WFM in the Multi-Channel Contact Center
Each quarter, the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) surveys the workforce planning community on critical workforce planning topics. Last spring, over 200 call center professionals representing a wide variety of industries participated in a survey on multi-channel workforce management processes.
There was a lot of interesting information to be found in these survey results. Many workforce management teams have been asked to forecast and schedule for channels other than phone calls in the past year. And the channels in our centers just keep multiplying. In this survey, eighty-five percent of the respondents have e-mail contacts in their organization, while 69% have outbound calling. Sixty-two percent process regular mail, and 61% process faxes. Thirty-seven percent have web chat contacts, while 23% have contacts from Facebook and 15% have contacts through Twitter. Only 1% have no other channels besides phone calls.
But interestingly enough, the phone call is still king! Forty-nine percent of the participants received less than 10% of contacts through non-phone channels. And when asked what the favored channel is in their organization, 68% said phone calls. However, almost half (49%) of the participants said that the percentage of non-phone contacts has increased as other channels have opened in the organization.
Another phenomenon that has resurfaced due to the increase in contact channels is the notion of the “universal agent.” Several years ago, the trend was towards having one agent that could answer any type of call or work in other channels such as e-mail or outbound calling. After not much success, the pendulum swung back away from this. However, more than half of the survey respondents (54%) said that the same agents now answer phone calls and service other channels. But in a strict departure from this statistic, eighty-three percent said that call center agents do not respond to social media channels.
Today’s workforce management software is adapting quickly to the new push to forecast and schedule non-phone contacts, but over half (53%) said that forecasting is done manually for other channels, while 43% of the respondents schedule manually.
Workforce management is definitely being asked to expand their efforts beyond the call center and phone calls. At a recent conference, I asked about 100 workforce management professionals for a show of hands of how many had been asked to forecast and schedule for non-phone contacts. Almost everyone raised their hand. However, when I asked how many would have raised their hands just one year ago, only five people responded. Now, we just need to work out the WFM processes for non-phone contacts!