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Workforce Management Software: Not Just for Large Call Centers

May 12, 2010

If you run a small call center and you're thinking workforce management software is only for the big guys, you better think again.

Today's workforce management solutions are increasingly being offered via the software-as-a-service or "cloud" model of delivery, which means smaller companies can rapidly deploy the software and try it out for a period of time to see if it meets their needs. Once they discover the many advantages these Web-based systems have over spreadsheets and other manual systems for scheduling agents, most companies never go back.

The biggest advantage today's workforce management systems have over spreadsheets is their ability to integrate with the call center ACD and other systems such as email and Web chat services. Today's WFM systems automatically apply complex algorithms to call volume and other raw data to arrive at accurate forecasts for scheduling. Seeing as how balancing agent resources with call volume is the main way to hold down call center operating costs, it's no wonder that these solutions are seeing rapid adoption among organizations of all types and sizes.

But if you run a small call center, you're probably thinking "Do I really need WFM?" Chances are there are some bad situations that have already come up that you could have avoided, or handled differently, had you had this nifty software already in place.

As we all know, stuff happens - call center agents can't make it into work, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. Now, if you run a large call center with 500 or more agents, one missing agent probably won't have too much of an impact on service levels. But if you run a small center with, say, 20 agents, suddenly you have a 5 percent resource shortage - and that can be a serious problem.

Missing just this one agent can have a profound impact on call center performance - for example your ASA (Average Speed of Answer) may jump from 30 seconds to 60 seconds, meaning that customers are spending more time on hold, which in turn can negatively impact customer satisfaction.

With a workforce management system in place such as Monet Software's WFM Live, however, a small call center can more easily avoid, and react to, these situations. The system allows for rapid analysis of call volume compared to agent resources - so, for example, in the event call volume is somewhat lower than expected, and is forecasted to be low for the remainder of the shift, a call center manager could then make a more informed decision, based on call volume, and opt not to call in an additional or alternate agent. Conversely, call volume might be forecasted to be unusually heavy for the shift, in which case the manager will want to contact an alternate agent and have him come in ASAP.

Helping to facilitate fast and easy scheduling of agents in these instances is Monet Software's Monet Anywhere portal, a web-based tool that allows managers and agents access the schedule and make last-minute changes in the event an agent can't make it in. This powerful solution gives agents the freedom to swap or bid on shifts, sometimes without the need for manager approval. It also allows for fast notification in the event an agent can't make it in (very often it is more effective than leaving a voice message for the manager, who might not get the message until the shift has already started) - sending an alert to the manager's desktop the moment an agent types in a message that there is a conflict. The system can even suggest alternates, based on their availability, which can be determined ahead of time either by the agent or the supervisor.

Want to learn more about how hosted workforce management software can improve your small call center's operations? Then be sure to download Monet Software's workforce Management Success Kit. The Kit includes multiple white papers and documents explaining in detail the strategies call centers can use to hold down operating costs and boost customer satisfaction. To download this free, educational resource, click here.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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