Source: Statista.com Workforce management software and forecast in revenue from 2016 to 2024
Having done that you need to reduce operational costs and predict future workloads. With robust analytic and proactive software, it’s possible to leverage resources and staff in the way you want.
The term workforce management means a conscious activity of contact centers managers on adjustments to agent schedules in necessary time periods to tackle high calling volume.
The necessity to control staff activity: remotely, optimizing labor hours, defining contact center leaders, higher operational efficiency, money-saving, and multiple business goals. The demand to weave these activities in one created the call center workforce management solutions as we know them today.
As a result, it dramatically increases customer satisfaction (CSAT), service level, and skyrocket revenue opportunity. This guide will show how to overcome obstacles in workforce management.
How to manage contact centers with workforce management?
Workforce management is not rocket science, but it’s tricky for startups, small - or mid-sized businesses. For example, it’s important to identify communication across all channels, such as phone, web chat, social media, SMS, chatbot, and email for sustainable and lasting ROI.
Since each channel of communication brings a certain amount of leads and sales, every touchpoint must be identified, noticed, highlighted, and stored for future planning. Keep in mind that information about an agent’s qualification, skill set, and experience is a part of important data.
All these data are weaved in one system of workforce management and gives the option to track and expect future volumes. Featuring the industry, there are simple options to tackle every goal of the call center without wasting a lot of time or money.
Featuring the industry with forecasting
To be clear, forecasting is calculating the future calling volume based on relevant data. Forecasting considers seasonality, marketing campaigns, and trends. The landscape of activity is based on historical, statistical, and analytical data from short- and long-term periods of time.
It’s possible to anticipate the call volume from customers, prepare skilled agents and resources to deliver a proactive customer experience. Depending on trends and economic transformations, customers contact call centers in the way they want. There are no unpredictable situations in marketing, at least these situations are rare.
Instant incorporation of forecasting
Most of the call centers use either Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or mix Excel with the workforce management software for forecasting. Despite the complexity of data, some call centers even use manual methods.
Storing, filling, and using data without bringing order puts in danger the success of a call center. It’s the first and biggest mistake managers commit in forecasting. As a result, it’s easy to lose, forget, or misinterpret data in a right and easy-to-understand fashion. Let’s find out the real up-to-date trends in forecasting.
According to surveys, the main sources for storing, filing, and searching data for the forecast are:
- Using only Microsoft Excel spreadsheets – 40%;
- Excel with input from call center WFM software – 32%;
- Excel with input from other systems – 11%;
- WFM software or other systems – 11%;
- Manual methods (using the word document or paper notice) – 6%.
Depending on the size of your call center, it’s more or less challenging to keep your data in shape, remaining real data for a certain period, and preventing mixing or loss of relevant data. The first thing you need to do to maintain a high level of the forecast is shaping your data.
Shaping the data
The main process is: to gather, store and use the relevant data in the right way, to anticipate the calling volume, and to adequately respond to it. To use data efficiently, you need to keep it clean and up-to-date.
To do it successfully, you need to keep and sort data like time, dates, calls, metrics, absenteeism - unsatisfied agents, campaigns, customers, etc. Be advised that the main purpose of preparation is to ease the finding, filling, changing, and tracking of data. It will be helpful in the case of migrating to other systems, such as workforce management software.
Clear your data
In the case of Microsoft Excel and not workforce management software, data for your call center should contain mostly numbers without a lot of text. It’s because it’s hard to remember what the exact word or text means.
With numbers, you’re easily searching, finding, and understanding information about sales, calls, customer experience, etc.
One of the most common mistakes is cluttering business data with garbage, messing with emails, contacts, and names. And there is no way to figure out how it happens or how to prevent it.
But the impact on your call center productivity is huge and you should clean the data from the garbage before it slows or irritates the work of your contact center agents.
Proactive optimizing of your data
The most efficient way to contain data is to use charts and curves. Charts and curves are easier to understand than a bunch of data with words or numbers. There are three common forecasting models you need to master:
- Standard Erlang – C model. This is a model which encompasses traditional forecasting methods for call centers. It uses historical data from IVRs, CDRs, telephone companies, and other sources of data to anticipate future calling activities or customer demand.
- Holt-Winters model. The model adds to your forecasting a season factor, which is important to anticipate future contact volumes. You’ll achieve the capacity to schedule and forecast using this model. Every market has seasonal picks and customer interaction volume in certain seasonal picks.
As an example, if you’re selling conditioners, there are 100% more requests about conditioners in the summer. And there is a little request about them in winter;
- Autoregressive integrated moving average or (ARIMA) model. This is a model that works when you have stationary in your forecast data. For example, if you have a straight uptrend, downtrend, or stationary.
However, if you have trends day-by-day, in a short period, you need to bring data to the stationary environment for that marketing pattern to use this model successfully.
Proactive call center workforce scheduling
Having all the data about forecasting, you’ll be able to streamline agents to certain days or hours of work. After analysis of trends, you need to schedule proper agents at the exact time.
You’ll need to put the most experienced agents in the calling picks, so they could handle the challenging and stressful volume of calls. For less experienced agents, it’s better to create less challenging calling environments, so they could easily answer all the questions without losing motivation.
The top priority in workforce management is assigning agents
The main goal of assigning agents is to sustain presence across voice, chats, and emails. But most important that this presence was supported by qualified staff. To be more efficient, you need to place agents according to their skills and experience at the right time. Consider assigning challenging talking to experienced agents and easy one to less experienced.
Intraday performance management
Intraday management call center is the activity of allocating agents during the day. During the day, you need to define the best pattern of answering and calling for your agents. You can filter the data to observe more concrete features. That’s mean you have more real-time insights about the agent’s activity that include:
- Logged time;
- Talking time;
- Idle time;
- First Resolution Rate (FCR);
- Transfer of calls;
- Abandon calls;
- Average handle time;
- Result rate.
If there is a high calling volume and challenging assignments ahead, you need to consider putting the skilled agents in that period. Based on previous periods and calling patterns, you can easily understand the way you need to manage intraday activity.
When you make these analyses, you will gain knowledge about abandoned calls, handle time, first resolution rate, and the overwhelming number of staff. By encompassing these data you will make a better plan for the future and put the right staff in the right place.
Now you can create a business continuity plan
Business continuity means that your call center must work 100% efficiently no matter what internal or external factors exist.
- Economic transformation;
- Market changing;
- Customers behavior;
- Customer solvency, etc.
- Failure of servers, internet, electricity, etc.
These factors are counted in a business continuity plan to prevent the disruptive impact. Customers will not wait until you resolve business issues, they need to resolve their problems immediately. They care about your products or services in the way of improving their lives.
The best way to use your advantage is to plan the business patterns for years. Exceptional work of business and 5-star customer experience despite disruption factors gives you the edge on every market.
Reasons why executives prefer workforce management
Performance management is tracking the success of your team that meets goals in proper periods of time. The key to maximum productivity is the maximum data about every action in a call center. Here’s where KPIs metrics could help to track the accomplishment of the goals.
Sometimes devoted resources or staff are not used 100% and that’s throwing money away. To use 100% of the resources of your call center, you need to know about these resources and how to use them efficiently.
Staff and technologies are the two most important assets for a call center. Other stuff has a supporting value. And the art of accompanying and sticking to goals by wisely using these two assets is the single most important skill you need to master.
Absenteeism, shrinkage, and burnout are not rare patterns for call centers.
Absenteeism is a poor professional pattern that must be prevented by contact center managers as soon as possible.
Shrinkage, on the other hand, is an activity that call centers have to meet from time to time. Internal shrinkage is when an agent is absent from the workplace, during a meal, meeting, etc. External shrinkage is when an agent is sick or incapable of making calls.
Burnout is a pattern of exhaustion of agents because of high work pressure. The main benefit of workforce management as it creates a flexible and lasting customer experience.
How to reduce the maximum cost of personnel at a minimum time?
Your call center personnel are the most valuable asset. If staff works and delivers a great performance, you have a lasting ROI. And there will always be a flow of calls to the call center.
To create sustainability for call centers, you need to train, maintain, promote, and anticipate the conditions of your workforce. The first step in reducing the personnel cost is to hire a proper person.
The hiring of highly motivated individuals is the first and most important thing you need to do, to reduce your cost of personnel. This kind of staff will not quit when times come tough. Look at your successful and experienced agents. They were highly motivated from the very beginning.
Maintaining staff is important. For example, hiring a new agent for a call center is much costlier than maintaining it. A hired agent will be fully on board within a year and by that time you need to make a certain amount of investment in training for that agent.
Maintaining staff with proper motivation will significantly reduce your personal expenses. Check this guide on how to manage a remote call center team. Define contact center leaders, promote, and put them in the right place.
In every call center, there has to be a leader that accomplishes the most challenging assignments and gives a hand to agents that can’t handle the call or pressure.
Contact center leaders have a pivoting function in a call center, they reduce strain, resolve issues, and encourage agents.
Training of workforce is everything
Your call center has experienced agents and newbies. To make more ROI, all agents have to be trained and achieve more knowledge from experience. Training must include practical methods to overcome the most challenging conversations in the shortest time possible.
The first thing agents need to train is the way they talk with customers. And there are only two things that customers want to hear from the agent. It’s a practical or emotional appeal to their needs and problems.
Every agent has to master an emotional and practical appeal in talking with customers. When customers call a call center, they seek these practical or emotional solutions, and agents have to know how to satisfy them.
These appeals and agent adherence to them must be trained in staff meetings when all agents gather and discuss how they overcome different, challenging situations. Attendance of experienced agents is crucial in meetings so they could relearn and suggest better ways on the different subjects.
All agents must be familiar with all relevant information and the ways to use it. It’s an obvious situation when agents can’t handle requests from a customer because they don’t know how to use particular information.
The biggest enemy is a fear factor
Experienced and newbies will make mistakes from time to time, no matter how much they perform. It’s a basic truth that every manager in a call center has to understand. The worst thing you can do for these agents is to bring a fear factor into their work.
Fear factor begins when for mistake there is a punishment or pressing from the managers on agents. All activity of agents will be much better if there will be punishment and a fear-free environment for requesting information or asking questions.
Eliminate a burnout and stress element with call center workforce management
There is a call center standard 80/20. Some of the call centers try to breach this pattern and deliver 90/15 performance. And some managers think that it is possible to bring 100% of occupancy. Trying to bring a 100% occupancy using agents is a futuristic idea.
You don’t have a lot of calls during a shift, except for seasonal picks or marketing campaigns. Overstuffed call centers pay for each agent that doesn’t deliver a necessary profit. So there is the main point to keep enough agents that you could occupy 80/20 or 90/15 pattern.
To make your call center more productive, consider different agent shifts:
- Full-time. Your agents work a precise amount of hours per day;
- Part-time. Agents work a few hours per day.
- Spit-time. Amount of time when an agent works two shifts but with the gap of certain hours from a first and second shift.
- Annual time. This type of shift requires a certain amount of hours per year, especially when there are high calling picks.
It’s easy to make staffing calculations in a call center, to ensure a proper number of agents at a time.
Workforce management tools are bold and breach borders
Many call centers use Microsoft Excel to calculate their call centers data. And this is a time-consuming, dangerous, and unprofitable activity these days. The main reason call centers use excel spreadsheets is that it's a common way to make calculations and store data. That was the case a decade ago, but today technologies allow you to exclude this chore and delegate it to software.
While the biggest amount of call centers use excel for their data, the less big part of call centers already uses their WFM solution with excel mix. It even creates an advantage to use excel and WFM software simultaneously.
You will always monitor the relevant information from your excel and use technologies. Call centers powered with WFM software create the widest options and competitive capacity to tackle challenging calling environments 24 hours a day.
One of the biggest benefits of workforce management is that your staff will have full access to that data whenever it wants. It created an advantage to gather necessary data and foster agent productivity. You can maintain your excel spreadsheets and weave them with software.
The software gives an option to use KPIs metrics and create curves for the call center’s activity. It’s important because by using these features you can see more clearly.
The information with numbers and words is far harder to understand and analyze than with clear and understandable curves and metrics. It’s also far simpler to anticipate a calling environment in a call center via visual than do it with numbers and words.
By arming these necessary tools, your call center will be in control and you will need only to track the activities.
Voiptime Cloud is an expert in a workforce management software
Workforce management software is coming to be the next big thing in the call center industry. Managing your call center’s agents 100% remotely and keeping in mind revenue velocity is the biggest advantage.
The pattern of switching from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is continuing and soon will be a tendency. The more data you have in the call center, the more complex a process of adequate sorting and using the data without additional software.
It gives you an option to create short- and long-term forecasts, schedules, time off requests, real-time monitoring, managing multiple teams or agents. With the option of forecast gain an option to view the time, the agent put in a call.
When you need to have necessary data about a certain day, you have data about offered calls, average talking time, average handle time, average wrap time. You can use this data for a unified group of agents or certain agents.
You also can set and observe the time for an active working, meal, on queue time, off the queue, and meetings. Here are the main features that increase the productivity of your agents:
Schedule your staff whenever you want. It’s easy to adjust the date to the exact calling session with a few clicks.
Put the right agent at the right time. Put the more experienced agents in front of the challenging conversations. And let the newbies handle the tasks that satisfy their level.
Easy-to-use interface for telemarketing campaigns; 100% easy interface that lets you set telemarketing campaigns and profit.
IVR for routing self-service and routing to a relevant agent; Use self-service features to reduce strain from your agents and deliver the necessary customer experience.
CDRs systems for tracking your calling volume and forecasting;
With the CDR system, it’s easy to calculate and forecast your calling volume. Make your call center smarter with relevant data.
CRM system to ease your data access and agent’s engagement; All the information about customers is accessible and increases the productivity of your agents.
Track agent’s activity with accurate dates and times; Use this system to track every action of your agents.
Smart routing. Adjust routing to an agent that satisfies the calling environment. Prevent unnecessary routing with a less experienced agent.
Challenges for call centers are tremendous and they will continue to rise. There is a way to solve them. Technologies give a hand to managers to tackle day-by-day issues with customers and staff. To have an option to pursue your call center’s endeavors, you need to consider call center workforce management software in your system.