Best Practices for Workforce Management in the Contact Center


What is the No. 1 goal for any contact center manager in any industry? To provide world-class service. This is an invariable response that beckons subsequent questions related to the what, how and why of workforce management in contact center environments.

In any capacity, proper workforce management is the driving factor behind great service. It is a term used to encompass initiatives related to the setup, planning, monitoring and analysis of contact center staffing and operations. At a more granular level, it includes forecasting, strategic scheduling and real-time management of contact center performance. Few would argue that operational agility and productivity are attainable without these measures in place. And depending on the size and complexity of the contact center, workforce management software may or may not be necessary to help get the ball rolling on these initiatives.

Define Your Identity

So, how does one ensure that its company’s contact center operations are top notch and providing world-class service? First, consider these four questions:

  1. What are your primary goals?
  2. Do you have sufficient resources?
  3. How are your resources divided?
  4. Does everyone on your team know their role?

Answers to these questions will help define a contact center’s identity and provide a foundation from which to implement solid workforce management. Be on the lookout for indicators of understaffing and poor strength pairing, as both are detrimental to contact center effectiveness. Long hold times resulting from understaffing can create member frustration and employee burn out, both of which lead to poor service. Likewise, it is crucial to ensure employees are paired to the call-level complexity that matches their training and experience.

Take time to observe what is going on in the contact center. Are the highest-trained employees taking low complexity calls and newer, less experienced team members tackling more complex member inquiries? Assess the teams’ skill set from an objective and honest perspective and adjust accordingly to increase service levels and productivity.

In examining resources, be sure to overschedule for peak volume times of the day. Aligning resources with the greatest points of risk shows employees’ wellbeing is valued just as much as member satisfaction.   

As you begin to map out a plan for improved workforce management, there will be many opportunities for goal setting. It is very important, however, to plan around current trends and the reality of the existing environment – not who or what you aspire to be. Begin by reviewing previous performance and share both the challenges and wins with team members prior to setting new goals. Encourage open discussion on ways to improve and listen to feedback provided by the very people responsible for answering the phones.

In moving forward with an improved plan for workforce management, be sure the team is keeping a watchful eye on the following key metrics, as doing so will help them achieve service goals:

  1. Average handle time – The time it takes to service a call from when it first gets answered until the agent is available to answer the next call
  2. Forecasted volume – The process a contact center goes through to define the resources needed to handle expected contact volume
  3. Adherence/compliance – The percentage of time agents adhere to their scheduled breaks, lunches and approved “off” phone time
  4. Occupancy – The percentage of time agents actually spend handling incoming calls against the available or idle time, which is determined by dividing workload hours by staff hours
  5. Utilization – The percentage of time agents are on a call divided by the total paid time

Evaluate Goals and Establish Next Steps

Once it has come time to analyze performance, identify the primary factors that helped achieve goals or those that contributed to setbacks. It will be important to quantify those factors – not just list them – and adjust your existing plan going forward.

As mentioned, communicate successes and opportunities for improvement with key agents and team members and engage them in any discussions pertaining to future goals. Part of effective workforce management is being a great “partner” to agents and other departments within the organization. This means exhibiting expertise by providing reporting and real-time analysis to those who may otherwise lack visibility into day-to-day operations yet benefit from having a holistic overview of the components that comprise your credit union’s service deliverability.

By following these steps, a credit union’s contact center can provide the world-class service members have come to know and expect from their trusted banking partner.

Randy Kahlich joined PSCU in 2014 and is responsible for support functions within the contact center including workforce management, quality assurance, member experience, contact center analysis, back office and vendor management. Randy has 20 years of experience in the contact center industry and has held leadership positions in workforce management, operations management and project management.

Jason Scott is a workforce management professional with more than 10 years’ experience in both the contact center and credit union industry. He is a specialist in forecasting, finance and long-term planning.

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