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Workforce Optimization in the Cloud

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Five Bad Habits to Break at Your Call Center

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The tough thing about bad habits is that they are so easy to fall into, and so difficult to stop. 

These are five of the most common bad habits found at contact centers. If you are contending with any of them, here is how workforce optimization can make them go away.

1.  Inefficient Scheduling

Sound, accurate schedules are created consistently with workforce management software. It’s especially useful at a time when agents are balancing school, family and other obligations, and would appreciate more input into the shifts they work. With WFM it’s easier to provide personalized scheduling options and to allow agents to change their own schedules. Usually this results in better coverage, and better service. 

2. First Come, First Serve Call Routing

Yes, that’s the way it’s always been done at some contact centers – every call automatically goes to the first available agent. It’s not necessarily a bad habit, just an inefficient one. But by routing calls to agents based on specific criteria, it’s possible to boost first call resolution and overall customer service. The most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

3. Taking Too Long to Collect Basic Information

There is no getting around asking for a customer’s ID information (date of birth), account information or contact information. But too many questions at the start of a call can be frustrating for the customer and time-consuming for the agent. A workforce optimization solution that includes analytics can deliver caller information more quickly. 

4. Quality Monitoring With Random Calls

As with item #2 on our list, the bad habit here is relying on systems that were used for decades because they were the only systems available. Now, there’s a better way. With speech analytics, every call can be monitored and categorized based on pre-set criteria. This provides more insight into business practices and will also improve your training efforts. 

5. Reactive Management

A shift ends, and you look at the numbers and see what went right and what went wrong, and try to make adjustments so the next shift is better. Instead, why not get proactive, with workforce management that provides real-time monitoring, so adherence issues and other problems can be corrected while they are still happening? 

Monet Workforce Optimization contains the tools needed to help break all of these bad habits. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Optimization

Or see Monet WFM in action in this online video demo


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Workforce Optimization: The Solution to Overstaffing and Understaffing

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Remember the days when 10-20% of the calls a business receives would be questions about what time the doors closed, or how long that holiday sale would last? 

Today, such basic inquiries are answered through the company website. Customers only call now with more substantive issues – why is this product I purchased not working? Who can I ask about whether this product can function if attached to this component? My credit card statement shows a purchase that suggests my account was compromised – I need some information…etc. 

And when they call, they want those answers now.

Keeping these customers satisfied requires well-trained agents, and a forecasting and scheduling solution that makes sure your contact center always has enough personnel available to efficiently handle the incoming inquiries. 

Workforce Optimization Gets You There

A workforce optimization (WFO) solution is primarily designed to help call center managers put the right number of agents with the right combination of skills in the right place at the right time. That solves two of the biggest problems call centers face: overstaffing and understaffing.

Overstaffing

Is it better to err on the side of overstaffing? Probably – at least you know the calls will get picked up quickly. But companies don’t like to pay agents to idle in their cubicles, or chat with their equally un-engaged neighbors. 

With WFO, you’ll eliminate these situations with forecasts that will let you know what to expect on Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning or the day after a holiday. You’ll have the staffing information necessary to assign shifts to agents available to handle them. 

The numbers won’t lie, though if you’re still using spreadsheets they’ll probably deliver inaccurate results because they can’t take all of the variables into consideration. 

Understaffing

This is trouble for obvious reasons. Customers that wait too long on hold may not be customers anymore – especially those calling to report a negative experience. It also places a greater burden on your agents; too many days of staring at a computer screen of 12 calls in the queue can impact call center performance, and may send those agents away to seek less stressful employment. 

But when forecasting and scheduling is based on analytics delivered by a WFO solution, agents are busy but not too busy, customers get the help they need and companies aren’t signing paychecks for an idle workforce. 

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that includes workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics and performance management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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The Pros and Cons of Hiring College Students as Call Center Agents

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With summer fast approaching, many college students will re-enter the workforce. Contact centers, especially those that struggle with attrition year round, will suddenly have more applicants. Should they be eager to embrace the college crowd? Here are some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Availability

You don’t need a college degree to be a call center agent, making the position ideal for students –  especially those studying business that would gain experience dealing with customer service issues and challenges.

Con: How long will they stay?

No call center wants to train a student to become a reliable agent, and then have him or her quit to return to school for the fall semester. Call centers using a workforce optimization solution will be better suited to accommodate flexible schedules, and might be able to keep those students if they can work shifts around their class schedules.

Pro: Part-time preferred

Some call centers have shifts that are best filled with part-time staff. Many college students are only seeking part-time employment, as they have other interests and may be taking a summer school course or two. They’ll also be content with the compensation, as they don’t have to find a job that must support a family. 

Con: Lack of professional experience

Contact center agents represent your company to your customers – and they might be responsible for a positive or negative first impression. You may prefer someone with more experience and maturity in that role. 

Pro: They get technology

College students have grown up with computers, so they will acclimate more quickly to whatever software you are running that provides client data and other important information. 

Con: Unwelcome networking

You might bring in a student who takes the job just to gain access to those who might hire him in an executive position after graduation. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but all that networking might draw his focus away from the actual job at hand. Call center agents are not interns who are only there for on-the-job training – they perform a vital function that requires their full attention. 

Have you hired college students at your contact center? How did it work out? Let us know on our Facebook page

A workforce optimization solution like Monet WFO can make it easier for all of your new agents to deliver outstanding service. Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Three Call Routing Strategies That Work

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Many contact centers now use WFO or speech analytics to route customer calls to the agent best suited to deal with each caller’s issue. It’s a strategy that ensures calls will be handled faster, and customers will be happier. 

Often calls are simply routed based on the length of wait time for customers in the queue; sometimes a company’s best customers receive greater priority. But the most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

However, there are other options available that may also pay dividends. Here are three suggestions:

The Door Closers

The contact center may be the first to discover that a customer is “halfway out the door” already. But if you have an agent that specializes in addressing these customers’ concerns and keeping them in the fold, it can make a huge difference in customer retention. With a WFO system such calls can be routed more quickly as well, so these customers will get the attention they need.

Top Priority

In businesses where one account can equal thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, such prospects should receive preferential attention throughout the engagement. When calls from a specific company name or company rep come in, they should be identified immediately and routed to someone familiar with their needs.  

What Happened to Mary?

For a contact center customer there is nothing more frustrating than connecting with an agent, answering all their account questions and providing all the requested information, explaining the reason for the call, and then being put on hold or having to call back, and being transferred to someone else who asks all the same questions again. With WFO it’s easy to route these calls back to the first agent who handled them. 

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Contact Center Digital Transformation: It Starts With Moving to the Cloud

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The phrase “digital transformation” has been trending throughout corporate America for that past decade, and the contact center is no exception.

What is it exactly? You’ll find a lot of definitions online, but let’s keep it simple. We all know what transformation means – not just a change, but also a change for the better. Unsightly caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies. 

And ‘digital’? It refers to technology that brings people and practices together in a more efficient manner. 

For the contact center, this means new business models that improve the customer experience, often by empowering the workforce that interacts with those customers. 

A workforce optimization solution is helpful here, as it delivers such advantages as:

  • Workforce management for more accurate forecasts, schedules and adherence
  • Quality monitoring that includes call recording and screen capture
  • Performance management for tracking of KPIs and real-time alerts
  • Speech analytics and desktop analytics

But the first step in an effective digital transformation is the movement of all of these services into the cloud. 

Why? Because technology evolves a lot faster than it used to, and it’s imperative for contact centers to keep up. New versions and new upgrades are no longer events that happen every year or every other year. With the cloud, updates happen automatically (and at no extra charge), so technology is always up to date without the repeated development and testing of new features from each vendor. 

Cloud systems are also scalable, so it’s impossible to outgrow your technology solution as your business expands. 

If you want to be part of the digital transformation revolution, there is no better place to start than by exploring cloud technology solutions, such as Monet Workforce Optimization. 

What’s better than workforce optimization? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action


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Workforce Optimization: A 21st Century Idea

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While we all eagerly await the arrival of our flying cars and tourist excursions into outer space, it’s nice to know that some 21st century triumphs have indeed become part of our everyday lives. One of them is workforce optimization (WFO).

Wait, we hear you say – WFO is a concept that has been around for decades. 

It’s true that the idea of WFO – creating a more successful outcome by focusing on how a company’s workforce can achieve optimal productivity – is not new. But truly shifting a company’s focus to embrace this philosophy, backed by the WFO tools that make it easier to achieve, is a more recent phenomenon. That’s why some have described it as the next frontier in the evolution of business. 

Technology vs. People

Given how rapidly technology has evolved, at the contact center and elsewhere, companies have tended to amass greater technological processes and resources, without devoting the same attention to helping its human resources also reach their full potential. 

But that is changing now, perhaps as a result of the Millennial outlook that work is important, but people are more important, and a job should be just one aspect of a full and enriching life. Today’s workforce wants a job that will not only give them a paycheck, but also make them feel valued, and a part of the future of the company. 

Workforce optimization is the key to providing that employee engagement at the contact center. It empowers agents to make more decisions. It makes it easier to adopt a flexible shift schedule so agents can balance home and work demands. It tracks performance so top agents are rewarded for their achievement. 

Making this transition is easier than ever with the right WFO platform. Monet Live is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that includes workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics and performance management. Call centers will start improving service levels and reducing center costs without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution

Find out how one Monet customer, Catalina Express, made life easier for its customers by reducing their wait times and boosting speed of answer by 25%


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Cloud Excellence Award

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We are very pleased to announce that Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud, has received the 2017 Cloud Computing Excellence Award from TMC. 

“Monet Software was the very first to offer a true multi-tenant cloud WFM solution. Today, we are the industry’s cloud leader, and we continue to enhance our suite with new technologies such as Monet WFM for Salesforce”, said Chuck Ciarlo, Monet CEO. “This award is the acknowledgment that Monet WFO makes a real difference for contact centers and help desks to deliver a better customer service experience while reducing operational costs."

While we have received many awards for our contact center solutions, this one is particularly gratifying, given the ever increasing importance of cloud computing at contact centers. 

Cloud computing arrived not a moment too soon, as the demands on data centers had already grown to near capacity with no sign of slowing down. In the pre-cloud era, adding something as basic as call recording required the installation of an onsite PBX system with a VoIP packet that recorded calls onto a separate onsite platform. With the cloud? Installation can be achieved with the click of a button. 

Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type. Large contact centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller call centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location. 

For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?

Monet WFO, Workforce Optimization in the Cloud is a complete suite for contact centers and help desks to automate workforce management, quality management and performance analytics. 

Read our whitepaper comparing costs and benefits of cloud, premise and hosted solutions

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How to Shorten Every Customer Call By One Minute

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What can you do in one minute? 

Cook Minute Rice? Play Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” on the piano?

At the contact center very few calls will be completed in less than one minute. But add the number of the calls received during one shift, and consider how much time reducing the length of each call by a minute could save. What could be done with all that extra time? 

It’s an achievable goal – here are some ideas on how to get there. 

1. Shorten Your Greeting

Does your script ask agents to start with something like “Hello, this is Bobby from ABC Industries. It is my pleasure to assist you today. How can I be of service?” Why not cut that down to “This is Bobby from ABC, how may I help you?” It’s just as courteous, and you’ve already trimmed a few seconds from handle time before the customer says anything. 

2. Agent Incentives

Offer a small reward to agents who improve their average call handle times. Just make certain that any increase in speed is not detrimental to customer service or bringing each call to a successful outcome. 

3. Information Access

Keep customer profiles up to date, and make sure agents have immediate access to caller information (especially anything already verified through IVR) and answers to questions, on well-organized displays. 

4. Call Recording

By recording and monitoring agent interactions with callers, it is much easier to identify areas where calls can be shortened. 

5. No Cell Phones

If an agent has access to his cell phone or social media during a shift, he or she will inevitably be distracted, and it may result in customers having to repeat themselves, which is both frustrating and time wasting. 

6. Skills-Based Call Routing

Use scheduling to create tiers of employees for specific types of calls based on skills. Try to make sure calls are routed by subject to agents with the skill set to handle them most efficiently. Leave the easier calls for new agents and those with less training on complex issues. 

A workforce optimization solution can also help shorten calls, by making it easier to monitor customer interactions through call recording. Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet Workforce Optimization in action



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Contact Center Service: Easy is Always Better

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Answering calls at a contact center is work – that’s why agents are paid to do it.

However, calling a contact center to place an order or settle a dispute should not feel like work. That’s why most contact centers try to make customer engagements as quick and easy as possible.

How well does your contact center succeed at this goal? Let’s look at three typical scenarios.

Product Information

At some contact centers this is the primary reason customers call. Is it easy for callers to get the information they need? Are your agents trained to answer questions, access part numbers and prices, and provide assistance without transferring the call or putting customers on hold to look something up?

Purchases and Payments

Today’s customers are used to the ease of buying stuff online. A few clicks of the mouse and items are dropped into a virtual shopping cart, credit card information is entered and shipping details are provided – sometimes all in less than a minute. When customers opt to handle such transactions over the phone, agents should be prepared to not just provide good service, but to also take advantage of upsell opportunities, as long as they do not significantly delay completion of the transaction.

Help and Support

Why isn’t my new computer working? Why can’t I access broadband on my new television? My car is making a funny noise – should I be concerned? Contact center agents must field a wide range of questions from customers that may already be upset at having to call in the first place. The last thing these customers want is to be put on hold multiple times, and to move through a chain of support personnel to find the right expert.

Here, a workforce optimization solution can help. It allows you to classify incoming calls by subject matter, and route them to the agent most qualified to handle them.

Easy is always better. What can you do at your call center to deliver this type of customer experience?

Take a free online demo of Monet’s workforce optimization solution

Find out how one Monet customer, Catalina Express, made life easier for its customers by reducing their wait times and boosting speed of answer by 25%



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New Legislation Would Require Call Centers to Identify Their Location to Customers: Is This a Good Idea?

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Over the past few decades there has been continuous ebb and flow in the movement toward locating call center resources outside the United States.

When the economy falters and companies have to cut back on resources, they are more likely to shift their call center operations to India or the Philippines. Do customers receive the same level of service? That’s another story. There are also privacy and security issues that should make a company CEO think twice before making this decision.

And now, as more call center jobs continue to move overseas despite improving economic numbers, Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania has introduced the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, a bill designed to limit this practice. The bill would require that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they’re speaking, and give them the right to request a transfer to a U.S. based call center.

In addition, the bill would also make U.S. companies that offshore call center jobs ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.

Thus far there appears to be some bipartisan support for the bill, but whether it ultimately passes in this heated political climate is anybody’s guess.

Is it a good idea? Ask any customer who has been frustrated by a difficult experience with an offshore call center, and they’ll tell you the bill can’t pass fast enough.

But for some call centers, passage would force some challenging economic decisions.

Welcoming Call Centers Home With Workforce Optimization

If the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act becomes law, it will likely motivate several companies to return their call center operations to the U.S. after years, perhaps even decades, of being away. 

And when they return, they may realize that the spreadsheets they used before are no longer sufficient for scheduling, or analyzing statistics on call volume. This rudimentary system has now been surpassed by workforce optimization (WFO) software. 

From tracking call history, adherence and performance, to call recording capabilities, WFO makes almost every aspect of the supervisor’s job more efficient. WFO addresses quality management and performance management as well, regardless of the size of the call center or the number of agents employed. 

Find out more about Monet’s Workforce Optimization solution


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The KPI Checklist, Part Two

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While every call center is different, it’s a safe bet that they share many common goals related to customer service. Managers rely on data, categorized into key performance indicators (KPIs) to address these service issues. 

Which are most important? The short answer is all of them. But different call centers excel at different things. So instead of selecting a top 5 or top 10 in this blog, we are going to provide a more wide-ranging selection of KPIs, to help managers pinpoint specific challenges at their call centers. 

Call Resolution

All calls do not have a happy ending. Call resolution measures the percentage in which the customer was able to achieve his or her objective (placing an order, getting a refund, having a question answered, etc.). The goal should always be First Call Resolution, measured alongside Repeat Calls to determine which types of issues are proving most difficult to handle – and/or which agents may need additional training to fix a problem. 

On-Hold Time

This one is pretty obvious – how long customers wait until greeted by an agent. By collecting data managers will be able to determine the average duration that would be considered acceptable waiting time. Keep in mind, however, that according to the advertising analytics company Marchex, 62% of callers will abandon a call if they’re not speaking to an agent after one minute. 

Call Arrival Rate

How many calls come in every day? Every week? These numbers will identify seasonal and business trends that will improve the accuracy of agent forecasting and scheduling. 

Transfer Rate

Few situations are more frustrating for a customer than explaining an issue to one agent, and then being transferred to a supervisor or other agency personnel, and having to do so a second time. While this may still qualify as a first-call resolution if questions are ultimately answered and the problem is solved, it should still be kept to a minimum whenever possible.

Blocked Calls

Blocked calls never even make it to a call center agent, because of insufficient network capabilities. Obviously, the only possible result becomes a frustrated customer. Are some blocked calls inevitable at peak times? Or can these calls be taken with better scheduling, expanded trunks or other corrective measures? 



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The KPI Checklist, Part One

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While every call center is different, it’s a safe bet that they share many common goals related to customer service. Managers rely on data, categorized into key performance indicators (KPIs) to address these service issues. 

Which are most important? The short answer is all of them. But different call centers excel at different things. So instead of selecting a top 5 or top 10 in this blog, we are going to provide a more wide-ranging selection of KPIs, to help managers pinpoint specific challenges at their call centers. 

Average Handle Time

This is the average duration of one transaction. To get a handle on handle time, workforce management makes it easier for managers to determine if they have enough agents available to efficiently serve call volume. Then, employ skills-based routing: An agent that is adept at settling customer disputes will be able to handle these types of calls more quickly than someone without those skills. Also, as certain customer inquiries are bound to come up repeatedly, train your agents to anticipate these questions and answer them before they can be asked.

Call Abandonment

This is the number of callers that hang up or end an online chat before first contact with an agent. The cause is almost always a long wait time. This KPI is closely tied to Active Waiting Calls, a reference to how many customers are ‘on hold.’ More accurate forecasts and schedules can help agents get to those callers faster, and reduce call abandonment. 

Peak Hour Traffic

When is your call center busiest? Identifying the peak times and hours of traffic will play a key role in agent scheduling. 

After Call Work Time

When a customer engagement ends, there is still work for the agent to do before taking the next call. This metric provides a time measurement for those practices, allowing managers to set reasonable limits. 

Sales per Agent

For call centers that primarily exist to take customer orders, this is a significant and surprisingly oft-overlooked metric. Why do some agents, reading from the same script as everyone else, close more sales? Managers should identify these top performers, and find out how they’re succeeding. Those techniques can then be disseminated to other agents who may be missing upsell opportunities. 

Customer Satisfaction

That’s what it’s all about. Call recording will provide some idea of how customers would assess their call center engagement, but quality monitoring can also play an important role in determining quality of service. Monet’s Quality Management tool helps managers to monitor customer interactions and consistently deliver great service and improve customer satisfaction with integrated quality scorecards, dashboards and reports.

We will take a closer look at more KPIs in our next blog.


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Benefits of the Cloud in a Natural Disaster

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The devastating images coming out of Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma have already moved Houston and Hurricane Harvey off the front page. The recovery process is still just beginning in both places, but there has also been a ripple effect to these natural disasters that will impact businesses and customers that are thousands of miles away.

These are the times when uploading data to a cloud is critical, and another reason why so many call centers are switching to the cloud for benefits such as workforce management, workforce optimization and analytics.

The cloud has always offered numerous advantages, among them flexibility, accessibility through any computer or device, cost savings, simplification of IT infrastructure and seamless integration with existing systems. But when a natural disaster strikes, and workplaces and equipment are damaged or destroyed, the cloud makes certain that no data is lost.

The data uploaded to a cloud resides in one or more data centers that are also protected by multiple security perimeters, including electronic surveillance, 24/7 security staff and multi-factor access to keep physical intruders away. Data is stored in multiple geographic regions to avoid compromise from a fire, flood or hurricane at one facility.

Network architecture is also protected with firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Systems and applications are frequently tested to confirm adherence to industry-standard security requirements. Cloud providers also verify their security controls through third-party certifications such as ISO 27001 or ISO 27002, standards recognized globally as the most comprehensive framework for establishing security best practices.

We wish the best to all those dealing with the aftermath of Harvey and Irma. And we hope that many of the companies you rely on for payment processing have their call centers and other operations in the cloud – as that will be one less part of your life you’ll have to rebuild from scratch.


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Monet WFO Live Receives Communication Award

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Just a few months after receiving an award as one of the industry’s most innovative call center solutions, we’re pleased to announce that Monet WFO Live has been named a Communications Solutions Product of the Year by TMC, the publisher of Cloud Computing magazine.

“Congratulations to Monet Software for being honored with this award,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Monet WFO Live is truly an innovative product and is amongst the best solutions brought to market that facilitates business-transforming voice, data and video communications. I look forward to continued excellence from Monet in 2018 and beyond.”

Those who have tried Monet WFO Live already know how it earned this reputation for excellence. It delivers a unified workforce optimization suite that transforms call center management from a reactive to a pro-active approach. Customers can create accurate forecasts, efficient schedules, record and monitor calls for quality, training and compliance purpose, and track cross-functional performance metrics, all with one integrated cloud-based platform.

It’s not surprising that a company that focuses on cloud computing would recognize the benefits of WFO Live. As with all of our cloud solutions WFO Live is more flexible and more scalable, there are no large upfront costs, customers pay only for what they need, and software upgrades are installed automatically as soon as they come available. 

Cloud solutions are also more reliable than hardware-based technology because of their built-in fail-safes and redundancies. When all of your equipment is in one place and something goes wrong, you are out of luck. With the decentralized nature of the cloud, even a power outage won’t shut you down.


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The Basics: Workforce Optimization Solutions

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Adding a workforce optimization solution to a call center environment can seem like a daunting task – so many options, so much to learn and adjust to. But with the right system, the transition will not take long and the ROI benefits will quickly be realized through improved efficiency, and possibly reductions in labor costs.

But which WFO system should you choose? 

Obviously we are partial to WFO Live, our award-winning software product. But as you peruse the market keep in mind that you are not buying just one solution – WFO should deliver a suite of automated services all designed to help your call center achieve its business goals and compliance requirements.

Those features should include:

• Workforce Management

• Call Recording

• Quality Management

• Screen Capture

• Performance Management

• Speech Analytics 

Workforce Management

Forecasting, scheduling, intra-day management and exception planning are all part of workforce management. Make sure the software allows for real-time adherence, so adjustments can be made quickly before they can impact service levels. 

Call Recording

A call recording solution is invaluable in agent training, coaching and troubleshooting and establishing best practices. It also helps to resolve transaction disputes and determine regulatory compliance. You’ll want to invest in a solution that archives and retrieves calls quickly for review.

Quality Management

The quality management process incorporates dashboards, scorecards, agent analytics, customized reports and key performance indicators, to improve service levels, optimize utilization of resources and enhance cost management.

Screen Capture

Screen capture adds video to the voice recording of an agent’s interactions, providing a visual record of how agents employ the technology at their disposal. This aids in agent training, and can help call center staff improve their performance in such key areas as first-call resolution.

Performance Management

By analyzing the scorecards and reports produced by workforce optimization software, call centers can become more proactive in their quest for improving customer service, rather than reacting to events that have already occurred.

Speech Analytics

Simply put, speech analytics takes call recording to the next level by digging deeper into the content of each call, identifying patterns and key words and phrases that can help to further refine customer service efforts and agent training opportunities. 

Find out more about Monet WFM Live

 

 

 


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Christmas in July? Start Preparing Now for Busy Holiday Calling Season

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Christmas in July gets bigger every year, as more retailers and companies take time out from another scorching summer to think about Santa and winter wonderlands. 

You might wish to consider a Christmas in July party at your call center. Have everyone wear their favorite reindeer sweater, serve some eggnog and sing a few holiday carols.

But here is one other way to mark the occasion that could pay significant dividends as the actual holiday gets closer – start planning now for the year-end rush. 

For many call centers, November and December are the busiest time of year. So July is a better time to be sure you are prepared to handle the oncoming tidal wave of customer orders, returns and questions. 

Too early? Perhaps. But the days have a way of going by faster than you might think – we can’t believe it’s July already! So why not start on your forecasting, which is easy to do with a workforce management solution. You can review the call patterns from last year’s holiday season, and those before, so you’ll know what to expect in the months ahead. Run simulations based on this data and review the results so they can be as fine-tuned as necessary. 

How is your agent stand-by list? It’s probably been more than six months since it has been updated. Start contacting those agents now to check their availability. Some might have other jobs and will not be available in a few months. And if you don’t have a stand-by list, start putting one together. 

How did the training sessions go on your holiday season hires last year? This is a good time to refine those efforts. If you’re handling this well, there’s a good chance that some of those temp agents are now engaged full-time with your call center. 

We don’t want to rush the season either – but some stores will be putting up their Christmas tree displays in less than two months. If they can get ready early, you can as well. 


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The Three “Musts” of a Call Center Customer Relationship

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Customer expectations have changed over the past decade. Business moves faster now, which is great, but it has also become more impersonal, which presents another set of potential challenges.

Call centers dedicated to improving customer service and customer retention understand that it all starts with creating a relationship. Here are three things that must happen for that to be successful.

1. You Must Make the Process Easy

Let’s face it – no one looks forward to calling a call center. Customers dread the recorded prompts and the minutes spent on hold, and having to provide their phone number or order number more than once. It is vital for call centers to make the process of speaking with an agent as efficient as possible, while also providing other options such as email and chat and social media.

2. You Must Strive to Create a Connection

Whatever means a customer uses to contact a business or a call center, there is an opportunity to make that customer feel valued. Whether that’s an expression of appreciation for their business at the end of a call, or a personalized response to a social media post, the objective is to build a relationship with that customer so they are more likely to return. Automated responses have their uses but won’t get you there alone.

3. You Must Collect Data From Every Customer Engagement

Through call recording, speech analytics and performance management, a contact center can learn a lot about a company’s customers – what they like, what they don’t like, what they want from the company that they’re not getting and what they hope will never change. 

Much of this analysis will be after-the-fact, which certainly still makes it valuable. What you learn today can pay dividends tomorrow. But sometimes a contact center can go one better – with real time analytics, it can identify a moment within an ongoing customer engagement in which action can be taken immediately to bring about a positive result. 

Such moment-driven data is already being generated by workforce optimization and speech analytics. Agents must then be trained to recognize these moments and proceed accordingly. 


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Three Inaccurate Views of the Call Center

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In general, what do people think of call centers? 

Maybe we shouldn’t use that kind of language. 

Within the industry we see the efforts that have been made to upgrade technology and improve the quality of service, but too often these are not recognized by customers and by other divisions of the business. Is this important? Yes – because false perceptions undermine the services call centers provide, and may even limit their ability to make a positive contribution to their company.

Here are three opinions that are still far too common – and why they are inaccurate. 

1. Call Centers Cost Money

Well, of course they do  – someone has to pay agent salaries and buy the software solutions like workforce management that allow them to fulfill their function. But the data they generate through that software, and other solutions such as speech analytics, can be used in a variety of ways to generate revenue for the company. 

Call centers boost customer loyalty. They provide direct customer feedback on which products and promotions succeed and which do not. They generate positive social media posts after a good experience that boosts brand reputation. 

2. They Will Soon Be Obsolete

Who uses phones anymore to contact a company? That’s so last century now that we have apps and websites and Facebook. 

Sounds good, but visit any call center and you’ll realize we’re nowhere near that point yet – and may never get there. According to a NewVoiceMedia survey, 59% of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone, and 75% believe it’s the most effective way of getting a response. 

Perceptions that call centers are on the way out may result in a company hesitating before investing in the technology resources that allow them to be successful. 

3. Cost-Per-Call is the Only Metric That Matters

For companies that view call centers as a necessary evil, the objective is to keep costs as low as possible. One way this is measured is in cost-per-call. It’s a number deserving of attention – but it’s not the most important metric anymore. The focus instead should be on customer satisfaction, and that sometimes takes a little more time and creativity to achieve. Besides, lowering cost-per-call the wrong way can result in lowering customers as well. 



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The Three Essentials of Workforce Optimization

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What makes workforce optimization such an effective call center solution is how all-encompassing it can be. 

There are so many moving parts that must be harnessed to deliver a favorable customer experience, but according to several industry analysts there are three that emerge as the most significant – the actual work that needs to be done at the call center, the people charged with that responsibility, and the processes put in place to help them achieve the goals of the business. 

Workforce optimization (WFO) helps with all three. 

The Work

Calls are received. In multi-channel environments so are emails and webchat requests and social media posts. Orders have to be filled, returns have to be processed, questions have to be answered. With the workforce management capabilities of WFO, accurate forecasts and schedules are generated so there are always enough agents ready to handle customer demand. 

The People

They make be working in the call center or from home. They all go through the same training but gradually develop specific skills that should be leveraged. They have different needs and preferences when it comes to shifts and schedules. And unfortunately, too many of them leave too soon, necessitating another round of recruiting, hiring and training. With WFO calls and other communications can be automatically routed to the personnel best suited to handle them. It provides flexibility to scheduling, making it easier to accommodate agent requests. And it provides the data agents need to make the job easier – which might induce them to stick around longer. 

The Process

What WFO provides here is visibility. No manager can be everywhere, particularly in a call center with 50 or more agents. Workforce optimization provides quality monitoring of customer interactions, and the ability to track and analyze how well processes are working through real-time alerts. It also provides more insight into every customer interaction through speech analytics.  

Monet's workforce optimization solution is cloud-based and delivered as a service, making it easy, fast and affordable to get started without the usual risk of software implementations. Find out more



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Don’t Be Scared of the Adherence Monster

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October means Halloween and Halloween means scary stuff. 

As you probably know, call centers can generate as many frightening situations as a haunted house, and they aren’t nearly as much fun. 

Do you begin to shiver at the very thought of customer service problems caused by adherence issues? 

Monet Software has a free webinar for that. It’s called “Fighting the Adherence Monster.” 

Like most monsters, this one can do a lot of damage, but it isn’t very smart. That’s why it is no match for the real-time adherence solutions available in Monet WFM Live. In this webinar, you’ll learn exactly how to use this solution to keep adherence issues at bay – it works even better than garlic does with vampires. 

Question: How much would you estimate a 25-agent call center could save just by improving staff adherence by 2%, and reducing shrinkage by 15 minutes per agent per day? 

The answer: more than $30,000. That’s a lot of candy corn. 

Considering how much money lack of adherence can cost your business, anything that can be done to get a handle on this deterrent to efficiency should be worth a look – especially if it takes just 45 minutes. That’s our webinar. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to find out how Monet Software can save you hours and hours of time lost to lapses in adherence. You’ll discover how WFM Live streamlines your scheduling goals and practices, and lets you keep a close, real-time watch on agent availability, holidays and breaks. 

“Fighting the Adherence Monster” can be accessed at your convenience here



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10 Tips for Reducing Average Handle Time

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Average handle time? Still important, we’re afraid. It’s a constant challenge but there are ways to cut it down while still providing the quality of customer service that your company and your customers expect. Try these tips and let us know if they work!

Skills-Based Routing

Agents that specialize in certain types of calls will almost always be able to handle them more quickly. 

Automated Processes

Made the switch from spreadsheets to workforce management? Then you’ve taken a significant step forward toward reducing AHT – now review any other manual processes and discuss whether they can be automated as well. 

Interview New Agent Candidates By Phone

One way to determine whether an agent can communicate efficiently is by interviewing them over the phone. You’ll find out how they respond to questions and unexpected situations, skills that contribute to AHT reduction. 

No Cold Transfers

If a call must be transferred, always make sure the customer’s relevant data is transferred as well, so the same questions won’t have to be asked a second time.

Prepare for the ‘Top 5’

Use WFM and agent feedback to determine the top five reasons customers call. Focus on a streamlined response to these in training and equip agents with the authority to address them. 

Anticipate Questions

Similar to the previous tip, the more agents can anticipate what the caller may ask, the faster those answers can be provided. 

Route Repeat Calls to the Same Agent

First call resolution is important as well, but when a customer has to call back, route his or her call to the agent that responded the last time. Familiarity with the situation should expedite the call. 

No Interruptions

This sounds counter-productive at first, as agents may want to get to their scripted procedure and move things along. But AHT benefits from listening as well, especially if the caller is not in a good mood. Interruptions will only make angry callers more irritated, and further decelerate the process. 

Put Agents in Charge

Not of everything, of course, or they’ll pay themselves a lot of bonuses. But give them as much authority as needed to solve customer issues, investigate problems, and provide a solution. Transferring calls, even without excessive hold time, is never good for AHT. 

Reward Top Performers

Give an agent a special prize for reaching the maximum number of accepted calls per shift – as long as they’re achieving this goal in a way that also provides courteous and attentive service. 



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One Formula for Calculating Call Center Service Levels

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A lot of us choose the careers we want based on one simple premise: whether or  not there is math involved. 

Unfortunately, math cannot be entirely avoided, even at jobs that seem to work more with words than numbers. 

Take the task of providing great service at a call center. You need an effective script, and agents that know how to relate to customers, and a workforce optimization system that deliver forecasts and schedules that keep the business running at optimal efficiency. 

But how can you prove that service is where it needs to be? Here is one system that may help. And yes, some math is involved. Sorry. 

First, you need to define the terms that will impact how service is assessed, starting with abandoned calls. Do you count the ones that hang up before an agent responds as a “call offered”? Or ignore them entirely since there was no opportunity offered to achieve a successful result? 

Next, select a service level objective, and the service level formula that works best for your business. There are several to choose from:  

Once you have your formula, select a time interval and clearly define exactly when a call starts (when the phone rings, or when the caller selects the IVR option that links them to a live agent, or after the recording opening message completes). Then, decide on a measurement interval (by hour, shift, day, etc.). 

An automated workforce optimization solution will be invaluable here, as it will gather the data necessary to calculate your service level. Analyze the data, review the results, and make appropriate adjustments in procedure or technology that could help you reach your service goals. Then start the process all over again. At least the second time, the math will be easier. 



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Helping Customers Receive Better Service

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Your goal is to deliver outstanding customer service any time, any day. But there are days and times when achieving that goal is easier.

Should you share that information with callers that ask? Or offer a few recommendations on the company website or Facebook page? Why not? By doing so you're not only lightening the workload at peak calling time, you're also improving the likelihood that every call receives the personal attention and positive experience it deserves.

Yes, the public is more demanding now. They want what they want when they want it. But not everyone is like that, and most will appreciate any help that you are willing to provide. 

Think of it this way - the next time you go to the DMV, would you like them to let you know the wait time could be three hours if you arrive at noon, but if you get there by 9am you will be in and out in an hour? Most people would be delighted to know the fastest way to resolve their solution.

How you do this, of course, depends on the calling patterns and hours of operation at your call center. For some business, a warning to avoid Mondays might be in order; but for call centers in the travel industry, Fridays might be busier as couples plan weekend getaways. 

If there is a day that is typically lighter in call volume, let customers know. If there's a time when calls are answered faster, let them know. The first hour of operation may work, unless you have an issue with late-arriving agents.

You might also consider explaining IVR options in advance and in more detail, so customers will know which options to use before the call. Also, let them know what information you'll likely need for them, so they won't have to start searching for it after the call is initiated.

Finally, offer other options for finding the information they need - make sure business hours are clearly posted on your website, and that you have a FAQ page that explains common solutions to common problems.      


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Are You Paying Attention to Your Customers?

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A lot of lip service is paid to listening to customers. But there is a difference between actual listening and just hearing what they have to say.

The best call centers focus all of their efforts on gaining insight into every customer on every call. Comments made even in passing can offer valuable insight into satisfaction with a product or service, and should influence business development and marketing. There is no such thing as a routine transaction.

Are you really and truly paying attention to your customers? Here are a few ways to find out.

"You again?"

If you are getting too many repeat calls from the same customers about the same issue, something isn't right. Either your agents are not able to resolve the issue, or there is a problem with a product that cannot be solved. Whatever the reason, this is a communication breakdown that must be corrected. When possible, provide agents with the information they need to deal with the issue. Or inform a brand manager about the situation so action can be taken at that level.

"We don't have that service available"

Why not? If callers are repeatedly inquiring about something they want that you don't have, look into whether it's possible to provide it. Especially if it's a product or service already provided by other companies in your industry.

"Tell us how we're doing"

The fastest and easiest way to find out what customers want is simply to ask them. Sometimes it can be tempting to let analytics do the work for you - and with the right system in place you will certainly collect valuable, relevant data. But there's also nothing wrong with the direct approach. Ask for feedback, and incorporate that feedback into the entire organization, not just the call center.


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Call Center Don'ts: Live Agent Coaching

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For contact centers that have yet to install the type of advanced software that provides real-time insight into agent activity, the only viable option for coaching is to do so during live customer calls.

However, this method presents a number of challenges for both the agent and the coach. The most obvious is the necessity to communicate information to the agent while the agent is speaking with a customer. This is achieved through "call whispering," which is exactly what it sounds like.

Call whispering puts the agent in the unfortunate position of listening to a customer and his supervisor at the same time. Even experienced agents may find this difficult. For new agents, it is next to impossible, and often leads to distracted agents and frustrated customers. 

Call whispering also makes it impossible for agents to communicate with a supervisor during a coaching session. During these one-sided conversations, an agent may wish to ask a question or seek clarification on a point raised by the supervisor, but there is no way to do so without putting the customer on hold. Such feedback must be saved until after the call - and by then it might be too late to deliver the type of service that customer deserved.

Another limitation of live coaching is the inadequate sample sizes it generates to accurately assess how an agent is performing. The supervisor is present for a few calls but has no way of knowing how that agent is performing during the rest of his or her shift. Many critical coaching opportunities are missed as a result.

Fortunately, there is a better way. An advanced workforce optimization solution provides greater visibility and insight into agent performance, and records calls that can be reviewed later during more substantive coaching sessions. It can also provide a means for two-way communication between agent and supervisor in a way that is not as distracting, so the agent can stay focused on the customer.

Find out more about the benefits of workforce optimization


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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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