The goal of workforce management (WFM) is to optimize the deployment of the most valuable - and costly - resource in every contact center: the employees.
To quote Brad Cleveland:
“WFM is about having the right number of people in the right places at the right times, doing the right things.”
Why does WFM matter?
In contact centers, three opposing forces are in play:
- Exclusively focusing on the customer by always having plenty of agents to handle the contact volume is great for company reputation and may result in revenue growth, but could render the business unprofitable.
- Putting the agent first may make the company a great place to work, but if the customer experience is terrible and staffing costs are excessive, your contact center may be a place where nobody works in the long run.
- Well-run businesses are always looking for ways to optimize costs, but reducing staffing levels without regard to the customer experience or agent burnout is equally unsustainable.
WFM matters because it enables contact centers to optimize the balance between the three forces, simultaneously improving outcomes for the customer, the employees (or agents), and the business. If that sounds too good to be true, read on to learn how WFM performs this seemingly impossible balancing act.
How does WFM work?
WFM is a repeating process and that’s why it is often characterized as a cycle:
- It starts with forecasting, which accurately predicts future contact metrics such as volume and average handling time (AHT) using historical data and business intelligence that you add, such as upcoming marketing campaigns.
- Planning is about making sure that your contact center employs the right number of agents to cope with the anticipated scale of the business in the long term.
- Scheduling is about creating shifts for employees which match supply and demand for staff as closely as possible, as often as possible. You must take into account skills, labor laws, employment contracts and other constraints.
- Intraday management is about identifying where reality has deviated from plan, for example, an unexpected volume spike or unusually high sickness levels. It enables you to take swift and effective corrective action to defend your KPIs.
- Analytics give you insights that will help you to constantly improve. For example, you can measure your shrinkage, which will feed into your staffing calculations next time round the cycle.
Employee engagement is about letting your employees interact with the planning process and feel more in control. It impacts the whole WFM process.
What impact does WFM have?
Here is what “the right number of people in the right places at the right times, doing the right things” looks like:
In both charts, the green line shows the demand-driven requirement for a single activity for a single day. That’s the number of agents required in each time interval to handle the volume of contacts (e.g. calls, chat messages, emails, etc.) in that interval. The horizontal bars show the shifts assigned to staff across the day.
In the first chart, it’s clear that we rarely have the right number of agents in the right places at the right times. There are periods in the morning and afternoon, highlighted in orange, when insufficient agents are scheduled. At those times, the customer experience suffers, the service level goal isn’t met and the employees get stressed. At other times, highlighted in red, there are too many agents on duty. This is a waste of the contact center’s budget.
The second chart shows what WFM does: supply and demand are much more closely aligned.
- Satisfied customers
- Happier employees
- Optimized business bottom line
Getting WFM right is definitely not a trivial task. Click on the chapter headings on the right to walk through the WFM cycle step by step, starting with Forecasting.
Rather talk than read? At injixo, we live, eat and breathe WFM. We don’t have any salespeople on commission. What we do have is a team of experts who are passionate about WFM and the transformation that it can bring about. If you’ve read enough about WFM to know that it’s worth investigating, why not arrange a call with us?