Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Workforce management: How to move from "reactive" to "proactive" call center performance management?

Performance Management Dashboard
Performance management is a critical part of managing call centers and is essential to help you align your people, processes and systems to your goals and objectives, such as customer satisfaction, cost control and revenue goals. Many call centers lack the means to measure and track their key performance indicators (KPI) necessary to improve forecasting, staffing, scheduling and adherence. There is a trend of transforming call center performance management from a reactive to a more proactive approach. Scorecards, key performance indicators, real-time alerts, agent analytics, dashboards, and customizable reports deliver a constant stream of actionable intelligence helping managers and supervisors make more informed decisions faster, resulting in higher customer satisfaction, more cost control and better utilization of resources. Here are just a few benefits:
  • Better decisions through actionable intelligence and flexible real-time dashboards: Gives management a unified view to monitor and analyze key performance metrics, such as agent adherence, service levels, labor costs and staffing resulting in more informed decisions.
  • Improved productivity and agent motivation through scorecard capabilities: Motivates agents to self-manage their performance and take action with coaches and supervisors based on real data and KPI’s (key performance indicators) to meet business objectives, creating a culture of accountability and self-motivation.
  • Easy and fast access to key performance indicators: Frees up time for supervisors and managers to focus on working with agents, coaching, training and planning, instead of collecting and analyzing data.
To learn more about agent analytics and performance management please take a look at our website or download our Monet Metrics brochure as part of the WFM Success Kit.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What is schedule adherence and why is it important in the call center?

Schedule adherence is the degree to which agents stick to their schedules, measured as a percentage. Considering that staffing is the single biggest cost facing any call center – and that every minute counts when it comes to meeting customer service levels – it’s easy to see why call center managers are putting an increasing emphasis on improving it and are looking to their workforce management software for solutions.
If you run a small call center with 5 to 20 agents, you might think schedule adherence isn’t all that important. But if you take a closer look at all the different junctures throughout the day where agent time is “lost,” you’ll realize that it can add up to a serious loss of revenue over the course of a year.
Call center workforce management schedule adherence strategy whitepaper
Download whitepaper

Schedule adherence is particularly important for ensuring smooth transitions between shifts. Call center schedules tend to be very complex – which means there can be a lot of junctures during a shift where an agent will go out of adherence. For example, an agent might show up for his shift five minutes late; log on to the ACD seven minutes late; show up for a training session eight minutes late; and go over their break time by 10 minutes - resulting in the agent being a total of 30 minutes out of adherence for that one shift. Multiply these “out of adherence” events across a center with dozens if not hundreds of agents - and then multiply that by the total number of shifts - and its easy to see how schedule adherence can quickly become a serious problem.

Keeping track of schedule adherence using manual systems such as spreadsheets can be incredibly time-consuming and challenging. This is where today’s web-based call center scheduling solutions are playing an increasingly crucial role. They track schedule adherence in real-time and and automatically send you alerts.

When implementing a new program for improving schedule adherence in your call center - perhaps through the deployment of a workforce management system - it’s a good idea to discuss those changes with your employees first. The one thing you don’t want is a negative backlash from your valued employees, who might not be all that thrilled to be working under the watchful eye of “Big Brother.”

In order to reduce any negative backlash from your agents when implementing a new program to improve schedule adherence, you must first “inform and educate.” Agents need to understand the relevance of schedule adherence, how a mere 10 minutes here and there impacts other agents and the entire call center performance.

Then you should “measure and manage:” Measure and track adherence using workforce management tools and solutions, tracking adherence in real-time and running reports. Share these adherence reports with your agents and discuss how they are doing. It is important to give regular feedback regarding adherence statistics.

Finally, you can provide “incentives.” Reward agents that adhere to their schedule (95 percent within adherence scores) through recognition within the team and tie bonuses to good scores. It is also critical that all agents are aware of the consequences for out-of-adherence behavior, as this establishes their responsibility towards the success of the call center.

For more information, please read our 5 Strategies for improved Schedule Adherence whitepaper.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Workforce management unified with call recording

It’s common knowledge that call recording software is a powerful tool for businesses to accurately capture voice conversations with their customers. However, when  combined with call center workforce management, call recording makes it easy and efficient for call centers to optimize operational efficiencies, employee satisfaction, and the overall customer experience—a combination that takes call recording to a whole new level. Here are the key benefits:

Improve service quality
One of the most critical differences call recording software can make is improving the quality of customer service. It is impossible hover over each individual agent at all times to ensure the service they’re providing is up to company standards. Even if this were feasible, the discrepancy of how agents handle themselves while knowingly being monitored would be ever-present.

More effective and personalized training
With call recordings, managers and call center trainers have the means to not only measure their agents’ ability to adhere to company-approved responses, but to gauge how they’re performing in terms of efficiency, courtesy, and conversational style.With call recording, the training can be personalized and customized to the needs of every agent, making it more effective and efficient. Call monitoring also allows for ongoing, situation-specific training that will guide agents through best practices for a range of customer interactions. Recorded conversations can also be compiled into groups for training purposes.

Increase revenues and profits
With improved training comes improved service, and with improved service, it only makes sense that a boost in profits is close behind in the form of more up-sells, customer loyalty, repeat business, and new sales, less employee turnover, and faster training.

Ensure compliance and avoid lawsuits
Compliance is an important requirement for many businesses, especially those in the financial services industry that are continuously monitored by private and government entities whose job it is to regulate the handling of private financial information.

Improve customer satisfaction
The ability to monitor, score, and dissect past and current calls gives managers more control over how their agents engage customers. Managers can monitor conversations on the spot and address any issues that may be negatively impacting performance metrics. Call recording also allows unhappy customers to be addressed immediately, before they may want to file a complaint.

For more information about this topic, please also see our call recording blog.