Workforce Optimization

Optimize your contact center workforce through performance management and data analysis

managers-discussing-workforce-optimization.jpeg

Workforce Optimization

Optimize your contact center workforce through performance management and data analysis

managers-discussing-workforce-optimization.jpeg

Workforce Optimization

Optimize your contact center workforce through performance management and data analysis

managers-discussing-workforce-optimization.jpeg

Workforce Optimization

Optimize your contact center workforce through performance management and data analysis

managers-discussing-workforce-optimization.jpeg

Customer expectations are constantly on the rise. How can companies hope to meet these continually recalibrated demands? It would seem to the uninitiated that the only adequate response will involve vast amounts of expense.

This isn’t the case. Through the process of workforce optimization, a business can achieve the double win of ensuring a great customer experience while keeping a tight rein on expenditure.

There are several elements to this kind of optimization, and different nuances caused by the different needs inherent in different businesses. Let’s delve deeper into WFO, before seeing how it can make a difference for your business.

Skip ahead, if you like:

Customer expectations are constantly on the rise. How can companies hope to meet these continually recalibrated demands? It would seem to the uninitiated that the only adequate response will involve vast amounts of expense.

This isn’t the case. Through the process of workforce optimization, a business can achieve the double win of ensuring a great customer experience while keeping a tight rein on expenditure.

There are several elements to this kind of optimization, and different nuances caused by the different needs inherent in different businesses. Let’s delve deeper into WFO, before seeing how it can make a difference for your business.

Skip ahead, if you like:

Customer expectations are constantly on the rise. How can companies hope to meet these continually recalibrated demands? It would seem to the uninitiated that the only adequate response will involve vast amounts of expense.

This isn’t the case. Through the process of workforce optimization, a business can achieve the double win of ensuring a great customer experience while keeping a tight rein on expenditure.

There are several elements to this kind of optimization, and different nuances caused by the different needs inherent in different businesses. Let’s delve deeper into WFO, before seeing how it can make a difference for your business.

Skip ahead, if you like:

Customer expectations are constantly on the rise. How can companies hope to meet these continually recalibrated demands? It would seem to the uninitiated that the only adequate response will involve vast amounts of expense.

This isn’t the case. Through the process of workforce optimization, a business can achieve the double win of ensuring a great customer experience while keeping a tight rein on expenditure.

There are several elements to this kind of optimization, and different nuances caused by the different needs inherent in different businesses. Let’s delve deeper into WFO, before seeing how it can make a difference for your business.

Skip ahead, if you like:

What is workforce optimization (WFO)?

What is workforce optimization (WFO)?

What is workforce optimization (WFO)?

What is workforce optimization (WFO)?

optimizing-contact-center-workforce.jpeg

optimizing-contact-center-workforce.jpeg

optimizing-contact-center-workforce.jpeg

optimizing-contact-center-workforce.jpeg

Put very simply, it’s a way to increase productivity from your existing staffing levels. Data usage is key to this, as is a concerted effort by all aspects of the business to commit to optimization.

Another part of it relates to a streamlining of processes so that workflow and data management are at their best. One way of looking at workforce optimization solutions is that they form the mortar that holds a company’s structure together.

WFO has been used successfully primarily in contact centers, but it is also commonly applied in manufacturing and retail industries. Throughout these spheres of application, there has had to be cultural buy-in, as well as effective and relevant software utilized.

Elements of workforce optimization

Elements of workforce optimization

Elements of workforce optimization

Elements of workforce optimization

There are lots of aspects of WFO. You can, however, identify two principal elements:

  1. Quality management
  2. Workforce management

Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Quality management

It takes some serious quality management skills to get teams to perform tasks up to a high-quality standard. Thankfully, there are helpful tools available to assist in areas such as skills training, quality reviews, and performance analytics.

However, it’s not just about giving managers good performance data. It’s also about understanding the needs of your agents and giving them the tools to provide great service to the customer.

A good QM system should be able to analyze the performance of a team and create practices that give optimal results. There has to be enough time given to managers, staff, and any other stakeholders to learn from interactions, using the data that quality management software can produce.

Also, managers need to keep their agents feeling engaged in the process by encouraging them to give their own observations, not just on the agent-customer interaction but on the QM software itself. It may provide useful information for you, too. It’s always good to see things from another perspective. In organizational behavior, there’s nothing worse than trying to bring in a much-needed system in the face of an unhappy workforce.

Workforce management

A customer should be able to expect the same high-quality experience every time they contact a particular business. Delivering this consistency is what workforce management is all about.

A key way to ensure this is through good time management: making sure that agent shifts, time off, and office activities are accounted for. Attendance software is geared toward making this happen.

However, you have to be realistic. It’s a rare, and probably not altogether human, employee who can stick to their schedule 100% to the second. By the same token, targets for customer interaction numbers should allow for a degree of variability depending on the nature of the issue and the tendency of some to talk more than others.

Keep an eye on how staff cope with targets and talk to them about it too. A compliance recording practice is important, but having unrealistic goals will not do anything to increase employee productivity or improve customer experience.

How do you go about arriving at the correct schedules in the first place? Most of it is forecasting. Anyone who creates rotas for staff will know that it takes an element of looking ahead to do it well.

So, forecasting is a huge part of effective employee scheduling. You need to look at upcoming demand to properly budget for the correct staff levels. This is likely to be based on previous performance. WM software will look at this, as well as factoring in other elements such as upcoming public holidays and staff absences.

Finally, use your WFM software to keep reassessing staffing levels and schedules. Needs do change over time, after all. The same with your goals—reset them from time to time (at least quarterly) as it becomes apparent that a refresh is needed.

Before we move on, let’s just summarize the two main elements of WFO:

There are lots of aspects of WFO. You can, however, identify two principal elements:

  1. Quality management
  2. Workforce management

Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Quality management

It takes some serious quality management skills to get teams to perform tasks up to a high-quality standard. Thankfully, there are helpful tools available to assist in areas such as skills training, quality reviews, and performance analytics.

However, it’s not just about giving managers good performance data. It’s also about understanding the needs of your agents and giving them the tools to provide great service to the customer.

A good QM system should be able to analyze the performance of a team and create practices that give optimal results. There has to be enough time given to managers, staff, and any other stakeholders to learn from interactions, using the data that quality management software can produce.

Also, managers need to keep their agents feeling engaged in the process by encouraging them to give their own observations, not just on the agent-customer interaction but on the QM software itself. It may provide useful information for you, too. It’s always good to see things from another perspective. In organizational behavior, there’s nothing worse than trying to bring in a much-needed system in the face of an unhappy workforce.

Workforce management

A customer should be able to expect the same high-quality experience every time they contact a particular business. Delivering this consistency is what workforce management is all about.

A key way to ensure this is through good time management: making sure that agent shifts, time off, and office activities are accounted for. Attendance software is geared toward making this happen.

However, you have to be realistic. It’s a rare, and probably not altogether human, employee who can stick to their schedule 100% to the second. By the same token, targets for customer interaction numbers should allow for a degree of variability depending on the nature of the issue and the tendency of some to talk more than others.

Keep an eye on how staff cope with targets and talk to them about it too. A compliance recording practice is important, but having unrealistic goals will not do anything to increase employee productivity or improve customer experience.

How do you go about arriving at the correct schedules in the first place? Most of it is forecasting. Anyone who creates rotas for staff will know that it takes an element of looking ahead to do it well.

So, forecasting is a huge part of effective employee scheduling. You need to look at upcoming demand to properly budget for the correct staff levels. This is likely to be based on previous performance. WM software will look at this, as well as factoring in other elements such as upcoming public holidays and staff absences.

Finally, use your WFM software to keep reassessing staffing levels and schedules. Needs do change over time, after all. The same with your goals—reset them from time to time (at least quarterly) as it becomes apparent that a refresh is needed.

Before we move on, let’s just summarize the two main elements of WFO:

There are lots of aspects of WFO. You can, however, identify two principal elements:

  1. Quality management
  2. Workforce management

Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Quality management

It takes some serious quality management skills to get teams to perform tasks up to a high-quality standard. Thankfully, there are helpful tools available to assist in areas such as skills training, quality reviews, and performance analytics.

However, it’s not just about giving managers good performance data. It’s also about understanding the needs of your agents and giving them the tools to provide great service to the customer.

A good QM system should be able to analyze the performance of a team and create practices that give optimal results. There has to be enough time given to managers, staff, and any other stakeholders to learn from interactions, using the data that quality management software can produce.

Also, managers need to keep their agents feeling engaged in the process by encouraging them to give their own observations, not just on the agent-customer interaction but on the QM software itself. It may provide useful information for you, too. It’s always good to see things from another perspective. In organizational behavior, there’s nothing worse than trying to bring in a much-needed system in the face of an unhappy workforce.

Workforce management

A customer should be able to expect the same high-quality experience every time they contact a particular business. Delivering this consistency is what workforce management is all about.

A key way to ensure this is through good time management: making sure that agent shifts, time off, and office activities are accounted for. Attendance software is geared toward making this happen.

However, you have to be realistic. It’s a rare, and probably not altogether human, employee who can stick to their schedule 100% to the second. By the same token, targets for customer interaction numbers should allow for a degree of variability depending on the nature of the issue and the tendency of some to talk more than others.

Keep an eye on how staff cope with targets and talk to them about it too. A compliance recording practice is important, but having unrealistic goals will not do anything to increase employee productivity or improve customer experience.

How do you go about arriving at the correct schedules in the first place? Most of it is forecasting. Anyone who creates rotas for staff will know that it takes an element of looking ahead to do it well.

So, forecasting is a huge part of effective employee scheduling. You need to look at upcoming demand to properly budget for the correct staff levels. This is likely to be based on previous performance. WM software will look at this, as well as factoring in other elements such as upcoming public holidays and staff absences.

Finally, use your WFM software to keep reassessing staffing levels and schedules. Needs do change over time, after all. The same with your goals—reset them from time to time (at least quarterly) as it becomes apparent that a refresh is needed.

Before we move on, let’s just summarize the two main elements of WFO:

There are lots of aspects of WFO. You can, however, identify two principal elements:

  1. Quality management
  2. Workforce management

Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Quality management

It takes some serious quality management skills to get teams to perform tasks up to a high-quality standard. Thankfully, there are helpful tools available to assist in areas such as skills training, quality reviews, and performance analytics.

However, it’s not just about giving managers good performance data. It’s also about understanding the needs of your agents and giving them the tools to provide great service to the customer.

A good QM system should be able to analyze the performance of a team and create practices that give optimal results. There has to be enough time given to managers, staff, and any other stakeholders to learn from interactions, using the data that quality management software can produce.

Also, managers need to keep their agents feeling engaged in the process by encouraging them to give their own observations, not just on the agent-customer interaction but on the QM software itself. It may provide useful information for you, too. It’s always good to see things from another perspective. In organizational behavior, there’s nothing worse than trying to bring in a much-needed system in the face of an unhappy workforce.

Workforce management

A customer should be able to expect the same high-quality experience every time they contact a particular business. Delivering this consistency is what workforce management is all about.

A key way to ensure this is through good time management: making sure that agent shifts, time off, and office activities are accounted for. Attendance software is geared toward making this happen.

However, you have to be realistic. It’s a rare, and probably not altogether human, employee who can stick to their schedule 100% to the second. By the same token, targets for customer interaction numbers should allow for a degree of variability depending on the nature of the issue and the tendency of some to talk more than others.

Keep an eye on how staff cope with targets and talk to them about it too. A compliance recording practice is important, but having unrealistic goals will not do anything to increase employee productivity or improve customer experience.

How do you go about arriving at the correct schedules in the first place? Most of it is forecasting. Anyone who creates rotas for staff will know that it takes an element of looking ahead to do it well.

So, forecasting is a huge part of effective employee scheduling. You need to look at upcoming demand to properly budget for the correct staff levels. This is likely to be based on previous performance. WM software will look at this, as well as factoring in other elements such as upcoming public holidays and staff absences.

Finally, use your WFM software to keep reassessing staffing levels and schedules. Needs do change over time, after all. The same with your goals—reset them from time to time (at least quarterly) as it becomes apparent that a refresh is needed.

Before we move on, let’s just summarize the two main elements of WFO:

Quality ManagementWorkforce Management
The combined processes and efforts involved in ensuring the best possible service levels and CX.The processes and efforts undertaken to ensure optimal productivity of employees. This includes ensuring correct staffing levels and boosting employee engagement and efficiency.

Quality ManagementWorkforce Management
The combined processes and efforts involved in ensuring the best possible service levels and CX.The processes and efforts undertaken to ensure optimal productivity of employees. This includes ensuring correct staffing levels and boosting employee engagement and efficiency.

Quality ManagementWorkforce Management
The combined processes and efforts involved in ensuring the best possible service levels and CX.The processes and efforts undertaken to ensure optimal productivity of employees. This includes ensuring correct staffing levels and boosting employee engagement and efficiency.

Quality ManagementWorkforce Management
The combined processes and efforts involved in ensuring the best possible service levels and CX.The processes and efforts undertaken to ensure optimal productivity of employees. This includes ensuring correct staffing levels and boosting employee engagement and efficiency.

Customer interaction analytics tools

Customer interaction analytics tools

Customer interaction analytics tools

Customer interaction analytics tools

contact-center-analytics-for-workforce-optimization.png

contact-center-analytics-for-workforce-optimization.png

contact-center-analytics-for-workforce-optimization.png

contact-center-analytics-for-workforce-optimization.png

The customer experience is, of course, what most operations are striving to improve when considering workforce optimization.

This is where enormous inroads are being made, through a number of innovations. Here’s just a selection of areas where modern analytics is helping boost WFO and CX:

  • Speech analytics
  • Text analytics
  • Predictive analytics

Let’s dig a little deeper:

Speech analytics

The traditional way to assess an agent’s performance was call recording and analysis. This was somewhat limiting, in that problems were not flagged up in the first place, so managers had to conduct random audits to monitor performance.

Now, speech analytics monitors for problematic interactions and allows team leaders to identify concerns between agents and customers.

How does this work? The tech transcribes speech to text and then combs through the exchange to look for triggers, such as specific words and phrases as well as sentiment, tone, and silence lengths that indicate possible issues with the CX and the mindset of either the customer or the staff member.

It’s not just used to detect problems. It can also identify trends and the words and phrases associated with a buyer looking to upscale their interest. Later on, we’ll see how this can work to an organization’s advantage when we look at how contact centers can use customer analytics.

Text analytics

As more interactions are taking place via text (email, live chat, SMS, etc.), it’s growing more important for organizations to be omnichannel. This means having performance analytics that are able to deal with social channels, chat, and messaging traffic.

Having a text analytics dimension affords management a truly all-encompassing view of the operation’s customer interactions.

Predictive analytics for future customer experience

This is all about learning from the analytics already conducted in order to improve the CX going forward. Call recordings and surveys giving the voice of the customer are combined with speech and text analytics to deliver models of future customer engagement and staff behavior. This can help the company with agent selection, training, and, ultimately, CX.

Benefits of workforce optimization

Benefits of workforce optimization

Benefits of workforce optimization

Benefits of workforce optimization

We’ve touched on some of these already, but it’s worth taking some time to examine the main benefits of WFO in more detail:

Optimized human resource management

When a company has information at its disposal around demand patterns as well as performance data on its employees, it’s in a great position to apply the right staffing strategies for its business needs. This will result in significantly lower costs for human resource management.

Upcoming peak periods can be dealt with by having flexible employment and temps or technological solutions aimed at allowing better functionality via automated process optimization.

The upshot of all of this is money saved and better customer service levels.

Better customer experience

By ensuring that customer demand is met by appropriate staff levels, optimization can result in much better CX. Increased sales are possible, too. When customer needs are properly addressed, it will result in a happier customer base, leading to higher sales and customer advocacy. With the attention that intelligent application of staff levels and process automation will provide, upselling and cross-selling are easier, too.

Ultimately, WFO will improve customer satisfaction, and result in higher customer retention rates. Customer loyalty will then lead to continued sales.

New opportunities

With a robust workforce management tool, you can easily optimize your staff schedule and performance. This will reduce inefficiencies in your staff operations, resulting in improved workforce engagement, better productivity, and higher output/performance quality.

A more level playing field

With the use of workforce optimization tools, smaller organizations are given more of a chance to compete with larger ones by using well-deployed optimization principles, such as responsivity to demand and effective staffing.

WFO software—what’s important?

WFO software—what’s important?

WFO software—what’s important?

WFO software—what’s important?

So, if you’re going to look for WFO solutions, what should you consider? Here’s a few simple ideas:

  • Integration
  • User interface
  • Scalability
  • Value for money

Integration with organization

Workforce automation software should be compatible with your existing business systems. It should be able to communicate with existing systems such as task tracking and CRM solutions.

User interface

There should be a well-designed, attractive, intuitive dashboard that can be used quickly with minimal interpretation time. A clunky user interface can affect the workflow of your employees. For analytics, especially, it’s a good idea to look for software that is simple, easy-to-use, and can present comprehensive data in a straightforward diagrams.

Scalability

As the business grows, your software should be able to scale and adjust to your needs. Deployment in other areas of your operation should also be streamlined and efficient.

Value for money

Most workforce optimization software will more than pay for itself relatively quickly when the improvements in workforce efficiency start to pay off. However, it makes sense to research carefully in order to invest in a solution that offers the best value to your organization.

There’s no sense in paying for features you’re never going to use. On the other hand, you need to make sure that you have all the features (apps, for instance) that you will require.

Tips for an efficient workforce

Tips for an efficient workforce

Tips for an efficient workforce

Tips for an efficient workforce

Whatever tools you adopt, adhere to the following principles:

Be customer focused

When seeking to enhance staff levels, use the right tools for workforce optimization, but also take the time to consider how the proposed changes in work patterns will affect the customer journey. Maintain a degree of focus on your systems data, but good journey orchestration depends on you having a broader awareness.

Empower employees

Ensure that knowledge bases and best practices are available to all relevant staff at all times. This will improve employee acumen a great deal.

The right skill set for the job

Your optimization tools will go some way to putting the right people onto the right task, but you’ll probably still know more about your employees’ character, skill set, and passions. Use that knowledge management in conjunction with the software to truly optimize your team.

Agility

Enhance your business’s ability to deal with the unforeseen by using WFO techniques to respond to, for example, surges of customer interest or industry developments. As we’ll see from the contact/call center insight below, a manager can handle these instances by disseminating new information rapidly to their frontline staff.

In ways such as this, your business can enhance its agility, which will enable it to weather the unexpected and to leap onto new opportunities when they arise.

WFO in a contact or call center

WFO in a contact or call center

WFO in a contact or call center

WFO in a contact or call center

This is how contact center workforce optimization can work for your customer support team:

  • Customer trends analysis
  • Employee evaluation
  • Schedule management

Let’s take a look at all three in more detail below.

1. Customer trends analysis

Using speech and desktop analytics, managers can gain actionable insights into any trends developing across a range of calls. In this way, a manager’s decision-making process is supported and up-to-date information and strategies can be passed on to all staff in order to give well-targeted assistance.

For example, if customers are calling a lot about billing or about a particular product, the manager can focus on coaching agents on that topic, allowing them to provide higher quality customer service.

This analysis can also help managers anticipate potential seasonal issues. For example, customer support teams for banks might experience more issues with travel-related expenses during vacation months. WFO can improve operational efficiency by giving managers insights into foreseeable problems before they actually occur. This will allow them to optimize routing and robotic process automation to ensure seamless worflow even during problematic seasons.

2. Employee evaluation

The manager can use speech analytics or call recordings to monitor and evaluate their team employees. This will give them an idea on how their team resolves issues in real-time, what areas their team is struggling with, and how to improve agent-customer interactions.

With this data, they can assess how well staff are dealing with the matter, and can drill into the specifics to decide if particular aspects require management intervention.

3. Schedule management

Workforce management software includes employee scheduling tools that give information on your future center staffing requirements so you can decide on what you need. The manager can check on the exact words that were used in the exchange to see what led to a customer’s confusion. They can even access screen recordings to see what the employee was doing at the time.

Coaching requests can be sent out quickly and efficiently, using workforce management (WFM) responses to a perceived shortcoming, and the session can be automatically scheduled. Information is sent out to the employee with the request, telling them what will be covered in the coaching session.

After the session, the employee can submit feedback. This is a good way of encouraging employee engagement.

Employee performance evaluations can be arranged and focused in much the same way. This involves monitoring that agents are adhering to the optimized schedules that your analytics have devised.

The modern contact center workforce manager has so many tools at their disposal, with machine learning being brought to bear in many new areas. There has been such an advance in interaction analytics tools, and these are all centralized into business assistance suites. This makes the contact center manager’s life a good deal easier than it was in the days when metrics were less integrated.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Conclusion

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why workforce optimization strategies have caught on. Careful application can reduce operational costs and boost overall performance. Contact centers, in particular, have been major success stories. The ability it gives to managers to apply solutions in real-time is extremely valuable.

The same tools and techniques are also being applied to offices in all manner of different spheres. The integrations that are made possible using the workforce optimization solutions and integrations provided by 8x8 are beneficial, both in customer facing and back-office environments, solving business problems en masse.

Contact 8x8 today to see how you can share in these advances and ensure your contact center team is working to its full potential.