The Capabilities and Cost Saving Benefits of Workforce Management Software

Every year, the website Software Advice conducts a poll of contact center software personnel, seeking information on industry trends and product preferences. The 2014 results revealed that nearly half of all businesses surveyed – 46% – are buying contact center software for the first time this year. Whether that number is being impacted by the rise in popularity and acceptance of cloud-based software, or the increase in small businesses choosing to handle their call center needs in-house, it’s a positive sign for both agents and customers that these companies will soon be reaping the benefits of an automated software solution, particularly in the area of workforce management (WFM).

However, many small and midsized contact centers are still attempting to get by without the capabilities, conveniences and cost saving benefits that WFM provides. Yes, it is possible to do so; but it requires that managers and supervisors confront daily challenges that could be streamlined or avoided altogether with software that is readily available, affordable, and easy to implement and employ. A closer look at some of these challenges reveals the remarkable distinction workforce management software makes in everyday contact center operations. Here are just some of the advantages it provides.

1. Visibility in Schedule Adherence

Without WFMVisibility is extremely limited. At times, it may be nonexistent.With WFMManagers access real-time adherence on a dashboard that compares planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators. WFM systems can be customized to track overuse of ACW, lunches, breaks, or other non-productive or limited statuses. At one glance, the manager can see the exact status of each agent in real time against the planned activity.

2. Shuffling of Breaks, Lunches and Non-Call Activities

Without WFMThese adjustments have to be made manually, which is more time-consuming and less efficient.With WFMRoster assignment functionality handles these adjustments automatically, based on the business need in the forecast, the schedules produced using the guidelines the shift profiles provide, and the most significant guidepost, employee availability.

3. Shift Change Communication

Without WFMEven a minor shift change, such as adjusting a break by 15 minutes, must be manually communicated to agents. Doing so, through such means as editing an Excel file and posting it on a bulletin board, provides no assurance that these changes will be noticed in time. With WFMWhether it’s a supervisor requesting a schedule change for an agent, or a schedule change request submitted by an agent, WFM will immediately alert supervisors, workforce planners and all appropriate personnel, so the request can be reviewed and then approved or declined.  If approved, the change is immediately reflected in the schedule. Agents are notified of approvals or denials and the request is kept for future reporting.

4. Scheduling Agents in Sufficient Numbers in a Multi-Skilled Environment

Without WFMThese calculations can be very difficult when attempted manually. With WFMA workforce management solution, such as the one provided by Monet, employs skill teams (skill sets, or skill groups) based on each agent’s capabilities to handle certain skills/queues/competencies.  This allows the forecast process to select the best skills combinations for either blank shifts to be filled later, or to place existing agents.

5. Creating Multiple Versions of a Forecasting, Scheduling or Roster Period to Explore Preferable Options

Without WFMManagers find it helpful to create “what if” scenarios to plan ahead for higher or lower call volumes, higher or lower handle times, different service level targets, different abandonment tolerances, and different shift possibilities. But creating different employee settings and templates takes a long time to complete manually. With WFMThe most critical and useful step in the workforce management process is forecasting. With WFM it is easier to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data. Monet’s WFM solution analyzes work history data that has been entered or received through ACD and PBX systems.  It calculates a forecast for future call volume, average handling time, and agent requirements for each 15-minute period of the day based on service level objectives. The forecast can then be used to convert the anticipated call volume into the number of agents required for each time interval to meet service objectives.

Additional Benefits

In addition to those previously described, an automated WFM solution provides even more dividends, especially when delivered via the cloud, a method that significantly reduces upfront costs.

  • Employee motivation and empowerment: when agents have more say in their scheduling, and are provided with the flexibility to accommodate their needs, they will be more likely to remain with the contact center.
  • Greater accountability: Both agents and supervisors are monitored more closely, making it easier to discover issues and correct them.
  • Comprehensive reporting: The more accurate, real-time reports that are generated on workforce activity, the easier it is to make faster and better decisions.

Conclusion

While the economy is steadily improving according to most measurements, companies are still taking a very cautious approach when it comes to new investment. That is one reason why some contact centers have hesitated when it comes to workforce management (WFM) software. However, making the case for this purchase should not be difficult given the inherent benefits derived from its installation, not the least of which is a boost in efficiency that will have a positive impact on the yearly budget. Workforce management software is used instead of spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling. These critical tasks can now be performed more quickly and more accurately, with data that is automatically collected and organized, rather than having to be entered manually. With WFM, costly instances of overstaffing and understaffing are reduced, schedule adherence is improved, and more flexible scheduling is possible. This benefits agents, and provides an incentive to stay with a job that takes their needs into consideration. For more information, please watch any of these workforce management videos.

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