Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When Call Centers Become Contact Centers - the Impact on Workforce Management

social Media in contact center workforce management
While the “call center” designation is likely to stick around for a while, agent interaction via telephone is now just one component of customer communication. Today, the public may reach out via email, online chat or social media. All of these additional channels are ultimately beneficial, but many call centers are just beginning to grasp the impact they will have - from a customer engagement perspective, but also from a workforce management perspective.

Email/Live Chat
Written exchanges of information, whether via email or text chat, have become commonplace. However, these channels work best with simple questions and conflict resolutions where a few sentences from both participants will suffice. Once the point has been reached where the number of exchanged messages tops 5-10, it might be advisable to switch to a telephone conversation.

With online chat, it may take longer to complete a customer interaction, simply because it takes longer to type a message than to say it. However, online chat agents can manage up to five sessions simultaneously, which will impact productivity and scheduling. If five proves too many (measure response times to each customer to determine this), three ongoing sessions might be a more practical limit.

When it comes to workforce management scheduling, you will want chat agents with proven written skills. While the Internet has done no shortage of damage to the disciplines of spelling, grammar and punctuation, it is vital that any written communication from your company to customers is free of such errors.

Social Media
A Facebook page and a Twitter account are great ways for companies to announce new products and specials and exchange ideas with customers. They are less effective for such traditional call center functions as handling orders and returns or resolving disputes. However, this too is changing rapidly.

If the call center is to take the lead on establishing and maintaining a company’s social media presence, adequate resources must be made available to do so, to make certain pages are updated, questions are answered, and ongoing communications are having a positive impact on branding and customer loyalty.

That starts with creating and scheduling a social media team based on experience and training. Agents should not just be familiar with these outlets, but be well versed on the company’s social media strategy and best practices.

And, as with email and online chat, choose agents and experts with written communication skills, and when a problem arises try to route that customer back to a call-in situation where it might be easier to resolve the situation verbally.

Each of these new communication channels should get included into your overall forecasting, scheduling and staffing planning process.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Call center Performance Metrics Solution receives Customer magazine 2012 Product of the Year Award

Monet Metrics product of the year awardWe are very excited that Monet Metrics has been recognized as Product of the Year for exceptional innovation by TMC’s Customer magazine. CUSTOMER magazine, the industry’s source for news, product information, and strategies for communications that engage customers and potential customers, has named Monet Metrics as their 2012 Product of the Year Award winner. In a statement, the magazine said: "Monet Software was selected to receive Customer Magazine 2012 Product of the Year Award for its achievement in advancing customer experience management technologies." In summary, the solutions delivers the following benefits to call centers:
  • Better decisions through actionable intelligence and flexible real-time dashboards: Monet Metrics sets a new standard by transforming call center management from a reactive to a proactive approach. Pre-built reports and metrics make relevant data readily available to proactively manage call center performance.
  • Improved productivity and agent motivation through scorecard capabilities: Scorecards, key performance indicators (KPI), real-time dashboards and customizable reports deliver a constant stream of intelligence helping call centers take the right action at the right time to better meet their business goals.
  • Key performance indicators right at your fingertips, anywhere and anytime: Call center managers and supervisors can make more informed decisions, resulting in higher customer satisfaction, more cost control and better utilization of resources. It also frees up time for supervisors and managers to focus on working with agents, coaching, training and planning, instead of collecting and analyzing data.
The 15th Annual Product of the Year Award winners are published in the January/February 2013 issue of Customer magazine, For a demonstration of Monet Metrics, please follow this link to watch the call center performance management overview demo.

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 Tips for More Accurate Call Center Forecasting

call center forecasting methods and tools
Call Center Forecasting Tools and Methods
Unlike weather forecasting, call center forecasting can be performed with a high degree of accuracy. Workforce management solutions combine the use of historic data and real-time data, to not only improve the efficiency at a call center, but to create projections for future growth, changes and special events, so the call center can be prepared for any eventual scenario.

Here are five tips to help you make the most of you call center forecasting solution:

1. Use Historic Data
This is the obvious place to start. Historical call volume data can be used to analyze present performance and future growth trends. It can also serve to correct assumptions about what constitutes an appropriate length of a customer engagement, how many calls an agent should handle in one shift, and other factors that impact hiring and staffing procedures. Several weeks of data is usually sufficient as a starting point, but longer-term projections would require months or years of data, especially for seasonal or annual projections.

2. Run Scenarios Based on Data
With workforce management a call center manager does not have to wait for something to happen to gauge the effectiveness of call center response. Staffing and service levels can be analyzed ahead of time by creating a what-if scenario. Typical scenarios would include the start of a new advertising campaign that will increase call volume, a discount on a key product line, or a turnover in personnel that results in a higher number of less experienced agents on the same shift.

3. Leverage Past Events
How did the opening of a new retail location affect call volume to the call center? How did call patterns change during the holiday season? By reviewing past events, a call center can be better prepared for future occurrences, and adjust accordingly. This data can also impact long-term strategies for planning, budgeting and recruitment.

4. Leverage Real-Time Data
Every call to a call center is a forecasting tool. Real-time analysis of individual calls and calls handled within an hour, a day, etc. can lead to adjustments on the fly and more accurate forecasting in the days and weeks to come. Among the most important measurements here are the speed with which calls are answered, average call-handling times, percentage of calls abandoned, and number of interactions on hold.

5. Multi-Channel Forecasting
Customer communication is not handled only through a telephone anymore. With the introduction of multi-channel environments (email, fax, Internet), customers now have a wide range of options, and an equally wide range of expectations in how a company responds to their needs. While this makes forecasting more complex, it is a necessity for any workforce management solution to incorporate multi-channel capabilities. This makes it easier to discover, for example, how many customer engagements are now handled via email, how that impacts call volume to a call center, and how that center should adjust to meet its service goals.

To learn more, you can also watch one of our forecasting and scheduling videos in our new demo center.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New call center workforce optimization demo center

call center workforce managment demo centerWe just launched a new demo center for our unified call center workforce optimization suite. The demo center makes it easier to browse through the various call center workforce solutions and watch the videos you are interested in. It is organized by the four solutions components of Monet WFO Live: Workforce Management, Call Recording, Quality Management and Performance Management. 

Monet WFM
  • Workforce Management Overview: This video provides a short introduction to workforce management for contact centers and an overview of Monet WFM Live.
  • Accurate Forecasting: Learn how to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volumes, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from ACD systems.
  • Efficient Scheduling: See how the advanced scheduling engine incorporates all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors - agent availability, expected call volume, service level goals and center budget.
  • Effective Staffing: Learn how the solution helps call center managers and supervisors to accurately forecast call volumes and conduct 'what-if' scenarios, including seasonal call volumes and special days.
  • Intra-day Management: Watch how to track key metrics throughout the day and quickly update required and assigned agents instantly, based on surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
  • Exception Planning: See how an integrated exception calendar simplifies scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings for contact centers.
  • Interactive Dashboards: Watch how a graphical display lets call center managers and supervisors drag and drop breaks, lunches and other changes to make updates to schedules and staffing in real-time.

Monet Metrics

Monet Record
  • Call Recording and Monitoring: Learn how to easily capture, monitor and manage customer interactions with call recording to improve your customer service as well as ensuring regulatory compliance.

Monet Quality
  • Quality Management and Assurance: This demo video is currently being produced and we will add it to the demo center shortly.
Please take a moment and browse through the demo center and stay tuned for more videos coming soon.