1 white paper Workforce Optimisation Making Workforce Optimisation Your Handbook to Effective Operations
2 Executive summary Contact centre operations are becoming increasingly complicated. The development of new technologies, legacy system challenges and an increasing volume of cross channel interactions right across the organisation s span means that the contact centre is exerting a broader reach than ever before. Expectations are growing higher as the industry matures and customers demand more immediate access to services. Workforce Optimisation components While the contact centre is now a secondary option for many consumers and often only used for escalation or problems that fall outside of the commodity-driven self-service solutions widely available it s widely acknowledged that people are again emerging as a differentiator. In particular, the role agents are performing is becoming more skilled. Organisations have to make the most of every service call opportunity and adopt a sophisticated approach to a more natural, relevant experience in response to a clear customer need that s potentially more emotive that ever before. An increased focus on agent up-skilling and coaching coupled with a move away from traditional activity-based measures, means agents are being presented with new opportunities to deliver fulfilling and meaningful experiences in the customer calls they handle. Workforce optimisation (WFO) tools and complementary management processes have emerged as critical success factors in taking a holistic approach to enablement and effective management. Operational success can be determined by the level of integration between workforce management, quality management, performance management and competency management four distinct business functions that, when combined, can optimise the operational effectiveness. However, in the absence of a holistic review of all factors affecting the end delivery, managers will be reactively fighting an uphill battle that will provide disjointed and erratic success. WFO supports effective delivery of these four key operational enablers which, in turn, contribute to the execution of the strategic business objectives on which they re based. Introduction Contact centres are still all about the management of people and their use of processes that drive desired business outcomes from interactions with customers. Even today, despite technology advances that help co-ordinate contact centre operations, the task of managing and motivating people to deliver with consistency on a daily basis remains the greatest challenge. People are the ultimate variable and determinant of success. Efficient contact centres depend on workplace resources being well-prepared, organised, motivated and managed. WFO supports the effective operation and integration of the key disciplines involved in managing a contact centre. A fully integrated WFO programme can provide a solid foundation for more effective management of operations and improved performance. The key to successful WFO deployment is the effective operation of each element and, most importantly, the integration of each component into one overarching solution.
3 WFO is the ultimate observe analyse understand improve cycle. It s never done. It operates in a live, dynamic environment and remains a continual management challenge. It s never stable. It s never optimised. It should be no surprise to organisations that the constant deployment and concentration of skills in this area is what delivers efficient operations, lower costs and greater customer satisfaction. Thus, handling the many functions, variables and moving parts requires a formulated approach. Developing a fully integrated workforce optimisation plan must be the starting point for your performance improvement programme. The key to successful WFO deployment is the effective operation of each element incorporated into the operational delivery and, most importantly, the integration of each component into one solution. Workforce Optimisation applications WFO applications Contact centres are maintaining focus on using, and planning to use, a range of WFO applications, with a notable rise in the overall number of centres planning to upgrade. The rise in the number of centres planning to upgrade may be linked to the fact that development of technologies is at an alltime high. Given the potential productivity improvements they offer, they could make a valuable contribution to reducing large contact centre overheads. We will continue to see major developments in this space as new technology vendors emerge with niche approaches to managing and optimising performance in the contact centre. This will create an opportunity for hybrid cloud services that offer advanced services including analytics of call, content and performance data. Previously a fragmented development area, vendors have already made significant progress on closed loop suite offerings, and it appears that advances towards a more flexible offering will also provide opportunities for cross-system integration in the immediate future. Performance management As the top trends affecting contact centres lean management focus towards extending customer lifetime value, there s an increasing maturity creeping into call centre metrics and associated key performance indicator (KPI) targets. Contact centre objectives can no longer be allowed to stand in isolation from the wider enterprise goals. Traditional measurements are making way for outcome metrics, like cost to serve, first contact resolution and customer experience, which are all growing in popularity. While traditional measurements are not yet being completely dispensed with, the need to drive more strategic outcomes is contributing to a radical rethink on how to ensure performance targets drive valuebased outcomes, and vitally become more effective at tracking the contribution of contact centres to the overall profit of the business, particularly with the increasing trend of contact centres being viewed as profit centres. You get what you measure, so the measurements need to drive your desired outcomes.
4 Perhaps more encouraging is the fact that KPIs measured within the contact centre are now representative of results being presented to board members (the most common being total Number of Customers). Consequentially, interest is growing in emerging alternative practices, including Net Promoter and Customer Effort Scores, as the need to establish knowledge on true cost to serve expands, in conjunction with a developed awareness on what influence promoter and detractor scores can have on the business success. In setting new targets, contact centres must be careful to acknowledge the changing landscape affecting delivery, and accept that some key metrics may be impacted as call profiles become more complex. For example, upon initial review, first contact resolution scores appear to be dropping, but consideration of associated management information may confirm that this is to be expected due to simplistic commodity calls being directed towards ever-more effective self-service solutions. Organisational objectives need to be translated into individuals targets that are aligned to business goals. Motivated agents need to be able to monitor their own performance on measurable KPIs, tracked via a suitable software system and against real-time results. However, some 40% of businesses don t empower their agents properly due to the absence of effective knowledge systems and management processes. Enabling agent efficiency via access to information and more intensive coaching will drive contacts to appropriately skilled resources that are technologically empowered to meet the customer expectations, preventing repeat calls and unduly lengthy call times. Competency management As indicated and particularly in developed markets self-service is growing exponentially, leading to a clear drop in demand for commodity-type transactions. This coupled with a continued shift towards value and efficiency, means organisations need to place a greater emphasis on the development of front line staff, with the emphasis on enablement and conversation control. By allowing agents more freedom to engage with customers in a less formal way, sales opportunities can be better identified and explored and agents can be empowered to exercise more discretion in the way calls are handled. This is a vital step in the delivery of an excellent customer experience that can be matched to pre-determined segmentation profiles. In fact, allowing agents to develop appropriate rapport with customers will change the currency of our industry from calls to conversations. A more natural dialogue doesn t mean that calls are longer, but it does mean that conversations are tuned to the needs of the customer. However, this will require agents to develop a whole new range of skills to decide how to engage and develop appropriate rapport. Clearly, the employment landscape in contact centres is changing. The good news for consumers is that organisations are already responding to the Most effective training methods
5 developing requirements, and results from Dimension Data s 2011 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report highlight spend increases of more than 50% on identifying the correct candidates through recruitment, with a further 40% more spent on agent training. While this is a positive first step, Dimension Data s Report also indicates that only 30% of the knowledge gained in a classroom environment is retained after the training delegate walks out of the classroom door. Unfortunately, some organisations believe that, once classroom training has been delivered, the job has been done. In reality, however, it has only just started and the knowledge needs to be embedded through supplementary, on-the-job coaching. It s no secret that the practical application of information leads to faster learning. Coaching embeds the learning from the classroom. It minimises the fear of failure and builds confidence, while generating most of the return on training investment by stimulating higher performance. And, in creating an ethos of winning, coaching can be a significant aid in building role satisfaction for individuals. Further results from the 2011 Benchmarking Report indicate that 70% of operations appear to measure the benefit of training, but it s disturbing to see that 30% still don t. As more complex transactions remain within the voice channel and investment in training continues to rise, the benefits of measuring the effectiveness of your investment shouldn t be ignored. The case for a dedicated coaching function is stronger than ever before, especially in light of its ultimately positive effect on costs or, perhaps more importantly, the positive (and negative) impact agent knowledge levels are proven to have on customer satisfaction. Quality management Quality management is evolving from largely irrelevant and widely discredited practices, and is increasingly being linked to the voice of the customer. Customer force is fundamentally changing the way contact centres are run. One of the most notable results in this year s Benchmarking study is the number of respondents reporting they are measuring customer satisfaction with contact centre delivery, which has almost doubled to 84.5% overall. As contact centres improve their ability to measure customer satisfaction, they will be better able to demonstrate their value to the wider organisation and their vital role in the customer experience. They will also be better equipped at identifying process issues. However, as organisations become preoccupied with quality score results, they sometimes forget to ask themselves why and for whom quality is important? Often, the outcome from a customer s perspective tends to be overlooked as management efforts target delivery of antique quality metrics. Having omitted to place the relative importance on the satisfaction of the clients being serviced, there s a clear risk that the performance targets aspired to can actually force entirely incorrect behaviours that have poor consequences. Quality Management needs to enable sustained improvements in the customer experience by pinpointing the behaviours that impact on it and positioning staff to affect change where it is required. The next wave of customer satisfaction measurement will no doubt begin to bridge social media channels such as
6 Facebook, Twitter and a variety of blogs. This is a very exciting time for the contact centre industry and provides a host of new opportunities to widen the interaction with customers via a number of feedback channels. Social media channels will provide organisations with free information not just about their service but also about their brand, products, distribution, etc. The challenges will be: 1. How to filter the actionable information from a mass of comments. 2. How to create a dialogue with the customer that is welcomed and adds value. 3. How to use this information to redesign the end-to-end customer experience and the products and services they buy. Going forward, organisations should be focused on what customers are saying now, and how to gain value from the information by using it in near real-time to enhance the customer experience and perception of their brand. It s crucial to then determine how to use quality monitoring information to add value to the enterprise, its agents and its customers. Using agent knowledge and combining it with increasingly sophisticated management information (MI) will facilitate contact centres abilities to enrich MI across the business, thus helping to shape and create more relevant KPIs that are based upon and aligned to known customer- and enterprise-critical success factors. Workforce management Most contact centre managers will describe workforce management (WFM) as being the efficient allocation of resources through having the right people, with the rights skills, in the right place, at the right time. Workforce management focuses on four core functions of forecasting, planning, scheduling and a review cycle. As demands intensify to do more with less, WFM s requirement to provide access to appropriate skills has become more important than ever. It s often the difference between staying within budget, particularly if the resources are equipped to resolve calls and proactively prevent future call failure contacts. With an abundance of technologies available to support WFM, one may wonder why it s such a challenging area that presents so many exceptions, and why adherence to actual contact arrival patterns feels like such a continuous uphill struggle. The problems arise when the core WFM approach is worked in isolation of the dependencies it s programmed upon, and the outside influences at each stage are not considered properly. However, more often shortcomings arise simply as a result of management naivety creating an expectation that an advanced system will do the work for you. A common issue is that the systems themselves need to be fed with the appropriate business intelligence unique to that user s requirement. Initiatives to reduce attrition
7 If ignored or unnoticed, such critical programme data can result in some glaring oversights affecting costs and service levels. The likelihood of effective workforce management is often affected long before the resource planning stage even begins. WFM planners can only work with what they have, and absenteeism combined with skills lost through attrition can have a huge detrimental impact on even the most effective workforce management system. Success will be based on understanding, and incorporation of forecasts across the associated root cause elements that affect performance (including staff knowledge and experience levels), staff satisfaction, skills availability and personal development. WFM is an all-encompassing business function and, as such, a holistic approach is required to ensure that interdependencies across the WFO spectrum can be addressed at strategic, tactical and operational levels. The increasing availability of intuitive systems can assist internal communication, collaboration and management of the workforce but, but like any computer, most are only as good as the information they re fed. Conclusion As customers needs become increasingly sophisticated, perception of the agent experience will be as important as the outcome in influencing customer satisfaction, especially in more mature markets, and we expect to see a fresher approach to quality. From an agent perspective, this means giving agents additional skills to handle multiple channels, requiring a higher core competence and providing more variety and interest in an increasingly variable and complex environment. Empowering outstanding service requires that organisations enable agents decisions and allow them to take responsibility for their actions. Today, customers expect swift responses, and decisions that have to be continually referred will slow down the completion of transactions and affect firstcontact resolution rates. The complexity this introduces means that coaching is assuming a greater presence within the training cycle. The investment uplifts being cited across recruitment processes will expectedly ensure that more attention is placed on induction programmes. Recruitment processes should focus on selecting people with a natural affinity for customer service and ensure agents understand their roles in delivering against brand promises through brand-centric programmes. This will lead to increased operational costs and much greater pressure to reduce agent attrition to maximise the value of the training and development provided to agents. Organisations should place more focus on measuring the real cost of staff turnover, which includes the loss of knowledge and experience. Often incorrectly calculated, the impact on overall efficiency can be significant when you consider performance of new staff is naturally lower than that of fully competent staff. This is further compounded by the loss of knowledge in the centre that impacts negatively on first-contact resolution and customer satisfaction. It s this loss that adversely affects, indeed confuses, many of the workforce management systems deployed in today s contact centres. Overall, it s encouraging to note that over three-quarters of centres are now measuring staff satisfaction. This reflects a positive trend and suggests that organisations are exercising a focus on skills retention and reducing attrition. However, organisations should also maintain a focus on the number of dissatisfied staff members and the source of their discontent. This deeper level of research on staffing can significantly inform policies and identify some easy opportunities for improvement. CS / DDMS-0866 / 11/11 Copyright Dimension Data 2011 For further information
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