How do organisations compete in the social media saturated, mobile marketplace? “The challenge is to interact with customers more flexibly and efficiently while still delighting them with a consistent quality experience,” says Pommie Lutchman, CEO of contact centre solutions provider, Ocular Technologies.
This, however, is no easy task, given that consumer demand for communications anytime and anywhere is making customer-company collaboration through Web 2.0 and other channels the new norm.

According to Lutchman, a customer contact solution that combines workforce optimisation with advanced enterprise technologies enables organisations to step up to this challenge.
“Workforce optimisation encompasses technologies and business practices that focus enterprise resources and efforts on customer contact. Organisations rely on workforce optimisation to plan, execute, measure and continuously improve customer engagement efforts regardless of where or how the customer interaction is initiated,” he says.

Workforce optimisation capabilities increase visibility into customer interactions and extend process discipline and control across all customer touch points – from the contact centre into the enterprise, and out to the partner ecosystem and the social sphere.
For example, speech and desktop analytics, social monitoring, and other recording tools capture, evaluate and report customer feedback and workforce performance data in realtime.

This information guides smarter, more agile operational decisions and empowers the workforce to improve performance through scorecards and automated coaching alerts. Comprehensive staffing plans and flexible scheduling allow the enterprise to marshal and intelligently apply the specialised knowledge of agents, back office staff and experts to customer interactions for the best possible outcomes.

“Workforce, quality and performance management capabilities provide practical business processes and tools for effective staffing, monitoring, reporting, evaluation and coaching. The essential benefits are greater operational productivity and efficiency, an enhanced collaborative experience for employees and a routinely positive customer experience.

“Integrated with unified communications (UC) technologies, workforce optimisation is essential for continually improving the people and processes that drive next-generation customer contact and deliver on the most rigorous expectations of today’s consumer,” adds Lutchman.

He lists five ways to optimise a workforce for customer contact in a social
marketplace.
Fully integrate UC with workforce optimisation
UC-powered workforce optimisation capabilities save time, effort and guesswork and enable companies to resolve customer issues much faster. When they’re combined with collaboration software, these capabilities can seamlessly link enterprise expertise, back office resources and the contact centre to automate all facets of customer engagement.
Formalise an expert escalation policy
Sophisticated workforce optimisation technologies allow organisations to gauge experts’ performances to ensure they provide the customer with the optimal quantity and the best quality of information, record experts’ interactions with customers about sensitive topics to avoid costly disputes and potential litigation, and involve the best experts in customer contact to improve customer satisfaction, while respecting the time and productivity demands of their other responsibilities.
“Unified communications makes it possible for agents to escalate customer issues to the most qualified experts, and workforce management makes scheduling their time a practical reality,” says Lutchman.

Capture the total customer experience
Workforce optimisation analytics can provide a composite view of the total customer experience and detailed insights into consumer behaviour by monitoring, capturing and measuring information across both traditional and newer Web 2.0 channels.
When organisations also cover consumer activity via review and social sites, customer communities, SMSes, blogs, video sharing sites, wikis and other collaborative online spaces, they can construct clearer and more complete customer profiles.

“Organisations need to free customer data from silos by collecting and consolidating information from every interaction at every customer touch point.

Quality monitoring capabilities are able to cast a wide net over customer contact activity in the contact centre, back office and other internal functions, and external interactions that occur in the social sphere or involve participation by federated partners,” explains Lutchman.

Schedule the best possible combination of employees
A centralised and comprehensive approach to staffing is the key to planning and budgeting for the right number of agents, back office staff and experts with the right skills at the right time. Workforce management technologies simplify this scheduling challenge by measuring the number and type of customer interactions across different channels.
Based on results, resources can be matched to the anticipated customer demand in a specific channel.
Motivate and empower employees
Creating the right human environment for next-generation customer contact helps to keep human resources focused intently on the customer. Workforce optimisation reporting and analytics technologies identify the best customer contact resources through insights into the customer experience and agent and knowledge worker performance.
When companies continually engage these employees through learning and coaching, they can maintain a workforce that performs consistently to set standards and is motivated and empowered to raise service levels.
“In today’s socially wired – and wireless – world, organisations that cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with consumers create more service, sales and marketing opportunities.
“A UC-enabled customer contact solution that tightly links business and communication technologies, and includes integral workforce optimisation capabilities, empowers companies with visibility, discipline and control at all customer touch points – inside and outside the contact centre,” concludes Lutchman.