When we use the term “workforce optimization,” we don’t always stop to analyze why the word “optimization” is there. The point of workforce optimization, of course, is making the best possible use of your workforce at the highest efficiency rate you can attain. It’s a way of taking the resources you have and offering the best possible customer experience you can to your customer base.
It doesn’t mean you have to be all things to all people. Let’s face it, while your goal should be to offer the best possible customer experience, there are always going to be some channels out of your reach. If you’re a small business with an inexpensive product, for example, you’re not going to be able to offer 30-minute video Skype (News - Alert) sessions to a consumer who wants to be soothed and encouraged over his or her purchase. If you’re a company that sells primarily to seniors, fully staffing a social media contact channel may simply not make sense. This is why we “optimize”: we try to anticipate our customers’ needs and meet them. We don’t spend resources on building every possible thing that one in a thousand customers might want.
So if you’re a multichannel contact center, how do you engage in workforce optimization in a way that prepares you for your customers’ existing needs and not their theoretical ones? For starters, you need to know your customers, according to a recent article by Anna Byrne on the ICMI Web site.
“Optimizing is about leveraging what you are using to its maximum,” writes Byrne. “Like most aspects of a business the primary factor for consideration is the customer, the customer service channels should be dictated by an organization’s customers, not management. Adding the latest channel just because it’s trendy is not a good enough reason to disrupt your customer service department.”
The hard part, of course is, understanding what’s trendy and what’s really necessary. It’s tempting to write social media off as “trendy” if you don’t want to face the fact that you really should be supporting it. Likewise, it’s tempting to give short-shrift to voice calls because you think no one uses the telephone anymore simply because live phone support is expensive. Byrne recommends five steps to determining which channels you should be supporting: carry out customer service channel research and competitor analysis; research your customers’ preferences; ask your customers, don’t make assumptions; carry out surveys, focus groups and customer feedback; and finally, trial a test run with a sample and evaluate.
The fact that you may not need to support every channel shouldn’t be an “out” for you to ignore your customers’ needs. It should be a way to make the most of the resources you have and help you understand where you need to add more. That’s what “optimization” means.