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SWPP Insider: Takeaways from The Society for Workforce Planning Professionals Annual Conference

Tiffany here reporting from SWPP Annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee - over 400 people are in attendance!  This is a new venue for SWPP.  It's been held at Opryland Hotel for as long as I remember, but I'm really digging the Omni.  It shares the same building as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the place is gorgeous.

Below I'll share my "stream of consciousness" from the week!  Think I missed something?  Chime in through the comments.
Keynote - Joe Callaway motivated us to be the best at what matters most.  Keynotes are always entertaining, and this one did not disappoint.  Funniest thing I heard:  "When I was looking for a job I wasn't looking for work."
I've already seen a dozen friends here and can't wait to make new ones. I only work on forecasting and scheduling, and this is the conference  where I feel like I'm actually with all my own people :)
Vendor booths and loot:  The Call Center School gave everyone a free copy of their book The Power of One in our attendees bag, a great little paperback to share with an agent back home about the individual's contribution to their center.
Genesys is gave away a Playstation 4!  And they gave me a sonic screwdriver. And this was new: NICE gave everyone a pedometer, and the person with the most steps won an iPad.  The person who won walked over 20,000 steps in those 2.5 days!
The first session I went to was a case study for building a performance-based call center culture by Dan Rickwalder, a detailed step-by-step path of how they built the whole thing from the ground up, including the hardships, and the successes.   So far this has been my favorite session.   I'm glad I got there early, it was standing room only.
The breaks are getting very fancy these days; we thought we were in a wonka factory!
One more afternoon session on staffing strategies. Both of the sessions today, and even the keynote, have all been really interactive.
Went up to the room for a quick check-in and had a surprise goody bag from Interactive Intelligence waiting for me!  Moon pies, Jack Daniels (this is Nashville after all), a bag of peanuts and Music City souvenirs. Come to think of it, Interactive Intelligence has done this before, and they always have the best gift bags.  On my way back down to the Opening Reception, aka happy hour.  These conferences are so fun.
There was a session on how to get through to your WFM trainee, by Marshall Lee.  He went over the theories associated with how people learn and the differences on now adults and children learn, and the different learning channels. Seeing, hearing, talking, writing, doing, and where they fall in the Blooms taxonomy of learning.  I've never really considered this stuff before now.  Due to the way adults learn, always state with objective and plain language why this is important to them.  Marshall also actually covered his agenda he uses when training a wfm person.  Excellent class!

My own sessions, Secrets of a Power-Forecaster, and Advanced Secrets of a Power-Forecaster were up next.  The first session was pretty awkward, being a power forecaster does not mean I’m a power speaker, but the second session went much better.  Now I can relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.
Lara Whisenhunt from Cox, is getting ready to go to centralized WFM at her center, and she told me about a session she was sitting in on where they let every agent choose their own shift.  Wow, and how?! 

Hot wfm topics this year:

  1. How does everyone gather OT from the front line? One site used an actual book (an actual physical book, with pages, and paper). One site used Facebook and twitter.  
  2. How do you rank your agent schedules?  Performance, seniority, what?  How often do you do bids?  How long do those schedules last?  Usual answers, but this was interesting: survey twice for doing shift bids.  Survey once to see what people want, then use that to guide shift templates before the actual bid.   This was my favorite take-away, thank you Marshall!
  3. What functions of intra-day are best suited to a COE center of excellence?  Vs the supervisors.   Answer:  If you want to be a traffic cop that's fine.  I'm the helicopter. 

This idea makes sense:  Put the RTA screen up on a giant TV in the call center and peer pressure will take care of the rest.
One call center said when their agents get 2 write-ups from WFM on adherence it's termination; if an elementary school kid can handle being on time, a paid agent should be able to do it also (yeah!) Then I heard another center say they immediately terminate if agent gets caught hanging up on a customer.  Their attrition rates must be off the charts.
What is a good strategy for turning around a poor perception of wfm system?

How do I combat big brother?  Packaging and messaging. Big brother is a good thing to have when you're getting bullied. Change the lingo. Instead of workforce managers become resource planners, and vice versa.
Is anyone using anything besides Service Level these days?  

Answer:   Accreditation mandates ASA sometimes.  Abandonment rate seems to be predominant. Expected wait time used as a message on the IVR.  But the next big transition is this new metric, Schedule Index   There's no discussion about ASA nor SL with Schedule Index.  I'll have to check that out further.
How do you get buy in from leadership, front line managers?   A Workforce Ambassador program every quarter helps. So does communication, and the Power of One exercise.  Another win:  Turn answers into money relationships.
Do you use social media to communicate with front line agents?  Yes, twitter, and yes, there are problems from H.R.   Try a closed group in Facebook or text messages.  One center said if the agent's quality and handle time is good they can go anywhere on internet. But if their score is 4 or lower the internet sites they can visit re filtered.  Now that's motivation.

Signing out, and see you next year! What were your biggest takeways from the week?  Share your comments below.

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