As a long-time industry analyst focused on the contact center workforce optimization market, I have long questioned why small to medium-size (SMB) businesses do not get more love from the major WFO vendors.
Since 2007 Pelorus Associates has authored 19 comprehensive reports on WFO applications. Most of these included a recommendation that vendors expand their market reach to encompass small to medium businesses. From a business perspective, this seemed like a no-brainer.
- There are approximately 7.9 million business establishments in the U.S., and 99 percent of these have fewer than 250 employees. (U.S. Census Bureau)
- "Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy: they create two thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness.” (U.S. Small Business Administration)
- There are approximately 70,000 contact centers in the United States, and 88 percent of these have 150 or fewer agents. (Pelorus Associates)
- Smaller businesses have the same, if not greater, needs for WFO technology because superior customer care is their most important differentiator when up against competitors with greater financial resources and pricing power.
- Businesses that are small now may become very large later. Just think of the many e-commerce and social media companies that have grown from virtually nothing to multibillion-dollar giants in just the past 10 years.
- Smaller businesses have the same compliance requirements and liability exposures as big businesses.
There have been several fits and starts to address this market, but none have been notably successful. The many reasons include high initial cost, lack of in-house technical expertise, software over engineered and overpriced for this market, and—most importantly—absence of a distribution channel to sell and support potentially hundreds of thousands of organizations. The major players prefer to focus on companies which have hundreds and sometimes thousands of agents.
The good news is that Verint has a major focus on providing SMB solutions for the market. In 2019 Verint acquired Los Angeles-based Monet software. Monet produced WFM software designed and priced to migrate smaller contact centers from Excel spreadsheets to automated solutions. With Monet technology as the foundation, Verint has since developed an integrated suite of workforce engagement solutions specifically targeted to small and medium-size businesses.
Verint’s timing could not have been better. The U.S. and even global economies are in a state of upheaval due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the many consequences has been to drive business interactions from in-person retail to telephone and digital communications. Smaller businesses do not have enough staff to maintain acceptable service levels in the event of absences.
As well, employees often have multiple responsibilities. They may alternate from handling calls, to back office work, and then head off to the warehouse and operate a forklift. Manual scheduling is simply inadequate to assure effective deployment of resources and maintenance of adequate customer service levels in dynamic environments such as this.
They need WFM software, as well as interaction recording to assure quality and compliance and measurement tools for gauging customer attitudes about the company and its services. Most importantly, software needs to be flexible and extremely easy to use. Verint addresses these needs by wisely making their SMB solutions available on a subscription basis via the cloud.
This is a guest blog from Dick Bucci of Pelorus Associates