The idea of combining workforce management with police forces may not sound like a common combination, but in reality, it is actually working for law enforcement throughout the UK. In a recent Call Centre Helper report, contact centers and control rooms are turning to workforce management solutions to support law enforcement.
According to technology provider GMT Europe, nearly half of the 43 police forces in England and Wales currently own a workforce management (WFM) solution to support contact center or control room functions. At the same time, some of the tools that have been supplied are not actually being used to the benefit of the force. Those law enforcement divisions that do not actually own a dedicated WFM tool have been known to use a combination of legacy ‘duty management systems’(DMS) and spreadsheets to optimize the management of shift patterns within the contact center. The basic roster mechanism, however, can be time-consuming as shift rotations often have to be copied onto relevant spreadsheets before positions in the control room are manually assigned according to staff availability.
Such a process can often create a poor fit of schedules to workload. And, when too much focus is put on rotations and too little attention is paid to call demand and meeting staffing requirements to support expected service levels can be challenge. The resulting consequence is often overstaffing – which has become common in police contact centers.
While it can seem like all contact centers are alike – there really are differences depending upon the industry. For the police contact center, handlers often work outside of set parameters in order to conclude calls in a manner that is considered satisfactory. It is important to ensure callers are not left to deal with stressful, upsetting or potentially life-threatening situations on their own – for more important than schedule adherence.
Other challenges include higher call peaks and if an emergency event occurs, each incident can have its own call volume, distribution and handle time profile; call demand is often increases during the summer months; police contact centers must often support 24x7 operation, which can mean late changes to scheduling; and a number of police contact centers are unionized and must therefore be carefully managed.
Workforce management tools lend benefits to the police contact center as they help to identify and understand call demand and staffing requirements at the incremental level. They can also illustrate a gap between optimum schedules and current fixed working patterns; incorporate long-range planning tools; enable supervisors to manage shrink automatically; and provide the ability to access historical demand data.
No matter what the industry, the contact center is a dynamic entity and one that can benefit greatly from the implementation of workforce management solutions. For the police contact center, the benefits are most definitely measurable.