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Workforce Management Software and its Crucial Role in Agent Training

 
November 05, 2007



When most people think of workforce management software for the contact center, they tend to think primarily in terms of its ability to schedule agents’ shifts according to peak volume and low volume periods. But today’s workforce management solutions offer a range of capabilities that go far beyond the management of contact center staffing levels. Often overlooked is the fact that they can play a critical role in delivering training and coaching sessions to agents via a company’s e-learning system.


A lot of companies are now starting to see the value of hosted and on-premise e-learning solutions as part of the “ecosystem” of software that makes a fully functional contact center. The challenge for companies not utilizing comprehensive workforce optimization systems including workforce management and e-learning, however, is deciding on the best time to deliver training or coaching to their agents, without having to clock them in on the weekends or force them into working overtime to take training that they would much rather not have to take in the first place. By using an e-learning solution in tandem with a workforce management solution, one can achieve a more effective training schedule – and one which is much more to the liking of the agents. (And as we’ve all been hearing lately, happier agents provide better customer service and are less likely to quit their jobs).

The concept here is really pretty simple: If you are having your agents come in and work eight hour shifts, but there a low volume periods during those shifts where some of your agents have very few calls or contacts coming in, then why not take advantage of this opportunity to deliver training to them via your e-learning platform? After all, today’s web-based e-learning solutions make it a snap to deliver training modules, whether based on your own training program or someone else’s, directly to a specific agent’s desktop. Furthermore, this training can be delivered to any end point on your contact center network, whether it is an agent sitting at his desk right in the main center, or at a remote center miles away, or perhaps another center on the other side of the globe. Even remote or home based agents can have targeted, custom training modules delivered to their PCs right in their homes, just the same as an agent sitting in the main center (oh the many wonders of IP!).

But the real issue here is how to schedule such training? Obviously, you want to schedule it as accurately as possible, so as to not have your training or coaching lessons have a negative impact on customer service levels. That’s where advanced workforce management solutions such as Left Bank Solutions’ Monet WFM come in. Because these workforce management solutions are able to forecast, with amazing accuracy, when low or high peaks will occur during any hour on any given day (based on automated, software-driven statistical analysis of past traffic volume patterns), you can confidently and comfortably schedule certain agents for training or coaching sessions without having to worry about negatively impacting customer service. So if one of your agents is, for example, having a difficult time cross-selling or upselling during his or her calls, you can use your workforce management software to schedule a brief, 15 minute training session during a low peak volume period.

The advantage of this is obvious: Using your workforce management solution in tandem with your e-learning solution, call center managers no longer have to take groups of agents “off-line” in the middle of their shifts and shuffle them off to a training facility for training or coaching. This is known to lead to wasted time, as agents will tend to loiter around and use the opportunity to “take a break.” Instead, you can train them right at their desks, thus enhancing the training or coaching process while at the same minimizing the impact on customer service.

The timing at which you train your agents is critical because, in today’s rapidly changing business world, the flow of work coming into your contact center can fluctuate greatly depending on a wide variety of factors. And let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than having a room filled with agents who are on the clock with no contacts coming in! You might as well use this valuable time to train them.

Want to know more? Then check out the capabilities of Left Bank Solution’s Monet WFM. Not only are there efficiencies to be gained in terms of avoiding lost time, your agents will end up better trained and happier in the long run. And best of all your customers will benefit through improved service. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself at www.leftbanksolutions.com.

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Patrick Barnard is Associate Editor for Customer Interaction Solutions magazine and Assignment Editor for TMCnet. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.

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