From the moment a call arrives, to the time it takes an agent to greet that customer, to the content of the conversation and the resolution (or lack thereof), WFM should be tracking and reporting on what has transpired. This is the data that will be used to evaluate customer behavior and assess agent performance.
And yet, even with the massive amount of data that is generated by each call – or, as in some contact centers, by email, online chat sessions, social media and other forms of customer interaction – a manager cannot achieve genuine visibility into the moment-by-moment occurrences at his business unless these performance metrics are captured in real time.
If a manager discovers on Tuesday that Monday’s call volume forecasts were not matched to demand, adjustments can be made for the following Monday, but that doesn’t change what happened the previous day, or the number of calls that may have been lost because customers grew impatient and hung up.
With real-time data, managers can address challenges as they arise, limit the damage and prevent small issues from evolving into major concerns.
The Risk of Non-Real Time Data
The provision of satisfactory customer service is the top priority at nearly every call center. This has always been a challenge but perhaps never more so than at the present time, when consumers are always pressed for time and busy with a dozen other work and family situations. When they call a contact center, they expect a satisfying service experience, and don’t really care about the problems of call center forecasting or scheduling or adherence or unexpected agent absences.
If a customer’s call is not handled quickly, courteously and professionally, that customer now has a way to share his experiences with thousands, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of other current and potential customers through company website message boards, email and social media. By then, the damage is done.
At a time when one negative experience can snowball into a PR disaster, it has never been more critical for call center managers to be made aware of problems while they are happening, and not hours or days later. A system must be implemented that consistently delivers professional customer service, with automated procedures that immediately identify and communicate problems to agents, managers and supervisors. Real-time data makes this possible, by allowing call centers to be proactive, rather that reactive, to negative situations.
The Benefits of Real Time Information
Many call centers still lack the means to measure and track the key performance indicators (KPI) necessary to improve forecasting, staffing, scheduling and adherence in real-time.
But with a real-time workforce management system, managers gain access to a unified view of key performance metrics such as:
- Service levels
- Answer and abandon metrics
- Average handle time (AHT)
- Average speed of answer (ASA)
- Average talk time (ATT)
- Forecast accuracy
- Labor costs and staffing
- Shrinkage and absenteeism
Now, managers and agents can react to events as they are happening. The faster data becomes available, the faster it can be analyzed and decisions made based on its content.
In addition, real-time WFM should also allow for the ability to import or integrate other data to extend the metrics, and weigh them in conjunction with other KPIs.
WFM software can also set up scorecards for agents and supervisors that can assist with the conversion from reactive responses to a more proactive approach. While these will be chiefly utilized by agents and managers in the ongoing quest for better customer service, they can also be created for other specific company groups – for example, some call centers set up a cost scorecard for the company’s Chief Financial Officer, that can deliver such metrics as cost per sale, cost per contact, etc.
Choosing a Real-Time Workforce Management Solution
The selection of WFM software should be based in its ability to provide the insights and metrics to help call center personnel make better decisions. A comprehensive solution would include all of the following features:
• Real-time performance snapshots and insight into emerging trends
• Display of vital information on one screen, rather than multiple screens
• Detection of patterns across multiple dashboard components
• Identification of inefficiencies in agent skill sets
• Generation of trending reports to provide evaluation feedback by day, week, month, quarter and year
• Identification of actionable changes in your scoring process
• Comparison of peers, groups or departments to highlight collective gaps and performance gains
Additional benefits can be derived by accessing this software in cloud, starting with the cost savings in not having to budget for the purchase of hardware, software, database or business intelligence tools. A lower investment means a more rapid return on the investment made in the cloud application, and updates and upgrades can be delivered automatically as they become available.
This type of WFM application can be accessed anywhere at any time via the Internet. As with any other business, call centers are discouraged from having all of their system data housed in one physical location. But with cloud computing, there is never a question of redundancy if a server breaks down or becomes overloaded.
There are environmental benefits as well, as information is stored in a climate that minimizes energy usage. And because servers can be shared in a virtual environment, the result is fewer servers and a reduction in the power required to operate and cool them.
With a workforce management solution that delivers alerts, and can monitor performance in real-time, it’s possible to transform call center performance management from a reactive to a proactive approach. Tools such as scorecards, key performance indicators, real-time alerts, agent analytics, dashboards, and customizable reports deliver a constant stream of intelligence helping you take the right action to better meet your business goals now and in the future. To learn more, we invite you to watch this workforce management demos.