Running a contact center is never easy, especially when you factor in the rapid shift to remote teams brought on by COVID-19. Where managers once trained and supported agents by walking the floor and observing staff, now they’re limited to what they can see onscreen, which often translates to clunky external spreadsheets and costly, “bolted-on” third-party solutions. Thankfully, there’s a solution that can help managers address this challenge: cloud-based contact center workforce management solutions.
What is Contact Center Workforce Management?
Workforce management (WFM) is the process of managing, organizing, monitoring, and adjusting the performance and schedules of agents to achieve maximum optimization of the contact center team. This includes the scheduling of shifts, PTO, or vacation time and properly forecasting upcoming needs based on real-time data generated from historical reports. This capability is indispensable during peak and off-peak timeframes such as before or during a sale, throughout the Christmas season, or on busy weekends.
Luckily, the market has recently seen the launch of sophisticated workforce management tools that allow contact center managers to automate these tasks through flexible and scalable cloud technology. WFM tools that easily integrate into the existing contact center platform can leverage rich data to help draw real-time, accurate insights that help contact center managers make better decisions in the allocation of staff and resources.
The Call for Virtual Scheduling and Management
Even without social distancing, running a contact center is a complicated business. Individual agents are expected to deal with the public – often under stressful and sensitive conditions where callers are disgruntled or have issues to address – already a difficult proposition. And in the wake of COVID-19, they’re forced to do so from their own individual locations – cut off from the daily face-to-face encounters that help teams perform better.
Less interaction not only means fewer chances to improve the team, but it also provides less visibility into agent activities and practices – hindering management’s ability to ensure that its processes and protocols are being met. Strict adherence to contact center policies are vital for managing staff. If supervisors can’t access the metrics and data they need to confirm adherence, they simply can’t do their jobs.
Scheduling employees is also a daunting task since needs in the contact center often change daily – or even hourly – because of peak and seasonal call traffic. Scheduling has long been managed with the use of cumbersome and error-prone Excel sheets.
By applying workforce management tools, supervisors can find out instantly when agents log on and off, how long they typically spend on a call, if there are notable lag times between calls, who is resolving issues quickly and courteously, and if all procedures and policies are followed. Access to these data points also allows contact center managers to gain visibility over employee activity – providing a real-time global view regardless of where the agent is located.
This is what we call adherence on-demand. It’s a new concept that encourages managers to supervise their entire team regardless of location and based upon access to timely and accurate data, which is ideally provided on an interface that integrates directly with their contact center solution. Virtualized scheduling, forecasting, monitoring, and management that uses real-time historical data optimizes staff performance, removes guess work, and puts control of the contact center back into the hands of management.
Compelling workforce management tools offer value and efficiency that will be relevant long after the pandemic subsides. Improving outcomes, driving efficiency, and ensuring adherence are the goal of every contact center manager. WFM solutions enable managers to ensure that all these foundational operational needs are met so agents can go on to effectively resolve issues and provide satisfying, compelling customer engagement experiences.
To learn more about how WFM solutions can help managers reduce costs, improve the lives of their employees, and deliver a better experience to the customer, download our exclusive guide.