On Jun, 25 2021
Whether you’re new to a workforce management (WFM) role or have been working in the industry for a decade, there are a few specific issues that keep appearing within most contact centers. Here are four common workforce forecasting and scheduling problems with solutions on how to avoid or even fix them.
Problem #1: My forecasts seem logical and solid when they are created, but more often than not they fail to hit the mark.
Solution: Use accurate data from the past to generate more precise forecasts.
Commentary: This problem is on the list for a good reason. Accurate forecasting is at the foundation of any excellent WFM strategy. The key here is elevating your forecasting to the next level with relevant and applicable historical data. This may sound easy, but sometimes there can be challenges. For example, if research into past data indicates that the average handle time increases in January, you may be tempted to staff more agents. However, looking closely at the information you may discover that a snowstorm a few years ago limited the number of agents taking calls which skewed the data. This level of detail and accuracy is essential for precise WFM forecasting and requires having the right technology in place that makes it easier to dive a level or two deeper into the data.
Problem #2: Our agents are occasionally late or call out sick with no prior warning, citing confusion with the workforce scheduling system when this happens.
Solution: Deploy a mobile WFM app so agents can stay connected and know their schedules and the exact moment it changes.
Commentary: Arming your workforce with a mobile app was once a “like to have” and forward-thinking decision. It’s now become an expectation, with large companies such as Walmart leading the mobile app charge. An app in the pocket of every agent makes their latest schedule available to them at all times. The reason why mobile WFM apps have increased so much in popularity is because they solve so much more than just workforce scheduling problems. The app has become a solution for time-off management, internal communication, adherence monitoring, and much more.
Problem #3: We are seeing a rise in the number of agents who push back on their schedule and this frustration is increasing agent turnover.
Solution: Ensure agents are working the channels and times they prefer to boost satisfaction.
Commentary: Dictating a schedule to an agent every week has become a dated process. Instead, contact centers now have WFM software to assist with creating a schedule that satisfies the preferences of most agents preferences. For example, if you notice a specific agent has excellent adherence when they work email support, try to schedule them on this channel because it’s likely an indicator that they prefer email shifts. More contact centers are also leveraging shift bidding to allow agents to work a schedule that meets their lifestyle. The shift bidding process starts when a WFM analyst creates all the shifts for a week or month, then open up the bidding to agents. You can even prioritize the bidding to whatever criteria you desire. Seniority, high performers, or agents with excellent attendance are just a few categories contact centers utilize when it comes to deploying preferred shift bidding.
Problem #4: Intraday scheduling changes may fix an immediate issue, but they are creating an uneven agent distribution later in the day and week.
Solution: Leverage a WFM software solution that evaluates both the short- and long-term impact of intraday decisions.
Commentary: If chat volume spikes on a Tuesday morning, it can be tempting to adjust schedules and have a couple afternoon chat agents log on early for their shift. Their presence may decrease the contact volume immediately, but how does it impact their hours for the rest of the week? Sometimes a change like this can leave you with a decision to make on Friday. Do you pay an agent overtime as they have already hit their max hours because of schedule adjustments earlier in the week? Scenarios like this are a major reason why companies choose to leverage WFM software with advanced intraday management and scheduling capabilities. A WFM analyst can quickly staff up for that busy Tuesday morning while also instantly seeing the impact that the changes they make will have on the rest of the week. If the schedule adjustments will put an agent over their allocated hours for the week, the analyst can make additional tweaks to the greater schedule right away to prevent this. WFM software is a great solution for both fixing immediate scheduling problems and preventing future issues.
Hopefully this overview will help you avoid common WFM forecasting and scheduling problems in the future. The key theme connecting these problems is that the data you have is only as good as the ways you can share and analyze the information. Make the most of WFM technology to streamline operations in your contact center and create a more efficient workplace.