On Jan, 15 2021
Another new year, another holiday season in the books. For many workforce management (WFM) professionals who traditionally work in the contact center, it's likely that most of you were dealing with a lot of remote work and some long hours. And, hopefully your contact volume forecasts were accurate enough to get by. But, now that the holidays are in the past, it’s time to look forward.
At the end of each holiday season is a good time to reflect on your current WFM strategies and initiatives. You may have made some last-minute tweaks to the way you work, but there were probably some bigger (and more important) changes you wish would have been made before the holidays began.
Well, with a new year comes a new way of thinking about what your WFM solutions will look like for the next holiday season! Here are five strategies to consider now (not in October) to set you up for success next season.
1) Revise and reprioritize your WFM reporting – Now that you have a moment to breathe, it’s time to take a closer look back at the results of your holiday WFM reporting and reassess the data. What metrics did you rely on and which ones didn’t have much value? And, more importantly, what information did you wish was available? Now is the time to restructure reporting for the holidays, taking the next few months to iron out the kinks and to ensure the data you acquire will be accurate and actionable.
2) Evaluate intraday management performance (and how to improve it) – During the holidays, a WFM analyst is often concerned more with getting the job done and less about how it gets completed. The first quarter of the year is the perfect time to take a step back and prioritize the “how” when it comes to intraday management. Take a moment and write down some of the biggest intraday challenges over the recent holiday season. Here are some examples.
— Shifting schedules in bulk took a long time.
— Agent communication was fragmented and difficult.
— Staffing up or down became an overly complex process.
Once you have your list, see how many items can be remedied by implementing a WFM software solution with Automated Schedule Adjustment Plans (ASAP). This type of technology can take a little while to get set up and onboarded (so waiting until Q4 may not be the best idea), but it can be a game changer for intraday management within a contact center.
3) Consider adding a mobile app into your WFM mix – If agent communication and staffing was a problem over the past couple months, deploying a WFM mobile app throughout your contact center may be the perfect solution for better results during the holidays. Simply put, a WFM app removes many of the communication barriers between agents and management within a contact center. Within the app, agents can check their schedule from anywhere, request PTO, respond to overtime requests, and much more. A WFM app can significantly increase efficiency and improve morale, especially with gig or temp employees during the holiday season who may not know your internal processes.
4) Assess your agent adherence with remote employees – With so many more contact centers shifting to remote work, the need for accurate agent adherence has never been more important for a WFM analyst. Sure, agents may have clocked in on time, but was management able to accurately monitor their productivity over the past holiday season? This is where a workforce management software solution with built-in adherence tracking can make a major impact. Technology that enables both agents and management to view their adherence, even from a mobile WFM app, improves the productivity of remote agents from the second it goes live.
5) Figure out what WFM processes you can automate for next time – Lastly, the concept of automation continues to grow within the contact center industry, and this year will be no different. Setting up the right automations for complex WFM concepts like scheduling and forecasting won’t happen overnight, but they can be exactly what your team needs to be more successful during the next holiday season. Automation can take what used to require hours of manual work and reduce the timeframe to mere minutes. For example, once properly configured, WFM software can automatically look at the performance of past schedules and create an accurate forecast in a few clicks. No more file hunting and tinkering with formulas in Excel.
Hopefully this list of longer-term WFM strategies will help to get you thinking about what can be done to improve for the next time the holidays come around. A mix of both long- and short-term WFM solutions are needed in conjunction with qualified and happy agents to make the fourth quarter a success for any contact center. All the best in the new year!