Get the Most out of WFO/M

By Gary Audin

“Get the Most out of WFO/M”

The world is not static nor is your call center. Customer behavior changes. As customers age, they change their buying patterns. Customers expect better, faster service because other call centers are doing it. You need to ensure that your call centers workflow responds to these changes. When you change your workflow, your call center cannot remain the same. You need to make your workflow more efficient, keep your agents happy, and need to continually analyze the workflow to keep improving the call center operation.

Workforce Optimization

Workforce defined – The people engaged in or available for work in a particular company or industry such as the employees, staff, and personal of a contact center.

Optimization defined – Making the best or most effective use of a resource, such as contact center agents, to deliver satisfy customer experiences.

Workforce optimization defined – A business strategy that focuses on maximizing customer satisfaction and benefits with minimal operational costs. This is supported by applying integrated technologies, cross-functional processes, and shared goals and objectives.

Workforce optimization is delivered by providing key data on the performance of the workforce. This is the step in analyzing and managing the workforce and delivering operational efficiency. This will improve the customer experience while managing the costs of a contact center.

Effective Workforce Optimization (WFO)

Optimization planning and delivery is a process. To create effective optimization, you need to know what you have, what you can do, a way to measure the results, and methods to improve the optimization. The following measures are recommended:

  • Ensure the stakeholders, agents and management, are involved in the optimization process, decisions made, and buy-in changes and agree with the results and changes
  • Part of the optimization decisions will include scheduling solution. Assign specific tasks to specific individuals. Ensure they have the time to perform the tasks effectively.
  • Not all agents and managers are identical. Match the task assignments to those that are best suited to perform the tasks. One person may be better at chat and messaging than with voice conversations. This ensures that the job is performed by the proper human resource.
  • More and more compliance regulations are in force. Deploy the tools that drive the results for managing compliance. These will drive results while improving the overall visibility of different steps necessary for agent behavior.

Benefits of Workforce Optimization

I contacted Mok Bouaazzi, Executive Director at BBX Technologies to gain some insight into the benefits of Workforce Optimization (WFO) and how it can impact the customer, the agent, and the organization operating the contact center. His comments follow:

  • WFO reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and increases the Return on Investment (ROI) of the contact center.
  • WFO offers better integration with existing solutions. It works with integrated solutions for e-learning, performance measurements, and analysis. This benefits by streamlining performance management which then delivers improved customer experience which translates into customer loyalty and revenue.
  • Applying WFO can shorten the agent learning curve, puts the agent to work sooner, decrease training expenses, and reduce hardware costs and software applications.
  • WFO can produce statistics such as quality scores with a scoreboard. This provides both the agents and the managers with information on different aspects of the contact center operational efficiency.
  • WFO can improve labor productivity, increase workforce capacity, and deliver employee satisfaction.

Workforce Management

Workforce management (WFM) is the application of IT to business operations through the use of applications and services to analyze, evaluate, and optimize workforce systems. Some view WFM as part of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and as part of human resource management. At minimum, WFM is a tool for the contact center staff.

There are common components of WFM which can include:

  • Resources to manage payroll and benefits
  • Time and attendance recording keeping and reporting
  • Performance management such as key performance indicators (KPI)
  • Scheduling workloads and task assignment tools
  • Forecasting workloads and task assignments predictions
  • Recruiting and talent acquisitionAnalytics and the WorkforceReal-time reporting is essential for managing the day-to-day agent activities and performance. Historical reporting is also important to measure agents’ historical behavior relating to adherence, schedules, exceptions, and scoring. Managers are able to provide coaching and training to agents in order to increase their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and provide better customer service.Workforce analytics focuses on workforce metrics and optimization by analyzing parameters around a workforce and on improving and optimizing a workflow process. Workforce analytics includes data analysis tools and statistical methods to measure workforce performance. Workforce analytics complements person-to-person interaction and human input in business processes.
  • WFM tools help those responsible to make the informed and valuable decisions. The views of the workforce help determine what’s going on, and how actions can be optimized. The optimal strategies involve a combination of workforce management tools for analysis as well as active management. This management involves overall person-to-person interaction.

Examples of call center key performance indicators (KPIs) are:

  • Percentage of blocked calls
  • Average time the caller is in queue
  • Average caller abandonment rate
  • Service level (percentage of calls answered in a specified time)
  • How fast is the call answered
  • Average call hold time
  • Average after call work time
  • First call resolution success
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Occupancy rate (amount of time agents are occupied with a call and after call efforts)
  • Agent absenteeism
  • Agent turnover rate

Call center management should create a baseline of KPIs. KPIs should be measured before WFO/M efforts are undertaken. This provides metrics of the present operations to be compared to the KPIs after the optimizations have been applied. The KPIs should be measured frequently after the optimizations are implemented to observe whether or not the optimizations are producing the desired goals.

Selecting a WFO/M System

The components of a comprehensive Workforce Optimization and Management system should include:

  • Scheduling
  • Real-time Adherence
  • Adherence to Schedules
  • Agent KPI scoring
  • Multi-channel support
  • Forecasting
  • Historical Reporting & Analytics

Many studies have shown that 70% to 80% of call center expenses are related to personnel expenditures. This makes it essential to get the right number of agents in place every hour of the business day to maximize service levels and minimize cost. It is equally necessary to manage agents’ schedules, analyze their Key Performance Indicators (KPI), score their performance and forecast personnel and call loads in the call center. The WFO/M system can deliver productive agents and satisfied callers.