In my last blog, I talked about the need for contact centers to create an official Workforce team. (Remember? With great software (should!) come great processes.) This time, let’s talk about the individuals that should make up this team and their roles and functions.
The Forecaster is much like a weatherperson on TV. The Forecaster understands your business and produces scheduling forecasts with a high degree of accuracy, whether it’s inbound, outbound or back office. But if they are wrong and the results are missed, it’s not just a picnic that will be rained out – it’s your service level goals. Accurate staffing all starts with accurate forecasting. A dedicated Forecaster will gather all the historical data in workforce management software. This person not only knows what has happened in the past and why but knows how these patterns will replicate themselves in the future.
Once the Forecaster has produced his/her forecast then the Scheduler can ensure that enough people are ready and scheduled to handle the volumes. When 70% of the cost of managing a contact center is labor, this person needs to get things right. Too few staff and service level metrics and customer satisfaction suffers. Too many staff members and the company is paying for call center staff to be idle. Unleash the skill and talent of your Schedulers and let them help the business create optimal, productive schedules.
Imagine an airport with no traffic tower to help planes take off and land safely. The Intra-Day team is the eyes and ears of the contact center. They are the early warning system. This group will tell you how well you are staffed right now as well as four hours from now. This team can field calls for employee absenteeism, run reports and analyze data looking for trends. They should not be the end but simply close the loop and give data back to Forecasters and Schedulers about what they see trending so further refinement to those processes can take place. This team is indispensable but so often are not part of the contact center.
In many smaller organizations the workforce management Admin role may be combined with the Forecaster or Scheduler role. In large organizations they are individual roles. These people typically are fully trained in all the other roles. They understand the Forecaster, Scheduler and Intra-day roles and how the software should be configured. The software admin role will ensure the upkeep of the software. They will ensure that when configuration changes are needed they will do it consistently along with following corporate security policies. The Admins will be knowledgeable and be the internal software expert and consultant to the organization.
A true team needs a leader and without one the workforce group is less effective. Their responsibilities include coaching, training, reviews and ensuring that the team is functioning and collectively working towards the same goals. However, there is one very important thing needed that is commonly overlooked in the Workforce Manager role and that is a seat at the planning table. Too many times plans are made in these sessions but because there was no representation by Workforce those plans may not succeed as expected. New promotions might increase call volumes resulting in a need for OT. Changes in billing cycles, new attendance rules that affect time off, new off-phone projects or additional off-phone work may increase shrinkage. With a seat at the planning table, you will have someone with the ability to voice concerns like these.
Here’s the bottom line: Software alone isn’t going to make the changes that revolutionize an organization. We don’t yet have Skynet in our world. So, to help get the most out of your workforce management software, it makes sense to hire a good, professional team who knows the ropes. Fill these roles and positions with the right people, and watch success happen!