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Leave the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality behind!

Change Management, Savings and Efficiency, Understanding Workforce Planning

Why trading your manual spreadsheets for an automated WFM tool is a wise decision!

attitudeRolling out a new workforce-management (WFM) system is scary – I get that! What’s even scarier though is holding on to rudimentary methods in a world where the ways of communication are constantly changing. It just doesn’t cut it anymore…

Picture this: I’m a call-center analyst who’s been working with the same spreadsheet for years. I developed it from scratch, use metrics I need and arrange schedules and rotations myself – time-consuming but nonetheless manageable. Apart from a few loopholes here and there, the forecasts are more or less accurate and nothing has ever been so far off that it has triggered the need for change.

At the 2015 kick-off, my company announced it had decided to explore new territories. As a result, one of the things we had to start with was introduce a whole set of new languages. To test the waters, we started with Arabic…here is hoping Farsi and Urdu will follow at a much later stage! Another challenge was to source a significant number of qualified people in a very short period of time. Little did I know at the time what a nightmare this would turn out to be.

Two months into the job, it became crystal clear that technology enhancements were a must since customers have become more demanding and the workforce more diversified. It became obvious that our agents needed to know the language of our customers so another skill was added to my Excel sheet.

Cover your eyes and ears if you want but here is what I learned over the past year: the truth is automated WFM tools have become a necessity – what, with all the onboarding of new hires, the multitude of agent skills and time zones, challenging service levels and intraday-management requirements.

Choose automation over manual workload
Contact centers, using spreadsheets for years, have gotten too comfortable with the same process in place. With the increase in contact-center demand and high call volumes, it has become almost impossible to fetch historical data from the ACD system for analysis, using spreadsheets. The good news is that a WFM solution integrates impeccably with all ACD systems and uses the historical data to populate real-time information reports. This revolutionizes the manual reporting process: you just plug the data onto your spreadsheets in an instant and save yourself hours of invaluable time.

Whether you’re spending too much time on too few minor tasks or you’ve been operating in static mode, unable to outperform the current work model, a WFM solution will help you maximize your capabilities.

Choose quality over quantity
No company wants to see their top performers head for the door; a strong indication that your organization’s vital signs are not in the best of health. High attrition rates do not behoove organizations and imply that your employee program and retention strategy are poor if not downright failing. Fortunately, WFM tools allow you to dive deeply into employee performance to clearly identify strengths and weaknesses and re-balance skills and preferences.

As an employer, you should know where your resources are allocated in order to create cost- effective teams, based on historical call volumes, skill sets and internal productivity metrics. WFM tools also help distinguish active from passive agents so you’ll know who is to be rewarded and who is in need of training. With automated WFM, adherence and KPIs can also be closely monitored and quickly adjusted – something almost impossible to do manually.

Another key feature of automated WFM is the ability to help team leaders monitor adherence levels, identify where things are wrong and make changes as they go along. The best contact-center leaders are the ones who bring in different personas with multiple functionalities in multiple interactions on multiple devices together. This can only be done using an automated WFM tool – there’s no doubt about it.

Choose efficiency over cost
As a contact-center manager, your biggest fear when investing in a WFM solution may be getting saddled with a bad product that doesn’t deliver on its promise, leaving you with having to pay for unnecessary features. If you consider your contact center too small for such an investment, you may be wrong. It’s been proven that if contact center with more than 50 agents wish to remain competitive, there is no other option but acquire automated WFM – and even more dire when operating across different time zones and in different languages.

Imagine all the hours you’ll be saving on forecasting for both multi-channel and multi-site environments. Think about the beauty of optimized staff utilization: the right agent with the right skill in the right place at the right time. Think about well-informed happy agents that are empowered by work-life balance…and there you have your retaining strategy!

Furthermore, keep in mind that integrating your own workforce analytics with the right WFM tool can create a paradigm shift within your contact center, saving you hours of tedious work only with better benefits.

We tend to get stuck in our ways and we keep on thinking: “Spreadsheets have worked well for me, why change?” It’s high time to change your mentality and put those spreadsheets away. Prevention is better than a cure. Do not wait until your abandon rates skyrocket and you lose all your star performers. Envision the change and roll with it.

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