The Cloud….. so what??

I’ve been thinking about the cloud for a long time now, and while there is no doubt that it is here to stay for the foreseeable future, I’ve been asking myself… so what?

I know that it is seen by some as heresy to question conventional wisdom, and today’s conventional wisdom says that everything needs to go to the cloud. However, what is the benefit and what is the point? What are organizations getting out of a move to the cloud – because after all it is surely only being done to provide a business benefit??

So, as I see it, organizations are getting the following benefits out of a cloud migration.

  • Consumption based costs / charging
  • Ability to flex up and down in scale as business dictates
  • Removal of the need to manage infrastructure
  • Removal of the need to implement a software lifecycle management regime
  • A change from capex to opex and associated tax benefits

But… if everyone does this then how is it a ‘competitive advantage’? As I see it, you either do this or you become irrelevant. However once everyone has done it then they are all the same again… so there might be a ‘first mover’ type of advantage, but beyond that you need to do it to remain competitive with everyone else… OR you need to do something entirely different.

Back in the 60’s companies knew they needed these new-fangled computer things… but  lots of smaller organizations couldn’t afford them… so along came the idea of a ‘bureau service’ that sold computing by the minute / hour.. exactly like a consumption model. Then as time went on, computing became cheaper, and more organizations could afford computing, but probably more importantly, they could not afford not to have THEIR OWN computing as the bureau services were not flexible enough, or did not provide a competitive advantage as everyone was doing the same thing.

Then, along came the idea of departmental computing with midrange systems using Unix or vendor specific operating systems like IBM’s System 36, 38, AS/400. These came into vogue because the ‘big iron’ in the corporate computing center wasn’t flexible enough, cost too much, took too long to do half a job (sounding familiar?).

Finally, along came desktop computing which gave the end user ultimate control, albeit with very little in the way of corporate control which turned out to be the biggest issue (data security, corporate licencing, support of different versions, different applications, etc etc). So as organizations worked to resolve these particular challenges, they took back more and more control until the idea of the end user having any real control became nonsensical.

Along this ride the world also moved to fixed function terminals (dumb screens) and then to emulation of dumb screens on PC’s, and then to applications that accessed host data and presented in a more graphical way, and then finally on to web based applications… where the PC is really not much more than a – you guessed it – dumb screen.

So I hope that I have presented a case that the technology, while always evolving and changing, hasn’t actually done a whole lot for businesses besides causing them to spend money to stay compliant, safe (from a data safety perspective at least) and relevant, because it seems like everything old is new again, and it’s possibly the ‘change’ that is important, and not what you are changing from or too.

What does all this really mean??

Well, I think that what it means is that the most important thing a business can do for itself to continue to be successful is to provide products and services that their customers want, and do that in a way that is uniquely better or different to their competition. If that means a move to the Web, or new computing, or saving money by doing something in a different way, then of course those things MUST be done… just don’t expect that the shiny new toys are the savior of your business, because the real savior is going to be how you use and build on whatever it is that you have. It may be a case of throwing it all out and starting again, but from my experience that is very rarely actually needed.

I like to think of it in motorcycle racing (or car or whatever) terms… you can have the fastest bike out there on the track, but if you aren’t the fastest rider, you aren’t necessarily going to win!

And then of course there is that very hackneyed expression…. To finish first, first you must finish.

Comments always welcome!

Regards,

Brett Redman
Director


Absence management: Methods for reducing worker absenteeism

 

Absenteeism is costing US and Canadian businesses $225.8 billion and $16.6 billion per year respectively. These stats come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Conference Board of Canada, which highlight the cost of absenteeism in the hourly and salaried workforces.

Understanding the statistics is one thing, but fixing them is another. To help your contact center, we discuss four absence management strategies below:

Absenteeism in the form of excessive sick days be by symptomatic of a larger problem.An increase in sick days may be one of the first symptoms of a growing absenteeism issue in your business.

1. Identify the root cause

Absenteeism is not a problem, it's a symptom of a problem. Most likely a variety of problems, compounding together. Issues that can cause absenteeism include:

  1. Low morale or engagement levels.
  2. Stress or burnout.
  3. Workplace conflicts (e.g. bullying or harassment).
  4. Illness, injury or disability.
  5. Work/life conflicts (e.g. the needs of work and the needs of, say, childcare, conflicting with each other).
  6. Limited consequences for lack of attendance.
  7. Time theft (aka taking elongated breaks, regularly leaving early or turning up late).

Awareness is the first step to solving a problem. Take time to investigate what issues your contact center may be suffering from. This can be done through regular 1:1 personal sessions between staff and their team leader, and through anonymous feedback surveys.

 

2. Create an attendance policy

A clear attendance policy has two major benefits:

  1. It sets out your expectations for attendance so staff and their managers know what is and is not considered acceptable.
  2. It helps you benchmark individual attendance levels against the company expectation, so you can measure their performance. Without this, unconscious bias or favoritism may lead you to challenge some staff more than others.

What goes into an attendance policy?

An attendance policy should include comprehensive descriptions of your expectations around annual leave, sick leave, what constitutes tardiness, leave request procedures, rules around special leave (i.e. bereavement or jury duty) and so on.

This should be included in your employee handbook and all staff should be able to find and access it easily.

Employee wellness programs combine policies, perks and initiatives to encourage staff to better look after themselves.

3. Consider employee wellness programs

Employee wellness programs are typically a combination of policies, perks and initiatives that encourage staff to look after their physical and mental health. This could include discounts at gyms or medical centers, health insurance packages, policies designed to promote better self-care, and environment support (e.g. desk ergonomics, green spaces and so on).

These programs have been found to work. In a Comcare review, it was found that wellness programs such as smoking cessation interventions, physical activity and/or nutrition interventions, and changes to organizational culture showed real health-related benefits to employees.

4. Offer more flexibility

There's a growing call for flexible working around the world. One study by the Intelligence Group showed that 74 percent of the Millennial generation use work-life balance as a leading factor in evaluating job opportunities, while workers in Generation X can find themselves in need of workplace flexibility in order to care for aging parents.

Can your business handle flexible working arrangements? Some contact center leaders find it difficult to accommodate variable hours or working from home due to the schedule-intensive nature of the job. Staff levels must be carefully planned and easy to predict in order for the business to handle call volumes.

However, this is not an unsolvable problem - it just requires a technology upgrade. Consider investigating workforce management solutions that enable smart scheduling and easy shift swapping, as this will help you encourage staff to balance their working lives and personal lives without impacting your company's bottom line or the customer experience.

Choose Call Design to help you

If you aren't sure you can do this alone, it's time to seek help. Call Design is a leading workforce optimization consulting provider, featuring a team of experts with an average of 10+ years of experience. We have an array of WFO tools, solutions and training courses to help your business find and improve the root causes of your absenteeism issues.

To learn more, contact us today.


Terminology 101: Customer service vs customer experience

 

Customer service and customer experience are two terms that are thrown around and often used interchangeably. This shouldn't be the case.

While there are similarities and areas of overlap, it's vital that contact center managers understand where these two ideas differ if they're to implement effective improvement to either.

This article will explain the practical distinctions between customer service and customer experience in contact centers, and how both are crucial to customer satisfaction.

The differences between customer service and customer experience are important to process improvement.Managers need to be aware of the differences between customer service and customer experience.

1. The time period

The first difference between customer service and customer experience is to do with when they take place. At a fundamental level this can be described as follows:

  • Customer service: This usually refers to a one-off interaction. Usually the customer will engage with your business to ask a question, purchase a service or product, or register their feedback.
  • Customer experience: Here we're talking about an ongoing phenomenon which follows the customer's journey across all company touchpoints. As we'll see a little later, this can include a range of platforms and a variety of different circumstances.

Customer experience can also be thought of as the sum of all the dealings a customer has with your teams, with each separate snapshot contributing to their overall perception of your company. As a result, customer service is one element of the larger customer experience.

2. The goals

Ultimately, with customer service and customer experience, you want to create positive outcomes for your customers, as both are essential to your overall success.

In fact, a staggering 88 percent of respondents to Deloitte's 2017 Global Contact Center survey said that customer experience was the main driver for growth in their organization. Given that we've already established that customer service is integral to customer experience, you need to ensure that staff can deliver consistent quality in both areas.

However, when we drill down deeper, there are some important differences in setting goals for customer service and customer experience. When it comes to customer service, your approach should be resolutions oriented - this means establishing the pain point for the customer, and providing an effective and efficient response. This is reflected in the data from the Deloitte survey which suggested that the most important contact centre attribute from a customer perspective was the accuracy and quality of the information given, with first contact resolutions also ranking highly.

While these objectives also translate to customer experience, the latter is more proactive than reactive. In other words, your customer experience should aim to promote good feelings about your brand at a holistic level, which means learning who your customers are, and devising a strategy that will best connect with them.

Customer experience needs to be omni-channel.Customer experience includes all interactions a client has with your business.

3. Who is responsible?

Traditionally, customer service provision involves a specific department of trained human operators dealing directly with customer needs. Customer experience is much more of an omnichannel situation, and this is becoming increasingly apparent in today's market.

A separate Deloitte survey shows that over 60 percent of customers use more than one platform to engage with companies. Increasingly, of course, this is through social media, but automated website chats and FAQs are also important and, crucially, these often don't involve person-to-person interaction. The challenge from a management perspective is to ensure that the customer encounters high quality, and consistent, systems no matter where they look.

It's only through fully understanding the theory behind these two terms that managers can hope to improve their provision from a customer perspective. However, when it's your teams, you can often be too immersed to identify precisely what needs work.

This is where Call Design comes in. Our training and solutions in areas such as performance and quality management can help you identify weaknesses in your delivery, and work to improve them. For more information, get in touch with our team today.


Why analyze performance in the back office?

 

With today's emphasis on customer interaction and experience, the back office is at risk of being overlooked.

Sure, your front line staff are the main touch point for customers engaging with your business, but you can't expect these employees to operate at peak efficiency if your back office isn't optimized. From forecasting workloads to running accounts, this is the team you'll rely on when customers demand answers to more complex queries.

This article will demonstrate why back office performance analysis should be a top priority for managers.

Performance analysis is a vital consideration to ensure a smooth customer experience.Delays in back office processing can have a large impact on the contact center

1. Find your weaknesses

If you want to improve the way that your back office staff are performing, you should start by identifying what isn't working as well as it could.

Setting clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your staff allows you to not only establish expected standards for work, but also to monitor trends. A good balanced scorecard provides you with the right performance metrics and allows you to identify and analyze individual points of weakness among your staff, and tailor ongoing training  to meet these exact needs.

Your staff are a key resource when it comes to actioning the results of this analysis. As well as drawing your own conclusions, group back office retrospectives give employees a chance to provide feedback on what's preventing them from reaching their goals, creating a cycle of improvement. A good performance program and action plan can not only dramatically improve your satisfaction results, but allow you to performance manage your employees 'up' and not 'out', resulting in a massive cost saving for any organization.

2. Improve customer experience

More than 50 percent of customers say that their experience of a brand will impact whether or not they invest in a service or product, according to Deloitte. Customer experience is, therefore, everyone's priority - not just that of front-line staff.

Integral to this is making every effort to resolve queries or complaints the first time they're raised. If this happens, you have the opportunity to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one, says a study from PwC.

Customer experience is everyone's priority, not just that of front-line staff.

To give your customer service staff the best chance of achieving first time resolution, it's important to ensure that you provide them with as much information as possible – that includes providing visibility to business performance and potential problems such as backlogs or processing errors in the back office.

3. Your staff want you to

The increasingly visible millennial workforce crave the regular feedback that accompanies performance analysis, suggests a separate PwC report. Professional development is important to this demographic, so opportunities to discover areas where they can grow through training are welcomed.

If you're a back office manager hoping to improve your processes and personnel operation, performance analysis is a vital step. Call Design's Performance Management Essentials Course is specifically designed to increase your knowledge in this area, and implement successful change. For more information, get in touch with our team today.


Workforce Management as we know it is changing

 

Workforce management has long been the go-to for team leaders to keep operations running smoothly, but as our world has transformed, so too has the way we need to manage contact centers. Customers have changed, technology has changed, and your WFM system must do so as well.

So what are the must-knows in WFM in today's world?

Customers communicate across a multitude of channels now, which makes WFM slightly tricker.WFM is changing.

1. Forecasting can't be done like it used to be

The increasing variety of customer channels and changing expectations of newer generations have made forecasting a more complex problem. But how?

Omnichannel forecasting

According to a Deloitte survey, phone communications with contact centers is expected to drop from having 64 percent market share (2017's figure) to just 47 percent. The modern contact center's WFM software must readily integrate with new platforms to make gathering data easy for forecasters, so they can accurately examine historic trends and predict new scenarios based on an omnichannel approach. This means having the ability to apply service level goals for channels such as chat that are quite different to those used in traditional voice channels.

Newer generations

In addressing generational shifts driving customer expectations, see our article titled "3 contact center strategies to adopt for Generation Z customers", you'll see that these people have unique requirements that influence their loyalty. Workforce planners working with younger customers must ensure forecasts are predicted with their needs in mind, so the right amount of staff are in place at the right times on the right channels. This segmentation of customers is expecting to reach out to you at a time that is convenient for them, on the channel of their choice, and be easily identified as a customer across these channels.

More people

regularly work from home.

2. Employees are changing, too

As customers change, so too do those entering the workforce. Engagement and shrinkage have been issues for a long time, but changing expectations and advancing technology could affect these even more.

Look at working from home as an example. According to Gallup, 43 percent of employed Americans worked from home at least some of the time in their main job - digital technology makes it easier for employees to telecommute, and many (such as those with young families) are calling for it as an option.

So should your business offer work at home?

On one hand, a Stanford study found that, when call center agents worked from home, there was a 13 percent increase in performance, and staff attrition halved. However, a conflicting study - from the London School of Economics and Political Science - found that home working could negatively impact organisational performance and cause tension in company culture.

Bringing this back to workforce management, using technology to offer more flexible ways of working might be of benefit to your company, but it would be wise to talk to a professional WFM consultant before making changes to ensure they have a positive effect.

Many employees desire the option to work from home, but studies disagree as to whether it is beneficial.Does your company offer working from home?

3. Automation and simplification are vital to future success

Automation has the power to make employees' lives easier. Around the globe and across industries, business leaders are deploying automation to handle menial tasks that would otherwise take someone a disproportionate amount of time to complete. Not only does this allow them to focus on more important duties, but it reduces the chance of human error in key areas.

In the WFM space, workforce planners should be using software that enables streamlining and simplification across tasks. For example, software like Aspect WFM will need to be able to easily schedule people across different tasks in different channels throughout the day. Additionally, enabling staff to bid on shifts remotely, selecting shifts that meet their requirements that week, will become more and more important as organizations try to offer more flexibility while increasing productivity.

Choose Call Design for your WFM upgrade

If you're ready to talk to the professionals about upgrading your WFM platform, talk to Call Design. Our consultants can work hand-in-hand with your business to find the best solution for you and your staff, deploying some of the world's leading WFM technology.

To learn more, contact us today.


How good software can help with your staff management needs

 

A recent Deloitte survey highlighted the sheer number of priorities contact center leaders must address to run their business effectively. Staff management is just one of these priorities, and this alone includes considerations such as ensuring you have the right number of agents at all times, that they're performing well, and that there are high levels of job satisfaction.

In the 21st century, people are looking with increasing frequency to digital solutions to solve their problems. Indeed, all of the respondents to the Deloitte Contact Center Survey, some 450 executives, said they were planning to invest in technologies to support their work.

Let's take a look at one example of workforce management software, and how it can make your day-to-day easier.

Staff management software can help you take control of your contact centre.Staff management software can provide solutions to common leadership priorities.

Aspect Workforce Optimization

Aspect workforce optimization (WFO) is a cost-effective and multifaceted suite of software that is accessible from a variety of platforms.

Aspect WFO solutions increase productivity while enhancing the worklife of staff around the world every day, from real time coaching to providing the ability to manage their schedules from an app on their smartphones.

This staff management software provides a solution to many of the most common areas of concern for contact center team leaders:

1. Accurate forecasting

With 90 percent of customers being frustrated by long hold times, according to an Accenture survey, it's important that you're able to accurately predict expected workloads. Too few staff and you risk giving clients a bad experience of your company, while too many will lead to money being wasted on labor costs for agents you don't really need.

Aspect Workforce Management uses historic data patterns as well as 'what-if' scenarios to help you plan for times where business might spike or fall away, meaning you can adjust staffing numbers to meet these expectations.

2. Performance monitoring

Without exception, Deloitte's survey respondents said they will put money into programs to improve talent in their organizations. Within this sector of the survey, the use of analytics to both align staff and improve training finished first and second respectively as priority investments.

Performance monitoring is crucial for staff management. Aspect Performance Management allows you to pull key insights on agent productivity and performance, as well as set thresholds that allow you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and therefore plan upskilling or reward strategies accordingly.

Tracking performance using staff management software lets you see where extra training is needed. Use staff management software to track agent performance.

3. Employee empowerment

In an industry where staff retention can prove tricky, taking steps to empower your employees and increase their job satisfaction is a vital consideration. This can take a range of forms, from giving agents greater control of their scheduling to opening up communication channels between workers and company leadership teams.

Aspect WFM, along with the Call Design ME app option, allows staff to view their shifts on their smartphone, swap shifts among themselves, and apply for time off. This not only gives them a heightened sense of responsibility but also takes the pressure off your workforce management department. In addition, the Performance Management application  presents employees with near-real-time insights into how their performance works towards fulfilling the business's needs, inspiring them to take ownership of their tasks.

4. Maximizing efficiency

For managers, time is always a limited commodity. The last thing you need is a series of complicated spreadsheets each requiring individual analysis in order to produce anything meaningful. Workforce optimization software such as Aspect WFM, Aspect Quality Management, and Aspect Performance Management is a real time saver in the way that it centralizes data, allowing you to readily compare information from across your organization and create actionable insights to actively improve internal standards.

While workforce optimization software clearly has benefits for staff and team leaders, putting WFO strategies into practice doesn't happen on a one-size-fits-all basis. Call Design will work with you to understand your pain points and provide recommendations for a solution that meets your needs. For more information, get in touch with our team today.


What is a Net Promoter Score© and how do you improve it?

 

Net Promoter Score (NPS©): A metric used to measure customer experience and predict business growth. This proven metric provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs the world over.

Net Promoter Scores© are an important metric for understanding customer experience. When you have visibility over your NPS©, you can keep a close eye on how your audience is feeling about your brand. When you pair these scores with other core indicators you can create actionable and holistic views of your company performance and derive key improvement points.

On top of that, NPS© provides a metric that everyone in your workforce can trust. Net Promoter Scores© provide your team with an uncomplicated and understandable view of customer experience - enabling them to become more engaged with improving the experience.

NPS provide you with a strong metric to understand customer experience. NPS© provide you with a strong metric to understand customer experience.

How does NPS© work?

Your NPS© is measured by asking one critical question: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague? Using a 0 to 10 scale, respondent scores will help you make the necessary calculations.

Respondents are grouped into one of three categories:

  • Promoters: Those who give a score between 9-10. They're loyal customers with a high lifetime value who will also refer prospects to help the company grow.
  • Passives: Those who give a score between 7-8. They're relatively satisfied customers who may stay or move on to a competitor if the offer is right. They wouldn't go out of their way to refer prospects.
  • Detractors: Those who give a score between 0-6. They're dissatisfied customers who may damage your brand reputation by spreading negativity.

Once you've received your responses you can calculate your NPS© by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. These scores can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

Technically speaking, if you receive a score above zero it's considered good because it means you have more promoters than detractors. However, most businesses tend to regard 50 and above as an excellent score, and 70 and above as the best of the best.

NPS© provides a metric that everyone in your workforce can trust.

4 tips to help improve your NPS©

Clearly Net Promoter Scores© are an important metric so what do you do when your NPS© is lower than you'd like?

1. Initiate regular communication with your detractors

Detractors can either be the your biggest problem or your best source of solutions. These are the people who feel strongly about what your brand is doing wrong and, because of this, often have great insights into how you can improve your current offerings.

Even better, by working with detractors to create better solutions you can turn them into adamant promoters. The key to true success with detractors is figuring out who is criticizing for the sake of it, and who would use your business if you fixed their issues. Once you determine who's who then sparking up regular communication with the proactive kinds of detractors can do your business (and you Net Promoter Score©) wonders.

2. Make it simple for customers to promote your brand

Customers will share their positive experiences with your brand if you make it easy for them to do so. Businesses need to have simple systems in place to encourage their audiences to share the good stuff. One of the easiest ways to do this is by engaging them with fun contests, questions or interactions.

All of these efforts work towards your relationship with your customers and the more your audience feels like you care, the more likely they will be to share the good things and ultimately become some of your biggest promoters.

Make it easy for your customers to promote your brand. Make it easy for your customers to promote your brand.

3. Be consistent in your communication with promoters

One of the biggest mistakes businesses can make is neglecting their happiest customers to tend to their least happy ones. You need to ensure you're still providing your promoters with the same fantastic experience that got them to promote you in the first place. This doesn't mean you have to focus all your energy on your best customers, just that you can't drop the ball on them for the sake of saving those on the other end.

4. Make sure you have the right number of staff to answer contacts efficiently

Don't annoy your customers by being understaffed and providing poor service. Upskill your workforce planning team and provide them with the right skills to do their job so they don't have to continually cancel staff training or one-on-ones when there aren't enough people to take the calls.

How can Call Design help?

Whether you're looking to improve your customer experience or invest in WFM essentials to revamp your call center management, Call Design has you covered.

Reach out to us today to learn more.


Why engagement management is vital for contact centers

 

We've all heard the adage that happy staff make for happy customers. A cliche, maybe, but one backed up by data. In fact, companies considered as customer experience leaders have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies who lag behind, according to research by the Temkin Group.

Contact centers are direct points of interaction between businesses and clients, but there are reasons beyond customer satisfaction that make learning engagement management a must-do for those heading up agent teams.

Let's take a look at a few:

Customers will tell if your staff aren't fully engaged with their tasks.Engaged staff are more likely to have positive customer interactions.

1. It's a real time saver

Contact centers are traditionally flexible environments, and empowering staff to take greater ownership of their schedules is a popular way of increasing agent engagement.

The use of smartphone technology that allows employees to interact with each other, swap shifts and access their schedule remotely not only gives them responsibility for their working hours, but also saves your workforce management team a lot of time rearranging hours on their behalf.

However, implementing this scheme requires thoughtful management in order to maintain control over staffing numbers. It's important that it links with your workforce management tool, and rules are built in to check intraday staffing levels for each skill before allowing swaps to go ahead.

2. You can attract great staff

Millennials are flooding the job market, and they rate engagement highly when choosing where to work.

The ability to progress up the career ladder came in first among a list of factors attracting millennials to employers, in a study conducted by PwC, beating even competitive salaries. They also expect regular feedback, praise for good performances and clearly established targets to aim for.

With all of these demands falling under the banner of employee engagement, it's clear that effective management is key for businesses that wish to remain competitive in the world of employment.

Staff feedback can help contact centre managers establish effective engagement strategies.Millennial staff expect regular engagement through feedback from management.

3. ...and keep them

Employees are a staggering 87 percent less likely to leave a company where they feel highly engaged, as compared with staff in organizations where this sentiment isn't so strong, as claimed by a report from the Kenan-Flagler business school.

In an industry where high turnover rates are the norm, this is research contact center managers can't afford to ignore. Indeed, individual engagement strategies such as prioritising the recognition and reward of high quality performance can in themselves improve retention, according to a Deloitte survey.

It's important to remember that these initiatives don't happen by magic, and careful planning is needed to ensure they fit the culture in your contact center.

Effectively managing staff engagement has benefits beyond customer experience vital to the continued success of your business. Call Design's Manager Essentials course is an intensive one-day program tailored to optimize your leadership practices and get the most out of your staff. To find out more, get in touch with our team today.


Why promoting teamwork is crucial to your business

 

Teamwork is the buzzword that stood the test of time. From pre-school onwards we're told, quite rightly, that combined effort can achieve more than that of an individual. For businesses, this concept in itself is a great advocate for the benefits of teamwork; with everyone pushing towards a common goal, greater volumes of work will be done.

However, the rise of technology, and a shift in priorities accompanying the arrival of the millennial workforce, have enhanced the importance of teamwork further. Let's delve into why teamwork is so important for contact centers in the 21st century.

Listen to your employees about ways to optimise your business. Teamwork is taking on new meanings in the digital age.

Greater productivity

It makes sense to start with the most conventional advantage of teamwork: greater productivity. This concept may seem self-explanatory, but understanding that aligning your workforce will result in a higher rate of task completion isn't enough. You need to know why that is the case if you, as a contact center leader, are going to benefit from this collaborative culture:

  • You create an environment of shared responsibility: If you make it clear to staff how their efforts contribute to the success of the team, they will want to make sure that they're pulling their weight, and not dumping extra work on their colleagues. This can be achieved by setting goals at a company level, departmental level or however you organize your office.
  • Teams create healthy competition: Setting individual targets in the context of these overarching aims can also instigate healthy competition among team members who want to be seen to lead the pack.
  • There's protection against the unexpected: Cross-training means skilling staff in different roles so they can cover each other in case of unexpected absences. By allowing your agents to learn from each other you can ensure that productivity remains high even when disaster strikes.

As we will see later on, simply setting goals isn't enough to keep your team members engaged. They need to be consistently measured and reviewed so that you can supply informed feedback to help your agents further their career objectives.

Setting team goals can improve performance at individual and departmental levels.

Idea sharing

One of the traditional characteristics of effective teamwork is good communication. In the past this has mainly referred to sharing information at a peer to peer level, or directives coming down from management.

Both these concepts are still important to the effective functioning of a team, but this shouldn't be where communication ends. Contemporary scrum models of working encourage employee feedback to improve the ideas and methodologies currently being employed. This is especially important to teamwork in the digital age, where new technological solutions are springing up all the time. Regularly engaging staff not only empowers them to feel involved with the improvement of the company, but also gives management a better chance of staying abreast of the myriad of changes going on in the world of business.

Provide opportunities for millennials to upskill and network.Millennials expect a cohesive company culture.

Building a community

Another reason why teamwork is important in the workplace is building a sense of community, something that will be of increasing importance as we welcome more millennials into our offices. This demographic will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, according to Deloitte, and they have some clear expectations when it comes to choosing where to take their skills.

When it comes to teamwork, these desires manifest themselves in two important ways, as shown in a survey by PwC:

  1. Shared values - Employees are drawn to employers who they perceive to share their values.
  2. Inclusivity - In addition, compared to previous generations, millennials place more emphasis on being engaged in a cohesive team, and less on salary.

Popular scrum business models emphasize the importance of employee feedback.

The concept of a cohesive community also feeds back into communication, but in a very specific way. In addition to the two points above, millennials are highly focussed on being able to progress their careers. This means leadership should provide regular feedback on performance, reward success and present opportunities for upskilling.

As well as the obvious business benefits that come with increasing staff skill levels, by listening to millennials' desires employers make themselves more attractive. It's no secret that the job market is becoming increasingly competitive, so if you're interested in attaining, and holding onto, the very best emerging talent, you should consider bringing your company culture into line with these changing expectations.

Great team spirit among your agents requires concerted effort and planing from management - it isn't just going to spring up overnight. Sometimes you can simply be too close to your current way of working to see the problems, which is where Call Design comes in. We offer a tailored consulting service to review how your team operates, and iron out any problems. For more information, get in touch with our team.


Contact centers: methods for accurate forecasting

 

As a contact center manager, you should always seek balance. You need to make sure that the workload is handled effectively and professionally, without having so many agents that staffing costs become too great. Learning how to accurately forecast supply and demand in contact centers will lead to greater customer satisfaction, improved staff morale and better productivity.

Here are some useful forecasting methods for contact centers.

1. Time series analysis

Time series analysis is a popular method for contact center forecasting and uses historical data to help predict future workloads. This may seem overly simplistic, but time series analysis allows workforce managers to isolate data to see the effects of certain factors such as trend seasonality, as well as changes that might come about after a targeted sales drive, for example.

In addition to this it's important to analyze average handle time (AHT) patterns as these tend to vary throughout the day, as well as by day of week. Using inaccurate data can lead to under or overstaffing.

By isolating variables in this way workforce planners can get a better idea of how similar changes are likely to impact the call center workload in the future.

Accurate forecasting means you can better predict the workload in your contact centre.Better forecasting leads to happier customers and staff.

 2. Workload

With the above mentioned contact volume and AHT information, workload can be calculated. This is done by multiplying the number of forecast contacts for the interval by the average handle time, and then dividing by the number of seconds in the interval.

3. Erlang C calculations

Erlang C calculations are based on the work of a Danish mathematician and allow you to establish how many staff are required for a given contact volume based on meeting a certain service level goal.  This calculation provides the bodies in chairs requirement, i.e. how many staff would be required if they didn't take breaks, have meetings and one on ones, or take annual leave etc.

4. Shrinkage

In order to work out the total staffing requirement, shrinkage needs to be included. Shrinkage refers to the time during which agents are being paid but are unavailable to handle contacts or aren't working for other reasons such as being on a break, being in one on ones or in meetings etc. Including accurate shrinkage assumptions is critical to calculating staffing requirements as using incorrect data will lead to under and over staffing.

5. Attrition

It's no secret that attrition, or employee turnover, is high in the contact center industry. Hiring and training new employees is an expensive and time-consuming business, so having a firm grasp on the numbers when it comes to attrition rates is important in making sure there are always enough agents to meet the workload requirements.

Being aware of the rate at which agents leave the business can also be useful in working out manageable shift patterns and how flexible you can be with working hours, measures that may help you better retain your staff.

6. Outbound forecasting

While some of the same tools can be used for workforce management in outbound call centers, there are also some important differences. Outbound contact centers are more targeted, as staff often need to speak to a specific person.  Although the workload can be managed a little easier than inbound calls, as the business is more in control, they still need to ensure there are sufficient staff to handle the workload and that their staff can make the calls when the targeted recipient is most likely to be available.

Understanding how to forecast contact center staffing requirements is a good first step, but effective implementation and management of schedules are key. Call Design creates tailored workforce management courses and solutions to hone your skills and maximize the potential of your workforce. For more information, get in touch with Call Design today.