There are numerous examples of products that are attractive on the outside but inadequate on the inside, including workforce management software or WFM Solutions. Functionality can be compromised for the sake of appearance and the consumer is left with a product that does not deliver on its promises. Technology is no exception. When consumers opt for a visual appeal over functionality, the results can be less than pretty – and sometimes ugly!
What you’re really paying for
When choosing a workforce management (WFM) solution based on factors such as state-of-the-art appearance, vendor promises with no validation, and marketing hype, you run the risk of getting exactly what you paid for – a solution that may lack the functionality to satisfy your needs. WFM solutions with a slick, updated, and state-of-the-art appearance do not guarantee results you are looking for. Functionality should always take precedence over appearance.
The alarming number of Pipkins’ install base are replacement systems that lack critical functions and flexibility to meet the needs of contact centers. In some cases, their platform is unable to maintain sufficient historical call data to generate accurate forecasts. The most common problems are inaccurate forecasting and an inability to generate requirements at the interval level. Inadequate scheduling algorithms are typically the reason issues surface.
Many companies purchase WFM solutions based on features only. Buyers often ignore other critical factors such as scalability and flexibility which includes the software’s ability to grow with their company and meet ever-changing needs. If the technology does not match your ability to implement and manage the software, then you are left with a poor investment and a potential loss of revenue. Just as a higher price does not guarantee a better product, an attractive interface does not reveal what is underneath. Always look for bottom line results that will ensure your goals are being met.
Vendors are notorious for making promises about their WFM solutions that may or may not be based on fact. If you are paying for a bundled solution, you run the risk of receiving unnecessary components that do not live up to expectations. Always ask for references and make comparisons based on results. Don’t pay for WFM solutions that will be unrewarding down the road. Choose vendors such as Pipkins who offer a pay-as-you-grow, not pay-as-you-go, option.
Most importantly, don’t fall for marketing hype that is based on superficial claims. Vendors should provide a basis for their claims. You may be paying double, triple, or more for slick marketing tactics. It can not be expressed enough, inform yourself about a product before you commit to it.
When to break out the bucks – and when to hold on to your cash
Choosing the right WFM solution requires more than depending on what the vendor tells you. Value is never about the price point, it should be based on functionality, and there are quality solutions at every price point. The truth is, there are poor solutions at the high and low end of the price spectrum. Below is a guideline for purchasing a workforce management system.
Break out the bucks for:
- A quality WFM solution that has stood the test of time. Only systems such as Pipkins, whose algorithms have been tested over time and proven accurate, will produce forecasts that eliminate costly scheduling errors such as understaffing and overstaffing.
- WFM solutions that use mathematical algorithms (such as Merlang) for accurate call volume forecasting and scheduling based on data exclusive to each center’s target service levels, fluctuating call volumes, agent skill sets, and “what if” scenario requirements. Less complex systems use a “simple” weighted moving average that only use the past several weeks of historical data. This can create time consuming manual editing, inaccurate simulation models, and can result in a statistically invalid forecast.
- Systems that address busy time periods and abandons in the scheduling mathematics instead of the forecasting algorithms will create a redundant amount of working employees in your call center.
- A system that maintains detailed data for several years in order to produce an accurate forecast. Most WFM and scheduling solutions fail to gather information on marketing campaigns, billing cycles or other variables that can affect call volume. For maximum forecast accuracy, choose a workforce management package that will maintain and utilize several years of very detailed data.
Hold on to your cash for:
- WFM solutions that have no real science or proven results behind them
- vendor promises without merit or basis
- A system that is part of a bundled package and has no expertise in workforce management. In the end, even if a system is cheaper, if it doesn’t work or meet your needs, it’s not a value – no matter what the price.
- Systems whose main selling point is based on appearance and sold as “user friendly.”
Picking the winners
Don’t judge a WFM solution on its package – or price tag – but on results. Investing in the best quality WFM solution will put some of your most difficult problems in the past. Purchasing a software system that does not meet your needs or cannot grow with your company is a costly mistake that can be difficult to remedy. Ensure your system can collect enough data to generate an accurate forecast and accommodate all variables that exist with scheduling.
Pipkins, Inc., founded in 1983, is an American company and 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.