Call Design - Increasing Agent Satisfaction with Better WFM Tools

Increasing Agent Satisfaction with Better WFM Tools

Aspect Software’s most recent Contact Center agent survey listed agents’ top factors that drive their sense of engagement: Work/life balance came in 3rd, two spots above competitive wage with flexible work schedule not far behind.

 

A skilled scheduling team can do great work with spreadsheets, but when you add a best-fit Workforce Management tool, you open up new possibilities for truly transformational improvements in agent satisfaction. Adding more flexibility to the scheduling process can help agents find that work/life balance they want, but contact centers still need to maintain the right staffing levels to achieve their service goals. The right WFM tool can help you find the right balance.

 

More options in the scheduling process - Agents can feel more engaged when they feel more control over and connection with their work lives. You’ve forecasted the staffing levels to meet your service goals, and you can control the methods you use to fill those staffing levels. The right tools can add new options that might not have been feasible in the past.

  • Preference-Based Scheduling – Allowing agents some input into the scheduling process can be a very effective way to make agents feel more involved and invested. You can reward experienced senior employees with schedules build on their preferences for days worked and start times, or add another layer by adding performance scores to the mix as an incentive for above-average work. You can take a subset of agent and create preference-based schedules as a base, then building rules-based schedules on top to make sure all your requirements are covered.
  • Dynamic Scheduling – For flex agents or work-at-home agents, could you increase your options for schedule flexibility? If your work-at-home agents would like to work some hours in the morning, some in the afternoon or some in the evening, it could be a win-win for them and you. Giving them a schedule that better fits their lives while allowing you to have them working at the busiest times of your day without having to keep them on the clock at slower times when they aren’t needed. With manual scheduling, the logistics are daunting; but the right WFM tool can help you break down your staffing requirements into configurable blocks and then present the available blocks to agents so they can effectively build their own schedules.  
  • Shift Bids – Many contact centers use shift bidding to fill schedules and give agents a method to move from less-favored schedules to ones they like better when those schedules become available. But creating and executing a shift bid can be extremely time-consuming when done manually, limiting the frequency you can offer new bids, which limits the chances your agents have to move to a schedule they like. Having a WFM tool that helps automate this process means that you can offer shift bids more often, not only assisting agents to feel more involved, but also giving you the chance to use fresher schedules that are a more optimal fit for your current business requirements.

 

More options for intra-day changes – Agents want flexibility when it comes to meeting their need for planned time off as well as accommodating things that come up at the last minute.

  • Automated Vacation – Rather than going through a cumbersome process of contacting a manager to find out if vacation time is available, sending emails to the scheduling team, then waiting for those extremely busy people to have a chance to respond, an agent using an automated WFM request process can see available vacation hours and use self-service tools to enter vacation requests that are processed in a fraction of the time. Agents feel more control over their vacation strategy, team supervisors don’t need to stop what they’re doing to deal with vacation requests, and the scheduling team knows that staffing levels are protected against any accidental overpromising of vacation or feelings that favoritism is used in the process.
  • Ease of VTO and VOT – Some agents look for any opportunity for overtime, and others might need to leave early to deal with family emergencies; either way, it’s another opportunity to satisfy your requirements and satisfy agents at the same time. When you’re busier than expected and need additional agents, the right WFM tool can help you identify the agents who want overtime, while still tracking who is working OT and setting any limits to avoid giving too much OT to the same people. Similarly, you can make voluntary time off available to agents who need it, alleviating unexpected overstaffing by allowing those agents to request VTO though an automated process that gets them off the clock sooner and saving the contact center unnecessary staffing costs.  
  • Automated Trades – Opening the shift swap process to larger groups of agents, even agents at different sites means more opportunities for trades for your agents; but it also brings more complexity. An automated tool can keep tight control over the trade process, allowing agents to have more possible trade partners while automatically checking skill compatibility, staffing levels, protecting against overtime, controlling the number of times agents are trading, and other configurable rules that you would otherwise have to check manually. As with automated vacation request, agents get a response faster, and all users can be alerted so they can keep an eye on the trade process.

 

Mobile Access

Many agents would love 24/7 mobile access to their schedules, vacation requests, and trades; the newest generation of agents may even expect that they will be able to interact with their work schedules anytime from their phones. A Mobile WFM app can add another level of agent satisfaction to your scheduling process by making all of your schedule optimization efforts accessible even when agents aren’t online at work. This can be extremely helpful in streamlining and automating your callout process when agents can’t make it to work, as well as allowing you to communicate things like overtime availability to agents who might be willing to start work early if you need them. Shift bidding can be facilitated if you give agents the ability to meet their bid window even if they aren’t at work.

 

Added options for schedule flexibility is just one way that a best-fit Workforce Management tool can make a real difference to your agents’ satisfaction with their jobs, helping you keep your top performers and attract new talent. Contact us or email the Call Design team today to find out how we can help make it happen for you!

 


Why and how to adopt a culture of knowledge sharing

What are your business's key resources? We’re willing to bet that your most precious one is in-house knowledge.

It’s simple really, all your employees need to be experts in their fields, be that engineering, sales or accounting, plus they need to know everything about your business and its products or services. The success of your company literally depends on keeping this knowledge in-house.

One way to facilitate this is to look into your knowledge sharing strategies. So what exactly is knowledge sharing, why do you need it and how can it be implemented?

What is knowledge sharing in a business?

Knowledge sharing can be defined as a designed process where employees exchange both their implicit and explicit knowledge in order to create mutual understanding, resulting in new understanding. This can sound a bit complicated but basically it’s any process that allows employees to share their expertise efficiently with each other in order to generate new ideas and retain important skill sets within a company.

True knowledge sharing consists of:

  • Knowledge donation – i.e. communicating an individual’s intellectual capital to others.
  • Knowledge collection – i.e receiving and computing another person’s intellectual capital.

Knowledge sharing is important for organizations. Knowledge sharing requires both donation and collection of information.

Businesses with an effective knowledge sharing structure often support these processes with carefully selected technology. This means that information can be accurately stored and distributed digitally to other employees in the case of someone leaving the company. It can also make processes like training and onboarding more time efficient, as employees can work through information at their own speed rather than attending classes.

Why should you adopt knowledge sharing?

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Without exception, groups are better at achieving goals when everyone involved has all the skills and knowledge required to do so. This means giving them key information about the process, teaching them the required skill set, and communicating effectively within the group so that everyone can perform a useful function.

Here are some further reasons why knowledge sharing is important:

Eases growing pains: Growing a company is always a difficult process, particularly when it comes to deciding who needs to know what. Who will train new staff and what are the clear chains of command? Having a clear knowledge sharing process can help to alleviate these problems at the source. Creating solid infrastructure that guides the onboarding process and ensures that everyone is getting the right information when they need it most.
Prevents knowledge hoarding: Knowledge hoarding is damaging for businesses. It means that when employees leave your company they take all of their expertise with them, leaving their team flailing. This is particularly important for organizations where specific client knowledge is essential for the working relationship. Knowledge sharing means that this expertise can be retained and built upon rather than dependent on certain individuals.
Retains your top talent: Providing people with all the information they need to succeed lets your best and brightest shine and prevents dissatisfaction from chronic communication problems. After all, no one likes being left in the dark, particularly when it makes their jobs ten times harder.

3 ways to create a knowledge sharing culture

Knowledge sharing can be a tricky culture to implement, largely because so much depends on how your specific company currently works. However there are some necessary basics that you can put in place.

1. Consider all the ways that knowledge is shared and encourage these activities

Ideas are exchanged in all sorts of ways depending on the situation and the characters involved. All the varied forms of knowledge sharing should be encouraged to ensure that you are getting the most from everybody. For example:

Face to face meetings and collaboration: Sometimes the best way to get to the core of a situation is to get some one-on-one time and bounce ideas around. It’s also a fantastic way to get the more shy older members of your team to contribute valuable insights. Setting regular time aside to communicate in this setup is often an important grounding for your knowledge sharing plan.
Offsite events or meetings: From company social outings to training events and conferences, changing up the scene is a great way to set collaboration in motion.
Presentations: Presenting ideas to a certain team or even the company at large means that everyone can keep up to date with developments and also take the opportunity to learn about things outside their roles.
Team sharing times: Whether its an hour every week to go through client updates or a quarterly break down, scheduling a regular opportunity to update everyone on progress keeps the team in the loop.
Outings are a good way to share knowledge. Knowledge can be communicated in a variety of settings.

2. Redesign your office to include more sharing space

Don’t underestimate the impact the physical space has on collaboration. There is nothing like planning a meeting only to find there are no rooms available. Building an office environment that encourages and enables easy collaboration makes knowledge sharing much more possible.

There are two effective ways to do this. One is to provide enough meeting rooms so that those who prefer private and quiet communication have space to carry this out. Secondly setting up common spaces so that employees can sit and work together. This allows casual get togethers and collaborative work to take place with ease.

3. Consider a knowledge sharing platform

A lot of knowledge sharing can be supported by new technology and associated platforms. This takes away many of the manual processes involved with storing information and giving staff access to relevant files and folders. Researching and finding a knowledge sharing software solution could help your company to more efficiently manage information and remove the heavy lifting aspects of processes.

If you’re interested in finding out more about knowledge sharing and streamlining your workforce solutions, get in contact with the experts at Call Design today.


How to motivate employees with non-monetary incentives

Even your best-performing agents will have off days.

It’s natural – from time to time everyone wakes up not quite in the mood for a day at work. However, as a manager, the onus is on you to minimize how this impacts task completion by motivating your staff.

While incentivizing is often done through monetary means – promotions, bonuses – the truth is that this isn’t always possible.

In this article, we’ll explore some current methods being adopted by workforce managers to motivate their staff through non-financial encouragement.

1. The fun of gamification

One of the newest tools in a personnel leader’s arsenal is gamification.

Reduced to its fundamentals, gamification involves turning a pre-existing task or process into a game. This holds a number of benefits in the workplace:

  • Motivation – It’s true that familiarity can breed contempt when it comes to repetitive daily tasks. By turning these into a fun activity, however, you can prevent complacency and engage staff. In fact, when properly implemented, gamification can enhance employee motivation by 51.6 percent, according to Karl Kapp, Instructional Technology Professor at Bloomsburg University
  • Education – By flipping duties on their head in this way, you force yourself and other participants to think about them in new ways. This can result in learning outcomes that improve your systems in the long run.
  • Participation – A side benefit of gamification is the way that it encourages employees to work together – this teamwork can contribute to an overall increase in cohesion in your contact center.

All sorts of daily tasks can be overhauled with gamification, but here are a couple of great examples:

The Quality Scores Sports Game: 

Monitoring quality is high on the priority list for any manager, and why not make this process fun for staff who might otherwise see it as daunting? First, work out a sport that your staff are into, and then assign points that link quality scores to a sports event scenario.

Gamification can improve motivation by up to 51.6 percent, according to Karl Kapp.

For example, if U.S. football was your chosen sport, an average quality score could equate to an extra point (one point), a good score to a field goal (three points), and an excellent score to a touchdown (six points). You could run this competition over a month, with the agent who gains the most points winning a prize.

The Customer Experience Game:

Customer experience is hugely important to a business’ bottom line. Indeed, 73 percent of consumers worldwide name this factor as important in influencing their buying decision, states research from PwC. 

In this example of gamification, each agent has a sheet featuring a list of factors that contribute to a good customer interaction. The idea is that customers complete the sheet by checking off specific items – for example, informing clients of upgraded products. However, they can only check one box per customer – this prevents the game being over after one call, and encourages staff to alter their approaches to dealing with different callers.


Gamification is the latest technique in workforce motivation.

2. Flexible work arrangements

More and more, we’re seeing an erosion of the traditional 9-5 office job. This trend is particularly true in line with the desires of Millennials and Generation Z, who are filling up an increasing percentage of the job market. Flexible working arrangements have been shown to build loyalty among this demographic of employees, and improve business performance, according to Deloitte.

Call Design’s ME mobile app allows staff to manage their schedules by swapping shifts with colleagues and requesting time off. This allows them to create a program that provides them with an optimized work-life balance, meaning they’re working at times where they feel most motivated to do so.

Flexible working arrangements have been shown to build loyalty and productivity among Millennials and Gen Z.

To do this effectively, you need to establish a process that both you and your employees should stick to. Flexible working requires trust on both sides, but can do wonders for your staff’s motivation when properly implemented.

3. Awards ceremonies

Whether on a grand, annual scale, or at smaller departmental meetings, public recognition of hard work can go a long way to encouraging similar performances in the future.

A great alternative to monetary rewards in these instances can be personalized gifts. Branded company items, for example mugs that also feature the winner’s name or photo are a great touch. Gift tokens that match with that individual’s personal interests also often go over well – for example, movie tickets or books and sports tickets.

For smaller scale wins, a post on a company-wide intranet or social media platform can reinforce the perception that stellar performances don’t go unnoticed.


Internal awards ceremonies motivate staff by showing the rewards and recognition available to hard workers.

4. Involvement in decision making

While, traditionally, decision making is left to senior management, there’s a lot to be said for opening the floor to employee input. Your agents see the business from a different perspective, and will doubtless have ideas of procedural changes you can make that will improve efficiency.

As well as potentially improving the day-to-day running of the company, such initiatives make it clear that you value your staff’s input, which can be a highly motivational tool. Communicating that you’re always open to new ideas will encourage individuals to go beyond the scope of their role and brainstorm concepts that could help shape the future of the company.

From your point of view, that practice of regularly engaging with your team in this way also shows you who might be most suitable for more senior roles, should such an opportunity come along.

With so many different ways of motivating your staff with non-monetary incentives, there’s no reason for not starting to implement some of these ideas today. For more training and solutions to improve performance among your agents, get in touch with the team at Call Design today.