Putting together a high-performing workforce in an increasingly digital world can be puzzling. But it’s not impossible — especially when you have all the pieces tightly woven together. When your tools and capabilities are seamlessly connected, your team will be fully equipped for success and you’ll be able to effectively manage your workforce, control costs, and ensure employee and customer satisfaction.
Meeting expectations in an increasingly digital world
The challenges of managing a contact center — and a multi-skilled digital workforce — have multiplied exponentially. From forecasting and scheduling to managing, training and equipping your team, meeting customer expectations is becoming more complicated and more expensive.
Technology-savvy consumers use multiple devices and communication channels in their everyday lives, bringing more complexity into the contact center. These customers expect you to communicate with them through their preferred channels when it’s most convenient for them.
New technologies that enable complex customer interactions across multiple channels and multi-step business processes come with a hefty price. Too often, interaction channels are managed in silos. Many businesses still maintain separate systems for routing interactions and tasks, and for workforce management. This creates complexity and manual work for the planning and operations teams. It can be a daunting task just getting relevant data from each of your point solutions, let alone trying to make sense of it across channels so you can plan for the future.
Additionally, planning and developing an accurate forecast and effective schedule in this environment takes a lot of time and effort when done manually. With automation and tight integration with the contact center platform, however, you can reduce this time and effort as well as improve overall cost avoidance.
A good omnichannel workforce planning strategy can help you meet three important business objectives: improving the overall customer experience, lowering costs and reducing employee turnover through improved agent satisfaction. It’s a three-pronged approach to having an engaged workforce, happy customers and business success. Let’s explore each of these business objectives.
1. Improve the customer experience
Today, one of the most important objectives that businesses should address is improving their customer experience. From a tactical perspective, this is where meeting service-level agreements and improving KPIs across touchpoints and channels happens. To achieve this business objective, your organization needs to have the right people with the right skills handling interactions at the right times.
Ensure customer interactions and tasks are going to the right resources
Misrouted interactions increase unplanned overtime costs, number of call transfers and average handle times. However, having a workforce management system that’s integrated with your contact center platform and routing engine lets you consult the workforce schedule in real time. This means interactions won’t be routed to employees who aren’t scheduled to work on a specific activity. It can also save on unplanned overtime costs because employees won’t receive interactions when their shift has already ended or if there isn’t enough time left in their shift to complete a new task.
Boost efficiency and your bottom line
Efficiency is, in part, the result of accurate cross-channel planning and routing strategies that are based on real-time and historic information. These strategies allow the distribution of interactions and tasks to the most appropriate, skilled and available agents. And that results in faster and more productive resolutions.
Guarantee schedule adherence across all channels and work
It can be difficult to constantly ensure that employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re supposed to be doing it. Using an integrated workforce planning solution helps you fight that schedule adherence battle. You can build multichannel schedules with shifts that span multiple activities across channels. And, when integrated with your routing engine, the workforce planning solution provides schedule-based routing that automatically manages shift transitions and puts the operations team firmly in control of task distribution logic. Ultimately, this creates better experiences for your customers, employees and management.
2. Reduce costs
Driving operational efficiency is a consistent goal of any well-run contact center. Through integration and automation, you can centralize control, reduce operational costs, and enable your processes and employees to be more efficient.
Simplicity, control and insight
Having an integrated solution lets you plan, forecast and schedule your workforce more accurately. From a broad perspective, it makes sense to integrate your communication channels into one platform. That single platform can integrate your workforce management system and optimize work distribution while increasing productivity. From a more technical standpoint, it unifies the administration of users and skills while providing a single source of cross-channel insight into staff and business performance metrics.
“Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from my experience is the value of having a fully integrated forecasting and scheduling tool. When you can see the whole value chain, you get much greater insight into the way that the contact center performs and can make much more accurate forecasts.”
Head of Resource Management
Automated workforce planning, accuracy and consistency
Executing skills and schedule updates in one place can dramatically reduce the time and costs associated with manual operation, daily skills and schedule changes. In addition, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips when your channels, workforce management and routing engine work together. The automated use of historical data makes it possible to have greater accuracy in omnichannel forecasting. And that makes it easier to schedule and maintain your workforce at the right levels across channels and time.
Reality-based workload predictions and backlog handling
Effective workforce planning and management systems support all your communication channels and work items with accurate, reality-based forecasting and rules-based routing. An integrated solution lets you define service levels based on business rules and gather required statistics for all channels automatically. That way, you produce more accurate, channel-specific forecasts. More detailed insight into service levels and the ability to track work in the queue will ensure that you can manage defined service levels, workloads and backlogs consistently and effectively — across all channels and business processes.
3. Increase agent satisfaction and reduce turnover
Increasing employee engagement and satisfaction — as well as reducing employee turnover and its high costs — are all critically important. Ensuring your employees receive the right types of customer interactions and a variety of tasks throughout their shifts can relieve stress. And providing ongoing opportunities for skills and productivity improvements keeps employees motivated and engaged.
Make it easy for your employees
Employees need access to easy-to-use tools to request time off. This can be a big time-saver — especially if done through an integrated, agent-oriented web application. Providing employees with the ability to easily trade and bid on shifts helps you find the right balance between providing schedules that meet business objectives and giving team members the flexibility they want. In addition, by viewing schedules on their mobile devices, employees can stay engaged while away from the office.
Enable and engage your staff
Any good workforce planning strategy should include ongoing skills assessments and training, as well as an accurate, up-to-date skills database. Agent capabilities and skill sets are constantly evolving; handling different communication channels often requires different skills. Typically, there’s little alignment between the training department, the workforce planners and the department that builds routing strategies. The key is having tighter integration and tools that automatically schedule training sessions for times that don’t disrupt service-level objectives. This ensures agents get the training they need without negatively affecting the business.
Ensure the right person gets the right work at the right time
As mentioned, integrating your workforce management tools with your platform and routing optimization helps reduce costs associated with undesired overtime, as an employee will not receive work if they don’t have time to complete it. Plus, reducing misrouted interactions and work items relieves employee stress. Giving employees more varied work, including different channels and tasks, relieves boredom and keeps them more interested and engaged. The end result is reduced employee turnover, which is good for them and good for you.
Support remote working
Whether supporting work-from-home employees or expanding your call center locations across the globe, remote work is quickly becoming the new normal for organizations of all sizes. Through advances in cloud technology, remote work can be enabled with just three items: a computer that can also act as a softphone, a headset or IP phone, and a broadband data connection.
According to the Contact Babel “The Inner Circle Guide to Contact Center Remote Working Solutions” report:
48% of contact centers reported using home-workers to some extent – which was down 4 percentage points from 2017.
Embrace the digital revolution
As competitive pressures increase and customers want to communicate with you across more channels, it’s critical to modernize your contact center so your team can continue to meet these increasing demands. Despite this fact, recent research by Dimension Data shows that nearly one-third (31.5%) of organizations don’t have a formally defined channel management strategy and only 11% are now focused on implementing a full omnichannel strategy – that’s down from 25.0% in 2019.1 With so many organizations still operating with dated systems, those that embrace the digital revolution will have a distinct competitive advantage over their competition.
Our increasingly digital world presents challenges and benefits. Meeting those challenges head on – like managing multiple communication channels and increasing customer expectations – can quickly become a benefit when equipped with the right technology. Improve customer experiences. Improve employee experiences. Grow your business. Embrace the digital revolution with a move to the cloud. See what your digitally enhanced contact center can do by exploring this CX blueprint builder.
1 Source: Dimension Data 2019 Benchmarking Report