How AI Changes the Game for Contact Center Workforce Planning

It’s hard to believe that, in the 21st century, some companies are still using spreadsheets to address their workforce planning needs. While tried and true, the modern contact center poses new challenges that legacy solutions simply cannot face. Organizations that insist on using lagging technology run the risk of being left behind altogether.

For many years, the preferred method for workforce planning was centered around the Erlang-C formula. This equation was pivotal in calculating the number of agents needed to answer a given amount of calls and achieving a desired service level. It took everything into account — from average handle time to target answer time to shrinkage. But Erlang-C is hardly infallible; it has two glaring blind spots. First, it assumes that all agents share the same skill sets. Second, it queues interactions to a single skill profile. This results in some agents or service lines becoming overwhelmed while others were overstaffed. And that significantly affects a contact center’s overall ability to respond to everyday demands.

Now, artificial intelligence (AI) technology and machine learning give us the ability to predict unique staff requirements, increase efficiency and improve employee experience. Likewise, a contact center’s success is no longer contingent on just its operational efficiency. It also must create a satisfying employee experience. For workforce planning, specifically, this means three things.

  1. More accurate forecasting

Standard business acumen tells us that every plan is inevitably wrong. As any process progresses, things will change that require you to revise and adjust your plans. However, AI-powered core capabilities can help companies take their forecasting and productivity to the next level. The Genesys Cloud Workforce Engagement Management solution, for instance, gives customers access to over 25 machine learning-trained models and automated best-selection method workflows that ensure they get the best forecast accuracy with a single click. So, rather than having to spend all their time reacting to changes and adjusting their plans, supervisors can focus on helping their agents improve and grow.

  1. Better, faster scheduling

Scheduling is a time-consuming task. Sadly, most managers just don’t have the bandwidth to give scheduling the right amount of attention with more pressing, day-to-day operational requirements on their plate. That means, more often than naught, companies can find themselves having to resolve scheduling miscalculations and oversights. AI changes the game when it comes to scheduling by delivering schedules that consider various factors and data points, as well as highly accurate forecasts. Through mathematical modeling and optimization, Genesys Cloud Workforce Engagement Management produces a realistic, minimal set of agents that could handle a certain volume of interactions. This lets managers take on a more proactive role rather than having to endlessly scramble to adjust schedules.

  1. Empowering employees to achieve a work-life balance

When it comes to building an engaged workforce, few things tilt the scales toward employee satisfaction more than accurately planned and executed scheduling. With more accurate forecasts that result in more balanced schedules, employees are better positioned to take time into their own hands and craft a good harmony between their work and personal spheres. So, instead of having to commit to long commutes only to find out that there aren’t enough calls coming in to merit their presence, employees can rest easy knowing they’ll be scheduled at times when they’re most needed and can be most productive. Alternatively, they won’t have to feel pressured to drop everything and come into work when the contact center becomes unexpectedly busy. AI-powered forecasting and scheduling help contact centers predict and prepare for these sudden changes, giving employees a better handle on their time with less last-minute demands on their schedules.

It’s impossible to always know what’s coming, but it is possible to make informed decisions when planning for your contact center’s staffing and operations. While workforce planning could easily be seen as an annual exercise, it’s true potential is only achieved through a periodic revision and adjustment of the plan. And AI capabilities are key for that.

Read this article to learn how training and coaching help build high-performing teams to respond to the needs of the modern contact center.