Adoption rates for workforce management may be high, but a recent study finds that usage and value metrics remain disproportionately low.
Posted Sep 22, 2006
Many adopted workforce management (WFM) solutions are not getting the love they deserve, according to a study conducted by Customer Relationship Metrics. The study, which was run to gain better insight into WFM practices, found a large discrepancy in the number of WFM solutions implemented and the rate at which companies are actually making use of the software's functionality. While WFM can help call centers become more efficient and productive, a lack of awareness of WFM's value quotient stands in the way of centers seeing this return.
"In the last five or six years, I've been shocked by the lack of competency in the workforce management area," says Scott Davis, principal at Customer Cubed. The report was conducted in partnership with Davis and Mike Trotter, executive director for the Center for Customer Driven Quality at Purdue University. Davis reports that any time one completes an evaluation of a call center, "workforce management is almost always an issue."
The report found that there is widespread adoption of WFM. The penetration rate of licensed WFM software to support scheduling is 88 percent. However, only a quarter of these companies use this software to support forecasting, and 52 percent do not use it to support performance reporting. Davis blames a lack of funding and an underestimation of the usefulness of WFM. "The responsibility for creating that awareness falls absolutely on the contact center leadership," he says. It is the leadership's responsibility to communicate the performance metrics and the knowledge that the WFM exists so that all levels of the business are aware.
A greater emphasis is placed on accessibility metrics than on efficiency and workforce management effectiveness, according to the study. Although proficiency and agents' performance directly affects these numbers, service level, average speed of answer and percent of calls abandoned were much more likely to be measured than numbers like agent occupancy and agent utilization. Perhaps as a direct result of this, only 7 percent posted new schedules daily, only 39 weekly, and the majority (62 percent) posted new schedules only once a month for agents.
There are laudable WFM software solutions available, but the report found that there is much room for growth in the WFM process. Thirty-seven percent of respondents believed that the process could be improved and 41 percent were not satisfied with the process at all.
From a software standpoint, according to Davis, the industry is seeing a move away from standalone WFM software and a move toward workforce optimization (WFO), which combines workforce management, real-time delivery, and quality management on one platform. This is good news for WFM, as WFO allows its metrics to be connected all the way through, from connection time with the customer to individual agents. However, Davis sayss that it is important to remember the WFM in WFO. "I think it's a terrific trend. The only fear that I've got is that it will make it [WFM] even more difficult to get ground, because you're not asking about it when all these other things are going on."
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