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One Step At A Time:
How World Class Contact Centers Are Achieving Their
Workforce Optimization Goals

By Bob Webb, Pipkins, Inc.


Most contact centers today are researching — or have already implemented — a workforce optimization (WFO) solution. Satisfied with their call delivery infrastructures (PBXs, ACDs, etc.), contact centers of all shapes and sizes are now implementing software-centric workforce optimization solutions to tackle critical business issues, such as improving agent retention and effectiveness, increasing customer satisfaction and maximizing overall business performance and profitability. In fact, industry analyst Datamonitor expects global revenue of investment in workforce optimization technologies to exceed $1 billion by the end of 2006.

Workforce optimization goals vary enormously from one organization to the next. Factors such as the size of the contact center, business nature and infrastructure — not to mention the budget constraints that influence and frequently limit the scope of choice — make the purchase of expensive “one size fits all” suites of workforce optimization solutions impractical. Many organizations have been forced to do without, the alternative being to invest in applications for which they have no use and perform costly integrations or incur exorbitant professional services fees to implement the solutions they actually need.

A New Modular, Best-of-Breed Approach
Times have changed with the emergence of new, modular suites that consist of the six components implemented for workforce optimization: call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, performance management, speech analytics and agent coaching. This modular approach gives organizations the freedom to build their ideal workforce optimization solution at their own pace. You can select the best-of-breed solutions you really need, and then add additional applications as you grow and evolve. By implementing workforce optimization solutions one step at a time, organizations can benefit from rapid implementation and outstanding, more easily measurable return on investment (ROI) — both of which make for more attractive and effective initial purchase proposals to your budget committee.

Laying The Groundwork
By now, most successful contact centers already rely on workforce management and call recording solutions. They are the fundamental building blocks of any workforce optimization solution. A workforce management solution enables companies to balance work volume and resources to achieve efficient operations and a desired quality of service. It offers call centers comprehensive scheduling, forecasting and planning functionality for complete enterprisewide, multi-site contact center workforce management. A call recording solution enables companies to capture a goldmine of customer intelligence, and also helps protect organizations from compliance and liability issues, while enabling them to monitor agent-customer interactions for quality assurance purposes.

Sadly, these essential technologies have, until recently, been severely limited in their effectiveness due to a general reluctance to invest in expensive integrations. There are significant benefits to be gained by implementing a workforce management and/or call recording solution designed to integrate seamlessly with an entire suite of workforce optimization solutions. For example, by integrating workforce management with real-time performance management and automated agent coaching solutions, companies can take advantage of real-time agent productivity tracking, multimedia agent training and agent performance reporting tools. In addition to optimizing agent scheduling, companies can improve agent productivity, effectiveness and accountability.

The Next Level of Workforce Optimization
Performance management, agent coaching and speech analytics applications are the latest additions to the workforce optimization family of solutions. These remarkable technologies have revolutionized the contact center. Performance management solutions enable contact centers to collect data and present real-time and historical performance information to agents, managers and executives within the call center environment. Agent coaching applications automatically intervene when agents are under-performing by delivering training content in the form of courses, educational tips, quizzes, training flashes, pre-shift announcements and bulletins.Managers can deliver multimedia coaching and training to agent desktops on a schedule- or rules-driven basis.With a speech analytics solution, organizations can extract business intelligence from their agent/customer call recordings. Speech recognition technologies mine conversations and identify call trends: a process that was too costly and time consuming to uncover using traditional, manual methods.

Step-by-Step: The Key To Success
Maybe your organization would benefit from implementing a workforce management or call recording solution only. Or, maybe agent coaching and performance management solutions would offer greater advantages. It depends upon the needs of your specific environment. The point is, as long as you purchase your solution or solutions of choice from an integrated suite of workforce optimization applications, you won’t have to worry about interoperability issues that would otherwise limit your options and seriously stunt your workforce optimization goals. CIS

Bob Webb serves as VP of Sales for Pipkins, Inc., (news - alert) a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the contact center industry. Pipkins has partnered with Voice Print International and Syntora to develop Solution Made Easy, (news - alert) an integrated, modular suite of contact center solutions for call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, performance management, speech analytics and agent coaching. Visit http://www.solutionmadeeasy.com or call 866-596-EASY for more information on Solution Made Easy, Your One Stop Workforce Optimization Shop.

Overcoming The Old Headache Of Integration

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions

The call center industry has historically put forward some very impressive technologies over the years. It’s a marketplace full of practical innovation developed to serve the needs of the contact center.Why practical innovation? Because in other marketplaces, innovation happens first and needs are found to suit those innovations later. But the problem has always been that though solutions may have run well in a vacuum, it was the integration that caused the nightmares. (This was one of the biggest problems in the first round of CRM products in the late 1990s).

Though a call center may have owned and run half a dozen or a dozen terrific, worthy technologies, that center needed to hire a team of IT people to write a patchwork of programs that would allow the solutions to “talk” to one another. Even after all that expense and effort, the integration was shaky at best, and often acted as the albatross that dragged down the true productivity potential of the products. This “stovepipe” integration, were it a physical thing, would have looked like one half-aisle at Home Depot, awkwardly held together by duct tape.

Today, integration is the tool that cuts contact center solutions free to soar to their full ROI potential.Many of the best tools available to call centers nowadays are extremely inter-related (or should be): they use the same data, they are handled by the same personnel, and they share the same goal: the raising of customer service quality and the simultaneous lowering of the costs that formerly turned the call center into large holes out of which profit flowed. They are easy to use and do not require a team of IT personnel standing by ready to act as technological midwives, translators, mechanics and emergency room doctors.

Going forward, it’s not hard to see that integration will be the card trick every successful vendor must master, and the ultimate tool that every successful contact center must seek.

The author may be reached at [email protected].



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