Labor has always been one of the largest costs to manage in a contact center. And for all contact centers over 50 agents having a Workforce Management solution needs to be part of their contact center operations stack of tools.
For executives, labor costs are more real-time and a bigger worry in their minds than even sales or customer satisfaction ratings. If it weren’t than you would never need to battle for staffing resources.
So being able to manage your over-staffing is critical for you serve the needs of your bosses. And managing under-staffing is critical for you to be able to manage the needs of your customers (which your bosses will pay attention to eventually). So you must do both.
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- Inter-level Requirements: knowing what your forecast staffing requirements are for a period of time within the day versus for the entire day. These could be intervals of 15-minutes, 30-minutes, or 60-minute blocks of time. As volume shift throughout your day you’ll have to manage the peaks and valleys and properly staff and actively manage the workload.
- Real-time Adherence: creating schedules in contact centers has little value if the schedules are not followed. In Workforce Management, schedule adherence is where planning meet execution. You need real-time proactive monitoring of agent adherence that compares the agents’ scheduled activities with their actual activities. And when things do not match you are notified to take action.
- Self-scheduling: the use of at-home and part-time agents continues to grow. And there has always been a need for the workforce to be flexible in their work availability. Self-scheduling for at-home and part-time agents enables employees to feel more in control of their work lives. Their work-life balance win can be your operational efficiency win. You can increase staff engagement, reduce administrative costs and reduce supervisory time spent on scheduling.
In the contact center industry, like all personnel-intensive industries, Workforce Management has become more complex. And as organizations continue to add customer interaction channels to the mix the complexity only increase. You must manage staffing needs (and adherence to schedules) for every channel you offer.
Watch Bob Webb of Pipkins talk Workforce Management at Call Center Week Winter with Jim Rembach Click to Tweet
What Pipkins Does
Pipkins, Inc. was incorporated in 1983. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Pipkins has become the leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the contact center industry, providing sophisticated forecasting and scheduling technology for both the front and back office. For over thirty years, Pipkins has consistently created and delivered superior workforce management products for contact centers of all sizes. Pipkins’ boasts thirteen industry-first applications with solutions that are three to five years ahead of the curve. Source: www.pipkins.com
The Pitfalls of Workforce Management
As we all know technology is not as simple as it seems. Your greatest success with Workforce Management solutions will come by finding a balance between company needs and employee needs.
Because of the peak and valley aspects of call center work volumes and the costs of having full-time employees call centers may push to increase part-time staff that is very flexible. The thought is that you can then schedule people whenever you need them and at anytime you need them.
If only it was only that simple.
Adding to burnout
In an a report titled Irregular Work Scheduling and Its Consequences by Lonnie Golden a professor of economics and labor-employment relations at Pennsylvania State University, Abington College for the Economic Policy Institute he states that generally, fluctuation in workloads or job demands tends to negatively affect workers’ well-being, all else constant, both when it is routine or transient (Wood, Michaelides, and Totterdell 2013).
This is mainly because fluctuation creates interference of work with non-work activity and undermines the effort-recovery process, time needed for rest in between shifts in order to perform effectively. Even when work hours are positively related to indicators of well-being, variability of work diminishes well-being significantly (Wood, Michaelides, and Totterdell 2013; Golden et al. 2013; Golden and Okulicz-Kozaryn 2015).
Thus, reducing or minimizing instability in work hours, schedules, and workloads may improve workers’ well-being, for a given level of daily or weekly hours and income.
So make sure you’re smarter than your Workforce Management tool. Try to limit fluctuations in worker schedules and increase their ownership and choice as Bob mentioned. Or else burnout and turnover could be the thing you wish you didn’t know more about.