ABCs of Workforce Management
Credit union contact centers walk a delicate balance between profit and loss. Understanding the basics enables credit union contact centers to understand the power and fully utilize their workforce management purchase.
Who needs it?
Workforce management is the process of balancing work to be completed with the resources available to complete that work and is a critical component for credit union contact centers. Any contact center wishing to maintain consistent service levels will benefit from WFM. Many small centers with 50 agents or less can calculate workload forecasting on a spreadsheet; however, large centers cannot operate efficiently without automated WFM software, and WFM is an absolute necessity for inbound call centers.
The importance of WFM is reflected in a credit union's financial bottom line. If work volume cannot be anticipated, over- or understaffing of agents occurs. Both scenarios are costly. Understaffing results in lost sales due to incoming calls not being answered within established guidelines. Customers lost to poor customer service resulting from unanswered calls are hard, if not impossible, to recapture. Overstaffing has an equally negative effect on bottom line profits. Idle, unproductive agents cost money in wasted labor expenses.
Accurate forecasting is the foundation of contact center scheduling, and without it, over- and understaffing will occur. In a skill-based routing environment, it is the most critical component of WFM. Accurate scheduling depends on the forecast correctly estimating anticipated call volume and determining the number of agents required to meet service levels. How does this affect profitability? In a real life scenario, if call volume is underestimated to the extent that 100 callers out of 1,000 hang up before they speak to an agent in a sales environment where the average order is just $50, $5,000 in lost revenues will occur per day, $150,000 per month, or a staggering $1.8 million per year.
Critical components of WFM software for accurate forecasting include the amount of historical data available, which is critical to ensure that the forecasting tool has as much information about what happened in the past and what you expect in the future, and that it will allow you to input this information and make proper use of it.
Other key components are the nature of the data, forecasting period and an infinite number of different service objectives on one or more work streams. Algorithms that reflect real life customer behavior, special events that are treated differently such as mail drops and campaigns, special promotions that can be quantified as well as email and faxes with service objectives that reflect the way that work is handled are also important elements.
Choosing a WFM system
First, invest in a quality WFM system that has stood the test of time. Investing in the best quality WFM system offers an advantage that helps ensure you will not encounter some of the same problems you are trying to resolve initially. Choose a system that can collect enough data to generate an accurate forecast and accommodate all variables that exist with scheduling.
Second, partner with your vendor who will understand your specific needs.
Third, including ongoing training as part of the corporate budget. When purchasing a WFM solution, factor in costs for future training for new employees and ongoing training for existing users. Fourth, each supervisor should go through training. When an existing supervisor is replaced, the new employee should receive their own training.
Finally, take advantage of upgrades and get trained on them. Training ensures your software is working at maximum capacity.
Bob Webb is vice president of sales at Pipkins Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-469-6106 ext. 751.