According to the 2009 World Contact Center Workforce Management Systems Market report by the PELORUS Group, smaller call centers are thriving and companies are increasingly favoring multiple small contact centers over large centralized facilities, generating a need for small contact center workforce management. This is due, in part, to the availability of lower-cost labor markets. PELORUS also reports that 9 out of 10 contact centers in North America have 75 or fewer agents and that the vast majority of workforce management installations are in the larger contact centers.
What does this mean for workforce management vendors who attempt to meet the needs of smaller centers? A key consideration is that small contact centers need the full functionality of workforce management solutions even more than large centers. Cost effective solutions are necessary for small contact center workforce management, especially in today’s economy. Small contact centers experience the same problems as large ones. Addressing four basic needs for small contact center workforce management will enable growth and increased profitability .
Accurate Forecasting and Scheduling
Small centers cannot afford to make large staffing errors. Inaccurate forecasting can result in decreased service levels and lost sales. Accurate staffing depends on the accuracy of expected volume of incoming calls. If call volume forecasting is too high, overstaffing and wasted labor expense occurs. Conversely, if the forecast is too low, the center will be understaffed, resulting in an increased number of abandoned calls and a higher level of lost sales. In either case, staffing errors can result in lost customers and impact a company’s bottom line.
Managing workforce resources is a delicate balancing act, at best. At worst, it can become a nightmare which is reflected in bottom line profits. If a center has 200 employees and five agents call in sick or leave early, only 2.5% of their workforce is impacted and making intraday scheduling adjustments is a relatively easy task. What happens to a center that employs only 20 agents when five are absent? They have now lost 25% of their workforce and maintaining service levels just became extremely difficult. Small contact center workforce management can give these centers the tools to rapidly adjust to such difficult challenges, maintain service levels and control costs.
Agent adherence is related to customer retention. With a reduced workforce, having the right people in the right seat at the right time and doing the right thing becomes critical. If 2% of agents are not at their assigned posts, the percentage of calls answered, within whatever performance objective has been used in creating the schedule, typically will drop by 10%. If 10% of agents are out of adherence, half of the center’s incoming calls will likely not be answered within the target time frame. This can be devastating for small centers, and is preventable with the use of a small contact center workforce management suite.
For large companies with multiple small centers, having the capability of monitoring multiple sites from a centralized location is invaluable. For maximum efficiency, adherence should be handled at one location by a single analyst in order to ensure service levels are being met at all locations. Local centers can be alerted to compliance problems, eliminating the need for local monitoring as well as freeing local center supervisors to focus on other activities. By viewing adherence graphically, text-heavy reports are eliminated.
Agent retention is an issue with centers of all sizes. The cost of training and retaining agents can have more impact on a small center. Agent morale has been identified as a contributing factor to turnover rates. Having tools which give agents flexibility and control over their schedules is one way to help with retention issues. When agents are able to access their schedules over the Internet and make changes without supervisory interaction (functions made available with better small contact center workforce management software), there is a feeling of greater control over their job.
Flexibility to Grow
Small centers need reduced risk and less complexity. If you give small centers greater flexibility with scheduling and intraday optimization, the result is service levels being met and increased customer retention. Each contributes to growth and increased profits. Smaller centers need financial flexibility as well . A small contact center workforce management solution that enables companies to have a monthly usage plan with no long-term commitment eliminates up-front costs and allows the focus to be placed on customer service and agent training and retention.
Vendors can help with small contact center workforce management by providing affordable solutions to these four issues. Having the right tools and resources to meet service levels will enable centers to run smoothly, facilitate growth, and positively impact their bottom line.
Pipkins, Inc. is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry. For the past twenty-seven years, Pipkins has consistently created and delivered superior workforce management products for call centers of all sizes. Pipkins maintains its reputation as an industry leader with thirteen industry-first applications. Pipkins’ premier product, Vantage Point, is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide.