For decades, Aspect Workforce Management has been ranked among the top 3 solutions available on the market. Pelorus Associates recently published a report confirming that Aspect is, in fact, the #1 provider of workforce management systems world-wide. That distinguished award did not happen by accident. Aspect has continued to make a large R&D investment in our workforce management product to maintain product superiority, even in the face of a contact center industry that’s changing at a dizzying pace.
Since March 2014, when we released WFM 8.0 with its game-changing new user interface, Aspect has made over 130 enhancements to WFM in new product releases that average 3 per year. Although most WFM customers have already made the decision to upgrade to one of our more recent WFM 8.x releases, some Aspect customers still operate on older versions and are missing out on a huge amount of new WFM capability as well as the corresponding benefits. In Part III of our three-part blog series on Workforce Management Excellence, we’ll consider why it’s important to upgrade your WFM system, especially if you are still operating on a version older than WFM 8.0.
As of this writing, the most recent release of Aspect WFM is version 8.2 Service Pack 1, with version 8.2 Service Pack 2 expected to be available in April. In addition to introducing features that ensure our product superiority, we continue to focus on: (1) integration of WFM with other WFO components, (2) enabling WFM in the cloud, (3) the growing omni-channel workforce, (4) WFM analytics and (5) dramatically better agent engagement. Below are some specific examples of important enhancements we have made to our WFM solution over the past 2 years:
New User Interface – Aspect has raised the bar for the WFO industry by developing a radically new interface for agents and supervisors that incorporates the best design principles of Apple, Google and Microsoft. Incorporating easy-to-understand graphical icons, widgets, dashboards and screen layouts, agent and supervisor productivity is dramatically improved even for transactions such as complex schedule trades or sequential shift bids. This responsive Web design supports all popular browsers including Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome and adapts to multiple display devices including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones of varying sizes. With this new user-focused design, Aspect has been able to remove any technology barrier between the agent and the complexities of workforce management. Your IT department will appreciate this technology as well. With the new WFO-based UI, your technical teams will deploy less desktop software and can integrate with internet standard authentication systems. The new Web UI features over 35 capabilities for employee and supervisor users and is growing with each release.
Back Office Performance – Although there are many similarities between the front office (where WFM has seen such success) and the back office, there are also many differences. Enterprises would like to receive the benefits of forecasting, scheduling and tracking in order to optimize back office operations just as is possible in the contact center. However, traditional WFM is an ineffective tool in the back office because back office operations are backlog and deadline-driven, managed in terms of “tasks” that do not abandon, and have completion times measured in hours, days or weeks. Aspect WFM has been enhanced to include key back office workforce planning capabilities including:
- Define your own planning periods to optimally manage work over long periods of time and incorporating backlogs
- In the back office, there are multiple ways to staff to meet deadlines. We give you 5 methods e.g., keeping staffing levels constant and staffing to get work completed right before it is due.
- In the back office, there are also multiple ways to route work to teams. We give you 8 methods including distributing work based on best handle times, most staff available or routing priorities
- View performance toward deadlines with a detailed summary showing the composition of backlogs at any time
These major enhancements to Aspect WFM are a tremendous added benefit for enterprises that want to use their WFM system company-wide.
Multi-Channel Performance – Although voice is still the preferred contact center communication channel, non-voice channel volumes are growing quickly. Traditional WFM systems are not designed to accurately forecast volumes or schedule staff in text-based channels such as chat, SMS, social media and email because the latter channels don’t have the same dynamics as voice interactions which use Erlang models. Solving business problems with multi-channel staff is a new and unique challenge. You need the ability to evaluate changes before disrupting customers. You need the ability to anticipate the effect of a change to the queue, to the customer, and to your agents. In addition, message based communication channels have different drivers of customer satisfaction, and new types of service levels are required to optimize for the best customer experience. Aspect has developed a proprietary way to accurately model the dynamics of non-voice channels in its WFM Multi-Channel Performance module. There’s no other WFM system in today’s market that includes this accurate forecasting capability across customer interaction channels, and as the channel mix continues to move away from voice, this accuracy will become increasingly important.
WFM Alarms – Recently, Aspect has made some significant improvements to its WFM alarm capability. Historically, alarms could be generated when agents’ activity was outside of business norms, but they were transitory in nature. Now alarms can be stored indefinitely, and that gives the supervisor and analyst users the ability to quickly identify issues using graphical representations, reports and powerful analytics. Further, from a central location you can define which alarms you want to store, create different alarms based on configurable rules for each group of employees and view historical or current alarms in the web user interface.
Enablement of WFO Innovations – With the release of WFM 8.1, powerful new agent engagement capabilities were added to WFM through its flexible APIs. These WFO “Innovations” include three important products: (1) Aspect EQ Inform, a rules-based notification engine that automatically contacts employees about voluntary OT, voluntary time off or what-have-you in the employee’s channel of choice during time windows pre-determined by the employee; (2) Aspect EQ Workforce Mobile, an iOS and Android compatible smartphone application that allows employees to easily accomplish most scheduling activities while away from the office; (3) Aspect Mila, a natural language chatbot that enables employees to easily view and change their schedules using plain English in virtually any text-based channel.
Aspect WFM has undergone many other important upgrades too numerous to mention here, but an important point to note is that many customers are migrating from on-premises deployment to hosted/cloud deployment of WFM. At the same time that they are making this transition to the cloud, customers are upgrading to the latest version of WFM, thereby enjoying all the cost and convenience benefits of the cloud as well as the myriad of powerful new features of Aspect WFM. If you are an existing Aspect customer, contact your Account Executive to learn about the sweeping enhancements in recent versions of WFM. If you are not yet part of the Aspect family, call us at 888-547-2481, and ask for a demo.
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