Taking the 'Big Brother' Fears Out of Workforce Management Solutions
While a lot of column inches are spent discussing the enormous benefits of workforce management (WFM) software to contact centers, it’s easy to forget that the hardest sell to make with WFM can be to the agents themselves.
In companies that haven’t been using a workforce management solution, scheduling is often accomplished via spreadsheets and a mix of proprietary “tricks” the scheduling manager has developed over his or her tenure. Regardless of how inefficient the process, it’s one that agents are used to. Workforce management solutions, though they create better forecasts and schedules and offer a lot of advanced features that save managers time, can seem a little “Big Brother-ish” to agents.
“When it was all hard copy spreadsheets, or even after the advent of Excel spreadsheets, its tentacles seemed more distant,” wrote Monet Software’s CEO Chuck Ciarlo in a recent blog post. “But with today’s workforce management software, it really seemed like “Big Brother” had finally arrived. It can generate fear and confusion, as well as concern over being controlled by a super-computer that will monitor what they are doing every moment of every shift.”
There are several steps contact center managers and company executives can take to bring agents toward a favorable opinion about a new workforce management system.
Emphasize that it’s not punishment. Help the agents know that you’re not trying to “spy” on them, but you’re hoping to make life easier for the call center, them included. The efficiencies that will be found with a modern WFM solution will help take some of the pressure of the agents.
“Whether this is done individually or collectively, let the agents know that the customer service goals of the call center have not changed – just the methods for helping to achieve them,” wrote Ciarlo. “Managers should be available to answer questions and address concerns. Most agent trepidation is rooted in a fear of the unknown – once the system is explained and demonstrated, many of these fears will subside.”
Point out features that benefit agents. Many of today’s modern WFM solutions have features that agents will like, such as automated time-off requests, mobile viewing of shifts and schedules, automated shift-swapping with other agents and more. Also note that since the scheduling will become more automated, any hints of “favoritism” will be eliminated from the process.
Ensure they are properly trained to use the system. If it seems big, advanced and scary, it will generate resentment. Training sessions will help understand how they should be interacting with the solution, and once they grasp that it’s pretty easy, their fears will be calmed.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi