Contact center managers have become experts at doing more with less, and prioritizing goals. This means keeping the primary focus on customer service in the front office. Too often, that leaves the back office, which also performs several vital functions, at a disadvantage.
Is it possible to bring the same tools that benefit the front office to the back office, and stay within budget?
Workforce Management is the Key
Fortunately, the same workforce management (WFM) solution that has made your front office more efficient can have the same impact on back office tasks. Workforce Management helps contact centers better align and manage their resources so that service levels continue to be met, while costs are controlled.
Back-office tasks are often manual and complex, making it difficult to automate, manage and forecast workload. With WFM, contact centers can improve service levels. And with WFM in the cloud, the company further reduces both costs and headaches, as it avoids the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce management software.
With workforce management for the back office, it’s possible to:
- Improve forecast accuracy of manual back-office tasks and activities
- Deliver more efficient resource planning and scheduling to consistently meet service levels and control costs
- Increase employee productivity by monitoring adherence, backlog and other metrics in real-time, allowing for more immediate actions
- Track and analyze key metrics to optimize service quality and back-office performance
Use back office WFM to run simulations that will calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from ACD.
WFM can incorporate all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, work rules, skills, holidays, breaks, service levels and center budgets.
Real-time updates are as critical here as they are in front office management. WFM can help to require and assign agents instantly, and display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
While exception planning is often a challenge, there are workforce management solutions with integrated exception calendars to simplify this task. Now managers will always know when agents are off, or in training meetings.
Easily report and analyze all agent activities including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Managers can review service level results, costs and revenue.
All of these capabilities can make a critical difference in back office operations. But while adherence was previously referenced, it deserves closer attention, as staffing remains the single biggest cost facing any contact center. Schedule adherence in real time allows managers to compare planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, to determine whether staffing decisions were appropriate for any given shift.
When every minute counts, WFM can monitor and record the real-time status of agents in the call center, and deliver alerts when agents are out of adherence, so schedules can be adjusted accordingly.
Choosing a Back Office WFM Solution
Different contact centers may have different priorities, but (in addition to those previously described) here are some of the attributes that should be part of your next workforce management solution.
The same WFM solution that forecasts, schedules and assigns resources for your front office should provide the same functionality to the back office.
Clear and Organized Dashboards
It should be possible to track and monitor key performance metrics for both front office and back office from one dashboard. Doing so delivers greater insights in resource needs and allocation, resulting in better customer service.
Visibility into backlogs, workforce availability, employee activities and efficiencies throughout the day makes it easier for a contact center manager to take a proactive approach in managing back-office activities.
The system should easily integrate with the contact center’s ACD or PBX systems, through pre-built adaptors. Adherence and call history should be enabled when these systems are able to talk to each other in real time.
WFM in the Cloud
Compared with traditional workforce management software, a cloud-based WFM solution allows companies to:
Reduce upfront costs: Eliminate the significant investment just to get started, which would typically require the purchase of hardware, databases, and software licenses, as well as additional costs for installation and IT staff to support the system. Cloud-based WFM saves both time and money because there are no infrastructure costs.
Get started faster: Rather than having to ramp-up to a six- to twelve-month (or more) implementation, WFM solutions enable companies to start managing their workforce in the cloud within a matter of weeks.
Connect anywhere: With the cloud, WFM can be accessed anywhere—whether on the other side of town or the other side of the world, with a computer and a standard web browser.
Minimize ongoing costs: Cloud-based WFM software doesn’t just save money during the implementation phase. Contact centers save time and money in the long term as well. The WFM firm supports all maintenance of the system, including free software upgrades and troubleshooting. Companies also benefit from the ability to quickly customize or add modules via a single, web-based interface.
Pay-as-you-go: Contact centers pay only for the capacity and infrastructure that are actually used, typically based on number of users. This usage-based, pay-as-you-go subscription pricing approach saves money while also delivering the flexibility to quickly scale to manage the demands of changing contact center sizes.
Back office workforce management offers the benefit of extending front office operational efficiency into back office processing environments. It automates manual processes, improves forecast accuracy, enables managers to view and manage resource capacity and adherence to scheduled tasks, and empowers employees to self-manage scheduling and time-off requests.
Please talk to us if you would like to learn more about back office workforce management.