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Consultative approach to WFM drives long-term contact center success

Change Management, Consulting, Training Planning

consultative approach

One of the biggest problems many companies suffer from is the lack of awareness about the extent to which WFM software can help them in their daily work. Instead, they approach WFM like a play station: they plug it in and start playing with it, stopping short of ever realizing the software’s full potential. Why is this? It is because the technology providers who sell WFM software seldom have awareness of this either – often the case if their line of expertise is not WFM per se. With WFM representing the single, biggest cost-cutting tool available to a contact center, one must get around this.

So, how to get around this? The way to do this is to properly adopt a consultative approach; not just during the implementation stage but also during pre- and post-implementation. As a WFM expert and provider, we believe you should know what a consultative approach truly entails and apply these investigative tactics in the pre-sales and sales stages.

From the start, you don’t just buy a box; you buy a solution. This involves doing a thorough examination of your current environment. Talking to supervisors about how they manage their teams, what they look for and what they should be looking for. Sit down with contact-center agents to listen to them describe how they do things. This may include mundane tasks, such as requesting schedule changes or vacation.

More often than not, an investigative approach uncovers issues or problems that customers are not even aware of. You can uncover if your center is achieving its objectives, handling time targets, occupancy targets, average speed of answer targets, etc. Often, under-performance has improper staffing levels at its root. What it comes down to is miss-utilization of the workforce, frequently a result of manual scheduling, using Excel – seemingly old-fashioned in this day and age.

In fact, a trend we’ve uncovered in talking to customers is that when prospective candidates are going through the interview process and realize that the hiring company lacks a mobile strategy, they decline the job. Agents no longer accept to be stationary, glued to their desks. The expectation today is that almost everything should be carried out from mobile devices – especially scheduling requests and changes. A way to retain staff and counter-act agents from leaving is then to offer mobility. Here again, to get mobility into the system properly requires a consultative approach.

During pre-implementation and implementation, you should be guided in how to configure your solution. Parameters must be managed. For the scheduling side of the equation, each company, city or country may have specific rules about how agents may be scheduled. These rules must be analyzed in order of the employment rules of the place in question. These rules need to be incorporated into the system to ensure agent-schedule production comply with these laws. At the same time, schedules must be produced with conditions that agents find acceptable and satisfactory.

Specific operations or campaigns must be managed; make sure your supplier covers how to adapt to these, as they often demand completely different planning and forecasting. It is extremely important that the best methodologies are available to those users who interpret the data.

Many vendors remain only initially with a customer, supplying a training syllabus that merely instructs which buttons to press. Then they are done and gone when they really should be vigilant about ensuring that business needs are understood and taken into account when configuring the tool. A good way is to  break up the enablement of the tool into various sessions at the customer site, using their data.

After training is officially completed, it is important to do a couple of health check-ups down the road, analyzing the operations to see how things are running and determining if additional consultation or training is needed. Many vendors don’t do this consistently, don’t do this at all or charge for the extra days.

When it comes to providing, or investing in, WFM without a consultative approach, it is generally not successful. For this reason, a number of suppliers have shifted or are shifting their focus from selling WFM solutions to ones that are easier to sell; ones that don’t require a consultative approach.

It is important to keep up with the technology of today and the agents of today – the majority being Millennials and Generation Z. At the end of day, a consultative approach helps mitigate problems from the outset.

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