ask your agents during the summer slowdown. Get to know them better. Find out what they like about their job and what is causing them problems. By taking an interest you may build relationships in ways that keep agents around longer. Their feedback may also contain good ideas that can be implemented throughout the contact center. 

And if you start now on these efforts, you should still have some time left over to get outside and enjoy that summer sunshine. 

If you don’t have a workforce optimization solution to help you with training and so many other everyday activities, check out a demo of Monet WFO here.

What is Unified Workforce Optimization? This blog has the answer.


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Managing Wait Times to Reduce Customer Frustration

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There are two types of people in the world: those who hate waiting, and those who really hate waiting.

Patience used to be a virtue; now it’s an endangered species. And that’s important when you run a contact center, as one of your most important objectives has to be the reduction of wait times.

You might think one minute on hold before an agent picks up is no big deal; but get out a stopwatch and let it tick off one minute while you sit and do nothing – which is what your customers are likely doing as they wait for an agent to respond.

So the challenge is reducing average speed of answer. One way to do that is to shorten all of your calls so agents can handle more calls each day. Here are a few ideas on how to make that happen.

  • Skills-Based Routing: Agents that specialize in certain types of calls will almost always be able to handle them more quickly. 
  • Automated Processes: Switching from spreadsheets to workforce management reduces average handle time.
  • No Cold Transfers: If a call must be transferred, always make sure the customer’s relevant data is transferred as well, so the same questions won’t have to be asked a second time.
  • Reward Top Performers: Give an agent a special prize for reaching maximum number of calls per shift - as long as they're achieving this goal in a way that also provides courteous and attentive service.

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that will boost your contact center’s efficiency in myriad ways, including the time it takes for agents to greet callers.


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What is Unified Workforce Optimization? (WFO)

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If improving agent productivity is one of your goals this year, the most important step you can take toward its achievement is the addition of a workforce optimization (WFO) solution. WFO provides insight into customer interactions and service levels, delivering the data necessary to make important decisions about optimal management of personnel.

However, as with any other solution, it works best if you use it correctly.

Workforce Optimization is great. Unified workforce optimization is even better.

What’s the difference? In a word: togetherness. When everyone at the contact center works together, customer service improves. But in some businesses you may have one team focused on scheduling and staffing, another team dedicated to call recording and quality management. But there should also be an effort to analyze how both of these groups are functioning, and establish goals that may require changes in procedures from each of them.

However, as much as we may want these team members to cooperate, at too many call centers they are forced to make isolated decisions and act independently because they do not have access to information outside of their area or function. They need immediate access to information traditionally found in other areas and they need information automatically passed to them to eliminate slow, error-ridden manual processes.

A unified WFO solution delivers business integrations that let your contact center make faster, more informed decisions with a new level of visibility into workforce performance, customer service processes and customer intelligence across the enterprise.  You can quickly get to the right information to drive a new level of performance improvement.

In this short video, you’ll find out how a workforce optimization framework brings diverse functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. 

Watch the WFO video

For more tips on how to improve the efficiency of your contact center, check out this webinar.


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Five Bad Habits to Break at Your Call Center

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The tough thing about bad habits is that they are so easy to fall into, and so difficult to stop. 

These are five of the most common bad habits found at contact centers. If you are contending with any of them, here is how workforce optimization can make them go away.

1.  Inefficient Scheduling

Sound, accurate schedules are created consistently with workforce management software. It’s especially useful at a time when agents are balancing school, family and other obligations, and would appreciate more input into the shifts they work. With WFM it’s easier to provide personalized scheduling options and to allow agents to change their own schedules. Usually this results in better coverage, and better service. 

2. First Come, First Serve Call Routing

Yes, that’s the way it’s always been done at some contact centers – every call automatically goes to the first available agent. It’s not necessarily a bad habit, just an inefficient one. But by routing calls to agents based on specific criteria, it’s possible to boost first call resolution and overall customer service. The most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

3. Taking Too Long to Collect Basic Information

There is no getting around asking for a customer’s ID information (date of birth), account information or contact information. But too many questions at the start of a call can be frustrating for the customer and time-consuming for the agent. A workforce optimization solution that includes analytics can deliver caller information more quickly. 

4. Quality Monitoring With Random Calls

As with item #2 on our list, the bad habit here is relying on systems that were used for decades because they were the only systems available. Now, there’s a better way. With speech analytics, every call can be monitored and categorized based on pre-set criteria. This provides more insight into business practices and will also improve your training efforts. 

5. Reactive Management

A shift ends, and you look at the numbers and see what went right and what went wrong, and try to make adjustments so the next shift is better. Instead, why not get proactive, with workforce management that provides real-time monitoring, so adherence issues and other problems can be corrected while they are still happening? 

Monet Workforce Optimization contains the tools needed to help break all of these bad habits. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Optimization

Or see Monet WFM in action in this online video demo


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Workforce Optimization: The Solution to Overstaffing and Understaffing

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Remember the days when 10-20% of the calls a business receives would be questions about what time the doors closed, or how long that holiday sale would last? 

Today, such basic inquiries are answered through the company website. Customers only call now with more substantive issues – why is this product I purchased not working? Who can I ask about whether this product can function if attached to this component? My credit card statement shows a purchase that suggests my account was compromised – I need some information…etc. 

And when they call, they want those answers now.

Keeping these customers satisfied requires well-trained agents, and a forecasting and scheduling solution that makes sure your contact center always has enough personnel available to efficiently handle the incoming inquiries. 

Workforce Optimization Gets You There

A workforce optimization (WFO) solution is primarily designed to help call center managers put the right number of agents with the right combination of skills in the right place at the right time. That solves two of the biggest problems call centers face: overstaffing and understaffing.

Overstaffing

Is it better to err on the side of overstaffing? Probably – at least you know the calls will get picked up quickly. But companies don’t like to pay agents to idle in their cubicles, or chat with their equally un-engaged neighbors. 

With WFO, you’ll eliminate these situations with forecasts that will let you know what to expect on Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning or the day after a holiday. You’ll have the staffing information necessary to assign shifts to agents available to handle them. 

The numbers won’t lie, though if you’re still using spreadsheets they’ll probably deliver inaccurate results because they can’t take all of the variables into consideration. 

Understaffing

This is trouble for obvious reasons. Customers that wait too long on hold may not be customers anymore – especially those calling to report a negative experience. It also places a greater burden on your agents; too many days of staring at a computer screen of 12 calls in the queue can impact call center performance, and may send those agents away to seek less stressful employment. 

But when forecasting and scheduling is based on analytics delivered by a WFO solution, agents are busy but not too busy, customers get the help they need and companies aren’t signing paychecks for an idle workforce. 

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that includes workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics and performance management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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The Pros and Cons of Hiring College Students as Call Center Agents

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With summer fast approaching, many college students will re-enter the workforce. Contact centers, especially those that struggle with attrition year round, will suddenly have more applicants. Should they be eager to embrace the college crowd? Here are some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Availability

You don’t need a college degree to be a call center agent, making the position ideal for students –  especially those studying business that would gain experience dealing with customer service issues and challenges.

Con: How long will they stay?

No call center wants to train a student to become a reliable agent, and then have him or her quit to return to school for the fall semester. Call centers using a workforce optimization solution will be better suited to accommodate flexible schedules, and might be able to keep those students if they can work shifts around their class schedules.

Pro: Part-time preferred

Some call centers have shifts that are best filled with part-time staff. Many college students are only seeking part-time employment, as they have other interests and may be taking a summer school course or two. They’ll also be content with the compensation, as they don’t have to find a job that must support a family. 

Con: Lack of professional experience

Contact center agents represent your company to your customers – and they might be responsible for a positive or negative first impression. You may prefer someone with more experience and maturity in that role. 

Pro: They get technology

College students have grown up with computers, so they will acclimate more quickly to whatever software you are running that provides client data and other important information. 

Con: Unwelcome networking

You might bring in a student who takes the job just to gain access to those who might hire him in an executive position after graduation. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but all that networking might draw his focus away from the actual job at hand. Call center agents are not interns who are only there for on-the-job training – they perform a vital function that requires their full attention. 

Have you hired college students at your contact center? How did it work out? Let us know on our Facebook page

A workforce optimization solution like Monet WFO can make it easier for all of your new agents to deliver outstanding service. Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Three Call Routing Strategies That Work

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Many contact centers now use WFO or speech analytics to route customer calls to the agent best suited to deal with each caller’s issue. It’s a strategy that ensures calls will be handled faster, and customers will be happier. 

Often calls are simply routed based on the length of wait time for customers in the queue; sometimes a company’s best customers receive greater priority. But the most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

However, there are other options available that may also pay dividends. Here are three suggestions:

The Door Closers

The contact center may be the first to discover that a customer is “halfway out the door” already. But if you have an agent that specializes in addressing these customers’ concerns and keeping them in the fold, it can make a huge difference in customer retention. With a WFO system such calls can be routed more quickly as well, so these customers will get the attention they need.

Top Priority

In businesses where one account can equal thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, such prospects should receive preferential attention throughout the engagement. When calls from a specific company name or company rep come in, they should be identified immediately and routed to someone familiar with their needs.  

What Happened to Mary?

For a contact center customer there is nothing more frustrating than connecting with an agent, answering all their account questions and providing all the requested information, explaining the reason for the call, and then being put on hold or having to call back, and being transferred to someone else who asks all the same questions again. With WFO it’s easy to route these calls back to the first agent who handled them. 

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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Contact Center Digital Transformation: It Starts With Moving to the Cloud

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The phrase “digital transformation” has been trending throughout corporate America for that past decade, and the contact center is no exception.

What is it exactly? You’ll find a lot of definitions online, but let’s keep it simple. We all know what transformation means – not just a change, but also a change for the better. Unsightly caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies. 

And ‘digital’? It refers to technology that brings people and practices together in a more efficient manner. 

For the contact center, this means new business models that improve the customer experience, often by empowering the workforce that interacts with those customers. 

A workforce optimization solution is helpful here, as it delivers such advantages as:

  • Workforce management for more accurate forecasts, schedules and adherence
  • Quality monitoring that includes call recording and screen capture
  • Performance management for tracking of KPIs and real-time alerts
  • Speech analytics and desktop analytics

But the first step in an effective digital transformation is the movement of all of these services into the cloud. 

Why? Because technology evolves a lot faster than it used to, and it’s imperative for contact centers to keep up. New versions and new upgrades are no longer events that happen every year or every other year. With the cloud, updates happen automatically (and at no extra charge), so technology is always up to date without the repeated development and testing of new features from each vendor. 

Cloud systems are also scalable, so it’s impossible to outgrow your technology solution as your business expands. 

If you want to be part of the digital transformation revolution, there is no better place to start than by exploring cloud technology solutions, such as Monet Workforce Optimization. 

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

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Workforce Optimization: A 21st Century Idea

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While we all eagerly await the arrival of our flying cars and tourist excursions into outer space, it’s nice to know that some 21st century triumphs have indeed become part of our everyday lives. One of them is workforce optimization (WFO).

Wait, we hear you say – WFO is a concept that has been around for decades. 

It’s true that the idea of WFO – creating a more successful outcome by focusing on how a company’s workforce can achieve optimal productivity – is not new. But truly shifting a company’s focus to embrace this philosophy, backed by the WFO tools that make it easier to achieve, is a more recent phenomenon. That’s why some have described it as the next frontier in the evolution of business. 

Technology vs. People

Given how rapidly technology has evolved, at the contact center and elsewhere, companies have tended to amass greater technological processes and resources, without devoting the same attention to helping its human resources also reach their full potential. 

But that is changing now, perhaps as a result of the Millennial outlook that work is important, but people are more important, and a job should be just one aspect of a full and enriching life. Today’s workforce wants a job that will not only give them a paycheck, but also make them feel valued, and a part of the future of the company. 

Workforce optimization is the key to providing that employee engagement at the contact center. It empowers agents to make more decisions. It makes it easier to adopt a flexible shift schedule so agents can balance home and work demands. It tracks performance so top agents are rewarded for their achievement. 

Making this transition is easier than ever with the right WFO platform. Monet Live is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that includes workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics and performance management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution

Find out how one Monet customer, Catalina Express, made life easier for its customers by reducing their wait times and boosting speed of answer by 25%


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Cloud Excellence Award

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We are very pleased to announce that Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud, has received the 2017 Cloud Computing Excellence Award from TMC. 

“Monet Software was the very first to offer a true multi-tenant cloud WFM solution. Today, we are the industry’s cloud leader, and we continue to enhance our suite with new technologies such as Monet WFM for Salesforce”, said Chuck Ciarlo, Monet CEO. “This award is the acknowledgment that Monet WFO makes a real difference for contact centers and help desks to deliver a better customer service experience while reducing operational costs."

While we have received many awards for our contact center solutions, this one is particularly gratifying, given the ever increasing importance of cloud computing at contact centers. 

Cloud computing arrived not a moment too soon, as the demands on data centers had already grown to near capacity with no sign of slowing down. In the pre-cloud era, adding something as basic as call recording required the installation of an onsite PBX system with a VoIP packet that recorded calls onto a separate onsite platform. With the cloud? Installation can be achieved with the click of a button. 

Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type. Large contact centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller call centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location. 

For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?

Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud is a complete suite for contact centers and help desks to automate workforce management, quality management and performance analytics. 

Read our whitepaper comparing costs and benefits of cloud, premise and hosted solutions

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution


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How to Shorten Every Customer Call By One Minute

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What can you do in one minute? 

Cook Minute Rice? Play Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” on the piano?

At the contact center very few calls will be completed in less than one minute. But add the number of the calls received during one shift, and consider how much time reducing the length of each call by a minute could save. What could be done with all that extra time? 

It’s an achievable goal – here are some ideas on how to get there. 

1. Shorten Your Greeting

Does your script ask agents to start with something like “Hello, this is Bobby from ABC Industries. It is my pleasure to assist you today. How can I be of service?” Why not cut that down to “This is Bobby from ABC, how may I help you?” It’s just as courteous, and you’ve already trimmed a few seconds from handle time before the customer says anything. 

2. Agent Incentives

Offer a small reward to agents who improve their average call handle times. Just make certain that any increase in speed is not detrimental to customer service or bringing each call to a successful outcome. 

3. Information Access

Keep customer profiles up to date, and make sure agents have immediate access to caller information (especially anything already verified through IVR) and answers to questions, on well-organized displays. 

4. Call Recording

By recording and monitoring agent interactions with callers, it is much easier to identify areas where calls can be shortened. 

5. No Cell Phones

If an agent has access to his cell phone or social media during a shift, he or she will inevitably be distracted, and it may result in customers having to repeat themselves, which is both frustrating and time wasting. 

6. Skills-Based Call Routing

Use scheduling to create tiers of employees for specific types of calls based on skills. Try to make sure calls are routed by subject to agents with the skill set to handle them most efficiently. Leave the easier calls for new agents and those with less training on complex issues. 

A workforce optimization solution can also help shorten calls, by making it easier to monitor customer interactions through call recording. Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action



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Contact Center Service: Easy is Always Better

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Answering calls at a contact center is work – that’s why agents are paid to do it.

However, calling a contact center to place an order or settle a dispute should not feel like work. That’s why most contact centers try to make customer engagements as quick and easy as possible.

How well does your contact center succeed at this goal? Let’s look at three typical scenarios.

Product Information

At some contact centers this is the primary reason customers call. Is it easy for callers to get the information they need? Are your agents trained to answer questions, access part numbers and prices, and provide assistance without transferring the call or putting customers on hold to look something up?

Purchases and Payments

Today’s customers are used to the ease of buying stuff online. A few clicks of the mouse and items are dropped into a virtual shopping cart, credit card information is entered and shipping details are provided – sometimes all in less than a minute. When customers opt to handle such transactions over the phone, agents should be prepared to not just provide good service, but to also take advantage of upsell opportunities, as long as they do not significantly delay completion of the transaction.

Help and Support

Why isn’t my new computer working? Why can’t I access broadband on my new television? My car is making a funny noise – should I be concerned? Contact center agents must field a wide range of questions from customers that may already be upset at having to call in the first place. The last thing these customers want is to be put on hold multiple times, and to move through a chain of support personnel to find the right expert.

Here, a workforce optimization solution can help. It allows you to classify incoming calls by subject matter, and route them to the agent most qualified to handle them.

Easy is always better. What can you do at your call center to deliver this type of customer experience?

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution

Find out how one Monet customer, Catalina Express, made life easier for its customers by reducing their wait times and boosting speed of answer by 25%



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New Legislation Would Require Call Centers to Identify Their Location to Customers: Is This a Good Idea?

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Over the past few decades there has been continuous ebb and flow in the movement toward locating call center resources outside the United States.

When the economy falters and companies have to cut back on resources, they are more likely to shift their call center operations to India or the Philippines. Do customers receive the same level of service? That’s another story. There are also privacy and security issues that should make a company CEO think twice before making this decision.

And now, as more call center jobs continue to move overseas despite improving economic numbers, Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania has introduced the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, a bill designed to limit this practice. The bill would require that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they’re speaking, and give them the right to request a transfer to a U.S. based call center.

In addition, the bill would also make U.S. companies that offshore call center jobs ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.

Thus far there appears to be some bipartisan support for the bill, but whether it ultimately passes in this heated political climate is anybody’s guess.

Is it a good idea? Ask any customer who has been frustrated by a difficult experience with an offshore call center, and they’ll tell you the bill can’t pass fast enough.

But for some call centers, passage would force some challenging economic decisions.

Welcoming Call Centers Home With Workforce Optimization

If the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act becomes law, it will likely motivate several companies to return their call center operations to the U.S. after years, perhaps even decades, of being away. 

And when they return, they may realize that the spreadsheets they used before are no longer sufficient for scheduling, or analyzing statistics on call volume. This rudimentary system has now been surpassed by workforce optimization (WFO) software. 

From tracking call history, adherence and performance, to call recording capabilities, WFO makes almost every aspect of the supervisor’s job more efficient. WFO addresses quality management and performance management as well, regardless of the size of the call center or the number of agents employed. 

Find out more about Monet’s Workforce Optimization solution


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The KPI Checklist, Part Two

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While every call center is different, it’s a safe bet that they share many common goals related to customer service. Managers rely on data, categorized into key performance indicators (KPIs) to address these service issues. 

Which are most important? The short answer is all of them. But different call centers excel at different things. So instead of selecting a top 5 or top 10 in this blog, we are going to provide a more wide-ranging selection of KPIs, to help managers pinpoint specific challenges at their call centers. 

Call Resolution

All calls do not have a happy ending. Call resolution measures the percentage in which the customer was able to achieve his or her objective (placing an order, getting a refund, having a question answered, etc.). The goal should always be First Call Resolution, measured alongside Repeat Calls to determine which types of issues are proving most difficult to handle – and/or which agents may need additional training to fix a problem. 

On-Hold Time

This one is pretty obvious – how long customers wait until greeted by an agent. By collecting data managers will be able to determine the average duration that would be considered acceptable waiting time. Keep in mind, however, that according to the advertising analytics company Marchex, 62% of callers will abandon a call if they’re not speaking to an agent after one minute. 

Call Arrival Rate

How many calls come in every day? Every week? These numbers will identify seasonal and business trends that will improve the accuracy of agent forecasting and scheduling. 

Transfer Rate

Few situations are more frustrating for a customer than explaining an issue to one agent, and then being transferred to a supervisor or other agency personnel, and having to do so a second time. While this may still qualify as a first-call resolution if questions are ultimately answered and the problem is solved, it should still be kept to a minimum whenever possible.

Blocked Calls

Blocked calls never even make it to a call center agent, because of insufficient network capabilities. Obviously, the only possible result becomes a frustrated customer. Are some blocked calls inevitable at peak times? Or can these calls be taken with better scheduling, expanded trunks or other corrective measures? 



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The KPI Checklist, Part One

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While every call center is different, it’s a safe bet that they share many common goals related to customer service. Managers rely on data, categorized into key performance indicators (KPIs) to address these service issues. 

Which are most important? The short answer is all of them. But different call centers excel at different things. So instead of selecting a top 5 or top 10 in this blog, we are going to provide a more wide-ranging selection of KPIs, to help managers pinpoint specific challenges at their call centers. 

Average Handle Time

This is the average duration of one transaction. To get a handle on handle time, workforce management makes it easier for managers to determine if they have enough agents available to efficiently serve call volume. Then, employ skills-based routing: An agent that is adept at settling customer disputes will be able to handle these types of calls more quickly than someone without those skills. Also, as certain customer inquiries are bound to come up repeatedly, train your agents to anticipate these questions and answer them before they can be asked.

Call Abandonment

This is the number of callers that hang up or end an online chat before first contact with an agent. The cause is almost always a long wait time. This KPI is closely tied to Active Waiting Calls, a reference to how many customers are ‘on hold.’ More accurate forecasts and schedules can help agents get to those callers faster, and reduce call abandonment. 

Peak Hour Traffic

When is your call center busiest? Identifying the peak times and hours of traffic will play a key role in agent scheduling. 

After Call Work Time

When a customer engagement ends, there is still work for the agent to do before taking the next call. This metric provides a time measurement for those practices, allowing managers to set reasonable limits. 

Sales per Agent

For call centers that primarily exist to take customer orders, this is a significant and surprisingly oft-overlooked metric. Why do some agents, reading from the same script as everyone else, close more sales? Managers should identify these top performers, and find out how they’re succeeding. Those techniques can then be disseminated to other agents who may be missing upsell opportunities. 

Customer Satisfaction

That’s what it’s all about. Call recording will provide some idea of how customers would assess their call center engagement, but quality monitoring can also play an important role in determining quality of service. Monet’s Quality Management tool helps managers to monitor customer interactions and consistently deliver great service and improve customer satisfaction with integrated quality scorecards, dashboards and reports.

We will take a closer look at more KPIs in our next blog.


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Benefits of the Cloud in a Natural Disaster

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The devastating images coming out of Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma have already moved Houston and Hurricane Harvey off the front page. The recovery process is still just beginning in both places, but there has also been a ripple effect to these natural disasters that will impact businesses and customers that are thousands of miles away.

These are the times when uploading data to a cloud is critical, and another reason why so many call centers are switching to the cloud for benefits such as workforce management, workforce optimization and analytics.

The cloud has always offered numerous advantages, among them flexibility, accessibility through any computer or device, cost savings, simplification of IT infrastructure and seamless integration with existing systems. But when a natural disaster strikes, and workplaces and equipment are damaged or destroyed, the cloud makes certain that no data is lost.

The data uploaded to a cloud resides in one or more data centers that are also protected by multiple security perimeters, including electronic surveillance, 24/7 security staff and multi-factor access to keep physical intruders away. Data is stored in multiple geographic regions to avoid compromise from a fire, flood or hurricane at one facility.

Network architecture is also protected with firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Systems and applications are frequently tested to confirm adherence to industry-standard security requirements. Cloud providers also verify their security controls through third-party certifications such as ISO 27001 or ISO 27002, standards recognized globally as the most comprehensive framework for establishing security best practices.

We wish the best to all those dealing with the aftermath of Harvey and Irma. And we hope that many of the companies you rely on for payment processing have their call centers and other operations in the cloud – as that will be one less part of your life you’ll have to rebuild from scratch.


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Monet WFO Live Receives Communication Award

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Just a few months after receiving an award as one of the industry’s most innovative call center solutions, we’re pleased to announce that Monet WFO Live has been named a Communications Solutions Product of the Year by TMC, the publisher of Cloud Computing magazine.

“Congratulations to Monet Software for being honored with this award,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Monet WFO Live is truly an innovative product and is amongst the best solutions brought to market that facilitates business-transforming voice, data and video communications. I look forward to continued excellence from Monet in 2018 and beyond.”

Those who have tried Monet WFO Live already know how it earned this reputation for excellence. It delivers a unified workforce optimization suite that transforms call center management from a reactive to a pro-active approach. Customers can create accurate forecasts, efficient schedules, record and monitor calls for quality, training and compliance purpose, and track cross-functional performance metrics, all with one integrated cloud-based platform.

It’s not surprising that a company that focuses on cloud computing would recognize the benefits of WFO Live. As with all of our cloud solutions WFO Live is more flexible and more scalable, there are no large upfront costs, customers pay only for what they need, and software upgrades are installed automatically as soon as they come available. 

Cloud solutions are also more reliable than hardware-based technology because of their built-in fail-safes and redundancies. When all of your equipment is in one place and something goes wrong, you are out of luck. With the decentralized nature of the cloud, even a power outage won’t shut you down.


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The Basics: Workforce Optimization Solutions

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Adding a workforce optimization solution to a call center environment can seem like a daunting task – so many options, so much to learn and adjust to. But with the right system, the transition will not take long and the ROI benefits will quickly be realized through improved efficiency, and possibly reductions in labor costs.

But which WFO system should you choose? 

Obviously we are partial to WFO Live, our award-winning software product. But as you peruse the market keep in mind that you are not buying just one solution – WFO should deliver a suite of automated services all designed to help your call center achieve its business goals and compliance requirements.

Those features should include:

• Workforce Management

• Call Recording

• Quality Management

• Screen Capture

• Performance Management

• Speech Analytics 

Workforce Management

Forecasting, scheduling, intra-day management and exception planning are all part of workforce management. Make sure the software allows for real-time adherence, so adjustments can be made quickly before they can impact service levels. 

Call Recording

A call recording solution is invaluable in agent training, coaching and troubleshooting and establishing best practices. It also helps to resolve transaction disputes and determine regulatory compliance. You’ll want to invest in a solution that archives and retrieves calls quickly for review.

Quality Management

The quality management process incorporates dashboards, scorecards, agent analytics, customized reports and key performance indicators, to improve service levels, optimize utilization of resources and enhance cost management.

Screen Capture

Screen capture adds video to the voice recording of an agent’s interactions, providing a visual record of how agents employ the technology at their disposal. This aids in agent training, and can help call center staff improve their performance in such key areas as first-call resolution.

Performance Management

By analyzing the scorecards and reports produced by workforce optimization software, call centers can become more proactive in their quest for improving customer service, rather than reacting to events that have already occurred.

Speech Analytics

Simply put, speech analytics takes call recording to the next level by digging deeper into the content of each call, identifying patterns and key words and phrases that can help to further refine customer service efforts and agent training opportunities. 

Find out more about Monet WFM Live

 

 

 


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Christmas in July? Start Preparing Now for Busy Holiday Calling Season

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Christmas in July gets bigger every year, as more retailers and companies take time out from another scorching summer to think about Santa and winter wonderlands. 

You might wish to consider a Christmas in July party at your call center. Have everyone wear their favorite reindeer sweater, serve some eggnog and sing a few holiday carols.

But here is one other way to mark the occasion that could pay significant dividends as the actual holiday gets closer – start planning now for the year-end rush. 

For many call centers, November and December are the busiest time of year. So July is a better time to be sure you are prepared to handle the oncoming tidal wave of customer orders, returns and questions. 

Too early? Perhaps. But the days have a way of going by faster than you might think – we can’t believe it’s July already! So why not start on your forecasting, which is easy to do with a workforce management solution. You can review the call patterns from last year’s holiday season, and those before, so you’ll know what to expect in the months ahead. Run simulations based on this data and review the results so they can be as fine-tuned as necessary. 

How is your agent stand-by list? It’s probably been more than six months since it has been updated. Start contacting those agents now to check their availability. Some might have other jobs and will not be available in a few months. And if you don’t have a stand-by list, start putting one together. 

How did the training sessions go on your holiday season hires last year? This is a good time to refine those efforts. If you’re handling this well, there’s a good chance that some of those temp agents are now engaged full-time with your call center. 

We don’t want to rush the season either – but some stores will be putting up their Christmas tree displays in less than two months. If they can get ready early, you can as well. 


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The Three “Musts” of a Call Center Customer Relationship

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Customer expectations have changed over the past decade. Business moves faster now, which is great, but it has also become more impersonal, which presents another set of potential challenges.

Call centers dedicated to improving customer service and customer retention understand that it all starts with creating a relationship. Here are three things that must happen for that to be successful.

1. You Must Make the Process Easy

Let’s face it – no one looks forward to calling a call center. Customers dread the recorded prompts and the minutes spent on hold, and having to provide their phone number or order number more than once. It is vital for call centers to make the process of speaking with an agent as efficient as possible, while also providing other options such as email and chat and social media.

2. You Must Strive to Create a Connection

Whatever means a customer uses to contact a business or a call center, there is an opportunity to make that customer feel valued. Whether that’s an expression of appreciation for their business at the end of a call, or a personalized response to a social media post, the objective is to build a relationship with that customer so they are more likely to return. Automated responses have their uses but won’t get you there alone.

3. You Must Collect Data From Every Customer Engagement

Through call recording, speech analytics and performance management, a contact center can learn a lot about a company’s customers – what they like, what they don’t like, what they want from the company that they’re not getting and what they hope will never change. 

Much of this analysis will be after-the-fact, which certainly still makes it valuable. What you learn today can pay dividends tomorrow. But sometimes a contact center can go one better – with real time analytics, it can identify a moment within an ongoing customer engagement in which action can be taken immediately to bring about a positive result. 

Such moment-driven data is already being generated by workforce optimization and speech analytics. Agents must then be trained to recognize these moments and proceed accordingly. 


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Three Inaccurate Views of the Call Center

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In general, what do people think of call centers? 

Maybe we shouldn’t use that kind of language. 

Within the industry we see the efforts that have been made to upgrade technology and improve the quality of service, but too often these are not recognized by customers and by other divisions of the business. Is this important? Yes – because false perceptions undermine the services call centers provide, and may even limit their ability to make a positive contribution to their company.

Here are three opinions that are still far too common – and why they are inaccurate. 

1. Call Centers Cost Money

Well, of course they do  – someone has to pay agent salaries and buy the software solutions like workforce management that allow them to fulfill their function. But the data they generate through that software, and other solutions such as speech analytics, can be used in a variety of ways to generate revenue for the company. 

Call centers boost customer loyalty. They provide direct customer feedback on which products and promotions succeed and which do not. They generate positive social media posts after a good experience that boosts brand reputation. 

2. They Will Soon Be Obsolete

Who uses phones anymore to contact a company? That’s so last century now that we have apps and websites and Facebook. 

Sounds good, but visit any call center and you’ll realize we’re nowhere near that point yet – and may never get there. According to a NewVoiceMedia survey, 59% of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone, and 75% believe it’s the most effective way of getting a response. 

Perceptions that call centers are on the way out may result in a company hesitating before investing in the technology resources that allow them to be successful. 

3. Cost-Per-Call is the Only Metric That Matters

For companies that view call centers as a necessary evil, the objective is to keep costs as low as possible. One way this is measured is in cost-per-call. It’s a number deserving of attention – but it’s not the most important metric anymore. The focus instead should be on customer satisfaction, and that sometimes takes a little more time and creativity to achieve. Besides, lowering cost-per-call the wrong way can result in lowering customers as well. 



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The Three Essentials of Workforce Optimization

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What makes workforce optimization such an effective call center solution is how all-encompassing it can be. 

There are so many moving parts that must be harnessed to deliver a favorable customer experience, but according to several industry analysts there are three that emerge as the most significant – the actual work that needs to be done at the call center, the people charged with that responsibility, and the processes put in place to help them achieve the goals of the business. 

Workforce optimization (WFO) helps with all three. 

The Work

Calls are received. In multi-channel environments so are emails and webchat requests and social media posts. Orders have to be filled, returns have to be processed, questions have to be answered. With the workforce management capabilities of WFO, accurate forecasts and schedules are generated so there are always enough agents ready to handle customer demand. 

The People

They make be working in the call center or from home. They all go through the same training but gradually develop specific skills that should be leveraged. They have different needs and preferences when it comes to shifts and schedules. And unfortunately, too many of them leave too soon, necessitating another round of recruiting, hiring and training. With WFO calls and other communications can be automatically routed to the personnel best suited to handle them. It provides flexibility to scheduling, making it easier to accommodate agent requests. And it provides the data agents need to make the job easier – which might induce them to stick around longer. 

The Process

What WFO provides here is visibility. No manager can be everywhere, particularly in a call center with 50 or more agents. Workforce optimization provides quality monitoring of customer interactions, and the ability to track and analyze how well processes are working through real-time alerts. It also provides more insight into every customer interaction through speech analytics.  

Monet's workforce optimization solution is cloud-based and delivered as a service, making it easy, fast and affordable to get started without the usual risk of software implementations. Find out more



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

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