In the contact center world, we talk a lot about the need for agent empowerment. When customer satisfaction is the goal, a proven way to get there is by giving our agents greater levels of authority and autonomy so they can serve our customers more effectively. But what isn’t discussed is the need for empowerment at other levels of the organization to do the same.
For example, why isn’t WFM team empowerment a topic of discussion? Is it because everyone assumes that the members of workforce team already have a high degree of authority when it comes to managing the said workforce? Well, we all know what happens when we make assumptions. Truth be told, in my personal experience and in that of many WFM folks I work with, the members of the so-called WFM “in-charge desk” are not as “in-charge” as one might think.
There are, of course, exceptions to these examples. High-performing contact centers treat the WFM team as the heart of the operation and rely heavily upon the expertise and insight of its members. In these centers, hiring decisions are not made without the historical analysis and forecasting input of WFM. New scheduling strategies and policies are formed via joint task forces, which are initiated by members of WFM, and include agents, operations and HR. And no intraday staffing decision is ever executed without securing a prior “thumbs up” from the WFM team.
Does this sound like crazy-talk? If so, then perhaps your WFM team is suffering from a lack of empowerment. And guess what? If your WFM team is suffering, it’s highly likely that your contact center (and your customer) is suffering, too.
Consider this: if your center’s individual operational teams and supervisor groups are allowed to act as if they are islands instead of part of an inter-connected whole, your WFM team is rendered powerless and unable to do the job the team members were hired to do. I’m not advocating some kind of dictatorship with WFM members running around yelling “I’m the boss of you!” No, they are not the boss, but they do have a directive role to play that goes beyond trying to catch agents coming back late from break.
Every contact center requires a central point of coordinating control with the authority, as well as the responsibility, to ensure the needs of the business, the agents and the customers are being met as effectively and efficiently as possible. If this is the role WFM plays at your contact center then- congratulations! You are among the fortunate few who have an empowered workforce management team.
-Guest post contributed by Rebecca Wise Girson, Founder of Wise Workforce Strategies, Inc.