Maximizing Agent Flexibility and Satisfaction with Intelligent Agent Self-Service
According to Dimension Data’s 2013/2014 Contact Center Benchmark report, attrition is up 26% from the previous year. Perhaps not shocking, but not a good statistic for an industry already plagued with high levels of employee turnover. “When you consider the cost of turnover (approximately 60-70% of a new agent’s annual salary), voluntary agent attrition is an expensive challenge contact center leaders cannot afford to ignore,” says Larry Schwartz, CEO of WorkFlex Solutions. “Unfortunately, agents often leave their jobs, not because they dislike the work, but because they’re frustrated with the lack of flexibility.”
Apparently agents aren’t the only ones looking for more flexibility. In an online poll conducted by Reed Global, Britain’s foremost recruiting specialist, 68% of the 4,000 workers surveyed cited a desire to work more flexible hours. 33% of respondents even said that flexibility was more important than more pay. This statistic is further supported in the 2013 Workplace Report produced by Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) where respondents cited flexible work arrangements as the number #1 most effective tactic in retaining, recruiting and rewarding employees.
“All of this data is simply confirmation of something workforce management professionals have known all along,” says Larry. “We know there is a direct link between scheduling flexibility and employee job satisfaction. We also know that flexible schedules can be more efficient for the contact center. The challenge lies in giving agents what they want without sacrificing the business.”
Solving this challenge is the objective of the latest WorkFlex offering – Intelligent Agent Self-Service. “Contact centers require a lot of planning to ensure they have enough staffing,” Larry says. “As a result, agents have to predict their personal needs weeks, sometimes months, before the actual day. When their needs change, agents are usually forced into finding someone to trade with or calling out sick, neither of which does anything to help the business when customer demand changes.”
“Of course, an agent could submit a schedule change request,” says Larry. “But without visibility into the contact center’s scheduling needs, it’s like playing ‘Battleship’ where each person has to guess multiple times before they hit their target. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just see the other guy’s side of the board?”
This Battleship analogy seems to be “hitting” home with prospective WorkFlex clients. Workforce managers know it frustrates agents when they can’t make changes to their schedules to accommodate personal needs, especially considering that it’s not uncommon for agents to be asked to work extra hours or to go home early in the name of scheduling efficiency. “Many centers discourage agent requests simply because they’re too time-consuming to administer,” Larry says. “Add to this constant changes in customer demand and agent availability and you begin to see the big picture. The challenge of matching agent needs with the ever-changing needs of the business is the challenge WorkFlex is solving for our customers.”
The WorkFlex self-service solution provides agents with an intelligent interface displaying all of their available options based upon their unique profile and the latest forecast and schedule. Each agent sees only what’s available which, effectively, eliminates the guessing game. What’s more, every change an agent enters, whether it’s for additional hours, time-off or a schedule change, automatically benefits the business by increasing capacity where it is needed and/or decreasing it where it is not. As a result, requests are immediately approved, schedules are continually optimized and volumes of intraday staffing changes are reduced. Although ideal for part-timers and work-at-home agents, the solution is capable of supporting any scheduling environment where there is a need to enhance agent satisfaction while reducing operational expenses.
“Providing contact center agents with the tools to manage their own schedules is a great way to give them more control so they can strike a better work/life balance,” says Larry. “Empowering agents while reducing administrative costs is the heart of what we do.”