Workforce management is a critical contact center function that ensures the right number of agents are hired and scheduled to meet customer support demands. Part art, part science, workforce management continuously treads a fine line between overstaffing and understaffing; of incurring unnecessary labor costs or damaging customer experience and burning out agents. Fortunately, good workforce management software automates many of the complex tasks conducted by workforce analysts.
What is workforce management software?
Workforce management software is a spreadsheet's worst nightmare and a contact center's best friend. The key workforce management tasks - forecasting, scheduling, and intraday adjustments - can be done with a complicated system of spreadsheets, or by software that automates the processes, reducing time and errors. Using complex algorithms and historical data, workforce management software takes the guesswork out of future contact volume and helps leaders identify agent hiring needs. Additionally, the software uses the forecasts it generates to produce agent schedules designed to meet the expected demand. When things don't go according to plan, workforce management software can facilitate intraday adjustments that can save the budget or customer satisfaction. And the best solutions engage agents by giving them more control of their schedules.
Speaking of the best workforce management software, most solutions may offer the basic functionality to automate these tasks, but the way they do it and the quality of execution can differ greatly. Additionally, great platforms have features that can take the execution of workforce management tasks to the next level. Below are some examples.
Workforce management software features that can take your contact center from good to great
Why settle for average workforce management software when you can have access to the features that will make your workforce management function best-in-class?
The best workforce management software provides an agent interface that empowers agents to have more control of their schedules. These interfaces allow agents to complete tasks like swapping shifts with other agents, bidding on shifts, or sending time-off requests to their supervisors. The outcomes of these activities can then automatically be incorporated into upcoming schedules. Having this increased control will result in higher agent engagement which is good for customers and the business.
"Best pick" forecasting algorithms
World-class workforce management software provides the ability to select from several different algorithms to calculate forecasts. This gives users the option to choose the forecasting method that is right for their business. If forecasters need help choosing, software with "best pick" capabilities will select the best algorithm for them based on the time period and their forecast parameters.
Omnichannel customer service means offering consumers multiple channels of support - like phone, chat, email, and social media - and allowing customers to move across them seamlessly, even within the same interaction. Forecasting is complex even when you’re just supporting phone calls. Throwing more channels into the mix amplifies the complexity. World-class workforce management software simplifies omnichannel forecasting through automation and calculations that holistically include all channels. Even if an organization currently only offers phone support, chances are good that they'll add digital channels in the future. Software with omnichannel forecasting supports future growth and evolution.
Sometimes forecasters aren't sure how to forecast the volume for an upcoming event, like that of a big upcoming promotion for example. Being able to run "what if" scenarios allows users to run best case scenarios (the promotion is wildly successful), worst case scenarios (the promo is an epic fail), and most likely scenarios (the promo results are somewhere in between). This enables the workforce management team to understand staffing needs for each scenario, which the business can then use to make staffing decisions.