Six common misperceptions debunked
By: Bob Webb, VP Sales
Workforce management is the foundation of contact center success. Contact centers that utilize workforce management solutions understand its importance and the value it brings to overall operations. Without a workforce management system that delivers accurate forecasting, a center is at risk of losing bottom line revenue. In spite of this, there are still misperceptions that confuse or deter companies from investing in a quality workforce management solution. Below are six common myths about workforce management.
- Workforce management is an ancillary application.
Vendors who do not specialize in workforce management may downplay its importance by including it in a bundled package or offer it as a free incentive for purchasing other solutions. Workforce management is a contact center’s most important investment. It is the axis around which every other solution revolves. If a workforce management system cannot produce an accurate forecast, every other solution becomes irrelevant. Only workforce management systems that offer time-tested solutions with proven results can ensure a center is properly staffed with tools for monitoring agent adherence.
- All workforce management solutions are the same with algorithms that can produce a statistically valid forecast.
Accurate forecasting is imperative to achieve the balance of having agents consistently in the right place at the right time, which determines bottom line revenue. However, some workforce management systems have platforms that are unable to maintain sufficient historical call data to generate accurate forecasts. One of the most common problems found with workforce management systems is an inability to generate requirements at the interval level. Additionally, systems that use a “simple” weighted moving average can only use thirteen weeks of historical data, which is not enough to provide a statistically valid forecast. All historic dynamics should be taken into account.
- Only large centers benefit from Workforce Management - WFM is cost prohibitive for small centers.
Size of the center is a consideration when investing in workforce management solutions. While Excel spreadsheets and Erlang calculators are less costly, experts maintain that these tools are ineffective for centers employing more than 25 agents, having widely fluctuating call volumes, or for centers with locations across different time zones. There is an increased chance of errors and decreased level of accuracy. Making changes quickly also becomes difficult, if not impossible.
Contact centers of all sizes benefit from workforce management. With hosted solutions, small centers now have options for paying as you grow, relieving the burden of a premise based installation. Hosted solutions have made workforce management affordable for everyone; and, workforce management is a necessity for large centers, whether hosted or in-house.
- Internal productivity metrics cannot tie in with workforce management tools.
Workforce management solutions are available that offer spreadsheet integration tools that open reports in Microsoft Excel using data from an Oracle database and allow reports to be created and automatically refreshed in the spreadsheet view. Tools of this nature allow users to upload existing spreadsheets with the formatting already in place, and to create additional tabs with the background data needed to populate the report. These tabs can be linked to the final report tabs using formulas or VBA scripts. The reports can be set to auto-update with a refresh rate selected by the administrator. Dynamic dates and rolled-up totals are available to help facilitate ease of use by reducing the additional functions that would need to be added to the workbook. Custom metrics such as Average Sales, Contacts per Order, Contacts per Hour and Average Wage can be integrated into the workforce management system and displayed in the spreadsheet integration tool, rather than manually reporting on them from a separate external system.
Manual reporting processes can be revolutionized through use of a workforce management solution, saving hours of time and labor to effectively deliver multiple dashboards and reports needed by executives. Real-time views of performance data allow for actionable results. Once KPI's are delivered and acknowledged, agents can quickly change measured behavior. This is not true in a manual environment where agents often do not receive their KPI's for weeks or even months later.
- Supervisors lose control of at-home agents.
Technology has enabled oversight of agents from any location. The best option for monitoring adherence is a visual system that allows for at-a-glance agent monitoring. This system frees supervisors from sitting at desks and enables one-click edits. A global monitoring system can be used to track multiple in-house contact centers as well as monitor the performance of outsourced call centers. Adherence violations at any contact center in the network can be instantly spotted and investigated with a click from a map that portrays each center’s location and its compliance levels graphically instead of through text-heavy reports.
Monitoring adherence on a real-time basis can identify problems in early stages to permit corrective action to be taken with agents before service levels plummet. Real-time adherence tools can help by automatically alerting managers when agents are out of compliance. This makes it possible to flag minor lapses before they turn into major crises. Supervisors can view adherence status at any time in a special window that is refreshed every 30 seconds or on the timetable of the user’s choice.
- Customer data is at risk with hosted solutions.
Customer data is NEVER collected by vendors. However, a major consideration when choosing a vendor is ensuring that it offers a single-tenant architecture. Most vendors deploy a multitenant architecture, meaning they put many customers on a particular system at a time by partitioning the database. This becomes a nightmare from a support standpoint when one customer causes database issues, which requires every one of the dozens of customers on that server to be moved to another cluster to resolve the problem.
There is a much higher degree of inherent security in a non-shared environment because the access of data from one company to another is eliminated. Your company also benefits from significant configurability of the software and robust functionality without concern about the vendor’s other customers having an impact on your data.
Ensure you understand what you are paying for before investing in a workforce management system. Regardless of marketing promises, they are not all equal. Choose your best solution to avoid future problems.
Pipkins, Inc., founded in 1983, is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry, providing sophisticated forecasting and scheduling technology for both the front and back office. Its award-winning Vantage Point is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.Pipkins.com.