“At what point does investing in a WFM system begin to have an impact on my contact center costs and efficiency?” This is a pervasive question asked by many small and mid-size companies first exploring advanced staffing solutions.
Yes, many contact centers with sizable staff pools still use fixed or manual scheduling tactics. So why, how, and when does utilizing technology begin to have a positive impact on your business? Today (or this week, depending on how busy you are), we will explore these questions and provide some possible answers and things to look out for when selecting a WFM solution.
Understand The Impact of Automation
The goal of a WFM software solution is to increase the efficiency of your contact center’s human resource. Like any form of automation, WFM tools are designed to relieve humans of redundant tasks and convert raw data into useful information. A human’s time is better spent planning, testing, and making decisions without the burden of data crunching on a spreadsheet.
Still, a human must always be involved since the interpretation and context of information is what defines its usefulness. Just like film, art, and music, creativity is at the wheel of business decisions, and technology only provides the tools to do much more with much less.
It must be understood that automation is not a replacement for workers; it is a force multiplier. The value of this multiplier helps us define when and where the cost of required human work surpasses the cost of automation. Going in the opposite direction, we can consider at what point does it take more time/money to use a tool than not to?
It would take you more time and money to rent, set up, use, and return a backhoe to dig a small ditch than it would to use a shovel. On the other hand, how big of a ditch must you dig for the man-hours required to dig by shovel surpass the cost and staff-hours needed to rent and drive a backhoe? The answer to this general question is, it depends.
• What are you digging through?
• What is the cost of labor?
• How precise does the ditch need to be?
These are all valid questions to answer to determine when to automate your business and when to use labor.
Let’s Break Down What Workforce Manage Solution Automation Means For You
How come a call center with 36 agents running on spreadsheets can feel like rowing up the River Styx while a call center with 100 agents is sailing smooth? No, it doesn’t just boil down to the quality of the workforce team. Functional differences exist and are based on complexity.
Let’s imagine a hypothetical magic call center. Everyone works 9-5, 5/7 all holidays off, there is one queue, and the volume is a steady n calls per minute all day with a minimum, maximum, and average handling time of 10 minutes each. Nobody calls for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon, and 30 minutes at noon.
No matter what you set n too, your requirement will always be static. A WFM tool may still become useful for its Real-Time Adherence, Vacation Planning, and shrinkage calculations, but the threshold for purchasing such a system will be quite high, possibly in the mid to high hundreds depending on the supervisor structure. If the contact center is small enough and your agent pool is made up of mostly qualified angels, one person scheduling on a WFM product might take more time than making a single schedule and using it every single day.
Now imagine Contact Center in “Hard Mode”: 24/7 support line with 54 skill-dependent product queues offering service in 3 languages. Intraday and seasonality trends vary significantly and sometimes are heavily reliant on fresh holiday orders.
Callers on each queue have different patience levels depending on the time of year, and handling time ranges from 1 minute to an hour. But it’s not all calls. Some workgroups handle emails and chat along with phones both in blended and non-blended layouts. The highly-trained Tier IV agents demand minimal variation in their schedule even across all hours of operations.
To make matters worse, the CEO has been obsessing over tech-startup culture and vows to throw office parties at least 3 times per month. As you can imagine, a workforce team would be overwhelmed, creating schedules that meet business goals even if the contact center has just 15 agents and a handful of calls per minute.
Your contact center probably falls somewhere between the two. Figuring out that magic number really comes down to how many variables are in play when scheduling. Typically, a safe range to start seeing a positive impact from a WFM seems to be around 35-80 agents, but even this very flexible and doesn’t account for the differences in price and quality for WFM products.
Tune in next time for why you should consider getting a WFM tool from Pipkins when it comes to effectively managing your call center.