Published: March 31, 2015 | Comments
Contact centers come in all shapes and sizes. I’d like to focus on the small contact center. Let’s first define “small” in the context of contact centers for the purpose of our discussion. A small contact center is any center that has 75 contact center employees who are handling customer interactions for your business. These employees are likely answering phone calls, available for live chat, or responding to email. The interesting thing about small contact centers is that they have “BIG” center workforce management problems. In the battle of the contact center, we will identify the workforce management challenges small contact centers face that make them unique along with suggested solutions that allow them to differentiate, compete, and win along with the larger, more enterprise organizations.
Small Center vs. Goliath: The All-in-One Supervisor
The supervisor is critical to the small contact center. Supervisors are the “center of operations” for small centers. They are responsible for hiring, training, forecasting volume, scheduling employees, reviewing and monitoring intra-day activities, time-off approvals and events, adhering to center metrics, customer experience, team meetings, coaching and performance reviews, quality assurance, and much more. Supervisors do it all. This is typically due to budgetary limitations in hiring supporting staff to separate the responsibilities to other areas. Ultimately, the supervisor is responsible for owning all these gaps and wearing multiple hats in order to support contact center operations. How does this relate to workforce management? The supervisor is the workforce management team. They are responsible for ensuring they are properly staffed to manage expected volume along with intraday and time off management activities. This is a monumental task for a supervisor and distracts them from employee management activities. The solution: WFM in the Cloud. Cloud WFM solutions provide small centers with the tools they need in order to accurately schedule the right employees with the right skills, at the right time, with accuracy. No longer must companies invest large amounts of capital to pay for these solutions. The Cloud allows them to pay for what they need, scale according to demand, all within a reasonable and affordable cost. The winner of this battle: Small Center – 1, Goliath – 0.
Small Center vs. Goliath: Manual Processes
Too much of the scheduling process in small centers require manual work or processes. Often, schedules are generated using spreadsheets. Forecasts are generated by manually running reports from the ACD. This data is manually imported into a spreadsheet and converted to a forecast. This forecast is used to schedule the staff. Staff schedules are generated along with manual entry for activities such as breaks, lunches, meetings, trainings, and coaching sessions. Once complete, the spreadsheet is sent out to employees via email or posted to an intranet site. This process can consume most of a supervisor’s time, then the rest of their time is spent updating the spreadsheet to manage the intraday activities of adherence, absences, shift trades, time off, and other schedule adjustments. The solution: WFM in the Cloud. With the Cloud, forecasting and scheduling is easy. The Cloud allows you to forecast and schedule for all contact types in one interface. With visibility into staffing requirements by intervals along with over and under statistics, and access to multiple weeks of historical data, small centers can ensure they are properly staffed to meet service level objectives. Impacts to intraday activities to service level can be managed and automated to ensure these are scheduled at the right time. The Cloud provides real-time adherence tracking to ensure employees are properly following the schedule activities. The winner of this battle: Small Center – 2, Goliath – 0.
Small Center vs. Goliath: Time off and Shift Management
Time off and shift management activities such as full and partial shift trades, time off requests, shift requests for full and part-time employees are typically handles through requests via email, a printed form, or by asking during a face to face conversation. “Can I have X day off next week?”, “Is it ok if I trade shift with person Y?”, “Will you schedule me for an earlier start time?”. Handling requests in this manner can have unintended consequences to your schedules; not to mention the added work for the supervisor. The solution: WFM in the Cloud. Automate all these requests through the employee portal by allowing employees to submit time off requests, post shifts to a swap board, provide preferences for shifts, and if necessary, manage shift bidding. Use alerts and rules to determine auto-approvals and be notified when these requests are submitted. Use reforecasting to view impact on the current schedule, and if approved, notify agents automatically of schedule changes. The winner of this battle is, you guessed it: Small Center – 3, Goliath 0.
Small contact centers are uniquely positioned to compete now more than ever. With affordable Cloud solutions to automate many scheduling activities, these centers can spend less time on managing schedules and schedule activities and more time on coaching and training employees to ultimately improve customer experience. The goliath battle has been won. With the Cloud, the impossible is now possible for small centers.