The three elements of Workforce Optimisation

WFO helps companies improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their customer interactions through solutions that capture interactions across all channels, analyse to reveal insights, and drive actions that impact business results and the customer experience.

March 25, 2013

Deon Scheepers, Strategic Consultant EMEA, Interactive Intelligence Africa 

Workforce optimisation (WFO) helps companies improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their customer interactions through solutions that capture interactions across all channels, analyse to reveal insights, and drive actions that impact business results and the customer experience. These capabilities are applied in solutions that enable businesses to harness the data from customer interactions to increase efficiency, improve sales efforts and ultimately improve client experience.

Enterprises can easily optimise their work force by ensuring that the following three elements are present:

1.     Analytics

Possibly the most powerful strategic weapons in the WFO arsenal are the combination of analytics and quality management. Analytics has the power to cut through organisational silos (e.g. contact centre, marketing, sales, billing, and fulfilment) and bring the entire customer experience into focus. Analytics creates an opportunity to apply quality management across the organisation — not just to the contact centre and its agents. With analytics, data that previously was near impossible to access, is now not only available to us, but available and accessible in real-time.

 2.     Quality management

It is important to manage the quality in the following areas:

Customer experience

When analytics are implemented correctly it is a game changer. The opportunity to become more agile, more responsive and to significantly improve the customer experience, clearly presents itself. Speech analytics allow us to respond to events in “real-time” — addressing customer issues or concerns before they have a chance to evolve into true discontent, and that discontent is then shared with others. Your organisation can have a strategic plan to proactively address customer issues — to choose to “auto-escalate” issues — with alerts and actions triggered when certain conditions are met and an interaction flagged. Where root cause is determined to be a product or a fulfilment issue, a feedback loop can be created. The product and fulfilment teams are alerted, given specific details as to the nature of the issue, and are provided an opportunity to address it.

Customer loyalty

While soft skills have the greatest impact on delivering customer satisfaction, reducing customer effort has the greatest impact on increasing loyalty. A good place to start reducing customer effort is by simplifying the IVR/caller menus. If a first impression is a lasting one, IVRs certainly aren’t getting the relationship off to a good start. IVRs and caller menus have often been designed to identify why someone is calling so that we can gather metrics and identify their reason for contacting us. This forces the customer to jump through hoops and navigate through a variety of menus, thus increasing their effort and decreasing their loyalty.

Competitive advantage

It is important that you do everything in your power to gain an advantage over your competitors. This can be achieved by improving customer experience, increasing customer loyalty, greater employee satisfaction and decreasing operational costs. If the following are achieved, your organisation will have greater success at differentiating yourselves and creating a competitive advantage.

In addition, analytics can assist with gathering business intelligence and measuring how your organisation stacks up against your competitors. Using phrase spotting, you can assess how many times your competitors are being mentioned in your agent’s day-to-day interactions, and trend that information over time and against specific marketing campaigns and initiatives.

 3.     Workforce management

Many organisations view workforce management (WFM) as the “scheduling team” — a very tactical but necessary part of running the contact centre. Some may use it in a limited planning aspect for forecasting resource requirements for the month or year. However, few will actually realise the full potential of workforce management and truly know how to harness it.

WFM is a set of tools, practices and people that manages your contact centre’s largest operating expenditure (employees) and is central to your organisation’s profitability.

For many organisations, workforce management has been a part of contact centre management for several years, but has been ignored in the strategic planning process. Now is the time to change that.

The main aim of WFM is to insure that the right agent is in the right place, at the right time — and to do so in the most cost-effective manner possible. Another important part of WFM is to ensure that your agents experience job satisfaction. We all know this one— agents who feels great about their jobs deliver a great customer experience.

The many benefits derived from the inclusion of a WFO solution into your strategic planning and execution processes are clear. Leveraging WFO in the strategic planning process will significantly increase your organisation’s competitive advantage and success. WFO has changed the contact centre paradigm with its ability to simultaneously improve agent productivity and deliver quality customer service. The time is now, so start to plan for its incorporation into your organisation and into your strategic planning process.