From chaos to cohesion — The benefits of Unified Workforce Management for contact centers

Aarati Mankar

April 7, 20235 min read

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In the fast-paced world of customer service, managing a contact center can be a daunting task, especially with the increasing demand for efficient and effective workforce management (WFM)

Nowadays, contact center agents are required to possess cross-skilling abilities and handle multiple channels simultaneously to provide customers with a seamless experience. It involves the use of various tools and technologies to optimize staffing, scheduling, and other operational aspects of the contact center. 

However, using siloed tools to manage different aspects of the workforce can create chaos and stress for contact center managers. 

Moreover, to achieve high levels of efficiency, contact centers must have a deep understanding of customer behavior, including their preferred channels and seasonal patterns. 

In this blog, we'll delve deeper into the benefits of a unified WFM system for contact centers and how it can transform your operations from chaos to cohesion.

Table of Contents

Why do content centers need unified workforce management?

Let's assume that 59% of your customers use phone calls, 12% use WhatsApp, 9% use email, 11% use social media, 6% use SMS and 3% use your brand's proprietary mobile application to reach your customer service centers. With such a diverse range of channels, it is important to understand seasonal patterns for each channel, including annual, monthly, weekly, and daily trends. 

For instance, during seasonal peaks, such as holidays or special events, there may be an increase in phone calls or social media messages, while email volumes may decrease. Understanding these patterns and trends can help contact centers adjust their staffing levels and schedules accordingly to meet the demand.

One of the other significant challenges organizations face is keeping up with the workforce, as a large percentage of employees are from the younger generation, which tends to have high levels of volatility. 

Even before the pandemic, CNBC reported that 70% of the global workforce had already worked remotely at least once a week. With flexible and remote working becoming increasingly prevalent, traditional office-based work is expected to be replaced. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the demand for agile workplaces, making workforce planning more critical than ever. This requires complex scheduling to fulfill new conditions, such as diverse scheduled shifts, accommodating part-time employees, and adhering to business constraints like maximum hours per week, shift rotations and shift combinations.

At the same time, it is crucial to ensure that enough agents are available to meet customer demands without any agents sitting idle for too long, which can lead to lower productivity.

To achieve efficient workforce management, it is necessary to have the appropriate tools that allow accurate forecasting of future case volumes, average handle times (AHT), service level agreements (SLAs) and Occupancies. These predictions should be available at frequent intervals, such as every 30 or 15 minutes. 

Once the case/call volumes are determined, it is important to assess how much manpower is required for each hourly interval, taking into account various metrics other than case volume such as Average Handle Times, Target Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Shrinkage (the percentage of employee availability lost from the scheduled staff) and Occupancy (the percentage of time agents spend on contact handling vs total available time). 

For instance, if agents are available for 8 hours and spend 7 hours in contact handling and related activities, the occupancy rate would be 87.5%.

This is where a unified WFM tool comes into the play, offering a single, integrated solution to manage all aspects of workforce management, including forecasting, scheduling and tracking agent performance across multiple channels. 

The goal of WFM is to ensure that the right number of agents are in place at the right time to handle customer inquiries effectively, all while maximizing efficiency and minimizing costs. 

The workforce management market had a valuation of USD 2.44 billion in 2018, with a projected growth rate of 10.1% CAGR during the forecast period, reaching a market size of USD 5.25 billion by 2026.

Fortune Business Insights

This growth can be attributed to the increasing adoption of cloud-based workforce management solutions, rising demand for optimized workforce utilization, and the need to enhance operational efficiency.

Additionally, the growing trend of remote work and the need for real-time monitoring of the workforce has further fueled the demand for workforce management solutions.

Here are the top 10 benefits you can expect from using a unified WFM system

  • Simplified forecasting and scheduling: Accurately predicting call/case volumes, average handle times and service level agreements (SLAs) is essential for creating schedules that align with expected workloads. A unified workforce management system provides the necessary tools to achieve these goals. By leveraging historical data and advanced algorithms, the system can accurately forecast call/case volumes, determine average handle times and establish SLAs.

    An image showing a trends graph from Sprinklr platform, depicting the volume forecast of tickets by queues

    This, in turn, enables contact centers to create schedules that align with these requirements and ensure optimal agent availability.

    An image from the Sprinklr Platform showing the weekly scheduling of agents

  • Staffing predictions: By leveraging advanced algorithms and historical data, the system can accurately predict future staffing requirements. This allows contact centers to proactively plan their hiring process, ensuring that they have the appropriate number of agents to handle expected workloads. 
    Contact centers can also avoid overstaffing or understaffing with a unified view, leading to improved efficiency and cost savings. Additionally, the system can identify opportunities to cross-train existing agents, enabling greater flexibility and agility in responding to changing customer needs.

    An image from Sprinklr Platform, titled Staffing by Hour and showing the hours when workforce was under or overstaffed

  • Report modifications: Workforce management teams are empowered to make manual adjustments to volume, staffing and schedule predictions with the system, enabling them to quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances like unexpected spikes in call volumes or changes in agent availability. This helps contact centers optimize their operations and maintain high levels of customer service.

  • Flexibility: With a unified WFM solution, team leaders have the flexibility to make bulk edits to shifts, assign or remove agents from days off or leave and modify daily shift activities like breaks, meetings and coaching sessions. This capability allows team leaders to quickly respond to changing demands and optimize workforce efficiency, resulting in improved productivity and customer satisfaction.

  • Real-time monitoring and reporting: A WFM system provides real-time monitoring and reporting of key performance metrics such as occupancy, shrinkage, average handle time and SLAs. The system can generate reports that offer insights into whether agents are adhering to their schedules, taking breaks at the designated times and starting their shifts on time. 
    The reports can also identify if an agent is scheduled for training during a shift and exclude that time from their work schedule. This level of detail can help managers ensure that their agents are working efficiently and within the parameters set by the contact center.

  • Agent management: Managers can effectively manage their workforce using a WFM solution as it equips them with various tools to track and measure agent quality and performance, ensure adherence to schedules, and easily make adjustments to shifts and activities as needed. With these capabilities, managers can optimize their team's productivity in real-time and make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency and enhance the quality of customer service.

    An image from the Sprinklr Platform showing a Product Issue queue, broken down by day and agent

  • Integrations: Integration capability is an important feature of the system, allowing for seamless integration with other critical technologies used in the contact center, including HR systems, brand’s leave management systems, quality management and learning management systems. 
    For example, by integrating with HR systems, the WFM system can access employee data such as work history, skills and certifications, which can be used to make better scheduling decisions. The integration with leave management systems allows for better management of agent time off requests and ensures that the contact center is always adequately staffed.

  • Scalability: The solution is designed to be scalable and able to adapt to changes within the contact center, including the addition of new channels, users and changes to business policies.
    The system can easily scale up or down to meet the changing needs of the contact center, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. This flexibility enables contact centers to quickly respond to changing business requirements and stay ahead of the competition.

  • Mobile support: With mobile support, the WFM solution enables remote and flexible contract agents to access their schedules, request for time off and engage with their supervisors on the go ensuring that their productivity remains uninterrupted while allowing for optimal workforce management.

  • Compliance: Workforce management systems can help businesses stay compliant with local, state, and federal regulations in several ways. These systems can automate and streamline compliance processes, such as time tracking, scheduling, and payroll management, reducing the likelihood of errors or omissions. 

    Additionally, many WFM solutions offer built-in compliance features, such as alerts and notifications for overtime and break violations, helping businesses stay on top of compliance requirements.

In conclusion, a well-implemented WFM software solution can have a significant impact on a contact center's operations, leading to increased efficiency, improved customer experience, better agent management, cost savings, and improved reporting and analytics. As contact centers continue to evolve and customer expectations increase, the use of a WFM solution will become increasingly vital to stay competitive and meet these challenges head-on.

How Sprinklr helps

Sprinklr's Workforce Management solution offers a unified platform that automates and simplifies forecasting, staffing, scheduling, leave management, and analytics for contact centers. The tool's Forecast Modeling feature allows brands to build their own models for each channel and choose from multiple AI algorithms. 

Volume Forecasting enables the prediction of case volumes, AHTs, and SLAs, while the Staffing module calculates required staffing and optimizes reports. Scheduling auto-generates agent schedules while respecting business policies and national regulations. 

The Leave Management module lets agents apply for time off, which supervisors can approve or reject. Finally, WFM Analytics provides insights to ensure agents are in harmony with their contract agreements. Overall, Sprinklr Workforce Management improves efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction by ensuring targets are met and costs are saved.

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