Workforce management essential to successful contact centre operation

Labour can often account for up to 70 percent of contact centre operating costs.

July 5, 2012

Labour can often account for up to 70 percent of contact centre operating costs. Fortunately, workforce management (WFM) technology has stepped up to the plate and a new generation of innovative and easy to implement solutions, to assist call centre management achieve increased efficiency and substantial cost savings, has emerged.

There are four critical aspects of WFM that managers can implement and immediately realise benefits, says Mark Edwards, director of product and services at integrated technology and people resource solutions provider, Intuate Group.

“Led by the Noble Systems Shift solution, these technologies offer self-service modules to empower agents, change the dynamics of contact centres and free supervisors to focus their time on assisting customers instead of managing agent schedules.”

The four critical areas are: provision of advanced functionality, including leave management, self-service and mobile features; delivering flexible deployment options for premise, cloud and hybrid environments; functioning as part of an integrated contact centre toolset to improve forecasting, planning, quality assurance, decision support and overall contact centre management; and support of blended, multi-skill and multi-channel customer contact activities wherever agents are located.

Edwards adds that yesterday’s feature-rich suite is today’s minimum offer and companies have to look for functionality beyond the core set of services.

“The speed of business has outpaced brick and mortar so it makes sense to look for a solution with cloud and hybrid delivery methods. Hosting, particularly routing and CRM has become an important deployment option for some contact centre infrastructure segments. It often makes sense to hybridise the technology environment by keeping some core systems on the premises and adding new modules through SaaS, or look for a provider able to deliver WFM through the cloud.”

Noble ShiftTrack is available through the cloud in conjunction with Noble Enterprise Hosted, which is a complete contact centre technology with all the advantages of a cloud-based Communications as a Service (CaaS) infrastructure. Edwards adds that it can be delivered as part of a premise/ hosted hybrid solution that pairs the award-winning premise-based offerings of Noble Systems with the unlimited capacity and flexibilty derived from untethered services.

In addition to these “new rules” it makes sense to consider WFM in the context of a broader suite because in increasingly interconnected contact centre environments standalone solutions can create problems.

Edwards reckons that in an ideal implementation, Noble ShiftTrack should be tightly integrated with the full suite of contact centre solutions, including inbound and outbound activities, desktop management tools and mobile functionality.

“The solution has to meet the demands of a blended, multi-tasking environment, including inbound and outbound contacts, multiple channel and non-call activities. For a WFM platform to be highly beneficial to a multi-tasking centre it should be capable of forecasting call and non-call volumes and schedule resources for blended, multi-media environments.”

He points out that Noble Systems has developed tools within Noble ShiftTrack that seamlessly integrate both inbound and outbound communications. While targeting outbound and inbound schedule management and forecasting for blended environments, it also accommodates multi-media activities such as e-mail and SMS and schedules the necessary skilled agents to handle each contact type.

“Finally it is imperative that companies reliant on contact centres focus on finding a solution partner with an established track record and avoid drop-off vendors incapable of effective problem-solving. Seek out a forward-facing solution and benefit from continued innovation, investment and support from the provider,” states Edwards.