Good Workforce Management in the Contact Center is About Much More Than Scheduling
While many contact centers have complicated workforce management and optimization routines bolstered by high-tech software solutions, many contact centers also forget that true workforce management begins before the employee is even hired.
A number of organizations today, particularly those that experience high employee turnover like contact centers, have found that putting pre-employment procedures into place can help reduce turnover and boost employee engagement. These procedures include telephone interviews prior to face-to-face interviews (if a candidate isn’t good on the phone, you’re simply wasting your time having him or her come into the office) and extensive pre-employment testing to ensure that a candidate has the right personality for contact center work.
The reasons to engage in these practices are compelling. Labor is the single largest cost for a contact center, and high turnover costs companies a significant amount of their profits. High turnover shrinks profit margins, but it can do even worse than that: it can endanger customer relationships. For without employee engagement, there can be no true customer engagement, and companies will find it hard to succeed. In a typical contact center, simply maintaining mediocrity seems like a heroic effort.
But true employee engagement resulting from high quality workforce management isn’t only about the employee. The quality of management of employees is one of the most critical ingredients for success with the workforce.
Good contact center managers know that true employee engagement comes from employees having a real stake in the success of the business, according to a recent article by Monster’s Kevin Eikenberry.
“Your team members are invested in the business too,” writes Eikenberry. “They spend their time, effort, and energy. Wouldn’t you like them to be more personally invested in the success of the business? Let’s put it this way: would you like your employees to think more like owners? If so, you have to involve them in the goals and planning for the business -- i.e,, you have to drive employee engagement.”
A good manager is skilled at setting the right tone and direction for employees, and allowing them to help plan and succeed in attaining the outcomes. It may take extra effort at the front end, but the results – building a workforce of contact center employees who feel involved in the work and proud of the help they offer customers – pay for themselves very quickly in reduced turnover, better employee engagement and better customer engagement.
For this reason, communicating goals, methods and challenges to employees is critical. If employees don’t understand the goals and how the company plans to achieve them, they can’t assist. Since contact center agents are on the front lines, they cannot be effective if they don’t understand what the strategy behind them is.
When crafting a workforce management strategy, remember: your contact center agents aren’t robots to simply do what they’re told. Employees treated in this way won’t care much about their jobs, the customers they are serving or the organization they are working for. By making them an integral part of the customer service strategy, companies can build high quality teams of workers who are all pulling toward a common goal: customer service excellence.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi