Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Checklist for evaluating workforce management software solutions

When selecting a workforce management solution for a small to medium sized call center you should consider the following criteria:

1. Key capabilities
  • Does it accurately forecast call volumes by supporting the use of historical data and real-time ACD integration?
  • Can you create schedules based on ‘what-if” scenarios, different shift patterns, skill levels and other criteria?
  • Can you easily include agent exceptions (e.g. training, time-off) into the schedule?
  • Can you make intra-day changes to forecast and schedule based on changing call volumes ‘on the fly’ during the work day?
  • Does it give you visibility into agent adherence in real-time?
  • Can you produce performance management reports?
2. Time and resources to implement
  • How long does it take to implement the solution from start to finish? When can you actually begin to get benefits from the solution? (Days, weeks or months?)
  • Can I use the solution over the web without equipment purchase or do I need to buy and install hardware and software?
  • How many people do I need (vendor and own company) to implement the solution?
3. Total cost of purchasing, running and maintaining the solution
  • Upfront: What are the total upfront costs for software, hardware, integration and implementation?
  • Ongoing: What are the ongoing monthly or annual costs such as subscription, maintenance, support, upgrade fees?
  • Other costs: Many solutions have hidden costs that many vendors don’t mention but occur within your company such as: your IT people installing and operating the server, your people helping to implement the solution, integration costs, yearly upgrade costs, etc.
4. Usability
  • Is the solution easy and intuitive for non-IT people to use, making sure that you get the most out of it?
  • Does the solution focus on your call center needs? Many solutions have feature overload that are often contra-productive, especially for small and medium size call centers.
5. Risk
  • Every solution carries a success risk within a given work environment, and you should evaluate that risk. If for whatever reason, the solution doesn’t work for you, can you “return it” or “turn it off” with no or limited financial risk?
6. ROI and payback
  • You purchase a WFM solution to either enhance your ability to grow business or reduce operational costs, or both. So it’s important to clearly understand how long added business or cost savings actually take to recoup the system costs. The sooner the solution begins working for you and the lower the upfront costs, the sooner you realize cost and business operational benefits.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The importance of accurate call center forecasting

Accurate forecasting is critical to successfully managing your workforce. In order to meet call demand without under-staffing or over-staffing, you need methods that precisely predicts how many agents are needed to handle the center's contact volume. However, predicting the “future” is challenging. Based on a DMG report in 2010, survey participants listed the following five forecasting challenges:
  • Need to forecast for multiple skill sets
  • Changing business needs negate usefulness of historical volume data
  • Volume driven by external events, not controlled by company
  • Volume is seasonal varies greatly
  • Volume patterns change frequently, making projections difficult
Here are some tips and best practices that might help you:

Develop "what if" scenarios to explore how a change in call volume or service level goals during a specific day or week would affect your center. Read more about “How to forecast special days

Create regular intra-day forecast updates throughout the day, and calculate a new forecast based on what has already occurred to establish trends that will help you in future decisions. Read more about “Intra-day forecasting

Forecast and schedule based on response time and "urgency” of the various channels, such as calls, emails and chat. Read more about “Forecasting for multiple channels

Friday, January 21, 2011

What is real-time schedule adherence, and why is it important?

What is real-time adherence?
Real-time agent adherence compares planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators. Managers and supervisors can compare agents' actual activities against their schedules, review a breakdown of adherence by activity, and manage exceptions. The also see when agents are available for calls and when they take their lunches and breaks based on predetermined schedules.

Why is real-time adherence important?
A key component to managing adherence is shrinkage, which is the time for which agents are paid during times when they are not available to handle calls. Shrinkage can dramatically affect your center's ability to meet service levels. Real-time adherence provides you the capabilities and tools to manage and reduce shrinkage.
  • Monitor agent status in real-time
  • Receive instant alerts for out-of-adherence states
  • View agent exceptions in real-time and approve or deny right away
  • Monitor and analyze key performance indicators and trends to reforecast, reschedule, and adjust staffing
  • Track and compare forecasted and actual center statistics
  • Schedule overtime or time off during high and low call volume situations
  • Evaluate adherence and take action to improve performance
To learn more about this topic, please read this whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine’s 2010 Product of the Year Award for Workforce Management Solution

We are very excited that Monet WFM Live has been recognized as Product of the Year for exceptional innovation by TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine. Here is a short statement from the announcement. “Monet Software received a 2010 Product of the Year Award for its achievement in advancing contact center technologies. Monet WFM Live has demonstrated excellence as well as provided ROI for the companies that use it,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Customer Interaction Solutions magazine has been honoring innovative companies for 13 years and Monet Software has earned its place with this distinguished honor.”

We very much appreciate this award and would like to thank our customers and Customer Interaction Solution Magazine for this honor. The 13th Annual Product of the Year Award winners are featured in the January 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New year's resolutions for call center managers

Happy New Year! At the beginning of a new year, as new plans and strategies get implemented, it might be a good idea to step back and think about your "new year's resolutions" for your call center. Think about some key questions you should ask yourself and your team to help you improve the operation of your call center in 2011. Here are a few questions to consider:
  • What were the key challenges in 2010 and how can we overcome them?
  • What do we need to do to keep our agents happy and motivated?
  • How can we better serve your customer?
  • How to maintain or improve your service levels?
  • How can we better leverage new web-based technologies and solutions to make our work easier and more efficient?
  • What online sources are available that provide me with new tips, ideas and tools (blog, twitter, etc.) for my daily work?
  • What are the top 3 things I should focus on in 2011?