Call Center Workforce Optimization: Strategy and Tools

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The call center is an organization that totally depends on the employee productivity and performance of its employees. On the other hand, it is also one of the most loaded types of organizations, as there is no other kind of department or business that would spend days talking to thousands of real people with distinct complaints and support requests, and other contact center interactions. Another influential factor is the fact that call center agents are often stressed and feel powerful emotional pressure as they have to reach KPIs(Key Performance Indicators), resolve customer problems, extinguish conflicts, and take part in training sessions at the same time. 

Therefore, the quality and strategy of optimizing your human resources is half of success. This task is really challenging as there are many problems that are caused by either employees or workload. To resolve the issue, such a term as workforce optimization(WFO) has been created. 

What does workforce optimization mean? Is it essential for your business? Which benefits can WFO offer? How to provide workforce optimization in a call center? What are the best WFO practices? And what software tools do you require for call center workforce optimization? 

Questions exist to be answered, so let’s do this. 

Workforce optimization(WFO) definition

Workforce optimization is the complex of processes, instruments, operations, and analytics that are focused on improving the performance, productivity, and operational efficiency of the staff. Workforce optimization is always oriented toward various aspects of the work process, from improving scheduling and training procedures to analyzing how to use existing human resources for better contact center efficiency by changing approaches to work. 

Workforce optimization covers many processes, but the main of them are

  • Scheduling 
  • Quality assurance
  • Training
  • Onboarding
  • Workforce management
  • Analyzing metrics and performance
  • Quality scorecards
  • Team environment management

Thus, contact center workforce optimization is a multistage process that has its main goal to improve overall contact center performance. The WFO performance itself depends on the right strategy chosen by the management and the effort that is put into improving employee performance. 

What has the WFO to do with contact centers? 

There are numerous people who don’t enjoy contacting call centers, and if you think that this is a false statement we will describe why we say so. Firstly, many studies have proven that customers don’t like to contact the call center at all - and here is only one link as proof. Secondly, there are so many things that frustrate customers from the early beginning - unskippable IVR systems, too long IVR menus, long waiting times, inappropriate routing, call transfers, agents’ low qualification and inability to solve the problem, the necessity to repeat the issue again and again after switching to another operator, and so on, and so on. Thirdly, even if we try to ignore all of these problems, we will have to take into consideration that customers come frustrated already. Imagine what this looks like - you are frustrated because you have faced the problem, you call the customer service department, try to pass through that annoying IVR system, stay in a queue and still need to repeat your request. How can this not cause anger? And this is one of the most important stages of the customer journey!

Here is why you need WFO. Yes, we know that most of the problems we have described aren’t about WFO at all, but such aspects as agent performance, waiting times, average resolution time, and so on are related to WFO and the WFO is the only way to optimize and defeat these problems. 

WFO is also about the integration of all work processes into one interface, one environment, and one platform that would eliminate such problems as too clumsy workflow and the necessity to switch between various tabs and tools. Have you ever known that only swapping tabs takes around four hours per week? Are you ready to give your employees one extra vacation - especially at your expense? No way!

Benefits of workforce optimization

Now, that you know more about what is the influence of workforce optimization on business, let’s talk about how can it bring you to impact and what processes are covered by workforce optimization with massive positive impact afterward. 

Fewer costs 

As workforce optimization means that all work processes are integrated into one platform with numerous features, you achieve fewer software costs, fewer time losses, opportunities to save on maintenance costs and hardware costs, and what is even more essential - you get the ability to pay for what you exactly need, not for what you have to because the vendor has put too many useless options in the solution to increase its price. 

Better efficiency

After the right workforce optimization procedure is implemented, you will have better control over all work procedures and achieve an opportunity to control the performance of employees and the entire department and provide a better agent experience and agent engagement. 

Easier dealing with call volumes

The main goal of workforce optimization in a call center is to make existing agents work more efficiently in cases of high workloads. Therefore, workforce optimization can help to optimize the call center schedule in accordance with the requirements of call volumes. You can easily manage agents’ shifts to have more agents on the line during peak hours, and fewer - during downtimes. 

Fewer labor costs

As we have already mentioned, there are two extreme points of call center workload - peak hours and downtimes. Peak hours mean the time when the highest call volume happens, and downtimes mean the periods of the lowest call volume. Thus, by excluding agents that are working during downtimes but aren’t needed at all  - as there are too few calls - you can save some money on labor costs and have a budget to deal with high call volumes. 

Better agent satisfaction and engagement

By implementing more thoughtful and efficient call center scheduling, you can easily improve such vital aspects of work and working atmosphere as agent satisfaction and motivation. By the way, agents will be no more overloaded with calls or, vice versa, have no calls to process. What’s more, with the use of a cloud-based contact center software you can implement a hybrid scheduling model that is more adored and preferred by most employees. A remote model is also available to be used, and it can open opportunities for all-around-the-clock service, but it needs also some additional tips to keep in mind. 

Higher customer satisfaction

As WFO decreases waiting times, and response times, and improves the First Call Resolution rate, you will also positively influence such rates as customer satisfaction (CSAT) and customer experience (CX). People will stay in queues for less time, and get assistance faster and with bigger employee engagement.

Positive effect on team building

The WFO process has a positive impact on team relationships and cooperation between team members. During this process, you detect the improvement areas and focus on their processing with the help of training sessions, coaching, mentoring, and other instruments. These procedures bring team members together, and this will have a positive influence on the overall performance of the unit. 

What is the difference between WFM and WFO?

Are you surprised that this paragraph is included in the article? We can easily predict why. As it follows from both definitions, WFM is about how you manage all processes related to workforce management, while WFO is about optimizing the WFM itself and making it more profitable and efficient. Nonetheless, this point of view isn’t right. WFM and WFO are not only about processes, they’re about software tools that give you interfaces and features to manage these processes. Therefore, WFM is just a part of WFO. Consequently, WFO has containing more processes and tools, and it does. Let’s make it clear, finally. 

WFM contains processes like agent scheduling, planning, and staffing. It is also the software tool that offers options to manage these processes. 

WFO, despite the fact that it includes the WFM tool, offers also a wide range of other options, such as speech analytics, learning environments, video calls, internal chat, call recording, and call monitoring features, real time dashboards and insights, quality scorecards, and many more. Mostly, WFO is even more than what we have described in the previous section - it is the whole contact center solution and in some cases these two terms are synonymous. 

What features does the WFO have to include? 

To achieve all benefits that have been described above, the workforce optimization software has to contain enough modern features and wide functionality to cover your needs and guarantee high effectiveness and usability. 

Thus, to optimize workforce management you have to pick up these options. 

Call center forecasting tool

This option is essential for long-term planning and flexible scheduling, as it can predict future call volumes and a number of requests in other digital channels such as email or live chat. This data is critical to understand how many agents you need for the nearest time to avoid too long call queue times and customer dissatisfaction.

Call center scheduling software

This tool is vital to create an accessible and comprehensive schedule for each team member and let them understand the amount of work to do and the main goals and tasks. 

Scheduling is also important for contact center managers to understand how to control and optimize the work of agents, and for agents to have the ability to plan their working time. 

Adherence reporting

You have to see how the agents are following the schedule and whether are there any abuses. What is the purpose of planning and scheduling if no one will follow it? Thus, use such reports to make sure that everything is going according to plan.

Also, give agents an opportunity to propose their changes to the schedule - some of them can be out of work cause of illness or other force-majeure. 

Call recording

A vital feature for agent performance management and detecting improvement areas or imperfections in agent work. Call recordings give you the closest look at how each agent is performing during live conversations with customers. Such significant aspects of agent professionalism as soft skills or hard skills are ideally seen during listening to call recordings.

Therefore, this feature allows you to not only control whether agents are good or not, but you can also use these recordings to train staff - to understand customer behavior, for instance. What can be better than a real sample of the perfect conversation? 

Call monitoring

Another irreplaceable WFO feature that allows you to use hands-on assistance during difficult or conflicting situations. Call monitoring has three modes: hidden, whispering, and barging in. The first mode lets you just listen to conversations without taking part in them. The second mode is for cases where an agent needs help, but you don’t want to escalate the call - an agent can hear you, but a customer does not. The third option is to step into the dialogue and talk to both the agent and the customer. 

Quality assurance scorecards

These scorecards are used by managers to evaluate agent performance and provide quality management. Using such contact center technologies makes sense as it helps you to get a deeper understanding of where agents are doing well, and where they need to improve their performance or gain new skills. 

What’s even better is that these scorecards are integrated into the all-in-one interface of the workforce optimization solutions, so you will have no need to spend a lot of time providing the reviews. 

Third-party software integration

What would agents do without an easy and accessible CRM system? That’s the question that has a clear answer - provide non-personalized experiences and poor customer service and experience. CRM solution has to be integrated with your WFO software via Artificial Intelligence to let agents get unlimited access to customer data, their previous purchases, customer interaction, and other information that can help to increase the service level and customer engagement. 

CRM software is vital for every call center, as there are many customers who come with a few requests, and they’ll keep contacting the contact center if they face another issue. Personalized service isn’t a trend, it’s a fundamental part of exceptional customer experiences and customers are no more willing to provide their personal information without getting personalized service in return.

To be precise, third-party software means not only the CRM software - such tools as time trackers, billing systems, help desks, and so on are also covered by this definition.

Knowledge management system

This WFO tool is vital for contact center agents’ learning and training. Training sessions provided by coaches or mentors can’t cover all agents' needs in new knowledge, as well as one two-hour session isn’t enough for a worker to remember all aspects of the topic. That’s why access to an unlimited and universal knowledge base is vital - agents can learn on their own when they have time and when they want to. 

Knowledge management is also great for customers who can get answers to their questions without having to contact the call center and create another support ticket. 

Internal communication tools

Such obvious things as internal chat or video conferencing tools can be irreplaceable in some cases. Internal chat helps to get answers, help, or just clarify something without distracting from work and switching to another tool. This is also a strong option for contact center leaders to stay in touch with each employee and send significant information about work.

Video conferencing in your WFO solution is needed to provide online training sessions or meetings, both for remote and office-based agents. 

How can we help to implement a WFO solution for your business?

We have already described all the vital features of WFO software and why you need them. Nonetheless, we haven’t mentioned how we can help you if you need a WFO solution. Let’s resolve this issue and present you with a VoipTime Cloud Contact Center solution that can offer a wide range of WFO suites of tools. 

Our solution bears all mentioned features and is something bigger and better than just a WFO solution or, what’s worse, call center scheduling software - it is a unified suite of contact center tools with all features needed to process both inbound and outbound calls, maintain outbound telemarketing campaigns, get deep and detailed reports, integrate third-party software and CRM systems to track each customer interaction, control and monitor agent work, and yes, optimize your workforce management!

Interested in ultimate call center software?

Contact us to discuss your needs and see Voiptime Contact Center in action!

Eugene Siuch

Content Manager and Copywriter

Focused on customer service measurement and improvement, SaaS marketing and industry insights, and researching different methods of staff motivation and performance management in the field of customer service providing.

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