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Start with the 'Must Haves' When Searching for Workforce Management Solutions

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
October 09, 2006

Finding the best possible solution for optimizing performance of the workplace in the contact center industry continues to be one of the biggest challenges for those responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of the contact center.
Proper forecasting and call center scheduling of employees to handle customer issues from multiple communication channels can be complex to the point that it consumes nearly 100 percent of that manager’s time and 100 percent accuracy is literally impossible. This leaves little time for ensuring that these employees are performing as expected and that customer service levels are high.
To help combat the challenges that these managers face, many contact centers implement workforce management solutions to better manage employees and projected workflows. With all the solutions available, however, it can be overwhelming to make the right selection. Establishing a list of ‘must haves’ will go a long way to ensure the right workforce optimization solution is chosen for your contact center.
The first functional area that your workforce management solution must contain is that of quality monitoring or contact center recording. Monitoring customer interactions is essential to ensuring that contact center agents are delivering the level of service the customer expects and that required customer information is being gathered. Simple monitoring will not be effective, however, if the information is not shared with other departments and used to improve contact center efficiency.
Second the on the ‘must have’ list should be effective workforce management. It is not enough for the solution to be able to schedule employees according to skill and knowledge level. The solution must be able to effectively predict call volumes as well as account for the possibility of unexpected peaks and valleys. Ensuring that customers are not kept waiting due to improper scheduling is essential to maintaining a satisfied customer base.
Performance management must also be at the top of the priority list. Having adequate coverage for all levels of calling volumes will do little to promote the productivity of the contact center if employees are not performing to or even beyond expectations. Ensuring that the necessary and proper training and coaching are provided for those employees who most need it will contribute to achieving higher levels of customer service while also improving the work environment for the employee.
Finally, e-learning should also be considered a ‘must have’ as long as it is incorporated into the other three functions. A complete workforce management solution will provide intelligent monitoring of customer interactions in order to prompt employees to engage in further training in areas that are identified as weak.
Many contact centers will have the ease of selecting a workforce management solution that is prepackaged to provide the aforementioned elements. Others may need to look further for a customized solution that will provide more specific applications. Either way, starting with a list of requirements for your contact center will ensure that your choice is a proper fit for your needs.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.