Workforce Management Challenges and How to Solve Them
The contact center is a complex, fast-moving place. It often has a large workforce with various skills and operates long hours, making workforce management a challenge. If any one element falls away – agents calling in sick, for example – the entire process may break down. Spreadsheets were once the method of choice for workforce management, and creating these manually required a skilled, numbers-savvy manager. As the contact center becomes increasingly complex, however, manual processes become less feasible.
Forecasting expected call volume and creating schedules for agents are two of most important roles of workforce management. It’s tricky to get right: if you under-staff the center, customer satisfaction levels go down and agents become burned out. If you overstaff the center, agents will have too little to do, and you’ll be wasting money while workers sit idle.
Following is a list of some of the most common challenges to getting workforce management right. Workforce management software can help eliminate some of the most time-consuming tasks for managers while simultaneously increasing the accuracy of forecasts and the flexibility of schedules.
Inaccurate forecasts. While managers traditionally use historical data to create forecasts, there are other factors to consider (time of year, marketing activities and even weather). The more data points involved, the more infeasible manual calculations become.
Using workforce management software, managers can 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 from ACD and other contributing factors.
An inability to be multichannel. While calls may take up most of the workforce’s time, other contact media need to be factored into forecasts and schedules. Workforce management software solutions feature advanced scheduling engines capable of incorporating all call types and other activities such as email, Web chat and social media.
A lack of real-time exception planning. Let’s face it: the workforce can change in an instant. A worker may need to leave suddenly, or an unexpected spike in volume may consume more resources than expected. Workforce management solutions with intraday planning allow for real-time updates that can be made on-the-fly with changes sent to agents instantly. This feature, which is often a simple drag-and-drop process, can also display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
Limitations to physical premises. While your current methods of scheduling and forecasting may work well enough for agents on your physical premises, what about remote agents? The earliest iterations of workforce management software were limited to a single contact center, but today’s cloud-based solutions can accommodate other offices and home-based workers. Additionally, cloud-based solutions allow companies to scale up or down as needed for seasonal fluctuations.
Problems with adherence. Schedule adherence is critical to a well-run contact center, but manual methods don’t account for it. Adherence modules in workforce management software compare 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.
Contact center managers have a lot of demands on their time. By automating one of the most time-consuming processes of their job descriptions with workforce management solutions, managers become free to coach and train employees and pursue the contact center’s quality goals.
Edited by Alicia Young