Call Center Management Feature Article
December 07, 2009
One More Way Hosted WFM Software Improves Call Center Management
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
One of the biggest challenges a call center manager faces is how to accurately schedule the correct number of agents based on call volume. If the manager schedules too many agents, they will be sitting around idly waiting for calls to come in, which is a waste of company dollars. If the manager schedules not enough agents then call hold times will increase, customer satisfaction will erode and the agents will end up overworked and frustrated.
Not only is it difficult to predict what call volume will be, managers must also get the right “mix” of agents in place for each shift based on agent skill set. For example, most call centers today are, in fact, multichannel contact centers, meaning they also handle emails and Web chats in addition to phone calls. Considering that some agents are more adept at handling phone calls while others are more adept at text-based forms of communication, it is critical that call center managers properly assemble a team for each shift that represents the right “balance” of skills.
Very often, workforce management software vendors emphasize the value of their products in terms of their ability to increase schedule adherence, reduce shrinkage and improve customer service through the smarter scheduling of agents.
But it should also be pointed out that these solutions bring new efficiencies to the call center manager’s job as well. In fact, it is estimated that a hosted workforce management system can reduce the amount of time a call center manager spends scheduling agents by as much as 25 percent, compared to spreadsheets and other manual systems.
So, for example, if your call center manager is currently spending about four hours a week making and adjusting the schedule, using spreadsheets, you can reduce that to about three hours through the deployment of a hosted WFM system. That gives your manager an extra hour a week which can be used for other call center management duties, such as training and coaching agents.
Much of this time is saved by sparing the manager from having to manually input information into the spreadsheets – in other words, the WFM software helps “automate” the process of scheduling agents, mainly through its forecasting capability, which, in general, is achieved through integration with the call center ACD and other databases.
In addition, many of today’s hosted WFM systems sport Web-based agent/supervisor portals where agents can “swap,” “bid on” or cancel shifts – thus sparing managers from having to deal with last-minute changes to the schedule and the hassle of tracking down an alternate when an agent can’t make it in for a particular shift. Not only do these Web-based portals give managers (and agents) much better control over the schedule, they also enable managers to react more quickly to changing conditions and update the schedule accordingly. Whenever an agent makes a request for time off, swaps a shift with another agent, or posts a notice that they are available to work additional shifts, the manager is alerted immediately. This is much faster and more efficient compared to having the agent phone-in or email their request – which can lead to "phone tag (News - Alert)" and subsequent confusion.
Monet Software is a leading provider of hosted or software-as-a-service based WFM solutions. To learn more about how the company’s Monet WFM Live offering can help free up more time for your call center managers, and improve call center management, click here.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard