Workforce Management a Necessity for Contact Centers with 60-plus Agents
April 22, 2009
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
For many contact centers, manual workforce management processes have long been the standard practice – but due to the advent of IP networks and advanced software solutions, that’s rapidly starting to change.
Many companies are now coming to the realization that software-based workforce management systems hold many advantages over manual systems in terms of effectively managing large numbers of agents. As more companies come to adopt these automated scheduling solutions and reap the benefits in terms of cost savings and improved customer service, others have no choice but to follow suit, in order to remain competitive.
This trend is underscored by a recent report from AMR Research which finds that manual workforce management processes are no longer considered effective when the contact center has more than 60 agents. The company interviewed managers of multisite contact centers to assess the problems these managers are facing with scheduling, quality monitoring, and other agent management duties.
In this process, AMR Research determined that once the agent base exceeds 60 agents, the manual process falls apart and users have to turn to technology for help. And, whether or not the workforce management solution will be effective in the contact center depends mainly on the culture of the center, not the available technology.
In this research, it was discovered that regardless of agent skill levels, the number of contact center sites, contact center technology already in place or the type of industry, users agreed that once the agent count exceeded 60, it was too difficult to manage processes using only Excel spreadsheets, ad hoc training and quality monitoring. Mangers were spending an inordinate amount of time juggling schedules and trying to monitor performance instead of actually managing.
Of the managers who were surveyed, if budget constraints were an issue or only allowed for one workforce management investment, users typically chose scheduling software first, especially if the mix of skills, business hours and time zones were complex. Others bought quality monitoring first if the were managing hundreds or thousands of agents with little diversity in skill-sets.
One advantage to workforce management solutions is that they are considered a quick win in the contact center as they offer impressive returns on investment (ROI). These solutions can be the least expensive when compared to interaction management and customer management technologies. Scheduling applications deliver the fastest, most quantifiable ROI as quality monitoring benefits are more difficult to measure.
Workforce management implementations have allowed managers to quantify the benefits of scheduling and forecasting improvements. Managers at one company previously spent 80 percent of their time on scheduling. With the implementation, they reduced that commitment to only 20 percent of their time.
The benefits from workforce management implementations within the contact center go beyond just what is mentioned here and is worth investigating.
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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 Jessica Kostek