Achieving a Contact Center Flow with Workforce Management Tools

Part of employee satisfaction is having some control over where, when and how someone can work. And artificial intelligence and workforce management (WFM) tools could change how that happens in the contact center.

Productivity experts talk about reaching peak productivity by getting into a flow. That means someone becomes so immersed in the work that it feels effortless and time goes by quickly. Those who end up in a flow for longer stretches of time are more satisfied with their work. This can lead to more empathy toward others that they interact with in the course of their work. However, getting to a state of flow involves you need to be in the right setting and not be distracted by external problems.

It’s hard to achieve this flow when your work schedule clashes with personal and family obligations. What many refer to as work-life balance typically means having the flexibility to adjust your work schedule around obligations. The more someone has a say in when, where and how they work, the more likely it is that the person will be satisfied in their job.

For contact centers, giving agents more say in their schedules can be challenging. From as scheduler’s perspective, it means balancing their desires while still ensuring they meet business commitments to call handle times, first-call resolution rates and Net Promoter Scores, among other metrics. These can be adversely affected if queues are under-attended. On the other end, over-assigning agents to queues results in idle agents and overspending.

Schedulers also might not have the tools necessary to apply agent preferences to scheduling. Instead, their tools might involve spreadsheets that they’ve carefully crafted after years of observing their contact centers’ interaction volumes. Time-off planning, especially at any resolution less than a day, is a very difficult — even impossible — undertaking.

In these situations — and when supervisors have limited tools — an agent might be required to give ample advanced notice to any time-off request. If life gets in the way of work, such when a child is sick, a babysitter cancels or there’s an emergency, an agent can be left in an inextricable situation and be doubly penalized for being absent. When contact center scheduling systems are too rigid and can’t accommodate partial time off, agents might have to lose an entire day of pay to go to an hour-long doctor’s appointment.

More advanced systems allow for flexibility. Part of this comes from more accurately being able to predict the impact of agent absence on contact center KPIs. By using a wide range of algorithms, including AI-driven methods, contact centers can better forecast the number of agents they need for every queue. Algorithms can compete against each other and automatically pick the one that best matches the patterns of a particular contact center.

Once a model of interaction volume is accurately attained, you can also use more advanced scheduling services to create the best match for weighing KPI requirements, agent preferences for shifts, time-off requests and government labor regulations.

Companies that use systems that allow for flexible scheduling free themselves from acting rigidly toward their agents. They end up treating their employees more fairly — and that fosters a culture of empathy and, ultimately, a better customer experience.

Read why Frost & Sullivan recognized Genesys in the 2020 North American Workforce Optimization Innovation Excellence Frost Radar Award. And read on to find out why Gartner named Genesys as a Visionary in Workforce Engagement Management.