As contact centers continue to grow in both size and scope, so does the layers of management involved. Unfortunately, this also means that communication from the operational levels tends to get muddled. It should come as no surprise that there are certain things that aren’t making their way up the ladder for various reasons. Teleopti WFM Evangelist Dave Hoekstra takes a look at some of them, along with some questions management can ask to help get the full picture.
The first thing that your WFM team might not be telling you is that your policies stink. Ok, maybe that isn’t totally fair, but we have seen many, many, many examples where an operations team is frustrated by an over-reaching policy but doesn’t have an appropriate channel to challenge the policy. One very common policy that we see is the “There will be no VTO ever” policy. VTO, or Voluntary Time Off, is the idea that in situations where overstaffing occurs, the contact center allows employees to “go home early” to save payroll and potentially increase agent morale. Without a good VTO policy, the spend on payroll may be higher than it needs to be and the WFM team might be catching the blame for it.
This is just one example, but there are likely several that your ops team isn’t challenging you on because they fear retaliation or a negative reaction. Make sure that your team has an open channel for feedback where ideas can be challenged openly and honestly. Your organization will benefit.
The next thing that your WFM team isn’t telling you is that there are many times where the contact center’s goals aren’t very clear. I don’t mean that they don’t know that your service level goal is 80/20, but they don’t know WHY the goal is set to that. The WFM team might be responsible for meeting an 80/20 service level, but there is no background as to why that number was chosen and how they should be expected to meet it. With any goal or metric, if you and your team don’t understand why that metric is set where it is, that should be a high priority to figure out. We have seen time and time again where a contact center has a very aggressive goal set and absolutely no idea who set it, or why it was set that way?
Take some time to work with your team to understand all of the KPIs that are tracked in your center to understand the logic behind the goal. Why is your ASA target 20 seconds? Why is your QA goal a 92? Why is your adherence set to 96%? The ultimate goal will be to answer the question with logic and underlying value. For example, the reason we set our service level to 80/30 is that we did a detailed analysis of our customer tolerance and when they abandon, and 30 seconds is the sweet spot. We analyzed the numbers and determined that no more than 20% of those calls can be answered after 30 seconds because this causes a potential loss of revenue of X…so make sure those metrics have attached value and reasoning behind them, and answers will get a lot easier.
Finally, we see inconsistency in the application of overall policies. WFM teams are often frustrated at the way decisions are applied without regard to how they affect other areas. Workforce Management as a practice requires a deep understanding of how one lever affects another. In fact, it is a complicated system of levers, pulleys, ropes, and weights that keep everything in balance. If one lever is pulled, it may affect 9 other things, and that can be hard to balance. Management often sends down decrees from on high without a clear comprehension of how that decision might impact other areas. Make sure that when changes are made, all relevant departments get their chance to defend or rebut. A good example from the past is when a particular contact center decided to change up the QM form significantly. It sounded like a good idea, but no one evaluated the impact that this would have on Handle Time. Handle Time went up significantly, which in turn caused the staffing plan to be inaccurate. Guess who got the blame for low service levels? Correct, it was the WFM team. Take the time to evaluate policies from all 360 degrees and understand how the impact will drive change.
As we all know, there is no magic bullet that will solve every problem we face, but if we take the time to listen to our team, we can avoid major issues and keep the progress on the right track.
If you want to know more about connecting customer service to WFM….join me in our on-demand webinar that looks at how management needs to understand the effect of buying decisions, and how WFM scheduling fits in with the company’s customer experience and digital strategies. This class examines all these factors: Welcome to Scheduling School – How Scheduling Fits into Contact Centers’ Business Strategies