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Five Essential Steps for Optimizing Your Workforce

[fa icon="calendar"] May 18, 2016 / Philip Barron

Let's waste no time. The ultimate success and lasting sustainability of any contact center relies heavily on effective workforce planning and management.

As every frontline agent on the call floor contributes to one of the largest cost factor in most centers worldwide, organizations and the products and service they offer can crumble overnight as a direct result of poor Workforce Management. Based on our own first-hand experiences of center life, we've learned over the years that effective Workforce Management is crucial to successful agent optimization.

Let’s take a look at what we’d define as the five essential steps of Workforce Management.

Step 1: Carefully collect and analyze historical data.

We set off on our quest for perfectly tuned workforce optimization by gathering representative samples of historical data. By analyzing the data, that’s commonly generated from the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), you can predict future volumes and trends with confidence.

Historical data represents the number of customer calls and any definitive handle times derived from a representative time frame. To ensure no data aberrations exist, review the data you’ll collect carefully. As a result, non-representative data can then be normalized or discarded very easily before forecasting analysis begins.

Step 2: Forecast your call workload.

After you’ve carefully collected and analyzed historical samples of data, it’s time to study derived forecasting models, in order to predict future workload efforts.

Time Series Analysis is renowned in the industry as the most reliable forecasting model. You can use the model to isolate trend rates and seasonal patterns in predicted, future call volumes. Call volumes are then extrapolated into daily and hourly volumes and trends.

Step 3: Calculate your staffing requirements.

As we approach the halfway point, we’re laying strong, lasting foundations that support successful Workforce Management processes. Think for a moment about how you’ll calculate the number of staff your center requires to handle a specific workload, with a definitive time frame.

Numerous staffing models are readily available that take into account call arrival rates and queuing scenarios. The models help to accurately predict staffing and service levels. Staffing models allow you to experience the evaluation of various trade-offs, in order to determine the impact of staffing on service, productivity levels, and costs.

Step 4: Create your workforce schedules.

In the absence of workforce schedules, how can you confidently advise agents of the tasks and responsibilities they should focus on and adhere to daily?

It’s vital as we near the end of our five step process, that you create a set of workforce schedules that best match your workforce to any predicted workload volumes. Base staff requirements can then be calculated and paired with potential staffing pools, and all associated scheduling best practices, to facilitate the development of a clear-cut schedule plan.

Step 5: Keep an eager, eagle eye on daily workforce performance.

I tip my imaginary flat hat off to you. You're making great progress!

Before you return to the hustle and bustle of center life, you must consider how you’ll track actual agent performance against your staffing and service requirements. Physical call volumes, handle times, and staffing availability figures are compared to forecasts, to derive net staffing counts and make necessary, rational adjustments to meet service levels.

Remember, we’ve been where you are currently.

From the stress headaches and afternoon face-palms, to the Cheshire Cat smiles on the faces of happy agents, we’ve never disputed the renowned, mind-bending complexity of contact center Workforce Management.

Across a sea of contact centers worldwide, our experts have spent more than fifteen years suppressing the stresses of WFM and mastering systematic training approaches that support every single Workforce Management process.

Intrigued? Check out our comprehensive Workforce Management e-learning offering today.

Just one tap or click could change the dimensions of your center today!

Topics: Workforce Management

Philip Barron

Written by Philip Barron

Phil Barron joined The Call Center School as an E-learning Developer in 2011. His background within various contact center roles helps him to bring his first-hand experiences to life, in the form of engaging and interactive training content.

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