On-Demand Contact Centers: The Uber Model Can Work

WorkFlex Enables On-Demand Contact Centers
What if all you had to do is publish a forecast and the right staff would move into place?

The concept of an on-demand contact center has become popular and most references to the topic appear on the Web sites of enterprises offering on-demand services. (Do a quick Internet search for “on-demand contact center” for a list.) “On-demand contact center” translates into Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), or contact center capability without the responsibility, cost, and headaches of managing an on-premise workforce management (WFM) system. All the major WFM system vendors, including NICE, Genesys, Verint, Aspect and Teleopti, and many perhaps less familiar brands, offer on-demand technology. A number of providers are well respected, so well, in fact, that they’ve made the coveted Gartner Magic Quadrant for CCaaS as recently as 2016. Their offerings sit in “the cloud,” so enterprises accessing their platforms simply log in to a portal that delivers the same functionality as the in-house version. There is more to this story, however.

On-Demand Agents
“On-demand contact center,” has a meaning beyond cloud technology, CCaaS parameters. A definition might read something like this: “A contact center in which the scheduling of customer service representatives (CSR’s) is left to the CSR’s themselves.” Perhaps you, dear reader, just suffered a minor myocardial infarction. Leave the schedule to the agents?! That’s insane! A call to anarchy, failure of service, “[h]uman sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”* Well, yes, one supposes that could happen. Or something entirely different might occur. Customer service representatives (agents) might just embrace the gift of unprecedented flexibility offered them and schedule themselves appropriately and as needed. This is what Uber drivers manage nicely.

How It Works (Hint: WorkFlex)
WFM systems forecast demand for “X” number of weeks into the future. WorkFlex technology (also cloud-based) takes the forecast, the center’s historical demand data, agent attributes, and the multi-layered business rules the center has asked the WorkFlex team to configure, analyzes it all and sets up a schedule for the center that all agents can see on the WorkFlex app on their smartphones (or in a browser window, if they choose). The time intervals that must be filled appear in green and show “Time On” available. Employment policy requires each agent to sign up for a given number of hours during a given shift and the agents select the hours they want to work. As intervals are filled, the available green time shrinks until there is none left.

Too Wild-West for You?
“Extreme” on-demand contact-center scheduling of the kind described above may not be for everyone. There are alternatives. One WorkFlex client, for example, schedules agents for 30 hours per week and lets them select the additional 10 hours as they see fit. Any combination of set hours and free-to-select hours is possible and constrained only by company policy. Both the company and the agents are pleased with the result. The company fills the needed intervals with the right-skilled agents, and the agents get flexibility in their work life, something most value highly. One might conclude that on-demand contact centers are the future. We’ll explain in more detail if you contact us at your convenience.

-Maya Callahan

*A line from the movie “Ghostbusters.”

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