In the current economy many companies are struggling to stay competitive and meet customer service levels. All expenditures must count toward increased productivity and provide long-term solutions. It is imperative that companies not fall prey to offers that make promises that cannot be kept. Careful evaluation prior to purchasing a software solution will help ensure it can deliver what is promised and will meet future needs without prematurely paying for solutions that may not be needed for years to come. Protecting your bottom line can be a balancing act between satisfying current as well as future needs and ensuring the solution will function as promised without the need for costly upgrades or replacement.
Making the right choice of vendors is one strategy to help your bottom line and determine the difference between failure and success of your center. To help protect your bottom line, the following guidelines for purchasing workforce management (WFM) software is recommended:
• Aggregated systems
Many vendors promote product suites that contain disparate systems that are not integrated and require separate databases for each application. Purchasing or accepting free workforce management software from a vendor who specializes in another solution can make you vulnerable to a system that may not be fully functional and/or does not meet your specific needs. The best solution is to choose a workforce management system that uses one server and one database and integrates with existing technology.
• Do not allow one vendor to hold you captive
Before purchasing workforce management technology, consider whether you can afford to buy features now that you may not need for years. Look for a system that allows you to grow and add features on an as-needed basis. While it may be tempting to accept vendor offers that promote “one solution fits all” or offers free software, quality and functionality should be your primary considerations. Choose a system that will deliver a return on investment now and support your company’s more challenging and sophisticated needs for the future.
• Return on Investment
If the forecasting or scheduling is not sophisticated enough or if you’re doing too many processes manually, you are essentially leaving money on the table by failing to staff your center properly. Some vendors claim that return on investment (ROI) can be achieved in less than a year, or even within the first six months of purchase. ROI is subject to many variables, including how it is calculated.
Workforce management is a wise investment that provides a strong ROI while increasing efficiency in the call center. However, your bottom line depends on the accuracy of the forecasting tool. If a workforce management system is incapable of meeting the forecasting needs of a center, other software features become secondary. Investing in the right workforce management system is a decision that will not only protect you from future problems, but enhance operations from the point of installation.
Keep these four tips in mind to maximize accuracy of your forecasting tool:
1. Beware of averages: While forecasting averages is a safe bet, it is not likely to be the most accurate.
2. Give the forecaster some data: The more data, the better. If the tool cannot process more than a few weeks of data, its accuracy will be compromised.
3. Have realistic expectations: The tool’s predictions can only be based on what has happened historically and on what it is told will happen in the future.
4. Understand how your forecasting tool works:
- How much data can it store/use?
- Can it take account for inflation due to abandoned calls?
- Can it recognize seasonal and growth trends?
- Can you input special event information and apply correlation factors?
- How does it accomplish all these things?
For optimum forecasting, invest in a system that can perform critical functions, accommodate future needs, and maintain sufficient historical call data to generate accurate forecasts. A workforce management package should maintain several years of very detailed data for maximum forecast accuracy.
An additional consideration is whether a vendor has flexibility to customize solutions for your needs with speed of delivery and no long development cycles. An important part of meeting customer service levels is having customizable options that can be delivered quickly. Protect your bottom line by making the right purchasing decision. Don’t rely on promises without empirical evidence. Investigate your options and gather testimonials from companies who have used the solutions you are considering.
Pipkins, Inc., founded in 1983, is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry, providing sophisticated forecasting and scheduling technology for both the front and back office. Its award-winning 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. For more information, visit www.Pipkins.com.