A group of us from the WorkFlex team made the trek to Nashville for SWPP’s annual conference a couple of weeks ago. It was a highly educational, fun, and really well organized event! Even better than the last one I attended in 2015. Vicki Herrell and her team are conference-management rock stars. I attended multiple sessions every day, starting with one whose title I couldn’t resist: “Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too.” Now who doesn’t want that, especially if, like me, you have a mouth full of “sweet teeth”? The session was led by Todd Hixson, the Workforce Optimization Logistics and Forecasting Manager at Cabelas. Todd was quite entertaining and informative, and the theme of his presentation was one that would be of great interest to any contact center interested in maximizing efficiency and reducing financial output. I listened with rapt attention and by the end, I wanted to jump up and down while waving my arms around and yelling loudly. I’ll explain.
How You Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
The blueprint Todd described for achieving cake nirvana rested on the idea of using the “down time” that a lot of contact center agents experience during low-volume periods to do work other than answering customer service calls. The “other” work can take many forms – everything from responding to social media contacts to back-office activities. It can even mean performing tasks one wouldn’t normally put in a contact center agent’s job description – like watering the plants. (Someone on a team Todd once had loved plants and was happy to take over the care of those in the center. She ended up saving the company money because Todd was able to cancel the plant-care service the company was paying for!) Whatever needs doing, Todd told me and his other session attendees, let the agents do it. They’ll be happy for the change in activity and your company will be delighted with the extra work getting completed. The multi-tasking, he noted, is a good way to broaden and improve agent skills, another benefit of the practice. Critical to making it work, he added, is first, making it part of your center’s culture (including hiring people willing to participate), secondly, letting agents do the types of work they want to do, and lastly, showing the company the ROI of implementing this type of multi-tasking program. He proceeded to show the ROI numbers of one of his “graveyard” queues. It was impressive.
OK, So I Didn’t Jump Up and Down and Yell Loudly
But I surely did want to. I work for a company that makes intraday automation software. That term might not mean much to you, if you don’t know much about us. Our brand of intraday automation encompasses a lot of functionality for all of the major players in a contact center: the supervisors, the workforce manager, and of course, the agents. It’s workforce optimization software that enables agents to take time off, add hours, swap hours with themselves, trade with other agents, and change their work activities – all via our native mobile app on their smartphone (or via Web browser window). They see the time slots that are available for whatever it is they want to do and simply select those times. Confirmation for the change they make comes within a few seconds and the center’s schedule is automatically updated. In other words, our software is tailor-made for Todd’s contact centers and every other contact center that wants agents to utilize “down time” for other activities. Managers wouldn’t even have to assign anything. They could simply suggest that everyone make it a habit to take some open intervals and do something else that needs doing. Our software would arrange it all for them.
What exactly did I want to yell? “Why don’t you just get WorkFlex? You wouldn’t have to bother with figuring out who does what when anymore! Your agents would happily do it for you with a swipe on their phone!”
And to all workforce managers, I say, “Order up your favorite cake! You’ll boost contact center productivity by filling in the down-time gaps without having to lift a finger!” I call that having your cake and eating it, too.