• April 6, 2004
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Merging Performance Optimization With Workforce Management

Blue Pumpkin has made available its latest Blue Pumpkin Workforce Optimization Suite, which combines performance optimization with workforce management capabilities. The upgrades include industry-benchmarking information, forecasting capabilities, and performance-optimization practices. "This is significant for the industry," says Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. "Tying performance optimization with workforce management is the logical evolution of two dynamic software tools. They're coming together in ways that make sense and that directly and positively impact call centers." The latest upgrades include comparative benchmarking information by industry (provided by Gartner research) and by call complexity. So call center managers can compare such metrics as the average cost of a phone call, call handle time, resolution time, and hold times. The benchmarking information is preintegrated into the Blue Pumpkin suite and updated semiannually by Gartner. Having this level of detailed information can help managers to spot problem areas. "Call centers are trying to move up and become more strategic, but they are stuck in a crisis management mode of handling all call volume on a day-to-day basis," says Steve Bernstein, director of the Solutions Marketing Group for Blue Pumpkin. After comparing internal metrics to industry averages, a company needs to determine which project will yield the best results in a timely manner. Blue Pumpkin's modeling and forecasting capabilities can help call center managers understand what the effect of one investment might have on another area. For example, managers can determine how much of an impact a training initiative might have on customer service levels, Bernstein says. Once the company commits to a project, it needs to motivate agents through performance rewards to help achieve desired results. Blue Pumpkin chose paid time off as a bargaining chip. Traditionally, seniority has played a significant role in determining holiday shift assignments. However, Blue Pumpkin's latest suite upgrades won't let veterans merely rest on their laurels -- the upgrades make agent performance an additional criterion for getting choice days off. The application includes a shift bidding capability that rewards agents bonus points based on their performance. These bonus points when added to seniority create a total score that agents can use when bidding for shifts. Those with the highest scores get preferred shifts. "It's one of the first and most unique ways of tying performance optimization with workforce management so that an agent's performance along with seniority becomes a factor in shift bidding," Stockford says.
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