Workforce management (WFM) solutions should be used in contact centers of all sizes, from sophisticated, omni-channel and multi-site environments with 10 agents to those with thousands of agents. When asked at what point an organization should purchase a WFM solution, my answer used to be “when you can no longer remember the names of all of your agents.” While this is still a practical approach, there are other circumstances and criteria to take into consideration.
WFM solutions remain the most important productivity tools in many contact centers, as their primary function is to forecast the volume of interactions (calls, emails, chat sessions, social media posts, etc.) that are going to be received so that the right number of employees can be hired, trained and sitting in their seats to handle them. When used properly, a WFM solution will help keep operating costs down and customer satisfaction high by ensuring there are just enough agents available at all times to meet service-level goals. It’s a balancing act that is tough to maintain as contact center dynamics change unexpectedly, whether due to the flu or the Cubs playing in the World Series. This means that for a WFM solution to be effective, it has to be highly responsive to unplanned staffing changes and fluctuations in transaction volumes.
But this is only part of the staffing challenge in contact centers today. The Millennial generation is changing how employers treat their staff. This generation expects a sense of workplace fairness and work/life balance, concepts that have finally caught on in contact centers. Contact center agents should be able to change their schedules to accommodate an unplanned appointment, just as employees in other departments can do. Agents should be asked and not told the hours they need to work each week or month. Schedules should be planned well in advance so that agents can address their personal responsibilities and make sure that their families are taken care of.
There is a new generation of WFM solutions that can benefit contact centers of all sizes. These solutions, which DMG refers to as NewGen WFM, come with adaptive scheduling capabilities that position companies to build contact centers where employees want to work because they empower agents and offer flexibility. There are many circumstances where companies should consider a NewGen WFM solution, as reflected in DMG’s WFM Decision Framework. If you’re still using a spreadsheet for forecasting and scheduling, it’s time to make the move to a WFM solution, but the Decision Framework illustrates that there are many compelling reasons to invest in these innovative forecasting tools.