Workforce Management to Workforce Productivity: Aspect Software

Author: Aspect Software

Date: 3rd March 2012

If your company wants to remain competitive, then your contact center has to go beyond cost savings and become a revenue contributor. The traditional view of the contact center as a cost center that must be managed solely for efficiency is outmoded.

Successful businesses recognize the potential the contact center has to build customer loyalty, win new customers, and increase revenue. And in addition to the traditional goal of keeping costs down, these companies are setting new goals, putting new practices in place, and investing in new technology that takes them beyond workforce management to workforce productivity.

Workforce productivity techniques include tying contact center metrics to business goals such as growth and profit; empowering contact center staff to take responsibility for their own contributions; and applying technologies that go beyond traditional forecasting and scheduling applications.

One of the most powerful of these new technologies is analytics, a new approach to reporting that combines contact center statistics with business data, focuses on the information most relevant to business goals, matches that information to specific tasks inside the contact center, and gives users the ability to analyze root causes and take corrective actions.

This white paper explains the concept of workforce productivity and the technologies that support it, and it offers advice for selecting workforce productivity technology and for choosing a vendor who can supply it.
It’s time to write the epitaph for contact center management that focuses solely on internal efficiency and cost control. And it should go something like this:

“Here lies the inward-facing contact center. It didn’t accomplish much, but it was cheap.”

Workforce management solutions first emerged at a time when the contact center was seen primarily as a cost center. Contact center management focused on cutting costs, and early workforce management solutions were tools to manage staff for maximum cost-efficiency. Job one was reducing the number of agents to keep down the cost of supporting and paying them. Workforce management vendors who focus exclusively on workforce management software still see the world in terms of cost-efficiency, and their products reflect that world view.

In all fairness, it’s important to point out that the cost-efficient contact center has helped mitigate the effects of the recent economic downturn on their organizations. But as the clouds of economic uncertainty disperse, businesses prepared to move quickly on marketplace opportunities will have a brighter competitive outlook. And that means it’s time to take a different approach to managing the contact center workforce.

The Way It Was: Measuring Seconds and Counting Beans

Of all the people who work in the contact center, workforce managers have perhaps been the most inclined to focus on internal efficiency. They frequently cite the fact that 60 to 70 percent of contact center expenditures go to pay and support contact center staff, mostly agents. To operate within budget, they take aim at that 60 to 70 percent, adopt practices that reduce it, and measure the success of their operations by how little they spend.

Managers who take this approach use workforce management software primarily for forecasting contact volumes and devising schedules that get the most work out of the fewest agents. They use simple metrics like talk time or number of calls handled to assess agent performance. Reporting is primarily a process of proving to management that the center has met its cost-reduction goals, not a process of using information to effect positive change. It is an inward-looking philosophy, and the ultimate objective is to please a tight-fisted CFO.

Most centers are successful in accomplishing this, meeting and even exceeding their goals. But enterprise goals, such as winning customer loyalty and increasing revenue, often suffer as a result. With the focus on getting more work out of fewer people, the relationship between managers and agents is too often adversarial. Dissatisfied agents can make life miserable for supervisors and the experience of dealing with the company unpleasant for the customers. If an agent is measured strictly on talk time, for example, he may not care whether he solves a customer’s problem, as long as he wraps the call up quickly. And in this negative environment, high turnover is common, virtually ensuring that customers will be served by agents in training rather than experienced ones. The company’s accountants might be happy, but hardly anyone else is.

Aspect Software

Read the full white paper


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