Autumn 2015 blog series: “Workforce Management in the making – how’s it done and who’s behind it all?”
– Number 5 of 5 postings.
As the final posting to our autumn blog series, Workforce Management in the making – how’s it done and who’s behind it all, I’d like to share some thoughts on how and where I see WFM evolving in the future.
March into the Cloud
WFM offered in the Cloud today has made it feasible for smaller contact centres, often short on IT and financial resources, to open up their doors to WFM. WFM in the Cloud also represents one of the fastest growing cloud areas in the contact-centre industry.
There is still some hesitation on the part of many organisations about moving into the Cloud – what, with WikiLeaks and digital espionage making the headlines. Yet, despite this, we‘re now seeing even large enterprises moving their contact-centre technology into the Cloud. The impact of the cloud is growing worldwide, and is already huge in the U.S. and Europe. The day cloud-distributed WFM will become commonplace, particularly where cloud adoption is still limited, is not far off.
There’s so much talk about the Cloud but at the end of the day, it’s just another way of distributing what’s already there; i.e. the features, functions and benefits of WFM already exist as an on-premise package. Vendors spending a lot of time and effort on developing their cloud alternatives may even be sacrificing its pace of technological development. A word of caution here: make sure your vendor is not!
Chat and social media will take over
In a previous blog, I mentioned that while call volume may be decreasing, the importance and complexity of calls is increasing. Furthermore, the shift from calling to using social media and chat services as the primary means of contact is moving faster. This reflects a generational pattern. Before, traditional, static work times were the norm and followed an industrial kind of work model. With the new demand, our WFM customers will increase serving their customers through chat. While chat services are still complementary to traditional calling today, it will surpass calling and become the primary channel in the future.
WFM moves into back offices and retail outlets
We’re also seeing a heightened interest from the market and vendors in bringing WFM into back offices and retail stores.
When WFM, as a concept, is well accepted by the contact centre of a large organisation, it tends to grow and expand into its back offices and retail outlets. This is likely to continue since companies need solutions that are more generic to help ensure giving more consistent, high-quality customer service.
WFM accommodates changing workforce requirements
Not too long ago, working and school hours followed fixed schedules that reflected a structured society. Today, all that is changing. Millennials typically make up a large portion of the contact-centre workforce and are active digital users. They listen to lectures and watch webinars that take place on the other side of the globe. They take their university exams online – when so desired. Consequently, they’ve come to expect the same flexibility on the job. After all, the reasoning goes, if school is flexible in scheduling, why can’t the workplace offer the same? These days, millennials are less willing to sit in a cubicle with only a phone, working from 8 to 5, with a short lunch break.
The dramatically changing nature of the contact-centre workforce thus breeds new requirements and poses challenges for the contact-centre industry; one that’s used to providing deliverables, based on structure, order and timing. How to accommodate the needs for the new young workforce that wants to work from home or work hours more conducive to their private lives and leisure activities? Customer servicing organisations need to address the new working generation with more WFM flexibility, mobility, workload sharing and the like. Without these, the young workforce won’t stay and contact centres will be facing higher attrition rates, meaning higher recruiting, hiring and training costs.
Already today, pockets in the U.S, Europe and elsewhere exist where companies need to compete for the most skilled workforce. Merely offering a paycheck no longer cuts it. A new management style, flexibility and benefits are things that must be brought to the table. Now the question asked of workforce candidates is: What makes you happy? They’re no longer satisfied with just a salary raise. A longer lunch break to fit in going to the gym is more like it, or working from home on a particular day. WFM, by definition, is all about managing your workforce with flexibility – essential for accommodating the new, changing workforce requirements, both for today and tomorrow.