Workforce administrators have a tough and time-consuming task: keep contact center staffing and contact volume balanced (“contact volume” because there are now not only phones, but multiple communication channels to staff). Workforce managers must constantly monitor the calls/agents ratio and proceed through a series of often very manual steps to retain or bring in agents when more are needed, or to send agents home when they are not. The process is anything but efficient.
Houston, We Have a Problem
WFM systems are, as WorkFlex CEO Larry Schwartz like to say, “great at letting you know you have a problem; not so great at letting you know what to do about it.” When staffing variances crop up, the systems notify workforce administrators, but make no suggestions about the best way to resolve the issue. Workforce administrators must spring into action and figure out how to do the “fixing.” The process tends to requite many manual steps. In response to this solutions gap in intraday workforce management, third-party technologies like WorkFlex have come on the market to offer automation options that deliver optimal solutions when variance problems arise.
Fixing the Problem: Real-Time Intraday Management Automation Options
The intraday management technologies now available do not all use the same methodology to address problem resolution. In a recent article, DMG Consulting denotes one method with the term “real-time adaptive scheduling” and defines it as “enhanced intraday management capabilities that can automatically identify and fix unanticipated changes in demand and resources.” This means that variances are addressed without the input of workforce administrators. The “fixes,” in other words, are implemented whether those responsible for managing the workforce find them appropriate or not. While this level of automation might sound like an ideal solution, the reality is that staffing variance issues often require a more nuanced approach. No automated rules engine can be configured to address every possible staffing problem, so an automated solution will not necessarily be optimal in every situation. Most workforce administrators will therefore prefer technology that gives them the control to preview and approve staffing-change recommendations, if they so choose.
And How About the Agents?
Workforce administrators are not the only ones who tend to view “no-advance-notice” staffing adjustments with antipathy. Agents, too, dislike the practice, because it simply imposes schedule-changes on them without their ability to prepare for the change or to have any say in the matter. For example, companies using technologies that automatically push training to the desktop when the ACD identifies current-interval low occupancy routinely report agent training “rejection rates” of 50% or more – a clear indication that agents reject the sudden imposition of a schedule-change.
Management Flexibility Is “Where It’s At”
The WorkFlex approach is intelligent intraday automation® – that is, automation that empowers employees with choices. WorkFlex technology elegantly addresses the variance issue by anticipating future-interval staffing problems and automatically generating staffing-change recommendations that WFM admins can accept, reject, ignore or modify well in advance of when the staffing change is implemented.
In addition to the future interval approach, WorkFlex technology also addresses the “agent imposition” issue in an industry-unique way through our patented intelligent schedule-change empowerment technology that enables agents to initiate schedule-change actions in a way that guarantees each agent-initiated change helps reduce staffing variances.
The bottom line is that intraday process automation should empower contact center employees, not impose solutions that are neither the most effective ones for a given situation, nor the ones they would select if given the opportunity. Genuine employee empowerment always means the power to make decisions and choose the best course of action.