Optimising agent performance and service quality while controlling costs is a constant battle not just for contact centre managers but also for customer contact stakeholders in HR, operations, IT and other departments.
And it’s not always just a question of balancing conflicting operational targets. Sometimes it’s a case of balancing short and long term operational objectives with – often conflicting – overall business objectives, writes Henry McCracken, regional sales director – Africa, Aspect Software.
This is where the latest workforce optimisation (WFO) solutions can help. There are many definitions of the term WFO, but let’s stick to the simple Wikipedia version:
“WFO supports the business with key insights into how its workforce is performing. The emphasis in the closely related area of workforce management was on improving operational efficiency and managing the workforce effectively; WFO takes this one step further by tying workforce management to key business concepts such as the customer experience.
“WFO is concerned with enabling businesses to take control of all aspects of their staffing, and helping them understand how staff affects the business’ performance, with an emphasis on improving this incrementally.”
WFO solutions should not be confused with traditional workforce management solutions that were primarily concerned with forecasting future contact volumes and ensuring that sufficient human and automated resources, with the right skills and knowledge, were available to handle those contacts effectively.
A modern WFO solution goes much further. Typically, it will:
* Offer integrated workforce management, performance management, and quality management to reduce maintenance costs and administrative overhead by eliminating technology silos from multiple vendors;
* Allow quality scores to be automatically sent to workforce managers and planners to help them better manage schedule assignments and reduce overall integration costs;
* Offer agents with high customer satisfaction ratings more desirable schedules to improve agent retention;
* Allocate resources and balance shift schedules using quality scores to ensure an appropriate skill level mix is present during each shift to help reduce agent costs and administrative overhead;
* Consolidate data from workforce management, quality management and ACD systems into a single, focused view for analysing agent performance, to reduce administrative overhead and eliminate silos for KPI reporting; and
* Utilise integrated coaching workflows to improve operational performance by taking agent productivity data from workforce management, quality and performance management, to improve operational performance.
WFO goes far beyond simply technology unification. It is essentially a set of tools that enables organisations to consider everything impacting performance (like agents, knowledge workers, business processes, customers and systems) and take immediate, effective and measurable actions. Hence the value it can bring to an organisation is huge.
Potential benefits of WFO include:
* Lower attrition by motivating and empowering agents throughout the workforce lifecycle;
* Lower call handling costs (in terms of both AHT and occupancy);
* Better informed and trained agents through improved coaching processes;
* Increased customer feedback on products and campaigns;
* Better dispute resolution and compliance (policy and regulatory);
* Enhanced workforce effectiveness while reducing costs by scheduling agents at the right time;
* Improved staff effectiveness by providing performance feedback to drive self-management against KPI goals;
* Enhanced management visibility of performance versus goals;
* Increased customer satisfaction through improved work processes; and
* Reduced integration complexity, upgrade complexity, administrative overhead and vendor management through a single-vendor solution.
WFO is ideally suited to organisations looking to get more productivity from their workforce while managing operational and business objectives – and can deliver significant benefits to managers, agents and customers.
Not surprisingly, industry analysts see a rosy future for WFO with Datamonitor predicting that the global WFO market will be worth a massive $2,9-billion by 2013 – with contact centre analytics representing the major growth driver.