Are Your Contact Centre Agents Sticking to Their Schedules? Asks Tom Tritten WFO Solution Architect at Genesys
Many contact centre operations I have visited face two workforce planning challenges: First, they must ensure that interactions are routed to the right person—at the right time. And second, they must make certain that contact centre agents work on their assigned activities – also at the right time.
In many companies, contact centre operations teams spend a lot of time defining routing strategies and ensuring that the distribution of calls, email, and chat interactions, and more, drives operational efficiency while offering a good customer experience. But there are three key factors that companies must understand:
Solutions that route customer interactions—calls, email, chat sessions—are not new. Regardless of the interaction distribution method you use, they all have two things in common: They are two dimensional and they are reactive.
No matter how sophisticated your existing targeting logic is, or whether you use skills-based routing or old-fashioned queues, final targeting stages share the same problem: They are two dimensional. When it is time to find an individual to send an interaction to, the routing engine searches for someone who can handle the interaction, i.e., the person must have the right skills or be logged into a certain queue. The engine also searches for someone who is available, i.e., in a “Ready” or “Wait for next call” state.
Traditional routing and automatic call distribution logic is reactive. Routing decisions are made based on what was or what is. This could include certain statistical thresholds that must be met by a certain point in time or groups that someone has added an agent to either via skills, queues, or some other method. Everything that is used to determine the proper target is described either in the past or present tense.
At the same time, workforce planners spend days or weeks forecasting needs to avoid overstaffing and understaffing, and to build a schedule that respects labour laws, personal employee preferences, and delivers on your service-level objectives and budget constraints. However, often these two processes work in complete isolation of one another.
What if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could route all your customer interactions based on the actual workforce schedule itself? Today, you can use a concept called workforce routing to do this.
Let’s take a closer look at a few key points to keep in mind when using workforce routing, as well as how to see its full benefits.
Make smarter routing decisions. Workforce routing enables you to make more intelligent routing decisions. For example, you might want to know if the target is optimal. Yes, an agent can do the work—they have the skills—and they are available to do the work—they are in a ready state. But should they do this work?
Genesys Workforce Optimization solution enables the targeting logic to incorporate an agent’s future state, according to their schedule. This allows you to only send interactions to agents who are actually scheduled to do certain types of work. Now you can send interactions only to agents who will be available long enough to complete this type of work—without being forced out of compliance with their schedule because of a future change, such as a meal, a meeting, or the end of their shift.
Get selective. Pre-plan schedule activity changes to eliminate the need to update routing skills in the moment.. With workforce routing, you can define exactly which activity the employee should do at any point of time. For example, if you want a resource to work on email in the morning, sales calls during lunch, and then wrap up with some service calls in the afternoon, you can pre-schedule these times. When the time comes, the routing environment automatically updates to reflect this.
Keep agents compliant to their schedules. All day long, agents forced out of compliance with their schedules because the routing engine in use has no idea that they will go on break, take a lunch, or attend a meeting in five minutes. Workforce routing allows the targeting logic to work with schedule optimizations; it only calls on target agents who are scheduled as available when the time comes to complete the interaction.
Eliminate manual skill changes. Workforce routing helps to improve intraday rescheduling. This is when an individual recognizes some undesirable event taking place and manually changes one or more agents’ skills to alter how the routing engine distributes interactions. It also provides an optimal alternative to this unnecessary process.
Altering the workforce management schedule to show which task you want an agent to perform, as well as the specific time this alteration should take effect, will have the same impact as changing an agent’s skills—without any negative consequences. Eliminating those daily skill changes can save a great deal of time and prevent misrouted interactions because of faulty skill changes.
Routing logic and workforce schedules should have a symbiotic relationship; workforce routing helps to improve schedule adherence, reduce manual skill changes, and ensure that agents work on the right activity—at the right time. Workforce routing also increases agent engagement, allowing employees to take breaks, end their shifts, or partake in other offline activities automatically.
Thomas Tritten is WFO Solution Architect at Genesys. He has been with Genesys for over 20 years and has been working in the Workforce Optimization/Employee Engagement space since 1994. Tom’s career spans over 30 years in the contact centre industry.
(He must be really passionate about contact centres!)