Forecasts are never 100%, but real-time call center data analysis helps fill the gaps.

As we discussed here, contact center leaders spend significant time and energy creating detailed workforce management forecasts. In many cases, initial call center forecasts are made for the year and adjusted quarterly, monthly, and then weekly or daily as shifts are scheduled.

These are essential tasks. After all, bottom-line success demands that call center managers schedule the correct number of agents for each shift. Plan for too few and service levels degrade as agents become overwhelmed. Schedule too many and labor efficiency suffers along with the company’s profitability.

Forecasting can often feel like a no-win situation, but a powerful workforce management system (WFM) can enhance accuracy and flexibility to match agent scheduling with that ever-frustrating thing, reality.

Leveraging Historical Data

Call center workforce management software solutions are returning far greater forecasting accuracy than ever before. Innovative software gathers call history from the automatic call distributor (ACD) and customer data from any integrated customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as Salesforce. This enables managers to view workforce metrics over time to guide their scheduling efforts.

With a high-performance WFM system, call center managers can track average handle times, shrinkage, and other call center metrics throughout the year. Detailed analytics help determine how these factors change based on seasonality, time of day, new product introductions, marketing activity, training needs, and so on. 

Agents’ ability to handle different contact types and combinations can also be evaluated. 

The resulting information then serves as a baseline from which to forecast staffing needs in granular detail.

Adapting to Change in Real Time

WFM software has made call center forecasting on spreadsheets a thing of the past. But relying on historical data alone means contact center managers are only responding to yesterday’s news.

Reality has a way of defying expectations, especially in the rapidly evolving world of omnichannel communications. For example, last month’s customers may have shied away from chat only to embrace that channel with enthusiasm today. The contact center has no choice but to adapt.

This is where real-time data analysis and intraday shift management come into play. First of all, these capabilities within WFM software enable contact center managers to maximize adherence, because exerting all that effort making schedules is a total waste if no one actually follows them.

But real-time management is also about changing the schedule on the fly. If an agent becomes ill and must leave halfway through the shift, program leaders can adjust assignments to minimize the impact on service levels. 

If the lunchtime call rush lasts longer than usual, breaks can be backed up to ensure agents aren’t taken from their stations when they are needed most. 

And if email accounts are overflowing, additional agent time can be devoted to answering those inquiries.

Intuitive, visual scheduling capabilities in WFM software make it easy to implement adjustments as change occurs, and the powerful back-end processing continually optimizes the agent assignments by timing and skill set. The end result is an omnichannel-capable call center fluid enough to respond to customers’ rapidly evolving needs.

Bringing Forecasting Full Circle

The ability to adjust schedules on the fly should never prevent contact center leaders from attending to their workforce forecasting accuracy. To the contrary, using WFM software to evaluate the changes made necessary by forecasting inaccuracies is key to meeting service levels and exceeding customer expectations.

Just like compiling initial call center forecasts, assessing forecasting accuracy should take into account a full range of workforce metrics and variables. 

Evaluate service levels and times during the shift where the organization fell short and explore possible solutions. 

Look at average handle times, including when and why they increased. 

And consider unexpected business demands and process changes to enable better forecasts for the next marketing blitz or pre-holiday season training.

Performing such analysis will ensure the scenarios on which the next shift and the next annual forecast are built pull from the most recent and detailed information. Also, driving continual forecasting improvement will bring the contact center one step closer to achieving the impossible—a perfect shift where everything unfolds exactly as planned.

It’s all a matter of call center metrics. Are you monitoring the right information about your performance to drive the ROI you envision? Find out with our free white paper Workforce Management Metrics: Unlock the Secrets to Growing Your Bottom Line. Download it today.

 

Speech Analytics has been common practice at larger call centers for years. But more recently, top-tier quality monitoring software has become more affordable and accessible to smaller/midsize businesses. Many of these call centers are now incorporating this practice into its quality monitoring strategy for improved customer experience and satisfaction.

Sometimes called audio mining, speech analytics refers to the analysis of information from recorded customer phone calls. It is a more in-depth procedure that merely reviewing calls and categorizing them by outcome; it provides insight into why customers are calling, and how their needs can be better serviced.

The practice often begins with keyword spotting, which focuses on the identification of specific words, phrases and topics throughout each call, and how often these terms appear over a given shift, day or week. These keywords could be as simple as the name of a new product, or spotlight a recurring issue with recent orders.

The keyword spotting process can be simplified through software that converts agent-customer conversations into phonetic representations or into text files, so they can be reviewed without having to listen to each call.

However, it is not wise to rely only on text files, as these will not provide insight into the behavior and emotions of the caller and the call center employee. Reviewing the actual audio will identify agent and customer behaviors that need to be modified, and reveal when and why certain calls become more emotional.

By combining keyword spotting with a review of how customers and agents speak with each other, speech analytics can deliver valuable data to pro-actively solve issues before they can impact the company.

If you would like to learn more about Speech Analytics and how your call center customer service can improve from it, please contact us.

It’s expensive running a COST Center. But it’s possible to convert your business back into a quality call center by cutting costs that don’t impact customer service.

How? Here are a few tips to reduce call center expenses:

Ditch the Spreadsheets

When spreadsheets are replaced by a workforce management solution, a cost savings will immediately result from improved schedule adherence and optimization of daily agent rituals like breaks and lunches. Savings? As much as 10-20%.

Speech Analytics

Speech analytics delivers better marketing intelligence in other areas at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. It also recognizes trends in what customers are asking about – that could influence new product development or changes to existing products and ultimately boost sales.

Switch to the Cloud

No upfront investment for hardware and software is required for workforce management or workforce optimization in the cloud. Instead, call centers pay a monthly subscription fee that, in many cases, will also cover training, support, maintenance and upgrades. Operating costs are lower as well, as there is no need for backups or hardware replacement.

Verint Monet has created a more detailed explanation of how to save money through workforce management in the cloud. The numbers don’t lie – here you’ll find a formula that will let you calculate the specific cost savings that can be achieved when WFM makes schedules more efficient, automates the forecasting and scheduling process, and reduces shrinkage.

Learn how to calculate ROI for call center workforce management – it may be the first step toward converting your COST Center back to an efficient call center.

In previous blogs we have discussed how call center speech analytics makes it easier for contact centers to route calls to the agents best suited to handle them, based on the nature of the customer’s inquiry. Some agents are better at dealing with returns, for instance, or explaining how a product works, or leveraging an upsell opportunity.

But there is another benefit to speech analytics that can also improve customer engagements, and that is to match calls to agents based on personality.

We all have different traits as people and usually we gravitate toward others who share those traits. This works in business as well. People who are more quiet and contemplative are not going to be as receptive to a loud, aggressive salesperson. Such traits are obvious in a retail environment, but over the phone finding the right match requires the type of insight that only speech analytics can provide.

Before we even get to that step, however, you need to know what types of personalities you have available to you on each agent shift. Hopefully, a good mix will occur naturally – some will be more outgoing and friendly; others will be more reserved and “all-business.” You don’t want to have too many gradations here – start with simple introvert and extrovert classifications.

Now you’ll need to route calls appropriately based on the customer’s personality. With call recording you can review past engagements and gather enough insight into each customer to place them in one of these behavioral categories. Then, the next time he or she calls, you’ll know which agents have a better chance of making them happy.

Why is personality-based call routing important? The improved likelihood of a rapport between agent and customer may result in faster calls, high call resolution and more sales.

Want to learn more? Watch an online workforce management software demo

Many organizations have told us about the difference that Verint Monet Speech Analytics has made in the efficiency of their contact centers, and how many customer relationships have been improved or saved by the rapid response to real-time situations that it makes possible.

If you haven’t considered adding speech analytics software to your call center intelligence tools, here are just a few ways it can enhance the experience you provide your customers.

By transforming voice data from customer interactions into business intelligence, you now have the capability to improve:

Call recording is still important, of course. But speech analytics turbo-charges the value that can be attained from these calls. The software automatically processes and identifies important keywords and phrases, allowing you to quickly find calls related to specific issues and challenges. It also provides automated alerts when a new relevant call is received.

Whether you are seeking to lower customer complaint rates or address compliance issues, speech analytics software helps you to find the interactions you need, so you can spend less time searching and more time solving the problem.

Find out more about Verint Monet Call Center Speech Analytics.

In several previous blogs we’ve listed some of the ways in which speech analytics could improve customer service at your contact center. We’ll link a couple of those at the end of this piece in case you missed them.

But before you take a look, here are some additional benefits of contact center analytics. Isn’t it time you started taking advantage of them?

1. Anticipating (and Eliminating) Follow-Up Calls

How many times have you purchased something that worked fine, but there was still some confusion over one of its functions, or how to complete some task, that necessitated a follow-up call with the manufacturer? Call center speech analytics software will track patterns where such questions come up frequently, so it’s possible for agents to provide information about this issue at the time of purchase. That reduces call volume while helping customers avoid the frustration of having to contact you again.

2. Keeping Up With Competitors

“You know, Cheapo Electronics has the same product you’re offering for $20 less.” Call center speech analytics software captures these comments, so they can be passed on to marketing and sales teams. Thus, if you’re losing business to a competitor, you can react with your own discount and keep those customers.

3. Cutting Through the Clutter

There’s a problem somewhere – a disconnect in how your agents are handling calls that is having a negative effect on customer service – but it is difficult to pinpoint the specific issue with so many variables. A call center speech analytics software solution is able to sift through thousands of calls based on a wide range of parameters, from call duration and repeat calls to the use of specific words in conversations. With this data, it may be easier to find the reason for the disconnect ¬– and get rid of it.

4. Finding Stress in Speech Patterns

Many of us tend to talk faster when we’re upset. And while you might think angry people usually talk louder, there are some that express their frustration in low, even tones, as if they’re trying to keep a lid on their emotions. Speech analytics can help managers interpret the amount of stress in customer voices, so that information is delivered to agents who can then respond accordingly.

5. Reducing Reliance on Surveys

Today, your customers are inundated with unwanted phone calls and emails asking them to “participate in a short survey.” This will inevitably lead to more people ignoring these requests, which is not good for your marketing analysis efforts. But call center speech analytics software can pick up the slack, by delivering that insight into customer attitudes without agents having to ask for it.

Looking for more reasons to add speech analytics to your contact center? Check out these blogs:

Speech Analytics: Without It, Here’s What You’re Missing

The Ascent of Analytics at Call Centers

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