1 W H I T E P A P E R Workforce Management Software How to Determine the Software You Need and Justify the Investment
3 C O N T E N T S Executive Summary Why use workforce management software? Accurate forecasting the foundation of workforce management Scheduling an exercise in balance Tracking vital internal and external data Moving beyond today s performance Increasing efficiency with the right technology Improving service productivity increases customer satisfaction Improving employee retention and job satisfaction Leveraging the existing infrastructure Enabling multiskill contact centers Factoring the return on your investment Increasing ROI and profits with Aspect eworkforce Management Case Study I: Canadian Utility Company Case Study II: U.S. Catalog Company Conclusion
5 Workforce Management Software EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The complexity of contact center work and the demands on center managers today have made software tools for forecasting, scheduling, staffing, and managing a contact center critical to the success or failure of many companies. Regardless of your industry, the size of your business, or the current level of technology your center deploys, workforce management software is key to increasing revenues and achieving a return on customer service investments. Companies not using robust workforce management software are spending far too much money trying to determine what they need to do next and how to do it. They are also missing out on the opportunity to improve their bottom line by just increasing their contact center efficiency. Despite their CRM strategies, these companies have serious obstacles in successfully managing their workforces. The system you deploy should save not cost you money. Moreover, very quickly after its implementation, the right workforce management software will help you generate revenue. So, as a senior decision-maker, you need to ask some basic questions. Is your contact center set up to serve your customers as efficiently as possible? And how much is that service costing you? Do you have the right resource in the right place at the right time to provide consistently high-quality service at the lowest cost across all your sites, products, and contact channels? Without an accurate workforce management system, you may find it difficult to answer these questions or achieve their implied goals. You may also find it difficult to answer this question as well: Can contact center workforce management software generate a sufficient return on investment (ROI) to justify the cost? The answer: Absolutely, and this can be illustrated with examples of companies that have reaped significant benefits by using workforce management software. In fact, workforce management software can not only provide a good return on the software investment, but also document the costs, savings, and efficiencies it gains for current users and highlight areas for additional savings and improvements in the future. This paper explains workforce management software what it does and how it can very quickly provide a return on your investment by reducing expenses and increasing your profits. It offers case studies from two different industries that demonstrate how workforce management software benefits the bottom line.
6 2 Workforce Management Software Why use workforce management software? It s no secret that personnel and related staffing expenses eat up your contact center budget. In fact, as the chart below shows, 60 percent of the total operating costs for a typical contact center are directly related to personnel. Workforce management software takes the guesswork out of staffing. It provides easy-to-use, yet sophisticated management tools; immediately reduces labor-intensive record keeping; and automates complex manual tasks. These features can help you meet and exceed sales, reduce overstaffing, and reduce administrative labor. It s important to note here that any workforce management software can enable you to generate schedules, but you need a flexible and robust application to really manage your workforce. Studies have shown that approximately 60 percent of contact center costs are tied up in personnel-related expenses.workforce management software can free a large portion of these costs for investments in other areas. The best workforce management software will help you meet your service and overall contact center and CRM goals at a minimum cost. Here s how. First, assume you already have or are about to implement a typical customer contact center whether it is a small single-site call center, or a larger multisite infrastructure with contacts being made not only via telephone but also via and the Web over wired and wireless devices. Whatever its size and complexity, to effectively manage your center, you must: Forecast customer demand as your business and customer requirements change. Schedule staff according to agent skill and customer demand. Track employee schedules and customer contacts. Improve employee retention and job satisfaction. Increase efficiency, service, and profit on a continual basis. Now, let s examine how the right workforce management software can dramatically improve each step in this process.
7 Workforce Management Software 3 Accurate forecasting the foundation of workforce management Workforce management software should enable you to predict contact volumes, calculate staffing requirements, and make budget projections based on historical data on contact volumes and handling times. You and your team should be able to set these data parameters and set up what-if scenarios to calculate the necessary trade-offs between service-quality goals and available staff. A full-featured workforce management product will allow you to forecast incoming contacts on a monthly, weekly, daily, and half- or quarter-hourly basis, so you can determine staff requirements for any time period, meet or modify established service-quality goals, and maximize net revenue. Also, a good workforce management software application will let you use patterns in forecasting, to smooth out the random variations and allow more accurate, long-range forecasting. Scheduling an exercise in balance Contact center scheduling is one of the most complicated juggling acts business managers perform. You have to balance staffing requirements, to meet service-level goals, with employee needs and preferences and agent limitations. You have to consider business rules and policies and efficiency metrics. You have to accommodate human resources considerations. And you have to factor in fast adaptation needs, multiple sites and time zones, and language and skill requirements. Contact center management regularly has all of these balls in the air at once, and your business can t afford to drop any of them. Specifically, contact center managers must create optimal schedules that meet their agents needs while simultaneously fulfilling the needs of the business. A wellplanned schedule takes into account the types of contacts the center handles and their incoming volumes. They must also consider agent skill level and type. If scheduling is too tight, efficiency and employee satisfaction drop. If scheduling is too loose, productivity and customer satisfaction plummet. You often need to draw up several models, but who has the time? Frequently, you may need to add to or adjust schedules, yet you seldom have time to replace some of the factors or start over. Good workforce management software will permit you to do this. You can create numerous trial schedules before selecting the one you ll actually use in a fraction of the time it would take to do this manually. Tracking vital internal and external data With well-designed workforce management software, you can manage daily schedules and monitor the performance of your contact center. You can track changes and exceptions to employee schedules as they happen. You will also be able to track future schedule exceptions. Good workforce management software allows you to compare your scheduled number of staff to the number you require to meet your service-level goals. Then you will be able to compare your forecast to actual data, so your contact center managers can make staffing adjustments to maintain your service-level objectives.
8 4 Workforce Management Software For example, good workforce management software includes modules that allow you to administer employee vacations and other exceptions as necessary. Using these, you can track the amount of vacation time allowed for a group of agents for a particular day and easily decide whether a vacation request should be approved. More robust workforce management software has modules that will allow you to do this automatically. Using the exception-accounting features of workforce management software, you can even determine how much time over the past day, week, month, or year was spent on activities such as sick time, vacation time, meetings, training, and other categories you establish. Moving beyond today s performance Optimizing contact center staffing resources may be a primary goal of workforce management, but the challenges today are daunting because of the many ways customers can make contact. Besides matching the many types of contacts with the agents skilled to handle them, many centers must do this over multiple sites using multiple contact channels. The more traditional goals of workforce management have thus been expanded to encompass staffing optimization in integrated multichannel, multisite, multiskill environments and only full-featured workforce management software can synchronize all your CRM resources in these complex contact centers. Increasing efficiency with the right technology Once you are effectively forecasting, scheduling, and tracking, you can focus on increasing efficiency. This means having time to evaluate agent abilities, productivity, needs, and use of time. For example, can you accurately determine just what type of agents you need to hire now and later on? If you can, it will make the difference between just doing the best with what you have and planning for and ensuring outstanding performance. Most contact center mangers work furiously just to stand still. Without the time and tools to analyze how they should change operations, they find it extremely difficult to improve contact center performance. Should they change the routing scheme, for example? Or improve their agents skill sets through training? Workforce management software not only gives managers the time to ask these questions, it provides the tools to answer them. Improving service productivity increases customer satisfaction With robust workforce management software, you gain the flexibility to experiment easily, without affecting your production plans. For example, can you currently create schedules that are the best for your business needs? Would you like to experiment with scheduling alone, independent of your agents needs, preferences, and limitations? Do you have the workspace for creating trial schedule sets? Rich workforce management software allows you to form as many trial sets as you wish, compare the benefits of each, and then select and deploy the best set. In fact, workforce management software with these features can also allow you to determine just what types of agents you need to hire and exactly what skills they must have today and in the future. Using your current employees schedules as a base, you can set up these requirements and plan beyond your current production schedules.
9 Workforce Management Software 5 It s a simple equation: the larger the contact center, the greater the need for laborand expense-saving tools. If your business runs a large contact center, you are already feeling the demands for the efficiency tools that workforce management software provides. This software helps you manage your current operation as well as future growth and change. It provides tools that allow you to adjust the schedules of many agents at once. Good workforce management software also optimizes agent breaks, schedules meetings, and accommodates training sessions and special projects. In addition, it can provide such administrative benefits as in-depth reporting, time account management, and vacation management. Ultimately, workforce management frees contact center supervisors and managers while empowering them to do their jobs better. Once you have workforce management software working for you, your supervisors and managers have time to perform quality monitoring, coaching, and teaching. They can target topperforming agents for recognition and identify struggling agents for training to maximize their skills and performance. Moreover, robust workforce management software gives supervisors the systems to do this in real time. If they see a problem today, they can fix it today. In addition, historical data systems allow managers to identify trends and plan accordingly. Improving employee retention and job satisfaction Your agents can also manage their own schedules based on rules that you set up via the software. Submitting tasks such as vacation requests; overtime assignments; schedule drops, adds, and trades; and sick or late calls all become time-saving, automated exchanges between supervisors and agents. Leveraging the existing infrastructure There s no question that top-of-the-line workforce management software will leverage your existing contact center infrastructure. The best workforce management software will work with your current hardware and software, allowing you to use as few or as many of its features as you wish today. It will also easily adjust as your center grows. That spells big cost savings now and down the road. Enabling multiskill contact centers The most powerful workforce management software can support a multiskilled agent environment. For example, it enables proper use of agents who are proficient in multiple channels and multiple skills.
10 6 Workforce Management Software While managing contact centers can be extremely complex, robust workforce management software allows you to break a task into easy-to-refine stages. Supervisors can then create, optimize, and manage the contact center schedule and work plan while efficiently and profitably managing the staff. There are big benefits to multiskilled agent work. For instance, handling multiple types of calls and contacts provides variety and interest in an agent s workload. Multiskill routing uses all of an agent s available skills. In addition, training for multiskill work can be selective, incremental, and factored into your growth plans. Moreover, your training costs will drop when you are not training all your employees for all skills. Economies of scale allow fewer agents to handle the same workload, yet provide the same quality of service. Factoring the return on your investment There is no single formula for projecting your return on investment prior to making a software purchase, since each company s contact center setup and requirements vary. However, you can use some general ROI factors to evaluate your contact center costs both before and after you implement a workforce management system. Accumulating this data beforehand will take time and some of the data will be meaningful only in comparison to your center s performance after you ve installed a workforce management software solution, but estimating the return on your investment can help you decide whether you can justify it. Here is what you need to do to demonstrate the ROI and justify the investment: To understand and reduce overstaffing, you must first determine your current percentage of overstaffed personnel, the percentage of time they are overstaffed, and the associated costs. To measure and reduce management labor, you need to know the number of hours currently spent in schedule management and analysis, plus the related administrative labor costs, such as vacation-request administration. To quantify network costs and reduce them, you need to know your present percentage of abandoned contacts and of permanently lost customers, plus your contact costs per minute.
11 Workforce Management Software 7 To show increases in sales, you need figures for the current average number of contacts, the percentage of those that are abandoned, and the value of those abandoned contacts. To determine improved schedule adherence and time management, you need to know the percentage of efficiencies gained, percentage of schedules out of adherence, and the related employee costs of both. To demonstrate how much more productive your agents have become through schedule adherence, you have to determine the average contact handle time before you install workforce management software, so that afterward you can calculate the percentage of improvement. Increasing ROI and profits with Aspect eworkforce Management Now that you have a basic understanding of workforce management software s range of capabilities, and a better handle on your own center s costs and potential to provide revenue, let s look at two examples of Aspect eworkforce Management software in action and the bottom-line savings the two companies achieved. Case Study I: Canadian Utility Company In our first example, a large utility s customer service center with 200 representatives was handling approximately 16,000 calls per day (peak) with a mixture of full- and part-time staff. Forecasting and scheduling were done manually, took many hours per month, and still produced less than optimal schedules. Within weeks of implementing Aspect s eworkforce Management software, the company was able to make staff adjustments that resulted in an estimated annual savings of Can$130,000. By increasing the efficiency of its forecasting and scheduling process, the company saved another estimated Can$68,000. Return on investment was achieved in eight months. In areas of return not immediately demonstrated with dollars and cents, the company also experienced the benefits of better service and better planning. Using workforce management software, the utility achieved a more consistent level of customer service as well as reduced telephone time. Also, the company began to add and reduce staff through what-if analysis, further eliminating manual evaluation processes and ensuring that the right number and shift types were hired for the most effective coverage. The company also used software to prepare what-if scenarios on the effect of a labor dispute with workers. It analyzed various options to determine FTE requirements and the impact on service level to clients. The analyses aided in the development of a fair and suitable action plan.
12 8 Workforce Management Software Canadian Utility Company Payback Calculation (in Canadian dollars) One-Time Expense Aspect software and related hardware $ 131,627 Estimated Benefit* Savings More efficient scheduling $ 110,505 Automation of workforce management tasks $ 67,725 Reduction in staffing $ 16,025 Reduction in network costs per quarter $ n/a Total Benefit $ 194,255 Average Monthly Savings $ 16,188 (Total Benefit 12) Payback Period (in months) 8.13 (One-Time Expense Average Monthly Savings) * The estimated savings shown in this document represent Aspect s best estimates based on a history of Aspect workforce management system implementations with many different sizes and types of contact centers.these numbers do not represent a guarantee of actual savings. Case Study II: U.S. Catalog Company In our second example, a medium-size U.S. specialty catalog company suspected they were losing calls during their peak times in the holiday season. This catalog center has 45 full- and part-time agents on the telephone and also makes use of seasonal, part-time staff. Forecasting and scheduling were previously done manually. Aspect performed a test study for the catalog company s three-month peak period, and the findings follow. As with the utility company in Case Study I, implementation of Aspect eworkforce Management software in this catalog company s contact center resulted in much better forecasting. The catalog company was very quickly able to forecast calls by the half hour and determine how many agents to hire and for what shifts to hire them. Naturally, this resulted in more efficient staff schedules to cover caller demand and a savings of more than US$19,000 in anticipated overtime costs. The company began to automate workforce management tasks. Just by having the Aspect eworkforce Management software automatically create and assign schedules, the company saved more than 90 hours of supervisor time (worth more than US$1,300) over the three-month test period and the time saved was devoted to better training and supervision of new employees. Queue times were reduced by an average of three seconds per call, resulting in tollfree savings of more than $500 per month, or more than US$1,600 per quarter. Fewer calls were abandoned during the test period, which generated additional revenues for the company, estimated at US$15,740. By the end of the test period, the catalog company was able to provide a better, more consistent level of service to callers and significantly reduce the average speed of answer.
13 Workforce Management Software 9 U.S. Catalog Company Payback Calculation (in U.S. dollars) One-Time Expense Aspect software and related hardware $ 57,255 Estimated Benefit* Savings More efficient scheduling $ 19,266 Automating workforce management tasks $ 1,350 Reduction in network costs $ 1,625 Revenue Estimated increase in revenue $ 14,560 Total Benefit (for the quarter) $ 22,902 Average Monthly Savings $ 7,634 (Total Benefit 12) Payback Period (in months) 7.5 (One-Time Expense Average Monthly Savings) * The estimated savings provided in this document represent Aspect s best estimates based on a history of Aspect workforce management system implementations with many different sizes and types of contact centers.these numbers do not represent a guarantee of actual savings. Conclusion While more than 60 percent of a typical contact center s total operating costs are directly related to personnel, and the forecasting, tracking, and efficient use of personnel resources are critical to a center s success, manual analysis can no longer keep up with the complex tasks involved in managing today s contact center. As a center s contact volume, workforce, and multichannel contacts grow, so do the tasks of predicting the volume of future contacts and efficiently staffing to handle them. For these reasons, the need for professional workforce management has become urgent. Average workforce management software generates schedules and stops there. Robust, flexible workforce management software does much more. It is a true management tool, arming the contact center manager with critical information to ensure the right agent is available at the right time for the right type of contact. Superior workforce management software does even more, by providing productivity, efficiency, and budgetary and administrative tools that lower operation costs, increase revenues, and run contact centers most effectively. Businesses are developing enterprisewide CRM strategies that demand the use of a contact center. Worldwide, these companies are coming to rely on the market-leading suite of workforce management solutions from Aspect Communications.
14 10 Workforce Management Software In fact, Aspect is the number one provider of automated workforce management software for inbound call and contact centers, and is the only company that provides full management functionality in its workforce management software today. Aspect eworkforce Management software has been installed in approximately 3,000 centers in 40 countries since its introduction in It better equips these centers to Forecast future contact volumes. Determine the number of agents needed throughout the day. Create flexible and efficient agent work schedules for single-channel and multichannel, multiskill operations. Assign agents to schedules automatically. Respond immediately to changes in call patterns and agent availability. Prepare and analyze what-if scenarios for budgeting and planning. Recognizing that each business is unique, Aspect has created the most flexible contact center solutions to effectively serve a wide variety of customers from an array of industries. The quality of Aspect products, training programs, and support services has made Aspect Communications the leading vendor of workforce management software in the world.
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