Workforce Management Feature Article
August 24, 2009
Webinar to Explore the Advantages of Web-based Workforce Management Solutions
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
Workforce management software offers numerous advantages over spreadsheets and other manual systems traditionally used for scheduling agents. Today’s workforce management systems sport advanced analytics capabilities that enable call center managers to accurately forecast how many agents will be needed for a particular shift. This is achieved through integration with the call center’s automatic call distributor, or ACD. The workforce management software uses the historical data captured in the ACD and then uses it to arrive at accurate forecasts. If you’re operating a multi-channel contact center, the workforce management system can also be integrated in with your email and chat servers, so that forecasts can be generated for those channels as well.
Considering that labor is the single biggest cost facing any call center, the balance between call volume and the number of agents scheduled is critically important: Schedule too many agents for a particular shift and you’ll have agents sitting around idly, doing nothing. Schedule not enough agents and call hold times will increase and customer service will erode. Achieving this delicate balance is, and always has been, one of the biggest call center management challenges.
If you think workforce management software is only for larger-sized centers, you better think again. On the contrary, scheduling the proper number of agents is actually more difficult when there are fewer of them. That’s because every agent -- and every call -- has a greater effect on overall performance. For example, if you have a 20-agent center and one agent does not show up, you suddenly have a “5 percent resource problem.” And 5 percent can make a huge difference in overall call center performance.
Another advantage today’s Web-based WFM systems offer is the ability to allow agents to swap shifts with other agents, or bid on shifts, by way of a special Web-based portal. Sometimes these changes can be done without manager approval. Because so many agents these days are part-time, they often require flexibility in their work schedules. By providing them with a Web-based system that lets them swap and bid on shifts, agent job satisfaction can be boosted, which in turn can improve agent retention, as well as customer service.
While there’s nothing wrong with deploying a WFM system on premises, many companies are discovering that there are even more benefits by going with a Web-based solution. For one thing, there is no need to shell out capital for new servers or network infrastructure in the event you don’t already have the hardware you need in place to support the system What’s more there is no need to pay up front for expensive software licenses. With a Web-based solution, the software is delivered on a “pay-as-you-go basis,” typically a flat subscription based on the number of seats in your center. That means the cost of the service can be represented neatly as a single line item in your monthly expense reports.
In addition, with a Web-based service, the vendor manages the delivery of the software, which means you don’t need to worry about maintenance or troubleshooting of the system. That helps lift the load off your (already-stressed) IT department. In addition you get all software upgrades and enhancements automatically, as part of the service.
If you want to learn more about how a Web-based WFM solution can improve your service levels and better leverage your limited resources, then be sure to check out the upcoming Webinar, “How to Improve Call Center Scheduling with Limited Budget and Resources,” presented by Monet Software, scheduled for 10 a.m. PST, this Thursday, August 27.
Industry expert and CEO of Monet Software Chuck Ciarlo, who successfully owned and operated multiple call centers, will explain why it's more difficult to optimize agent schedules in small and medium sized call centers; how to overcome this challenge with a WFM solution to better utilize your resources; and how to use best practices to improve the scheduling and management of your agents.
Follow ITEXPO (News - Alert) on Twitter: twitter.com/itexpo
Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard