In a dynamic and customer-centric call center environment, the workforce management (WFM) system is a critical factor in ensuring operational efficiency. We offer you a detailed analysis of what workforce management (WFM) is, its fundamental role in call center workforce management and the importance and benefits that the WFM system brings.
What is workforce management (WFM)?
Workforce management is personnel management in the broadest sense. When viewed in relation to an organization, the WFM system encompasses a range of strategies and technologies that facilitate workforce scheduling, resource allocation, employee engagement tracking and workplace compliance.
Workforce management in a call center is a combination of processes designed to ensure that the contact center has the right number of employees at the right time. These processes include:
- Forecasts of work volume.
- Staffing plans for the forecasted workload.
- Daily monitoring of the situation to resolve issues related to a sudden increase in workload or staff absence in a timely manner.
- Creation of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to ensure uninterrupted operations.
The WFM system makes it possible to quickly and efficiently distribute the workload among call center employees, monitor the quality of handling calls and customer messages, define KPIs and create plans for the development of the call center.
Reasons for the importance of workforce management in call centers
Workforce management in a call center has its own peculiarities. On the one hand, call center employees are at the front line of communication with customers and influence key performance indicators such as CX, NPS, CSAT, CES and more. On the other hand, contact centers are organizations with typically large numbers of employees and high turnover, which is often associated with burnout.
By implementing workforce management (WFM) systems, call centers can overcome three key challenges:
Improving employee productivity
Effective people management in a call center involves assigning tasks to agents based on their skills. By avoiding irrational task distribution and assigning agents tasks that match their expertise, burnout is minimized and each agent can work optimally.
When employees are assigned to areas where they have specific skills, they are more motivated, productive and able to provide excellent customer service. This leads to an improvement in employee experience (EX), overall productivity and lower employee turnover.
Improving the customer experience
A positive customer experience in a call center depends largely on how quickly and efficiently a customer can resolve their issue. Without proper workforce management, customers can face issues such as inability to reach the right agent, long wait times, insufficient staff skills and more. However, with workforce management (WFM), which ensures the availability of qualified agents to handle calls, customers can be connected to the right agent quickly, even during peak times.
Workforce Management (WFM) guarantees that the required number of agents with the appropriate qualifications handle the inquiries. Customers receive help quickly, which leads to greater satisfaction. Combining the WFM system with an ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) program leads to a more efficient service and contributes directly to improving the customer experience (CX) in the call center.
Effective staff management helps to achieve a balance between customer requirements and agent availability, thus avoiding staff shortages or surpluses. Staff shortages lead to a decrease in call center KPIs, while overstaffing increases labor costs. By accurately analyzing data and predicting call volumes, call centers can hire the optimal number of agents or distribute them across shifts, reducing operating costs.
The workforce management (WFM) system also contributes to cost savings:
- Scheduling employee working hours
- Regulation of overtime
- Prevention of time lost during breaks and shift changes
- Minimizing the administrative burden associated with attendance and leave management.
Main directions in call center workforce management
What is workforce management in a call center in terms of specific measures? In order to effectively manage the workforce, it is crucial to understand the basic components and processes of call center operations. Below are the main directions that are influenced by the WFM system:
Forecasting the volume of interaction with customers
Forecasting is the most important part of personnel management in call centers. It involves calculating the required number of agent hours or full-time equivalents for project work, the expected number of calls or interactions with customers over certain periods of time, such as days, weeks or months.
Forecasting is based on patterns, historical and analytical data that predict future workload and anticipate factors that will require contact with the call center. The forecast takes into account factors such as changes in business trends and customer behavior, specific events and unforeseen factors such as seasonality and equipment failures.
Agents time management planning
The WFM system in a call center helps create work schedules for agents based on expected call volume. Scheduling involves determining the number of shifts and hours required to cover the projected workload. It is crucial to match agents’ workload with their skills. This maximizes productivity and ensures uninterrupted customer service.
WFM software for contact centers provides features for effective agent work scheduling. The easy-to-use scheduling software takes into account agent availability, skills and company policies when assigning agents to specific shifts. By automating the scheduling process, call centers can optimize their operations, minimize errors and ensure optimal workforce distribution.
The allocation of employees is an important task in personnel management. It involves allocating the required number of agents for each shift, taking into account the project plan, the service channels, the targeted service levels and/or response rates and the overall operational requirements of the call center.
Workforce Management (WFM) provides the ability to balance the number of agents, their workload and the operational requirements of the call center. Maintaining this balance has a direct impact on employee engagement and reduces staff turnover.
Workforce management in real time
The workload in a call center can fluctuate throughout the day due to numerous factors. To prevent a drop in service levels, it is necessary to monitor call data in real time, assess staffing needs and make adjustments to resolve staffing issues during sudden spikes in call volume.
Real-time staff management methods include:
- Utilizing self-service systems for customers (IVR menus, chatbots).
- Routing calls to available agents using automatic call distribution (ACD).
- Mobilizing additional staff resources when necessary.
Monitoring and performance evaluation
Data evaluation and performance monitoring are integral parts of call center workforce management. With call center quality control software, you can track operational efficiency (managing average handle time (AHT), increasing answer rate (AR) and service level (SL), resolving more first call resolution (FCR), etc.). You can also monitor how your agents interact with customers, track their empathy and emotional intelligence, and improve the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
By regularly monitoring performance indicators, call centers can identify trends, address productivity issues and ensure targeted training for agents. This continuous improvement approach increases agent skills, overall productivity and contributes to higher customer satisfaction.
How can call center workforce management be improved?
To maximize the benefits of workforce management in a call center, it is advisable to apply the following advanced methods:
Data-driven decision making
Decisions based on data ensure efficient resource allocation, leading to improved operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Use historical data, customer trends and call volumes to accurately predict future workload and determine staffing requirements.
Collaboration between HR and operational planning teams
HR management teams should actively seek information and feedback from operational groups to understand their specific needs and challenges. Such collaboration ensures that HR management strategies are aligned with the operational needs of the call center and leads to more effective workforce allocation and planning.
Staff training and development
Invest in ongoing training and development programs for agents to improve their skills and increase productivity. Regular training, coaching sessions, targeted training modules and performance-based feedback all contribute to agents’ professional development and engagement.
Use of software for workforce management
Use workforce management software and advanced technologies to automate manual processes, optimize operational activities and allocate resources efficiently. With these solutions, call centers can forecast call volumes, schedule agent work and monitor performance. By leveraging technology, call centers can reduce administrative tasks and improve workforce management efficiency.
Workforce management in a contact center: Conclusions
So we have defined what workforce management is in a contact center and we understand that workforce management plays a crucial role in the successful operation of contact centers.
By efficiently allocating resources, optimizing agent schedules and monitoring productivity, contact centers can increase operational efficiency, improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs.
By implementing best practices in workforce management and leveraging advanced technologies, contact centers can streamline their operations, increase agent productivity and deliver an exceptional customer experience.