Hussein Kamel, workforce management consultant at Teleopti explains how breaking down silos in the contact centre pays dividends
Workforce management (WFM) and planning professionals customarily have a set of specialized skills that are used to create magic, ensuring that when customers contact a company this can be done with ease and rapid accessibility.
To provide this, from a workforce management point of view, assumptions are based on historical volumes, average handling times (AHT) and even historical shrinkage. However, is there really involvement with what happens throughout the different streams? Is resourcing really provided for in all activities that take place?
Let’s take the example of a marketing campaign within a telecom operator. The next release of a new smart phone or 4G service is imminent. An increase in volume and calls with questions about the new service is expected. Additional resources are called in to calibrate the forecasting and ensure staffing levels are accurate.
Now let’s imagine, instead, a trickier scenario, such as the introduction of a new metric for the centre e.g. the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that gauges customer loyalty and correlates it with revenue growth. Let’s say that targets have not been met. To rectify the situation, the contact centre management team embarks on a six-sigma project that entails daily, one-to-one coaching for low-performing agents and short training sessions about challenging call scenarios for the majority of the agents. Here, the fundamental question is: how much of this actually gets factored into the scheduling and planning?
Often, such measures are excluded from both scheduling and planning. One of two outcomes is typically the result. Those running the performance plan proceed with executing their action plan. Not factoring in such measures into the scheduling or planning puts the service level at risk. Alternatively, the plan will hit a brick wall as risks in the service level for unplanned, off-board activities were not taken. In both cases, customers will suffer from the lack of sufficient staffing therefore causing longer wait times.
So, what is the answer? The answer is to break out of the silo and ensure all stakeholders of the plan collaborate by providing input into scheduling. This creates a healthy culture of information-sharing and allows the WFM team and others within the contact centre to move beyond a perspective of “us and them”.
Finally best practice would be to gather those key team members involved in WFM, quality, training, team leads, etc. prior to every schedule run – be it weekly, monthly or whenever, to discuss expectations, forecasts, expected service levels, over- and understaffing as well as any other activities and plans. As such, the resulting schedule will be one that meets the needs of both customers and the internal stakeholders, thus ensuring not just a response to customers but also optimal resolution levels.
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