On May, 7 2021
The role of a workforce management professional can be challenging. Your team is relying on your skills and knowledge to make the correct calls to ensure that the right number of agents are staffed at all times. Too few and it’s a bad customer experience with a fatigued staff. Too many and the cost of running a contact center becomes unnecessarily high. That’s why a workforce management (WFM) analyst within the contact center is one of the most return on investment (ROI) focused members of the team.
Especially if your team and WFM analyst are new to measuring ROI, it’s time to address the frequent issues affecting staffing in the contact center. No methodology is perfect, but here are a few things to consider for fixing the most common workforce management contact center staffing challenges.
“My staffing forecasts aren’t accurate enough.”
Are you leveraging a WFM software solution with sophisticated historical information? If not, you should be. A good forecast is based off looking at the past to better predict the future. For example, if a WFM analyst can’t get staffing right on Mondays, the most likely way they will be able fix this problem is to seek out information from previous weeks and months to evaluate exactly what went wrong. This could potentially be an all-day project, but it turns into a minor task with WFM software where forecasts are automatically created from historic data.
“We can’t adjust quickly if our staffing needs change.”
This challenge is directly related to intraday management and is really an area where modern WFM software truly shines. Within this software is the capability to create and implement automated schedule adjustment plans (ASAP). This solution enables contact centers to quickly staff up and down based on their volume without needing to start from scratch with a new strategy every time. Are you seeing a spike in chat volume? Load up a plan and request additional agents. Having a strong intraday management solution in place helps to ease the pain in other areas of your contact center is beneficial. This is especially true if mastering the proactive staffing components of scheduling and forecasting is going to take some time.
“We spend a lot of time communicating with agents about shifts.”
This agent has an emergency and can’t make their shift today. That agent needs a week off next month. These two agents want to swap shifts tomorrow. Help!
There are still a lot of contact centers that haven’t moved to an automated solution for communicating about shifts and are still exchanging emails with agents to finalize schedules. An email-based approach is a dated and challenging model for a WFM analyst to work with. Instead, unify communication with WFM software that has a mobile app and agent portal built in. With this technology, agents can see their schedule from anywhere, accept or decline shifts triggered via ASAP, request vacation time on the fly, and so much more. The days of relying on email for agent communication are a thing of the past, and some contact centers have automated agent responses as well so they know immediately via WFM software if an agent accepts a shift opening.
“Our policies to encourage agent adherence and productivity are not effective.”
Scheduling an agent for a shift is one thing, but getting them to show up on time and stay on task is often an entirely different challenge. And, what makes it even more difficult, is that this an area where a WFM analyst may not have the most control because there is usually a contact center supervisor involved as well. To fix poor agent attendance and productivity, it’s time to take adherence data and make it available to everyone. Let agents view their own adherence information through the agent portal and mobile app so they can hold themselves accountable when something happens, such as returning late from lunch. Take the “I didn’t know” response out of an agent’s vocabulary as much as possible to improve productivity.
Hopefully these fixes to the most common workforce management contact center staffing challenges were helpful. To summarize, it’s all about leveraging sophisticated technology to improve both the role of a WFM analyst and an agent within your contact center. With so many WFM process now being automated, having the right technology in place is a game changer for addressing these frequently occurring issues.