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Three Keys to Contact Center Workforce Optimization

Staying ahead of change and leading the customer service industry requires constant evolution. Sometimes that means launching new strategies, and other times, it requires more subtle updates to processes or procedures. No matter the scope of change, it is the only constant for businesses.

Contact Center WFO

Inevitable change means that organizations are faced with plenty of uncertainty. In order to minimize unpredictability, contact center leaders are on a quest to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and keep customers happy. One of the most effective ways to do this is through workforce optimization (WFO).

Understanding WFO

WFO means different things to different teams. According to Aberdeen, contact center WFO manages activities, such as scheduling and performance measurement, in relation to the entire contact center workforce. For contact center leaders, WFO helps  to improve operational efficiency, quality, and performance through the following:

  • Workforce management (WFM) forecasts volume for all communication channels within a contact center.
  • Quality management provides the ability to evaluate an agent’s performance during customer interactions and allows leaders to review and score agents’ work.
  • Performance management focuses on improving agent performance and makes it easier for leaders to apply improvement strategies.

In a recent study, the top objectives for WFO include improving the quality of customer interactions, decreasing response time, and improving agent productivity. While most contact center leaders recognize the benefits of WFO, it’s important to understand how training, development, and knowledge access are vital pieces to a larger WFO strategy. Let's take a look at how high-performing teams view these important categories.

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Training: When asked about their WFO program, only 42% of contact center leaders stated that it includes training. However, since WFO is about managing a contact center so that the right people are available to help at the right time, it’s crucial to provide agents with superior training to ensure they’re correctly skilled and able to help. Since the journey to create happy customers starts with agents, they ultimately need continuous training so that they continuously improve their performance. Additionally, performance management makes it easier for leaders to identify the skills of successful agents, determine skill gaps, and track training completion and success. By using individual WFO technologies, such as eLearning, leaders can then deliver training based on need and agent performance. As leaders look for more ways to increase the frequency of agent training activities, online learning is an effective way to deliver targeted learning that will help agents do better work.

Coaching: Similarly, only 43% of leaders say that coaching is a key piece of their WFO program, despite the impact it can have on agent development and performance. Many supervisors and managers don’t believe they have enough time for agent coaching. But, when leaders use quality monitoring, they’re able to uncover behaviors that should be reinforced or changed through individual coaching sessions. By using WFO to automate simple tasks in other areas, leaders can free up the time they need to provide quality coaching sessions and useful feedback.

Tools and Information: Training and coaching can only go so far in helping agents deliver superior experiences. According to a 2017 survey, agents need their WFO program to include tools that make it easy to access content. Since agents spend approximately 15% of their time looking for information, high-performing teams ensure their WFO efforts empower agents to quickly access information when and where they need it most—during a customer interaction. By providing on-demand access to content, agents spend less time asking for help and more time helping the customer. Leveraging this type of WFO solution reaps numerous benefits and drastically improves the agent and customer experience.

When doubling down on WFO, leaders don’t focus enough on training, coaching, and enablement. But often these strategies can yield the highest value and provide the most profound engagement with agents. By focusing on these WFO components, contact center teams can evolve, increase productivity, and improve the customer experience.

Topics: Coaching And Quality Management, Workforce Management