18. August 2008

InVision Featured Study: US Contact Centers Tap Low Efficiency Potential of Their WFM Practices

The recently published study “Workforce Management Practices in Contact Centers” provided results on numerous topics including Performance Metrics, workforce management resources utilized, investments, processes, tools, and satisfaction with all of the topics for contact centers in North America. The study is sponsored by InVision Software, one of the international leaders and providers of enterprise-wide workforce management solutions, and carried out by Customer Relationship Metrics and endorsed by the SWPP (The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals).

The workforce management processes analyzed in the study comprise forecasting of contact volumes, converting the forecasts to required agents, scheduling of agents, intraday forecasts and schedule adjustment, managing the agents’ schedule change requests, staff planning and budgeting as well as real time adherence monitoring and performance results reporting, and satisfaction with WFM practices and tools. From the data collected in the survey it becomes obvious that although workforce management takes on greater significance in all sized contact centers companies only tap the low efficiency potential of their workforce management tools and techniques.

The increase of importance of workforce management (WFM) and the related investment in WFM is reflected in the number of dedicated employees being responsible for the many operations within the whole workforce management process. Contact centers with more than 500 agents raised their full time WFM positions from 17 to 24 between 2006 and 2008 which represents an increase of 41 percent. Also medium-sized contact centers have extended their WFM staff in the last two years and even contact centers with less than 100 agents have 2.5 dedicated WFM positions on average. The number of forecasters and intraday managers increased since 2006: In 2008, 69 percent of all respondents included forecasters (2006: 60 percent) and 68 percent included intraday managers (2006: 58 percent) in their WFM staff.

“In contrast, 10 percent of all respondents claim that they do not perform intraday forecasts and schedule adjustment at all”, states Peter Bollenbeck, CEO of InVision Software, corporate sponsor of the study. This especially applies for small contact centers with less than 100 agents (53 percent) but is also the case in 18 percent of medium-sized with 100 to 500 agents and in 12 percent of big call centers, having more than 500 agents. Bollenbeck adds: “Also real time adherence monitoring, which is key for optimized intraday scheduling, is not performed by 14 percent of all contact centers.”

Focusing on the applied tools and techniques, it is remarkable that adherence monitoring is one of the two main WFM processes that is fulfilled with licensed software by the majority of contact centers. About 90 and more percent of the call centers, except those with less than 100 agents (70 percent), use third party solutions for adherence monitoring. Scheduling is the second operation where licensed solutions are most commonly used. On the other side of the coin, the study reveals that manual approaches and spreadsheets are still very popular among contact center managers. 38 percent use these tools for forecasting, especially in small contact centers (55 percent), and 22 percent use them in terms of performance reporting. It is absolutely worth noting that one third of big call centers also use manual tools or spreadsheets for performance reporting as well as for their forecasts and for converting the forecasts to agents. In total, only 13 percent of all respondents use licensed software solutions for the forecasting.

“At this point, it becomes plainly visible that many contact centers have not yet realized the efficiency potential of workforce management”, finalizes Bollenbeck. “The implementation of specialized WFM solutions which are exactly tailored to the operations explored in the present study cannot only provide support in saving costs related to traditional scheduling. Particularly the forecasting, the converting of forecasts to required agents, but also intraday scheduling as well as performance reporting can be realized in a very cost-effective way with the help of professional solutions like InVision Enterprise WFM – increasing the quality of the whole workforce management process at the same time.”