While workforce management is a necessary tool for a call center of any size – it helps determine how many agents are required, with what skills, ensure full coverage at all times based on historical information and predictions – it’s also one of those technologies which suspicions remain, especially for agents.
Since workforce management keeps track of agent schedules and often monitors adherence, many agents feel that the technology is a bit “big brotherish,” according to a recent blog post by Monet Software’s Chuck Ciarlo.
“When such technologies [workforce management] were first introduced, they were perceived as a means to control a call center workforce, to make sure they were producing as expected, and to keep an electronic eye on them at all times,” wrote Ciarlo.
Successful contact centers have been able to make the transition between Big Brother and Helping Hand with their workforce management solutions, helping employees understand how the technology benefits them. To follow the example, prepare a primer for agents that discusses how workforce management directly benefits them by making their jobs more productive and engaging. Ciarlo suggests the following techniques:
Skills matching. Skill-based scheduling allows managers to better match agents with the types of calls they are most comfortable and experienced in handling. This boosts both employee confidence and customer service, notes Ciarlo.
Work-life balance. Workforce management is the number one tool in producing flexible schedules for agents, sometimes going so far as to allow shift swapping and automated time-off bidding so agents can balance obligations in their personal lives with work responsibilities.
Online collaboration. Communications run more easily between agents and supervisors inside a robust workforce management solution, making it easier for agents to request the schedules they require.
Exception calendars. These are a way to keep all call center personnel informed and prepared for issues, writes Ciarlo, while giving agents a way to better deal with emergencies and other unplanned activities.
Reporting and transparency tools. To ensure fairness, these are tools that allow agents engaged with the workforce management solution to see transparent and accurate assessments of agent performance, so they can be sure they are being reviewed fairly.
While “Workforce Management is Your Friend” may sound a bit trite, the message is sincere, and the goal of every contact center manager should be to ensure that agents know that workforce management is working for them, and not against them.