Showing posts with label workforce management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workforce management. Show all posts

Friday, July 25, 2014

Can You Reduce Contact Center Staffing Costs by 20%?

Staffing is the most expensive resource in the call center budget, so any improvement in productivity can have a significant impact.

What if there was a way to cut your staffing costs by as much as 20%, while also reducing the amount of time you now devote to forecasting and scheduling?

It’s possible – just by switching from spreadsheets to a Workforce Management solution.

Spreadsheets were a great idea for call center staffing, forecasting and scheduling – last century. Today, there are faster, easier ways to handle these vital functions that are also more accurate, more agent-friendly, and more economical for call centers of all sizes.

With a WFM solution such as Monet WFM Live, managers have the flexibility to adjust to unexpected events, manage exceptions more efficiently, and reduce shrinkage by as much as 15 minutes per agent per day.

WFM Live offers a number of additional benefits as well, including:

•    Easier skill-based scheduling
•    Real-time adherence monitoring and analysis
•    Less time required for scheduling
•    Improved service levels

Isn’t it Time For a Better Solution?
Monet WFM Live represents a quantum leap forward from spreadsheets, at a cost within reach of any size call center. We invite you to watch a short workforce management video so you can see yourself how the solution might help you reduce costs in your contact center.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is it Time for a Workforce Management Health Check?

Does your workforce management system provide all the benefits you need at a reasonable price? If it doesn’t, it may be time to take a closer look at your solution, and if there is something that can be done to bring it back to optimum efficiency. In other words, perhaps it’s time for a check-up that will provide answers to these questions.

1. Are you using the latest version?
Each new WFM product adds additional capabilities, improves existing functionality, and corrects issues with previous versions. With traditional software, these upgrades can also be expensive, which is why many companies delay implementation. But call centers that get their workforce management in the cloud will always be on the most recent version, as it is automatically installed at no additional cost.

2. How do employees work with this system?
WFM is designed to make the agent’s job easier, but if personnel are not properly trained, or if the system is too complicated, your call center may not be getting the most out of its potential.

3. What are its ongoing costs?
For years, the only WFM solutions worth acquiring were those that also required hardware upgrades, ongoing IT support, and yearly (even monthly) costs for maintenance and operation. Call centers still in this situation must make a decision on maximizing their investment, or perhaps switching to the more economical option of WFM in the cloud.

4. How have our needs changed?
Call centers are still evolving into contact centers. Some may expand, some may contract based on other factors. It’s vital that WFM scales with the needs of the business.

5. Is it delivering as promised?
Call centers step up to a WFM solution to access real-time metrics and reports that impact forecasting, scheduling and day-to-day operation. Is the system providing the information you need to make better decisions?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Is your Hosted Workforce Management Vendor a “Cloud-Pretender"?

When is a cloud not a cloud?

That’s the question many contact centers, as well as other types of businesses, now face as they prepare to switch to cloud-based technology.

They have been told that a cloud solution is easier, lowers upfront costs, and increases productivity. All of which is true. Unfortunately, some providers are now trying to jump on the cloud bandwagon with a solution that delivers all of the costs and none of the benefits.

You might say it’s a cloudy situation.

Cloud computing is not a term easily defined, but the differences between a “cloud pretender” and the genuine article become apparent when comparing relative features and costs. Some of the attributes that should be standard with a cloud-based platform include virtualized scalability, the ability to instantly self-provision and auto-provision resources, a shared infrastructure and easy, automated upgrades.

And since one of the objectives of choosing a cloud-based platform is lowering costs, the call center should not be hit with bills for upgrades, maintenance and additional server capacity when making the switch.

While it would seem the differences would be obvious, many companies have selected cloud solutions only to find themselves in a fake cloud situation that lacks the benefits of the real thing. Over the next few years call centers will recognize their error and make the transition from simple virtualization of client-server software to a genuine cloud-based solution.

If you are considering cloud computing in your call center, you can maximize the benefits derived from it by choosing a trusted, reputable provider and getting the right system in place, the first time. Get this whitepaper "What is cloud-based Workforce Management" to learn more about the "true" cloud.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Six Steps to Improved Call Center Staffing

Of all the factors involved in operating a successful, cost-efficient call center, staffing may be the most significant. Out of every dollar spent in call center costs, about 75 cents is related to labor. That makes these decisions pivotal to the operation of the business.

While different call centers have different priorities and different functions, the challenge of staffing remains relatively consistent regardless of size or specialty. These six steps can help a call center manager successfully traverse the staffing minefield.

1. Gather and Analyze Data


The most accurate and reliable guide to staffing, as anyone who studies workforce management can tell you, is to look back at past performance and call center history. Review the reports generated by the automatic call distributor for data on average handle time, number of incoming calls and other key performance indicators.

To create a staffing schedule for, say, the first week of April, the obvious place to start is with the data for the first week of April of the previous year, and the year before if that information is available. The more historical data used, the better the chance of an accurate forecast. Variations should also be considered – where does Easter fall this year? Will that impact call volume? Will more students be on spring break?

When consulting previous weeks/months/years of information, the two numbers that will most strongly impact forecasts are call volume and average handle time, either calculated per hour or per half-hour.

2. Crunch the Numbers for a Workload Calculation


There are three methods typically employed by call centers to translate historical data into a staffing forecast:

Point Estimate 
With this system the call center relies on a basic apples-to-apples comparison of a future point in time with that same point in the past. For example, forecasting next June 15 based on traffic numbers from June 15 of last year. While this is a good starting point, it will not be precise as it does not account for more recent calling trends or new products or promotions.

Averaging
With this method a manager would average relevant past numbers to predict call volume, preferably while relying more heavily on recent data (by creating a formula that uses these numbers more prominently). However, this may still not take into account some changes or events that would have figured into older data.

Time Series Analysis
With time series analysis, historical data is calculated alongside monthly or seasonal changes, as well as more recent events and other variables. It is a more comprehensive approach that typically results in better forecasts.

3. Staffing Calculations


Steps #1 and #2 are used to create the forecast. Now it’s time to formulate a schedule. The call volume forecast numbers are factored into workload predictions, workload being the number derived from multiplying the amount of forecasted calls and the average call handle time.

Most managers will add additional staff to whatever number of agents is deemed appropriate, both to compensate for unexpected absences and to maintain customer service levels should call volume be higher than anticipated. The unproductive hours designated as “shrinkage” – breaks, training time, tardiness, meetings – must also be considered. At most call centers, shrinkage rates fall somewhere between 20% and 35%, depending on the size of the business. In general, larger call centers can absorb these variables more easily because of a more favorable staff-to-workload ratio.

Another factor is how busy each agent will be during a shift, referred to as agent occupancy. The goal is to achieve an optimum balance between not sitting around for extended periods of time between calls, and not having a long queue of calls waiting that might result in rushing a customer call, to the detriment of that engagement. As a percentage, 85-90% is considered an acceptable occupancy range.

4. Create Assignments


Creating a staff schedule is all about getting the right number of the right people in position to handle the customer service needs of the call center. Once the calculations from the previous step have been completed, the manager should know how many agents would be needed for the shift in question.

As some call centers operate with full-time agents and others use part-time and telecommuting employees, this is when shift lengths and resources must be defined, days off specified and personnel scheduled. Depending on the size of the call center, there may be dozens, if not hundreds, of scheduling possibilities. If skill-based routing is also a priority, this will also affect staffing decisions. Once personnel have been selected, the manager also has the option of staggering start times by 15 or 30 minutes, which can reduce instances of too many agents taking lunch breaks or other diversions at the same time during a shift.

5. Management and Adjustment


There is no way to know if a plan is going to work until it is executed. Even with the preparations and calculations already described, staff schedules will likely still have to be adjusted every day. This ongoing management of staff and schedule is referred to as performance tracking.

The main components of performance tracking are call volume, AHT and staffing levels. Deviations from forecasting predictions may require staffing adjustments, assuming enough flexibility has been built into the schedule to make the necessary changes. If not, call center service goals may be in jeopardy. Tracking the number of a calls in queue may also require some “instant forecasting” to adjust the remainder of the shift accordingly. However, over-reaction should also be avoided, lest a random surge be mistaken for a full-day trend.

6. Review, Analyze, and Adjust


The end of a shift is the beginning of preparation for the next one. The challenge of staffing is ongoing, but each day’s results deliver data to analyze that may result in ways to improve performance, both for each individual agent and the entire team.

Conclusion
Many of the most persistent challenges of staffing can be mitigated when call center managers know what to look for, when they have the information they need, when they need it, and when they can act upon it quickly.

No one every said predicting the future was easy. But an effective, automated workforce management solution can make the necessary calculations, remove much of the guesswork and improve the accuracy of schedules and forecasts. Through real-time measurement of call center metrics, agents and managers gain the data visibility necessary to deliver the service that customers expect, and can react more quickly to issues and resolve them before they impact operations.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Introducing Workforce Management to Agents

As call center workforce management has evolved over the decades, its methods have become more refined, more specific and more advantageous. In doing so, however, it has also become more intrusive, at least from the perspective of some agents.

When it was all hard copy spreadsheets, or even after the advent of Excel spreadsheets, its tentacles seemed more distant. But with today’s workforce management software, it really seemed like “Big Brother” had finally arrived. It can generate fear and confusion, as well as concern over being controlled by a super-computer that will monitor what they are doing every moment of every shift.

This can pose a challenge to call center management when introducing this new technology into the workplace. How can the transition be eased into a system that will change the way schedules are created, shifts are assigned, exceptions are considered and hours are calculated?

Here are two approaches that might help.
  • The first focuses on reassurance. Whether this is done individually or collectively, let the agents know that the customer service goals of the call center have not changed – just the methods for helping to achieve them. Managers should be available to answer questions and address concerns. Most agent trepidation is rooted in a fear of the unknown – once the system is explained and demonstrated, many of these fears will subside.
  • Next, stress that the benefits of workforce management software are not limited to management. Now, it will be easier for agents to request shift swaps or days off, so they can better balance work with their personal lives. Walk them through the process until it becomes familiar.
Once agents have bought into the system as well, WFM software can deliver dramatic service improvements as well as agent motivation. If you have question or would like to learn from other call centers, please feel free to contact us - we are happy to share our experience in rolling out workforce management systems.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hosted ACD in the Cloud – Now What?

In several previous blogs we weighed the benefits and drawbacks of a cloud delivery system vs. on-premises hardware and software installation. However, while these examinations focused on an “either-or” scenario, there are many call centers now employing a combination of the two options.

This is especially true with Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). Some contact centers have jumped on hosted ACD or a cloud ACD system, recognizing the efficiency advantages of skill-based routing of incoming calls. The cloud system is particularly beneficial for contact centers with a decentralized workforce, as they can be connected to the system from home or anywhere without additional hardware installation.

However, if a contact center is employing an ACD system without a proper planning of an overall cloud strategy, it may be missing out on the cost and convenience benefits gained from a more comprehensive cloud solution.

Many traditional on-site WFM and WFO systems might not take full advantage of hosted or cloud ACD. When all of these vital functions are planned and handled based on on a complete cloud solution model, the result is a more simplified, streamlined operation, lower costs, improved reliability and scalability, and 24/7 security and management.

Monet’s WFO Live, for example, incorporates workforce management tools to improve scheduling and service levels, call recording capabilities for compliance, and quality assurance to help managers better evaluate the performance of their agents and the call center as a whole. All of these functions deliver the data that makes automatic call distribution more effective.

From forecasting and exception planning to call tagging, reporting and analytics, WFO Live is a one-stop source for call center efficiency, accessed through the cloud for better convenience and lower upfront cost.

If you have questions regarding an overall cloud strategy for your contact center, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to share our cloud expertise.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Workforce Management and Scheduling

workforce management
When you examine how many of the challenges inherent in operating call centers are connected to scheduling and workforce management, it becomes obvious that a consistent, reliable scheduling solution is essential to meeting customer service goals.

The problem, of course, is that scheduling encompasses a lot of moving parts, and requires the precise allocation of human and technological resources. And even when managers find a formula that works, thus achieving a perfect balance of call handlers with times of higher and lower tempo activity, it is not immune from last-minute changes and variables. All it takes is a few agents calling in sick just before the shift starts to render these perfect calculations worthless.

But for every issue that may arise, there is one solution – workforce management (WFM) software. It works because it addresses scheduling challenges before the shift begins, allows for faster reaction times to changes during a shift, and compiles data after each shift that can be used for future forecast and schedule creation.

Before the Shift
The majority of time devoted to scheduling takes place before the day or shift in question. This is when the call center manager will create a forecast for a specified time, then create a schedule based on that forecast.

This is when data will be reviewed based on historic trends dating back months or years. WFM compiles this data, factoring in quantitative judgments that make it easier for managers to build a proper schedule. Forecasts can be created based on both best case and worst-case scenarios, which will reveal opportunities to further improve efficiency.

Other factors to consider when creating a schedule include skill-based routing – to make sure calls are received by the agent best qualified to take them, and agent preferences that should be accommodated whenever possible to boost company morale.

Some call centers still rely on spreadsheets to track scheduled time, agent availability, and such daily occurrences as work breaks and training sessions. The same tasks can be accomplished more quickly and more accurately with WFM software, particularly at call centers with more than 25 agents.

During the Shift
This is when the best-laid plans sometimes fall apart. It’s also when WFM software proves its superiority over spreadsheets. One of its best features is intra-day management, a graphical display of real-time call center activity that lets managers check their schedule accuracy.

If the forecast and schedule is out of sync, customer service is suffering and so is the call center budget. Fifteen minutes a day may not seem like much, but if agents are out of adherence that long every day, the result can be tens of thousands of dollars in additional staffing costs.

Acknowledging adherence issues and addressing them on tomorrow’s forecast is not enough. With intra-day management, managers can review agent schedules and change them by dragging and dropping breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Surpluses and shortages are displayed for each pre-set time period throughout the day, so managers instantly know which resources are available and how they are being utilized.

After the Shift
There is value to the data collected from every shift. WFM software tracks agent performance, achievement of key performance indicators and schedule accuracy, as well as costs and revenue.

Choosing a Workforce Management Solution
There are several factors that can influence the selection of a WFM solution. While all of them will increase efficiency and service levels, it’s important to achieve these goals while also reducing costs and accelerating ROI. Keep these criteria in mind before you start the selection process:

Capabilities
A WFM solution should include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.

Implementation and Integration
Does the system work with a call center’s existing hardware? If so, how long will it take to implement, and for agents to get comfortable with the system?

Cost
Incorporate upfront costs, ongoing monthly or maintenance costs, and any hidden costs in the budgeting consideration. Can the system be used over the web without equipment purchase? Weigh the advantages of an on-premises solution vs. a Cloud solution.

Metrics
Besides forecasting, scheduling and adherence, other key WFM metrics that should be able to be reviewed via dashboard include call answer times, first call resolutions and transfer rates. The more metrics that can be tracked, the easier it is to zero in on issues that impact customer service – and the easier it is to correct them. 

Unification
How unified will the user experience be across solution components? Will the dashboards show everything necessary to monitor a call and discover how and where corrections should be made?

Scalability
Can the solution grow with the call center? Can modules be added without additional hardware costs?

Risk
What happens if the first system purchased doesn’t pan out? Can it be returned without incurring any financial risk?

ROI
What will the return on investment (ROI) be, and how quickly will the call center recoup that initial investment?

For more information, please download this Workforce Management Selection Guide which provides a more detailed check-list and criteria to consider when choosing a WFM system.


WFM Live From Monet Software
The call center is the perfect dance of call volume, agent availability and productive interactions – at least that is the goal for every call center manager. The challenge, however, is turning those goals into reality when trying to implement call center scheduling tools. Workforce Management (WFM) Live from Monet Software can help.

Monet solves contact centers’ two biggest business issues: meeting service levels and controlling payroll costs. Monet’s workforce management software is cloud-based and delivered as a service, avoiding a large upfront investment and painful hardware and software implementation.

Plus, the system is fully integrated into Monet’s Workforce Optimization Suite, which delivers web-based applications for call recording, quality monitoring and performance management a low monthly fee with minimal capital investment.

A simple set up (within 30 days in most cases) has agents and managers up and running quickly, with a level of functionality that meets or exceeds industry standards. Forecasting, scheduling, real-time adherence, ACD integration, intra-day management, exceptions handling, supervisor collaboration, reporting and more, all delivered within a secure, scalable and reliable system.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workforce Optimization for Business Process Outsourcers (BPO)

As a Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) your contact centers often have to represent an array of clients in very different businesses, and you must be able to adapt to meet their specific needs.

Does multiple clients mean multiple headaches? Certainly it can be a challenge to deliver a great customer experience for each company, and more importantly for their customers, who should not be able to detect that their call has been outsourced.

The Solution? Workforce Optimization!
Workforce Optimization software (WFO) is the fastest and easiest way for BPOs to achieve all of its customer service goals in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. WFO comprises a suite of automated services, including:
  • Workforce Management
  • Call Recording
  • Quality Monitoring
  • Screen Capture
  • Performance Management and Agent Analytics
With these tools in place a BPO is much better equipped to serve the needs of its clientele. Workforce management streamlines forecasting and scheduling so the call center is prepared for each day’s challenges. Call recording helps confirm that agents are meeting the needs of each customer base, while also providing a record for BPO clients to review so they can listen to how their customers are treated.

Quality management and screen capture deliver the key performance indicators to improve service levels, while performance management and agent analytics provide scorecard analysis and reports to further refine agent performance. 

With WFO, a business process outsourcer can juggle the specific forecasts and schedules for different clients, while delivering a better experience for all of their customers. If your organization provides contact center related BPO services, please talk to us and let us know what your current needs and challenges are and we will share with you how we have helped other Business Process Outsourcing companies.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Contact Center Management for Public Sector Healthcare Agencies under the Affordable Care Act

Last year’s passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has introduced dramatic policy changes that will impact consumers, employers, insurance agencies and healthcare providers.

Today, as the rollout continues, thousands of Americans have questions about whether they can keep their current insurance, or if there might be something better available through one of the exchanges. Companies that provide employee coverage must confirm whether they are compliant with the new guidelines, and doctors and hospitals will also have to adjust to this new healthcare paradigm.

But while cable news pundits debate about whether ACA is wonderful or disastrous, many of the questions being asked about ACA are being routed into contact centers that serve both patients and providers, while also having to satisfy a high level of compliance and security regulations. 

Dealing with these numerous challenges is easier with Workforce Optimization (WFO) software. With WFO, contact centers can more accurately forecast and plan personnel needs by running “What If” scenarios and analyzing the results. Once the level of increased demand has been determined, scheduling becomes more efficient and flexible, ensuring better utilization of limited resources and improved cost management.

Of course, public sector and government healthcare agencies are often further challenged with resource constraints. Thus a flexible cloud and SaaS investment model becomes more desirable, as it allows healthcare organizations to effectively manage costs as workforce demand fluctuates. Plus, with the cloud delivery model there is:
  • Minimal upfront investment

  • Fast set up

  • An expedited learning curve for users
  • A low predictable monthly subscription

  • Security to protect data and information
  • Scalability to address fluctuations and peak hours
 

Contact us to learn more about how a wide range of healthcare organizations at the city, county and state level are using Monet Software for their workforce optimization needs.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Workforce Management Case Study (Part 2)

In our last workforce management blog post, we took a closer look at one customer’s experience with Monet’s WFM Live.

http://www.monetsoftware.com/call-center-documents/?file=CustomerCaseGECUThe Texas-based credit union GECU sought to improve efficiency and customer service at its contact center. Following an exhaustive search, GECU selected Monet and its cloud-based workforce management solution.

Just a few months after implementation, the results were in: Because of improvements in forecasting methods, GECU was able to reduce its number of agents, while delivering better customer service. With the more accurate scheduling made possible by WFM Live, there was a 30% reduction in unscheduled breaks. Costly overtime scheduling was reduced, while call volume spikes were managed more easily.

Today, the quality and service levels at GECU are solidly placed in the top 97% tier.

Best of all, these changes were all made through an economical solution that reduced upfront investment while achieving rapid ROI. One GECU executive reported that the system paid for itself after just a few months, with three years of subscription costs offset by savings in salaries, overtime and administrative costs.

There’s a reason why contact centers and businesses like GECU choose Monet to meet their forecasting, scheduling and budgeting challenges.

Read the full GECU workforce management case study here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 5 Workforce Management Blog Posts of 2013

Over the past 12 months we’ve published dozens of blogs focusing on the importance of workforce management (WFM) and the difference it can make at a call center. We’ve selected the top five of these blogs, based on popularity and feedback. If you missed them the first time, here they are once again:

1. Workforce Management Visualized With Dashboards
Find out how dashboards provide valuable insight into forecasting, scheduling, adherence and metrics.

2. Five Tips for More Accurate Call Center Forecasting
Outstanding call center customer service begins with an accurate forecast. This blog describes five workforce management activities that will result in better forecasts.

3. Use Workforce Management to Engage Employees, not Control Them
How can you break through the “Big Brother” mindset to create a positive impression of WFM among call center agents? By including them in the scheduling process.

4. What is Cloud-Based Workforce Management Software?
If you haven’t converted to a cloud-based system yet, you’ve certainly heard of the inroads this technology has been making in call center systems. This blog details why such solutions have become popular, with benefits ranging from cost savings to increased flexibility.

5. What is Call Center Shrinkage, and How to Minimize It
When schedule adherence goes awry, shrinkage is often to blame. And when that happens, reduced service levels almost inevitably follow. Find out more about shrinkage and how to manage it at your call center.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Challenge of a Flexible Workforce: Scheduling

The advantages to a call center of a flexible workforce cannot be discounted. When agents have more say in the shifts they work and the breaks they take, they are more likely to provide outstanding customer service. They are also more likely to stay in their position, which reduces employee turnover and the time and cost issues involved with training new hires. In addition, the call center can also benefit from staggering shifts and flexible start and end times. Flexibility is often a win-win for all involved.

The challenge, however, is to reap the efficiency, service and cost benefits of a flexible schedule without the difficulties involved in its creation. Spreadsheets, the traditional method of scheduling, are not as user-friendly when flexibility is part of the mix.

The answer is workforce management (WFM) software. A WFM system makes it much easier for agents to add, swap or cancel shifts, even without a manager’s approval (if the call center allows). And by doing so via a Web-based interface, rather than submitting requests via telephone or email, changes are handled more quickly and there is a record of each change. That helps to avoid conflicts later.

When a call center first makes the switch from a fixed to a flexible schedule, it can be problematic in the short term as both agents and managers adjust to the new status quo. One way to limit confusion is to make the transition gradually, by granting access to the flexible shift model to a few agents, and then expanding it over time to the rest of the workforce.

Whatever short-term issues arise from the transition are nothing compared to the improved service levels and lower personnel costs that will inevitably follow. Please take a few minutes to watch any of the scheduling demos to get better understanding of how WFM can help you create and manage a more flexible schedule.

http://www.monetsoftware.com/call-center-workforce-scheduling-demos/


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Workforce Scheduling Made Easier

It takes both art and science to staff a call center. Next to hiring the right personnel, scheduling plays the key role in maximizing resources and making sure calls are handled in a courteous and efficient manner.

This is important stuff that deserves your attention, but it can’t occupy too much of your time that could also be devoted to improving service levels and achieving the company’s operational and fiscal goals. It must be done, but it needs to be done quickly.

Workforce Management: Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets
The best way to make scheduling easier is to switch from a spreadsheet-based system to once that uses workforce management software. Now you’ll have the flexibility to better (and automatically) manage start times, end times and break times.

Flexibility is also an important element of agent satisfaction – when you can staff a roster with the agents you need, and balance those needs with agents working their preferred shifts and hours, you’ll have happier agents (which always results in happier customers) and lower employee turnover.

What you don’t want, however, are agents at your office door all day with questions about which shifts are available, if they can change their Monday schedule to Wednesday, etc. An automated solution delivered through a Web portal will allow agents to bid on shifts, swap or cancel without taking up a manager’s time. The system will have parameters in place, set by the call center, that will approve or reject such requests automatically.

Of course, the wealth of information provided by WFM isn’t much good if it is not presented in a way that is clear, concise, and accessible to changes as needed. Choose a WFM system that allows for real-time changes to be easily implemented, that shows summaries of all agent statuses, including exceptions. If you can’t find the data you need quickly, look for another system.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Visit our New Workforce Management Resource

workforce management
Still have workforce management questions? New to call center forecasting and scheduling? Need a better workforce management system? Interested in the latest cloud-computing solutions for contact centers? Want to learn about workforce optimization best practices? Now there’s a new place to go for answers.

In addition to the blogs and other resources found on this site, Monet has also created Workforce Management Resource in partnership with the media company TMCnet. It has been designed for call center managers and other decisions makers as an information source on effective workforce management solutions.

Visitors to Workforce Management Resource can find valuable insight into new and trusted efficiency solutions via feature articles, industry news, whitepapers, videos and e-demos.

This is not a one-time addition to TMC; Workforce Management Resource will be continually updated with tips and information that will boost best practices at call centers of all sizes and types.

To check out this exciting new window into the latest WFM technologies and how they can help your business, visit the featured articles of Workforce Management Resource.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What is a Workforce Optimization Platform?

A Workforce Optimization (WFO) platform is not just one method for improving contact center performance – it is a multitude of efficiency-boosting capabilities in one unified, automated package.

The “optimization” part of workforce optimization is achieved by integrating different components so they are working together instead of at cross-purposes.

Let’s use Monet’s WFO Live as an example. How does it help with scheduling, one of the most critical tasks of call center management?

Workforce management software delivers the metrics that makes it easier and more efficient to forecast, schedule, intra-day management, exception handling and to real-time adherence tracking.

But part of optimum scheduling is making sure the right agents are handling the right calls. That’s where Monet Record comes in – by having a record of how different agents handle different calls, a manager now has a way to determine which of his team members are best suited for different customer engagements. Monet Quality can also help here, by making it easier to retrieve calls by specific type, and providing additional reporting and analytics to further assess each agent’s skills.

Unfortunately, the status quo rarely remains the same in any call center, so all these calculations must be regularly updated and re-examined. Monet Metrics delivers agent analytics, real-time alerts, scorecards and customizable reports, as well as data on key performance indicators such as agent adherence and service levels. This information can then be used in conjunction with workforce management to begin the process all over again.

With one unified suite of workforce optimization services, every aspect of a call center can be monitored, analyzed and improved. When you get your agents working together as efficiently as the solutions incorporated in Monet’s WFO Live, you will be on the way to consistent, reliable customer service and support.

To see these capabilities in action, please watch the latest videos in our workforce optimization demo center.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What is Workforce Management for Contact Centers?

What is your definition of workforce management? It probably depends on the type of business you are in. 

Wikipedia provides this general statement: “In many markets and industries, workforce management is all about assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time.”

For contact centers, that definition is a great place to start. If a manager schedules the right agents with the appropriate call-handling skills on the shifts where those skills will be most needed, he or she is certainly on the best track to an efficient operation.

However, knowing what to do and how to get there are two separate challenges. That’s where workforce management (WFM) software can play a critical role.

A manager needs to know what type of calls, and call volume, to expect on a certain week or day or even during a particular hour. With WFM, historical call data is collected and analyzed with the goal of predicting future workload. With the more accurate predictions provided by WFM, a manager can forecast needs and schedule staff accordingly.

Finding the best agents for the needs of a shift or a certain type of customer? Again, past performance of agents can be reviewed for how quickly different types of calls are handled, and which percentage were brought to a successful conclusion.

The best WFM solution will include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.

For even more information, please visit our new Workforce Management resources website - it provides workforce management tips, industry news and other resources.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Workforce Management with Spreadsheets?

The holiday season is a time of tradition.  Some traditions deserve our respect and should be sustained for future generations. But in the office, there is sometimes a tendency to show too much deference to traditions that have outlived their usefulness. One of these is the use of spreadsheets in contact centers.

Many contact centers handle forecasting and scheduling the same inefficient way they did 20 years ago, which is why the data generated sometimes proves insufficient.

It’s time for a change, and technology has made that change possible.

Our whitepaper, “The Real Cost of Scheduling Spreadsheets,” explores that very topic.

As stated in the whitepaper, an automated workforce management (WFM) solution can improve forecast accuracy, making sure all the necessary resources are always in place. It can also streamline the scheduling process.

A WFM system also provides the flexibility to automatically manage start times, end times and break times. Spreadsheets cannot match this speed and efficiency, which results in unhappy agents and higher shrinkage.

Workforce Management (WFM) can play a prominent role in engendering employee satisfaction. Skill-based scheduling plays to an agent strengths and boosts confidence, while flexible scheduling acknowledges and may acquiesce to their obligations outside the office.  

Happier agents and better contact center control through online collaboration, reporting and transparency tools, can all result from WFM implementation. Spreadsheets simply cannot compete. And wouldn’t you rather spend the hours now devoted to compiling them to focusing on other aspects of your business – or just getting out of the office on time for a change?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Learn Something New About Forecasting and Scheduling

Have you considered making a final break from spreadsheets, and incorporating a sophisticated workforce management solution into your contact center? If so, what is holding you back? For many, it may be a concern that WFM is too complicated, too difficult to install, too confusing to use. But what if we could prove that wasn’t the case?

Check out the short videos below, each of which covers a specific challenge faced by every call center, and explains how workforce management software makes that challenge much easier to manage. You’ll see how the software works, and how simple it is to collect the data you need to keep your call center running at optimum efficiency.

Forecasting and Scheduling Demo Center

The videos cover the following topics:

Accurate Forecasting
With WFM you’ll have monthly and weekly stats to review, plus daily and hourly numbers. You can even examine work periods as short as 15 minutes. By reviewing past activity, you’ll have a much better idea of how to predict future needs.

Efficient Scheduling
Confident scheduling comes from the knowledge that the right people are in the right places at the right times. Find out how WFM makes this task easier.

Effective Staffing
Discover how WFM optimizes scheduling for all necessary factors, including agent skill sets, staff availability, holidays, breaks and service levels.

Intra-Day Management
Scheduling an agent for a shift is not enough – WFM also provides a graphical display of variances in agents’ schedules during the workday for breaks, lunch and other exceptions.

Exception Planning
Find out how the integrated exception calendar simplifies the scheduling of agent exceptions for training, time off and other variables.

Interactive Dashboards
Watch how WFM provides actionable insights on all agent activities through dashboards, key performance indicators and real-time alerts.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Which Workforce Management Metrics Do You Track?

Workforce Management Metrics to track
Workforce management metrics track a number of issues vital to the success of a contact center. Some attention should be paid to tracking all of them as they relate to performance efficiency and customer satisfaction. But if that is not always possible, these are the metrics that should receive the most scrutiny.

Average Handle Time (AHT)
One of the most significant factors in staff calculations is the center’s average handle time, or the transaction time from the customer’s initiation of the call.

Average Talk Time (ATT)
Productivity is impacted by calls that take too long to resolve.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
This metric also has a direct impact on the number of abandoned calls, all of which represent potential missed sales or customer support opportunities.

After Call Work (ACW)
Often misinterpreted as non-productive time, ACW should be measured as a percentage of total handle time and adjusted accordingly.

Labor Costs/Staffing
Decisions on how many agents to schedule per shift affect both customer service and company budgets, so any data that helps clarify the needs of the call center can greatly improve efficiency.

Schedule Adherence
How closely does the work shift align with the schedule prepared in advance?

Forecast Accuracy
Even forecasts that are on the mark may eventually need to be re-assessed based on changing company or market conditions.

If you would like to learn more, we invite you to watch a short video about how to track key workforce management metrics in real-time from a single dashboard.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Forecasting and Scheduling During the Holiday Season

So many companies rely on increased orders during the holiday season to make or break their annual sales goals. Thus, the call center plays a critical role in making certain each customer call is efficiently handled during these final weeks of the year.

If that means adding agents or changing shift personnel, the time to start planning for these events is not in December, but right now.

Proper planning and forecasting is the key to handling seasonal changes in call volume. This is much easier to do with Workforce Management software. Now, you can take advantage of "special day" forecasting/scheduling, leveraging call history data to forecast the future. Plus, you can run simulations based on this data and review the results, so they can be fine-tuned as necessary.

Once generated, schedules should be easily accessible to all concerned parties so there’s never any confusion.

Unfortunately, once schedules are set they are not immune to revision. Last minute changes are often unavoidable, but WFM should resolve any issues before they can impact performance.