Scheduling Resources Through Communication and Collaboration


Scheduling Contact Center Resources Through Communication and Collaboration
Illustration by Gina Park

As the primary architect for Community WFM, I’m always looking for ways to innovate our workforce management solution. Sometimes the opportunity to innovate is staring us right in the face. We all know our industry is in a state of constant change; customer demographics are changing, customers’ expectations are increasing, and more than ever, customers want to communicate through modern channels like mobile devices, web chat and SMS text messaging. It should be no surprise then that our next-generation workforce would expect the same convenience and flexibility when communicating with their workforce and management teams.

Today, in the world of customer support, ensuring success means making omnichannel two-way communication and collaboration foundational in every contact center. Below, I’ve highlighted a few data points that illustrate why communication and collaboration are key to optimizing your customer experience:

Startling Industry Statistics

  1. 23% of U.S. consumers say their expectations of customer service are higher than a year ago. (Accenture’s 2018 Global Consumer Pulse)
  2. 74% of U.S. customers experience longer than expected wait times. (Northridge Group, State of Customer Service Experience 2017)
  3. Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain, on average, 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. (Aberdeen Group)
  4. 57% of inbound calls came from customers who went to the website first. (Harvard Business Review)
  5. 46% of customers prefer to talk to customer service on the phone about complicated issues. (American Express)
  6. Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. (Google)
  7. The percentage of chat and messaging support interactions is expected to grow by 10% in the next year. (Deloitte)

What Is the Right Approach?

As you can see, interacting with customers across their channel preference is critical to ensuring an optimal customer experience. However, communicating internally is equally as important to ensure agents are properly trained and staffed across all channels to meet the ever-changing customer demands.

From a workforce management perspective, constant communications with agents and supervisors is critical to meeting service levels, optimizing staffing schedules and minimizing labor costs.

The Community WFM communications platform was designed so that everyone is connected, and that everyone is updated as schedule changes occur. Community natively connects agents, supervisors and analysts so they can interact across five different channels including desktop pop-ups, internal memos, email notifications, SMS/text messaging and an agent mobile application. Instead of having the WFM analyst dictate staffing schedules, agents are involved in the process, giving them input into critical scheduling decisions.

Through any of these options, supervisors and schedulers can:

  • Send ad hoc information and notifications to a specific group or individual.
  • Send reminders about upcoming schedule events.
  • Solicit agents for opt-in shift adjustments.
  • Notify agents of schedule changes and processed requests.

Let’s face it, the new generation of workers have grown up using cell phones from an early age. So why not communicate with agents how they prefer? Community Everywhere™ empowers on-the-go agents by providing unmatched visibility and transparency. Whether employees are in the office, working at home or on the road, using the mobile app they can:

  • View their schedules
  • “Call-in” sick
  • Receive notifications and accept or decline offers for schedule over- and under-time
  • View adherence KPIs
  • Notify analyst and supervisors of unplanned late arrival
  • Request time off

Recently, a new prospect asked me if agents are using the mobile app to request a schedule change while sitting at their desk. We don’t see that often because agents are typically logged into the Community agent portal; although they would probably prefer to use their mobile device. Regardless, scheduling resources using communication and collaboration is here to stay. Workforce analysts now have the flexibility to communicate with agents whenever and wherever they may be. That is why, as architect of our platform, I remain committed to having collaboration as a fundamental tenant of Community software. Communication of an effective plan is as important to the WFM cycle as forecasting, scheduling and intraday management.

Download the complimentary white paper (PDF).

Todd Cotharin was one of the original founders of The Workforce Management Software Group, Inc. (WFMSG) in 2005. Prior to WFMSG, Todd worked for Cybernetics Systems and held the position of Director of Customer Service. He also managed multiple contact centers for Citibank. Todd has both designed and influenced a number of workforce management solutions and is a widely recognized industry thought leader.