Call Center Management Feature Article
April 09, 2010
Improve Call Center Management, Cut Costs with Workforce Management Software
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
It's no secret that the single biggest cost facing any call center is staffing. For this reason, call center managers are constantly striving to increase agent productivity. They are also looking to gain new efficiencies that reduce labor costs.
However this cannot be done at the risk of degrading customer service. The trick is to continuously balance the number of agents with call volume. Schedule too many agents and you'll have agents sitting around idly waiting for calls to come in. Schedule too few and you won't be prepared for a sudden spike in call volume, resulting in increased hold times and frustrated customers.
Layered on this, and making things even more challenging in terms of call center management, is the fact that most call centers today require a more dynamic range of specialized agent skills (for example, most centers today are 'multichannel' meaning they also handle Web chat and email). Call center managers therefore need to schedule agents based on their skill sets - in effect build a balanced 'team' of agents - based on the predicted volume for each channel type.
Helping call center managers to perfect this complex 'balancing act' are today's workforce management solutions. These powerful software solutions, which are rapidly replacing spreadsheets as the call center scheduling tool of choice, sport analytics capabilities that give call center managers the ability to forecast, with a high degree of accuracy, how many agents will be needed for any given shift.
In essence these software solutions perform the same calculations that a manager would run 'manually' using a standard spreadsheet, only they carry them out on an automated and real-time basis, thus providing call center managers with real-time and historical data that can be quickly packaged into detailed reports and acted upon immediately. In addition to improved management of intra-day call center activities, these reports can also be used to drive longer-term businesses decisions: For example the data can be used to improve recruiting and hiring campaigns, providing data on, for example, what skill sets are most needed for the current agent workforce.
But the fast results today's WFM solutions deliver is what makes them so compelling. A recent white paper from Monet Software shows how switching from spreadsheets to workforce management software can deliver dramatic cost savings 'within weeks.' As per the white paper, the company's fully Web-based offering, Monet WFM Live, produces measurable improvements in the following areas:
--More efficient scheduling and agent usage: The savings associated with more efficient scheduling includes reducing overall staff hours and need for overtime and identification of overstaffing. Call centers using WFM systems generally experience a minimum reduction of 2 percent for staff hours with an average potential savings in the 5-10 percent range
--Automation of scheduling tasks: Manual or Excel-based spreadsheet forecasting and scheduling consumes much of a supervisor's time in many call centers. With WFM it is generally expected that at least 25 percent of the time currently devoted to manual input can be saved
--Reduction in workforce shrinkage: Many hours of work time are wasted due to excessive non-productive interruptions. A WFM system can provide historical and real-time information on agent schedule adherence and exceptions, for better management and control of staff, reducing workforce shrinkage by 10 to 20 minutes per agent per day.
The white paper demonstrates that when a company with a 200-seat call center and four managers switches from spreadsheets to Monet WFM Live, it can save up to $260,000 a year in operating costs.
The white paper comes free as part of Monet Software's Workforce Management Success Kit, which is available on the company's website. The Success Kit includes other valuable resources, including '10 Tips to Weather the Challenging Economy in your Call Center;' 'How to Select a WFM Solution;' 'The Real Costs of Spreadsheet Based Scheduling,' and 'What is SaaS (News - Alert)-Based Workforce Management?' It also includes 'Fast Track: A Guide for Rapid Implementation of WFM,' as well as product overviews of Monet WFM Live, Monet Software's fully cloud-based call center scheduling solution, and Monet Anywhere, the company's flexible and powerful agent/supervisor portal.
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