Contact Centre WFM — The difference between Sinking and Sailing

All at sea?

To quote William Shakespeare in The Tragedy of Coriolanus, ‘When the sea was calm, all ships alike showed mastership in floating’. But what happens when the waters get rough in your call centre? Do customers wait for hours listening to sea shanties? Does your crew get washed overboard? Do your midshipmen rush around fire-fighting?

Workforce Management (WFM) helps your contact centre to sail smoothly through troubled waters. WFM gives planners binoculars to see icebergs on the horizon, in the form of unexpected volume spikes, and take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision. Accurate and timely forecasting gives early warning of unexpected stormy weather so you can plot the correct course. You can quickly deploy the crew where they are needed by re-optimising breaks or tasks when sea-sickness strikes. And WFM automates tedious manual tasks that belong before the age of steam. WFM puts the planner on the bridge, instead of labouring in the engine room. Without WFM, the planner is the captain of a ship without a compass.

Turn the tide on spreadsheets

According to a 2009 study by Dartmouth College, 0.9% to 1.8% of all Excel formula cells contain an error. But the problem with spreadsheets doesn’t end there.

It’s amazing what an able seaman can do with spreadsheets but Excel has serious limitations when it comes to resource planning in call centres. Call volume and AHT data have to be entered manually instead of automatically retrieved from the ACD. Maybe you can reproduce the Erlang formula in Excel but what if you are handling outbound, emails or chat? And how about tracking agent schedule adherence in real-time? Forget it.

Today’s WFM applications do all of the above and more, enabling planners to make faster and better decisions. The best WFM tools provide an agent self-service portal so that the entire crew is pulling in the same direction.

Get the right hands on deck

Generating optimised agent schedules requires algorithms of fiendish complexity that are way beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated Excel user — and you can multiply that complexity by 100 if you are trying to optimally schedule multi-skilled agents. Even if you can write macros to build shifts that match supply and demand, are you sure that they comply with agent contracts and the Working Time Directive?

Plotting a course to the right WFM harbour

You need a solution that will pay for itself almost immediately. After all, WFM is about improving efficiencies and reducing costs and time is money. The quicker the return on investment (ROI) and the faster the system can be implemented, the easier your business case will be to prove. The best WFM systems offer rich functionality and everything is in the sea chest. Forecasting, scheduling, monitoring, reporting and an agent portal which offers shift swaps, activity views and holiday requests, etc. should be included. Avoid costly capital expense (capex) ‘on premise’ systems and look for a cloud solution that can be purchased from your operating expense (opex) budget. A software as a service (SaaS) platform should guarantee high uptime and ensure all training, support, security and upgrades are built into a low recurring monthly fee. A cloud solution will interface with your ACD and without the need to purchase hardware or spend a fortune on ‘professional services’.

Test the waters first

By all means check out the available vendors and ask lots of searching questions. Make sure that the system complies with the rules of the sea — like having data centres located inside the EU for compliance with the Data Protection Act. But don’t waste precious time on RFPs (requests for proposal). Even the most complex and time-consuming RFPs give just the illusion of reduced risk. There is no substitute for trying out a system live aboard your own vessel. The best vendors have confidence in their products and give you the option to use the system without setup fees and let you pull the plug at any time if you find the system wanting.

By choosing injixo, you will be joining an ever-growing flotilla. Here are some companies that already sailed this route to success.

To see injixo in action, contact us to arrange a sea trial.


Originally published at blog.injixo.com.

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