Business Systems UK’s Will Davenport says call centre workforce management is not only about planning and managing your workforce – it’s also about empowering your people…
Thanks to social media and phenomena like employer feedback and rating website Glassdoor, the workplace has changed. Employees are less trusting of company HR brochures and decide where to work and continue to work, based on the sentiments of past or present employees.
As a result, brands are under pressure to ensure that their environment and policies are attractive, and flexible enough, to attract and retain talent and to keep those Glassdoor scores high. And this should be of particular concern to the contact centre industry, where finding and retaining team members is already enough of an ongoing challenge.
All the more reason, then, for the industry to always be on the lookout for ways to address the war for talent – and making supporting a call centre culture where agents are happy, healthy and productive, a priority.
This is where a workforce management approach can really help. The problem is that it has traditionally been seen as the preserve of management, and a way to enable contact centre managers to make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time. However, while workforce management systems are indeed extremely proficient at optimising resource allocation, providing accurate forecasts and better cost management, it turns out they are also highly efficient at offering agents control over their working lives.
That’s because, with the right workforce management solution in place, agents can do a range of useful tasks on a self-serve basis – such as quickly and easily check shift requirements and make shift change requests, and in turn receive an immediate response.
That helps improve efficiency, but it also creates and then actively supports an environment of responsibility and self-development that can help to motivate staff and provide them with real flexibility in managing their work/life commitments. An engaged and empowered employee will take higher ownership of customer issues overall and so are more productive, making it easier to hit service targets.
Further improve operational efficiencies and become more agile
An example of best practice in this area is Zen Internet, a UK-based Internet and communications services provider to business and residential customers. The company, which has realised the benefits of smart workforce management, has been placed in the top half of The Sunday Times’ prestigious Top 100 Companies To Work For list.
Zen provides workforce management to its employees via a mobile app. The app has unquestionably improved employee engagement, allowing agents to plan their personal life around their work commitments. The automation of holiday requests has made the Resource Planner’s job a lot less admin heavy, while having the right number of people in the right place at the right time. This has improved the overall customer experience, as well as improving the employee experience.
Zen’s management team has been impressed with the results. These range from 72 hours of personal development time scheduled and delivered to its team of agents, against a low 12 hours before the app was offered. It has also been much easier for managers to see the availability of each agent and plan resources accordingly. Plus, from the contact centre’s side, Zen has been able to reduce processing times significantly, while having much greater visibility of the call centre as a whole – allowing it to further improve operational efficiencies and become more agile, which is essential for business in the digital economy. As well as improving the bottom line, workforce management has also enabled this company to better manage its transformation and expansion roadmap.
Workforce management solutions have far more uses than some think – and indeed, should be playing a central role in not only helping you manage, but also helping you empower, a highly-engaged workforce.
Will Davenport is a Director at Business Systems (UK) Ltd, a specialist for 30 years in providing call recording and workforce optimisation solutions to contact centres.