Workforce management software tools are the most cost-effective and underutilized contact center software. More than 80% of contact centers employing over 500 agents have automated workforce management systems. The number drops to less than 25% for centers with less than 250 agents, even though these centers employ over half of all agents and comprise over 95% of all centers in the world. Experts say that once a center employs more than 25 agents, manual forecasting becomes ineffective. There is an increased chance of errors and decreased accuracy. Making changes quickly also becomes difficult to impossible.
Workforce management software tools use mathematical algorithms for accurate agent scheduling based on data exclusive to each center’s target service levels, fluctuating call volumes, agent skill set, and “what if” scenario requirements. Management has the ability to judge the implications of proposed changes before implementing final decisions. Workforce management solves the costly under- and overstaffing problems experienced by all call centers. Scheduling can be configured to accommodate agent preferences and proficiencies that coincide with the needs of the center. Workforce management software tools also allow time-off requests to be handled based on business rules particular to each company.
Cost is a major consideration in the acquisition of workforce management software tools with most in-house installations exceeding six figures. While there are less costly options such as Excel spreadsheets and Erlang calculators, they are ineffective for centers with more than 25 agents, widely fluctuating call volumes, or centers with locations across different time zones.
One viable alternative to purchasing a full blown installation is to consider a hosted versus in-house system. A hosted system offers many advantages over in-house installations:
- little or no capital investment
- no risk of major systems failure
- pay as you go and only for what you need
- no interruption to business as upgrades can be downloaded during slow times
- fast implementation
- little or no need for in-house IT support
- rapid adjustment to changing business conditions
- benefits for staffing contingent on varying workflow
- users experience the benefits before purchasing an in-house system
- same benefits as in-house installations
Once you outgrow the hosted option, or if you can support a full blown installation, in-house systems quickly pay for themselves through better staff utilization, reduced administrative costs, and the ability to run “what if” scenarios before making costly changes. Real-time adherence options provide an extraordinary benefit in ensuring agents are in the right seat at the right time and performing assigned tasks. An unexpected benefit can be realized through agent empowerment as workforce management software tools allow agents to have a degree of control over their schedules. This can have a direct impact on attrition rates as wel as a reduction in supervisory administrative tasks. Forecasting can be performed for both multi-channel and multi-site environments.
Workforce management software is instrumental in impacting a company’s bottom line through improved customer service. Busies and abandon rates are reduced and target service levels are more easily achieved.
An investment in workforce management software in today’s cal center environment is critical to remaining competitive and providing the service your customers expect. Whether you choose a hosted system or in-house instal ation, making the right purchasing decision to meet your needs on the front-end eliminates the need for future adjustments. Investigate before you buy and talk to more than one vendor to ensure you are getting the right suite of workforce management software tools.
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 cal 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. For more information, visit www.Pipkins.com.