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NewGen WFM to the Rescue!

I’d like to engage your imagination. Picture a world where people, including Millennials, want to work in a contact center because of its flexible hours and variety of work. A world where employees select their schedule and have the ability to change it when there is a need. This may sound highly improbable or even impossible, given the way contact centers are run today, but it’s an idea whose time has come. If Uber, Lyft and Sidecar can match demand with service providers in real time, then so can contact centers.

Contact Centers Have to Change

Contact centers cannot keep treating their employees like they always have: as expendable resources whose sole purpose is to satisfy the needs of the organization. This approach didn’t work in the past, and it’s not going to work in the future. If you continue to use the same staffing approaches that have been employed by contact centers for the past 35 years, practices that try to force employees to work when they don’t want to and to do tasks that they’d prefer not to, your already high agent attrition rate is going to be even higher, and the staffing cost will be overwhelming. Millennials and future generations of workers are not going to tolerate staffing practices with one-sided benefits. Future generations of employees will be happy to work, as long as they have some control over their schedule choices. NewGen workforce management (WFM), which prioritizes employee needs while using salary differentials to motivate workers to fill undesirable or high-demand shifts, is the way of the future.

How NewGen WFM Works

With NewGen WFM, companies will forecast their workloads, just as they do today. They’ll determine the number of resources they need to address each type of work. The needs will be identified for increments as small as 5 minutes in the US and 1 minute in countries where this is already a requirement. The artificial concept of a fixed shift will disappear. Agents will bid on work schedules but will not be forced to work when they do not want to. When companies have a mismatch, they will use pay differentials to convince employees to fill time slots. The concepts of forced overtime and “voluntary” time off (which isn’t always the case) will go away.

These are the basics of the NewGen WFM concept, but it gets even better. The reality is that forecasting software is often inaccurate, and unexpected events may occur. Demand may be higher than predicted or there could be a shortage of resources. As a result, contact centers may be over- or under-staffed, both of which are very costly for organizations. Intra-day management software will be a key component of NewGen WFM solutions. These essential modules will identify and address the variances from schedule, automating the process of handling the required changes in real time. They will use mobile-enabled self-service capabilities to allow agents to self-manage. The entire dynamic of the contact center will change for the better.

Final Thoughts

The “gig” economy may not be perfect, but it’s an alternative to the status quo. Changing market dynamics are forcing organizations to rethink many of their established practices. In the case of contact center workers, it has to get better, as WFM solutions with real-time adherence modules and zero exception tolerance policies have to go. Now all we have to do is find a few vendors who are willing to build these NewGen WFM solutions. But once these new solutions are developed and contact centers have alternatives to the failed WFM experiment, companies won’t look back, and neither will their employees.

For a more detailed explanation of DMG’s NewGen WFM concept, please see the white paper NewGen WFM: The Future of Contact Center Forecasting and Scheduling.

Ask the Experts

I’ve heard there’s some confusion about an order the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released concerning automatic dialers calling cell phones. What’s the issue?

On July 10, 2015, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) in response to 21 petitions for TCPA clarification. While the order was intended to clarify several issues regarding the use of dialers, it has resulted in greater confusion for companies that sell and use dialing solutions. One area addressed in the order concerns the use of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to place calls to cell phones… Read More

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DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.