A fully integrated Workforce Management (WFM) Solution gives your agents, their immediate supervisors and your entire management team the complete set of tools they need to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Workforce Management is the set of processes (manual, automated or a combination of both) that an organization uses to maximize productivity of its teams and team members. In a contact center environment, your human capital is one of your most important assets, if not the single most important asset. It’s also a costly asset that needs to be optimized on a continual basis to ensure that your productivity and profitability goals are met.
It doesn’t matter the industry. It doesn’t matter what types of contact centers you operate. It doesn’t matter how big or small your contact centers are. Overstaffing or understaffing, even for the shortest periods, should be avoided or at least minimized as much as possible. Such conditions can have a dramatic impact on your organization by cutting into profits, lowering overall productivity, frustrating your employees and lowering their morale, as well as disappointing and even alienating your customers and/or prospective customers.
To keep your contact center operations humming along at peak levels, you need a fully integrated Workforce Management solution that will give your front-line agents, their supervisors and your entire management team a complete set of easy to use tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Such a suite of tools is a must-have to maximize your firm’s efficiency, effectiveness, profitability and customer satisfaction.
Whether you are looking for your firm’s first WFM solution or you’re looking for your organization’s next solution, here are 11 key features you should look for when considering Workforce Management products and providers:
1. Hosted, Premise-Based and Mobile WFM
While hosted or cloud-based WFM solutions have become increasingly popular due to their low start-up costs, fast implementation process, flexible month-to-month subscription costs, etc., they are not necessarily the best fit for every business and every application. For example, you may have already invested in the servers and infrastructure to operate a premise-based solution, or you may have specific security requirements that make a hosted solution impractical.
Similarly, a Mobile WFM solutions offers the maximum flexibility in that agents and supervisors can use their tools from anywhere, at any time with only internet access and their smart phone or tablet, freeing them from being tied to their workstation or laptop.
Working with a provider that offers all three types of WFM solutions, gives you peace-of-mind knowing you can more easily migrate from one to the other without changing vendors should your needs/requirements change. Or, you can start with a hosted or premise-based solution and add mobile when you need that additional capability.
2. Performance Management
In general, performance management includes processes and activities designed to ensure that an organization is meeting its goals and doing so in an efficient and effective way. The focus of such efforts can vary from organization-wide, to department or team, down to each individual employee, or to each step required to build a specific product or deliver a specific service.
In a contact center setting, you want real-time performance data and you want it in customizable reports and dashboards, because that data needs to be used to produce actionable results. With any WFM solution, make sure that agent, team, group and department performance metrics can be quickly delivered to every level of your organization from the front office contact center to the back office using easy to understand Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.
Access to real-time KPIs is vital. Your management team needs to know they’re using accurate, up-to-date information. Equally important, real-time KPIs mean that agents can quickly get quantifiable feedback on their performance, and as a result, can quickly adjust measured behavior to improve performance.
3. Forecasting and Scheduling
Employee scheduling is a critical component of any workforce management system; however, when it comes to the operation of call centers, you need more than a basic scheduling tool.
You need capabilities that include comprehensive forecasting and planning functionality. Today’s complex multi-channel environment demands it. You need to forecast workloads and keep your staffing levels optimized no matter how many channels are involved: inbound, outbound, chat, back office, email, social media, etc.
Make sure that the forecasting algorithm used can handle the complexity of your multi-channel environment. Older Erlang forecasting models are no longer adequate.
4. Intraday Management
Ideally you want a workforce management system that can handle all your forecasting and scheduling needs, including intraday forecasting right out of the box. With some WFM solutions, intraday forecasting is only available with third-party add-on modules. Intraday forecasting is every bit as important as daily or weekly forecasting.
As critical as forecasting and scheduling is to your operations, don’t you want the WFM solution with the best and most complete forecasting and scheduling functionality baked in from the start?
Don’t you want a solution where you’ll have a single point of contact with a single vendor if you have questions (or problems) involving weekly forecasts, daily forecasts or intraday forecasts?
Unexpected changes can occur during any given workday that can dramatically affect your staffing needs. For intraday forecasting, you want your WFM system to produce optimal schedules for every interval throughout your work day, so you can adapt to conditions as they change in real time.
That way you can be equipped to deal with sudden spikes in workload, agents calling in sick, late arrivals due to traffic jams or weather, mandatory attendance at company-wide meetings or agents needing to leave work early due to children becoming sick at school or daycare.
5. Real-Time Adherence
It’s important that you get the most out of your company’s investments in its technology and its people. If your agents are not adhering to the optimal schedules generated by your workforce management system, the results will negatively impact your bottom line through wasted time, increased costs, lost sales, reduced profits, etc.
Real-time adherence is a crucial component in managing your team or teams and helping them improve their overall productivity while meeting or exceeding benchmarks for industry standard KPIs.
You want a solution that includes the following real-time adherence capabilities:
- Real-time proactive monitoring of agent adherence by comparing the scheduled activity with their actual current activity
- Automatic alerts to agents and their supervisors when adherence thresholds are broken
- Industry standard adherence KPIs displayed in real time on dashboards for agents and their managers
- Web and/or smart phone access to adherence reports and alerts, so that managers can stay apprised of how their team members are performing, no matter whether the manager is out of the office at a meeting, traveling to a conference, or on the golf course.
(End of Part One)
Note: Features #6 through #11 of the “11 Key Features You Should Look for in Any WFM Solution” are detailed in Part Two of this Two-Part Series. Click here to go to Part Two.
ABOUT PIPKINS, INC.: Founded in 1983 and based in St. Louis, Missouri, Pipkins is a leading provider of workforce management solutions for the contact center industry. Today, Pipkins’ systems forecast, plan and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide.
For more information, contact the Pipkins Sales Team at 314-469-6106 Option 1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.