One Simple Way to Dramatically Improve Agent Utilization, No Matter How You Define It

WorkFlex Improves Utilization in the Contact CenterIn the last couple of SWPP’s Tip of the Week emails, the topic has been the concept of “Utilization” and the multiple definitions of the term that exist in the industry. Regurgitating these fully would be redundant here. A brief summary of each definition will suffice:

  • The amount of time agents are available to serve customers
  • Another term for “Occupancy” (i.e., how busy agents are when they’re logged in)
  • All “productive work” an agent completes during a shift
  • The “cost percentage of the total resource base currently in production”

Definitions are important, because one cannot address a problem without a clear understanding of the nature of said problem, so attempts to delineate what, precisely, Utilization means are worthwhile. The logical next question is, of course, what to do about poor Utilization metrics. The noted definitions are all essentially related to agent productivity, so the real question is, how to make agents more productive? As is the case regarding any contact-center-related headache, prescriptions abound. If you do a Google search on “how to improve contact center utilization,” you’ll get 1.87 million results, the first one from Call Center Helper titled “30 Strategies for Improving Agent Productivity,” a list comprised of suggestions from experts in the industry. Twelve of these are solutions WorkFlex technology either enables completely or facilitates.

Implementing WorkFlex Improves Utilization. Period.
A number of the industry experts offering their input had similar recommendations. Five of them thought putting agents into different contact-channel activities (whether to reduce burnout and boredom, or to use low call-volume time) is a good way to make agents more productive.

  • WorkFlex offers an ideal solution that boosts agent morale through empowerment and in no way adds to workforce manager workload. The WorkFlex agent mobile app displays the contact center’s schedule showing which contact channels (email, chat, social media, etc.) need staffing and enables the agents to take available, pre-approved time intervals. WorkFlex creates the schedule and agents choose the work they want to do!

Two of the contributors wrote that agents should be able to see their performance metrics, so they can see what they need to improve.

  • WorkFlex shows agents their performance stats in the agent mobile app. WorkFlex does not, as one contributor suggested, publicize every agent’s stats for all to see (to encourage competition), but supervisors are welcome to do so, since they see their team members’ stats on the WorkFlex supervisor app.

Two other industry insiders submitted “scheduling” suggestions – specifically, that agents should be closely involved in their own scheduling to facilitate their “own unique lifestyle.”

  • WorkFlex is the ultimate schedule-flexibility tool. Agents see pre-approved schedule-change opportunities in the mobile app interface and can take time off and add hours without involving workforce management. They can also swap hours with themselves and trade hours with other agents as they see fit – all without asking permission from managers.

One expert wrote agents should be allowed to work from home to maximize flexibility.

  • Not every company can permit work-at-home, but those that do benefit tremendously from using WorkFlex, because home-based agents can easily sign in and out of their work system when contact volume changes. Sutherland Global has an at-home program and uses WorkFlex to manage agent scheduling. WorkFlex allows them to see upcoming over-staffed and under-staffed intervals and choose either to take time off or log in to work. Company-initiated schedule changes are also much easier to implement. Agents receive notice of additional-hours or time-off opportunities on the mobile app and simply walk over to their work station if they decide to accept.

Implementing e-learning to increase agent skills (and thus productivity) was the approach proposed by another contributor.

  • While WorkFlex does not currently offer e-learning content, it does enable agents to schedule their own training sessions, just as they can schedule other work-related activities.

And finally, one expert suggested implementing a “structured agent coaching process,” so agents have a “thorough understanding of their job function…”

  • WorkFlex facilitates coaching by enabling supervisors to leave their desks behind and stay with their team, assisting and coaching them as necessary. The supervisor app allows them to carry their essential desktop KPI’s and other data with them.

It should now be evident that WorkFlex is one simple way to dramatically improve agent Utilization in the manner many industry experts find imperative. Happily, for the world’s contact centers, it goes beyond these recommendations in its Utilization-promoting capability.

  • WorkFlex enables the use of real-time alerting to notify agents if they’ve been on break too long, are late getting to work, are not logged in when they should be, etc. WorkFlex also notifies supervisors, workforce administrators, and any other management personnel the company would like “in the know.” To see how effective real-time alerting can be, take a look at how it worked for Firstsource, a large BPO.
  • WorkFlex enables agents to initiate schedule changes as they wish, but it also offers workforce administrators the ability to initiate them when they see the need. When, for example, they see that call volume is forecasted to spike in an hour, they can send out a request to the agents with the right skills who are willing to be contacted for overtime opportunities at that time (yes, agents can specify when and how they want to be contacted). This ensure enough agents with the appropriate skills will be in place to be productive customer service providers.

By addressing so many Utilization-related issues, WorkFlex has become the tool on the market to improve that metric, however one chooses to define it.

The WorkFlex Product Portfolio Overview brochure provides more product detail, if you’d like to learn more about how WorkFlex works.

-Maya Callahan

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