Call Center On Demand Featured Articles

Workforce Management Tools Combined with Best Practices Make for Efficient Call Centers

February 04, 2009

By Susan J. Campbell,
TMCnet Contributing Editor

In this time of economic uncertainty, companies are combing through their operations to determine where costs can be cut and identify areas of opportunity. While the call center contributes significant value in terms of protecting the customer base, it still operates as a cost to the organization.

As a result, call centers are under even more pressure to prove their effectiveness and become more efficient. To do so, these centers must identify opportunities to reduce costs while also retaining or even growing the customer base. As this is not an easy task, call centers often turn to workforce management tools.
 
When combined with best practices, workforce management tools can help call center operators to increase agent productivity and customer service performance while at the same time, reducing operational and staffing costs. In a time of shrinking budgets, such an approach is gaining momentum.

Customer service goals are even more important in a time of an economic recession as companies cannot afford to lose customers. When the center struggled to meet these goals in the past, decision makers traditionally increased staff or directed more call center traffic to self-service applications instead of examining ways to optimize their current resources.

As the largest call center operational expense, staffing must be effectively managed. Attempts to increase headcount and justify it to bean counters even in times of growth can be challenging. By adopting best practices in call traffic forecasting, agent scheduling and intra-day management, call center managers will be better equipped to optimize their environment.

Such practices can help these managers to overcome shortcomings in the operation including inaccurate forecasts as a result of simplistic techniques; poor collaboration with other departments; lack of consideration of external factors that drive call traffic; bloated headcount due to mismanaged agents; lack of advanced scheduling tool; excessive and unnecessary overtime; and missed service level performance.

Every one of these shortcomings contributes to unnecessary costs within the call center. Workforce management tools and best practices have proven to streamline operations to eliminate costs that do not lead to efficient operations. They also help to prevent changes in the operation that do not improve the bottom line.

While it may be difficult to convince decision makers to invest in additional software when cutting costs are essential, a complete cost analysis can demonstrate that workforce management tools actually pay for themselves and do so rather quickly. In a time when call centers may be fighting to survive, tools that increase their value within the organization are worth consideration.
 
Five9 offers a number of call center software solutions to customers on five continents in many industry sectors. Their hosted call center software helps to not only reduce operational costs and improve customer satisfaction but also enables flexible staffing — at home, onshore and offshore.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi