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The State of WFM in 2019. Where do you stand?

[fa icon="calendar"] June 5, 2019 / Twan de Leijer

Workforce management in contact centers, with the aim of creating the best possible fit between the forecasted workload and the amount of employees scheduled, is constantly changing. With the advent of new support channels, the consequential shift in workload between channels, technological innovation and and a new generation at work, staffing departments need to constantly adjust to these new realities.

This constant change poses the question; where does the art of WFM stand in 2019? This question has occupied our sister company, injixo, for a while and they have undertaken thorough research to answer that exact question. With their support we are happy to be able to share some of the key findings from their research in this blog post.

In this post we cover, at most, 5% of the injixo's research findings. The full report, however, uncovers many more trends and can serve as an excellent benchmark to compare your own WFM practices with. You can download the full report for free from our friends over at injixo.

1. 25% of contact centers still uses spreadsheets to schedule employees

Although there's a significant difference between large and small contact centers on this metric, this result still surprised us. The rise of WFM technology in the cloud has made professional WFM solutions accessible even for smaller contact centers with a smaller budget. However, almost all of the contact centers with fewer than 50 employees indicated that they use spreadsheets as their primary tool. This is interesting, because contact centers of this size can also benefit greatly from from using professional WFM software.

2. Most contact centers have dedicated people or teams for the steps of workforce management (forecasting, scheduling, intraday management).

There are various ways to organize a WFM department in a contact center. You can learn more about the different operational structures for WFM departments this e-learning course. The majority of contact centers prefer the specialization approach over the diversification approach. The specialization approach means that people (or teams) are responsible a specific part of the WFM process, such as forecasting workload, and thereby become specialists on these topics. The diversification approach, on the other hand, means that people (or teams) take care of the entire WFM process. For bigger centers with a diversification approach, teams are usually responsible for either a single site or a single channel.

As an increasing share of the agent population today is multi-skilled, this could explain why centers prefer specialization over diversification. When two separate teams are responsible for planning a single multi-skilled single agent, this may result in unwanted internal friction, whereas a single scheduling has all factors in mind and can probably make the better scheduling decision.

3. Chat and social media are growing in terms of workload share

It probably doesn't shock you that the digital channels of live chat and social media are growing in terms of their share of workload. What intrigued us, however, is that only 40% of contact centers forecast a staffing requirement for these channels. As volumes for these channels is on the rise, it becomes increasingly important to accurately forecast workload for these channels in order to achieve the center's service level targets.

4. 86% of agents are, at least partly, multi-skilled

The research results seem to indicate that multi-channel agents have become the new standard in contact centers today, and for good reasons. Training your frontline staff to become multi-channel agents has advantages for both the contact center and the agent.

For the contact center, multi-channel (or multi-skilled) agents create a new level of scheduling flexibility. This reduces the complexity and restrictions for planners when scheduling their staff and it allows them to more quickly respond to changes during the day. For agents, handling multiple channels increases the diversity of their work and it offers new learning opportunities for them. Therefore, agents like to work in a multi-channel set-up.

5. Almost half of contact centers don't measure schedule efficiency

Schedule efficiency is a metric that can be used to analyze how well the scheduled number of employees fit the actually required number of employees. The closer these two numbers are, the higher the schedule efficiency is. A low schedule efficiency can result in unnecessary cost for the call center (if more agents were scheduled than were actually needed) or a decrease in customer satisfaction (if not enough agents were scheduled to handle the actual workload). Hence, schedule efficiency is a rather important metric to track. However, almost half (47%) of the contact centers reported that they do not measure schedule efficiency. These centers may have an optimization potential they are not aware of. Our comrades at injixo have written an excellent post on How to measure schedule efficiency in a call center.

6. Service level is the number 1 metric for measuring contact center performance

When asked about which metrics are tracked to measure contact center performance, the most popular was service level, with over 90% of contact centers tracking this metric. This is nearly twice as much as NPS (48%).

NPS is a great metric for measuring the performance of a brand or product as a whole, but may be too broad to measure the performance of the contact center specifically. This may explain why increasingly less contact centers use NPS to measure performance.

Service level, on the other hand, is a metric that is very specific to the contact center. And it is even more specific to measure the performance of the workforce management department, as the service level mainly depends on the quality of the schedule. An additional benefit of the service level metric is that it reacts to changes immediately. If not enough agents have been scheduled, an instantaneous drop in service level can be expected. Service level, therefore, is an superb metric to use for intraday management purposes. If you would like to learn more about this, there is an excellent course on managing daily service levels.

Interested in the entire WFM Benchmark report?

You can download the entire benchmark report for free over at our friends from injixo. They have done an excellent job putting together these valuable insights and the report may help you compare your WFM operation to the rest of the industry.

Topics: Workforce Management

Twan de Leijer

Written by Twan de Leijer

Twan joined The Call Center School in 2017. He has an extensive background in e-learning. Currently he is a product manager for The Call Center School and is constantly looking for new ways to improve the product.