What does efficiency mean to call center leaders? Perhaps it’s reducing the volume of customer escalations, or improving certain performance metrics like Average Handle Time or First Call Resolution. There’s a lot that goes into running an efficient call center. Employee training, consistent management, the right call center software – the list goes on, but one thing stands apart from the rest: call center workforce management.
Why workforce management? Because your call center agents are among your biggest assets, and proper management results in better operational efficiency. From Voice-Call Backs to secure and multilingual Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR), there’s a ton of contact center tech out there that can boost customer service standards and heighten productivity.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of workforce management, and discuss three actionable best practices you can use to elevate your customer experience!
Understanding Workforce Management in the Call Center
To a rookie call center manager, workforce management might mean the regular scheduling practice of agents. But effective workforce management goes far beyond this basic definition.
Workforce management tools use forecasting, scheduling, and intraday management features to predict required staffing levels, and ensure the agents scheduled have the right balance of training and seniority to meet customer demands in a given workday.
Why is Call Center Workforce Management Important?
What’s your top goal as a call center manager or leader? We know you have tons of KPIs to hit, but most will agree that profits and success are rooted in consistent customer satisfaction.
Call center workforce management provides the foundation for your agents to achieve this with your customers. Why? Because you can achieve all the ingredients necessary for happy customers with WFM and WFM software. Here are three of the main benefits:
Consistent service quality.
Customers have high expectations every time they connect with your business. Unfortunately, one poor experience isn’t set aside because of a previous, excellent experience. That’s right – over 56% of customers have ceased their relationship with companies after just one poor experience.
Workforce management helps managers ensure there are always agents with the right training, skill-sets, and knowledge to support any and all queries that come through the queue. This helps create consistent support experiences, which will pay off in customer loyalty down the road.
Over 56% of customers will stop buying your products after just one poor customer experience?
Workforce management is also great for improving agent satisfaction. After all, a call center agent who is satisfied in their work life is more likely to share their positive energy with customers, resulting in a more pleasant experience.
But what if your call center is always short-staffed, and that same agent is required to take on a higher volume of customers? That puts a lot of pressure on employees, increasing opportunities for burnout, and in more severe cases, agent attrition. When used correctly, workforce management software can make agent engagement and satisfaction easier to achieve.
Sound workforce management means knowing exactly how many agents you need at every moment. Without that knowledge, you may be inclined to overstaff your team to lower the risk of call volume overwhelm. However, this can result in increased agent idle time and unnecessary spend in agent wages.
On the flipside, understaffing also puts you at risk of long-term profit loss. This practice will not only sacrifice the quality of your customer experience with longer hold times, it will also increase agent turnover and poor customer satisfaction.
The right workforce management software can also help you find savings by identifying:
- Wage miscalculations
- Unplanned overtime
- Labor law violations
- Administrative errors
- 3 Best Practices for Call Center Workforce Management
We know that workforce management is easier discussed than implemented. Try out these best practices to keep your contact center operations running smoothly.
Invest in workforce management software.
Spreadsheets and paper-posted agent schedules are no longer enough to manage a modern call center. And with many brands shifting to a remote/hybrid workforce, it’s important to have a sophisticated tool to support your WFM efforts.
A WFM solution will help you:
- Minimize discrepancies
- Inform strategy and scheduling for fluctuating call volume
- Manage a remote workforce
- Track metrics and attendance
Review historical data and real-time insights.
Every performance manager needs access to analytics and data. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. That’s why you need to inform your workforce management strategy with tangible data and results.
Keep track of historical high call volume times and prepare for staffing issues by recording peak times of employee absenteeism, for example. Historical data will also help you identify trends to inform forecasting and scheduling.
Include your agents in the process.
Your agents aren’t just numbers. They might want a say in their schedule and the flexibility to choose when they get vacation time. While the data and business strategy might encourage you to schedule the same, most experienced agents during every peak call volume, you risk burning them out.
Improve agent engagement by including them in your workforce management process. Let them tell you when they need time off so you can consider their needs during scheduling.