Posted by Kathy Sobus + Chuck Branum on Aug 9, 2022 10:00:00 AM
The first entry in this blog series, which details the first two steps to effective Workforce Engagement Management, can be read here.
Step 3: Anticipate the Unexpected with WFM Scheduling & e-Learning
Adapt in Real Time and Self-Manage Schedules with WFM Scheduling
Workforce Management (WFM) is the next step on the journey to full WEM realization. In organizations that have not yet taken their first steps to WEM, managers often schedule agents and other employees manually, with nothing more powerful than spreadsheets and a best-guess estimate of anticipated workload and contact volume. This becomes exceedingly difficult with all the channels upon which customers can reach agents. Voice, chat, and SMS are real-time, with email always having a backlog.
It is impossible to predict all the factors that affect scheduling accuracy. Unexpected events constantly disrupt scheduling – including lower- or higher-than-expected volumes, shift swaps, unscheduled training classes, illness, etc. To minimize wait time and time-to-resolve metrics amid such chaos, contact center managers must schedule not only to cover expected call volume and other key performance indicators, but also to maintain targeted skill ratios. Even with the best planning, agents coming in late and leaving early can wreak havoc on customer effectiveness and other important metrics. And the impact of such disruptions might not become evident until days after the event. This is why scheduling becomes a full-time job in centers with more than 75 agents.
WFM enables companies to analyze past performance and apply future considerations to forecast staffing and scheduling requirements. By analyzing this data, WFM scheduling applications enable managers to do a better job of anticipating the unexpected, and even add the flexibility to run multiple scenarios that simulate future scheduling constraints. Automated support for new strategies like shift-bidding helps streamline operations. WFM capabilities like this show immediate benefit, and are soon regarded as a normal and essential part of an organization’s contact center toolkit.
Today’s WFM tools can enable contact center and back-office employees to adapt in real-time to changing staffing needs while also enabling agents to self-manage their work schedules. These enhanced tools automate intraday and near-term staffing, schedule change communication and processing. This enables organizations to make proactive staffing adjustments to resolve issues before they occur. These same tools allow companies to fix staffing gaps that inevitably emerge after WFM schedules are published, boost engagement with automated self-scheduling and cut the processing time of schedule change communication and processing.
Develop Agent Skills with e-Learning and Knowledge Management
Based on analysis of agent performance and skill ratio balancing, contact center managers must often raise agent skills through training – but pulling agents out of the call queue for training can aggravate scheduling and coverage woes. For this reason, many vendors include scheduling of learning in their WEM platform. This enables managers to avoid conflicts when scheduling training for individual agents, to avoid inadequate queue coverage when agents are out for training, and even to ensure coverage of key specializations.
Some WFM platforms incorporate an e-Learning component or Learning Management System (LMS), which enables self-paced, web-based training curricula to be “pushed” to agents as a simple link that employees can access when staffing plans allow time for training. These systems can also provide this support in real-time while on the call. With more agents working from home, analytics tools can pull in the right information based on what is being said during the call or what applications an employee would be using.
Some of the most pressing operational challenges facing organizations today include cost reduction and real-time responsiveness to customer queries. This is exacerbated by global economic pressure, remotely based workers and increased customer needs. eLearning and knowledge management systems help by combining the first step mentioned above with this one. If we are evaluating 100% of the calls an agent takes, we can see what skills may need review. The WFM system can schedule the agent, and eLearning is delivered to them. Once complete, the evaluations can be compared to ensure learning has taken place.
Check back soon for the next part of this blog series for more tips. Can’t wait? Download the full white paper below.
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