Customers don’t care where in the organisation their issue is being resolved. They do however care very much about it being dealt with swiftly and successfully.

“When it comes to servicing the customer, the front office has generally performed in the spotlight whilst the back office held a backstage role. Today’s businesses are however recognising that to achieve optimal customer satisfaction, total workforce optimisation needs to happen,” says Ebrahim Dinat, chief operations officer at contact centre solution provider, Ocular Technologies.

The worldwide back office labour pool represents 15 to 20% of the global company’s labour force according to a 2010 McKinsey & Company article on back office operations. The writers highlight that this workforce performs tasks with outcomes that directly affect service delivery, including loyalty enrolment, payment processing, order fulfilment and service activation.

Many of these back office processes are manual or accomplished through 10 or more systems and involve 40% of the back office labour pool. Enterprises are finding that this efficiency deficit is a difficult task to address.

According to a commissioned study of customer service strategy decision makers, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Ocular Technologies partner, Aspect Software, 42% of respondents said that they are unable to effectively manage the end-to-end workflow of interactions primarily because of un-integrated applications.

To solve this issue, the white paper “Achieve a United Front, Front to Back” by Aspect Software, makes the case for purpose-built back office optimisation solutions to increase the productivity of back office operations and decrease costs.

It states that, in particular, back office optimisation solutions help to improve customer service levels while decreasing required staffing, institutionalise a culture of continuous improvement and provide visibility into how effectively back office processes are being executed. The essentials to optimise the back office are listed as:

* Provide flexible “what-if” analyses and scenarios to identify the right staffing profile to meet service level objectives for all tasks even in light of unexpected events;
* Optimise tasks across multi-skilled resource groups to deliver against deadlines with a streamlined resource pool;
* Utilise multi-site scheduling capabilities that provide a global perspective for environments that share tasks across sites;
* Enable convenient workforce data sharing to gain a complete, accurate view of activity and productivity;
* Capture data on tasks and employees to gain historical and real-time visibility into how goals are being met;
* Evaluate employees by monitoring real-time and historical adherence to work schedules and achievement of goals;
* Track actual to targeted employee performance with scorecards that help employees understand and optimise their performance, and help managers identify areas for improvement;
* Provide dashboards and reports that measure an organisation’s and individual employee’s overall productivity;
* Initiate online coaching when an employee’s performance falls below a set threshold to improve individual and overall operational effectiveness; and
* Empower employees to manage their own schedules within preset parameters to increase morale and retention.

Recognising that there is a real need to optimise back offices in South African operations, Ocular Technologies has announced that it will offer Aspect Software’s Advanced Back Office Optimiser to its customers.

The solution provides real-time work management and operational intelligence. “Purpose-built for the back office, this new product is part of Aspect’s Advanced Back Office Optimization suite that includes Aspect’s market-leading Workforce Management product, Desktop Analytics and Performance Management,” says Dinat.

“This integrated suite provides the workforce planning and people management, real-time work and task management, and reporting and analytics that turn the back office into an instrumental driver of exceptional customer experiences.”

What is promising is that early adopters of back office workforce optimisation solutions are realising very significant savings, ranging from 20% to 40%, this is according to Donna Fluss, DMG Consulting president and contact centre/ back office industry analyst.

Ocular Technology believes that the addition of Aspect’s Back Office Optimizer will amplify these improvements with real-time work allocation and reallocation based on demand, resource availability and skill, and service level goals along with pre-configured views into operational efficiency and effectiveness.

“To address these challenges, Aspect’s Advanced Back Office Optimization provides a full suite of products to deliver process and workflow efficiency that creates exceptional customer experiences,” adds Dinat.

The suite comprises:
* Aspect Workforce Management, which provides accurate workforce planning and forecasting and automatic scheduling of resources for back office or blended environments (front and back);
* Aspect Back Office Optimizer, this provides real-time work management with automatic allocation and reallocation based on resource availability and skill, demand, and service level commitments. It also provides purpose-built reports and dashboards pre-configured with operational intelligence; and
* Aspect Performance Management, that extends the value of back office insight through the integration to enterprise data stores and a 360 degree operational view that not only unites the front and back office but can be used to automate key workflows.

“The end goals of an optimised back office should be contact centre employees that have self-assurance in their abilities and skills, as well as the company’s ability to deliver the best service to the customer, both truthfully and in the shortest possible time,” concludes Dinat.