Effective workforce management (WFM) is essential if you want your contact centre to fulfil both business and customer objectives and engage your staff. Yet too often, workforce management activities are passed from one person to another without being properly taught. On top of this, many leaders responsible for workforce management don’t know the fundamentals, preventing them from judging if they’re running this function optimally. Thankfully, however, while workforce management can seem overwhelming at times, the secrets to successful workforce management are surprisingly simple. But do you know them? And are you applying them in your contact centre?
What is Workforce Management?
Workforce management involves accurately forecasting your contact centre’s workload, and appropriately rostering people and resources to meet these needs at your desired level of service. While these principles can (and should) be applied to other customer-facing business functions (such as in person sales or service), they’re particularly important for your contact centre as they help ensure it fulfils its main purpose: serving your customers.
Introducing the “ABC”
The “ABC” of successful workforce management is about going back to basics. It involves understanding workforce management principles and using them to get the best possible outcomes in your contact centre (or other functions). If you’re not getting your “ABC” right, you’re not getting your workforce management right. “ABC” stands for:
- Ask, Answer, and Adjust
- Continue to Improve
Here’s how it works…
Ask, Answer, and Adjust
The first step for successful workforce management is to ask (and answer) the right questions – questions that help you understand your customers and your historical trends.
- Who are your customers? Why do they call?
- Who else could they call?
- What other channels can they use to complete enquiries?
- How long do they wait before hanging up, complaining, or turning to your competitors?
- Do you get more calls on Mondays, public holidays, at 10am, etc?
- Do calls during the morning/evening take longer?
- Do marketing campaigns impact the number/type of calls you receive?
Once you know the answers, you must adjust your assumptions accordingly to accurately predict your contact centre’s workload, and ensure your targets, opening hours, and service goals meet customer needs. Remember: getting workforce management wrong costs your centre money. So ask, answer and adjust regularly.
Once your workload forecasting is accurate and you’re using the right assumptions to predict your staffing requirements, it’s time to balance. After all, having the information is one thing. Using it is something else.
For successful workforce management, you must tread the balance between rostering to meet your forecasted workload, and rostering to meet your staff’s needs and requests. It’s also important to be aware of potential “real time” impacts. Do you have recovery strategies in place for call spikes, unexpected sick leave, IT outages, and other potential problems? How do you balance your ability to recover against avoiding overstaffing? Treading this balance is often a case of trial and error. So start experimenting now to get it right.
Continue to Improve
Of course, the final secret to successful workforce management is realising that the process isn’t static. Instead, it’s ongoing. Which means you must continue to improve and refine your processes every day. As you ask, answer, and adjust each month, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learnt to achieve greater accuracy and better balance the following month.
But things also change. Staff and customers change. Their needs change. Situations change. The industry changes. Keeping up with this by striving to continually improve and optimise is the final key to successful workforce management.
Does your contact centre apply the ABCs of workforce management? If not, it’s never too late to start. Simply follow the steps outlined in this article, or reach out to us with questions.