Due to the economic downturn, many companies have reduced staffing in their call centers. But at the same time, companies must do everything they can to meet current service levels and maintain customer satisfaction. As such, call center managers are seeking technology solutions that can help them get increased productivity out of their existing agents.
Enter today’s workforce management systems. These powerful software solutions, which are increasingly being offered via the software-as-a-service or cloud model, sport advanced analytics capabilities that enable call center managers to forecast, with a high degree of accuracy, how many agents will be needed for any given shift. This is critically important for holding down call center operating costs, as labor is the single biggest cost facing any call center. Schedule too many agents for a shift and you’ll have agents sitting around idly, doing nothing, waiting for calls to come in. Schedule not enough agents and call hold times will increase, eroding customer satisfaction.
With their advanced analytics capabilities – made possible through integration with the call center ACD – today’s workforce management solutions are rapidly replacing spreadsheets as the call center scheduling tool of choice.
Underscoring this trend is DMG Consulting’s 2010 Contact Center Workforce Management Market Report, which reveals that 2009 was one of the strongest growth years ever for the contact center workforce management sector, with the number of seats increasing dramatically for the second consecutive year, despite the economic recession.
According to the report, the workforce management software seat count grew by 30.3 percent in 2009 – a huge increase over 2008, when the number grew by 7.4 percent. DMG predicts that the workforce management market will continue to grow over the next three years -- by 8 percent in 2010 and by 10 percent in both 2011 and 2012.
“The recession has been kind to the contact center WFM market because when money is tight, organizations are forced to optimize the areas that account for the largest costs,” said Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, in a release. “In the contact center, that is the people.”
But as Fluss points out, even though the workforce management software market is poised for future growth, it does face some challenges. “Specifically, erlang-based (or modified erlang) forecasting algorithms, which are used by most WFM solutions to forecast call volumes, are proving inadequate. Their inability to produce accurate forecasts is costing companies money due to unnecessary overstaffing. This report serves as a call to action for current and new vendors: the industry needs a better, more accurate, mathematical approach to forecasting contact center interactions.”
The 2010 Contact Center Workforce Management Market Report offers market share analysis, projections and industry trends. It includes coverage of 32 contact center workforce management vendors with detailed reviews of the top eight leaders and contenders, including Aspect, Calabrio, Genesys (News - Alert), GMT, InVision Software, NICE/IEX, Pipkins and Verint Systems, Inc. Three additional companies, Bay Bridge Decision Technologies, Envision and Interactive Intelligence, are profiled at a high level.
The report offers analysis of multi-channel/blended solutions, Web-based solutions, hosted/SaaS (News - Alert) and managed service offerings, and small/mid-sized solutions, along with detailed pricing comparisons and ROI analysis for each delivery model.
It also includes a critical review of the erlang/modified erlang forecasting algorithms used by the majority of WFM vendors, and the cost to contact centers of continuing to work with sub-par forecasting tools.