Innovation, Analytics, SaaS and Pricing Enhance WFO Landscape, Giving End Users Better Options and Results
2009 was a surprisingly good year for the WFO market. The quality management/liability recording (WFO) market continued to deliver compelling solutions and results, despite the tough economy. For the first time since the year 2000, the WFO market did not beat its prior year financial performance, yet it still outperformed most other contact center IT segments. Innovation and research and development investment were strong despite the recession.
A number of the WFO competitors had a great year in 2009. Price sensitivity drove some enterprises to consider smaller WFO solution providers, resulting in excellent sales for a couple of the newer competitors who were willing and able to respond with lower prices. But price alone is rarely enough to attract and retain customers. The winning formula for 2009 was a combination of low price and responsiveness to customers’ needs. DMG expects the same two factors to be leading factors in solution selections for enterprises large and small in 2010.
Analytics is Driving Change
A primary trend for contact center innovation in 2009 – analytics – will continue to pick up momentum during 2010. The WFO vendors have played a leading role in delivering analytically-oriented solutions to the contact center market. While the majority of contact centers continue to perform quality assurance the traditional way, a number of companies have started to use analytics to improve the process, output and cost of this essential corporate function. Quality assurance will not be replaced by speech analytics or performance management in the foreseeable future, but it can be greatly enhanced by these high-value applications.
A related theme in the WFO sector is the need to make solutions more actionable. Managers no longer find value in simply knowing that they have operational issues or agents who are not meeting their goals; instead they want to know precisely what the problems are and what actions are recommended to fix them. This means identifying and assigning targeted training or coaching followed by frequent quality assurance evaluations.
Alternative Delivery Models
Contact center managers have been very slow to consider hosted/software-as-as-service (SaaS)-based solutions for their operating environments, except for voice response systems (IVRs). DMG has started to see a shift in this thinking, particularly as managers realize that they are going to have to adapt to change more rapidly than they have in the past. Besides being a way to get upgraded technology with little up-front cost, one of the major advantages of hosted solutions is the speed at which new functionality is made available. A growing number of best-of-breed providers are pushing hosting, because they see it as a strategic advantage for their company. The acceptance of hosting/SaaS became more widespread for contact centers in 2009, and is likely to result in even better solutions coming to market in the near future.
What to Expect in 2010
2010 is expected to be a great year for companies looking to purchase or upgrade their WFO solutions, or just enhance an individual application like surveying or workforce management. This does not mean that prices are going to drop dramatically; but WFO buyers will be seeing a growing number of alternatives. Many end users who held off investments in 2009 are already shopping for new systems. But buyers should not rush their selection. A lot has changed over the past 3 years, and the pace of innovation is increasing. Prospects can now get more for their money, and there is a great deal more functionality available. For instance, companies that concentrated solely on traditional QA in the past should seriously consider investing in a speech analytics-enabled QA application this time around. Enterprises can continue to perform QA the same way they have for the past 25 or 30 years, but why work so hard? The new generation of analytics-enabled QA solutions can do a lot of the “heavy lifting” by automating many traditionally manual tasks, and by collecting and distributing important information much more quickly and efficiently.
To obtain the most current information about leading and contending WFO vendors, products, functionality, technology, ROI, pricing, market share, the PCI standard, trends, challenges, implementations and best practices, see DMG’s 2009 – 2010 Quality Management/Liability Recording (Workforce Optimization) Product and Market Report at www.dmgconsult.com. This 476-page report provides the product information and best practices that will enable contact center managers to select the right solution and rapidly realize the greatest return on their investment.
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Ask the Experts
I am a supervisor, Six Sigma Green Belt and former COPC Registered Coordinator. In my call center we have many items we require our agents to know on the QA form. Some of them are client requirements, travel requirements, efforts to evade costly defects, sales and soft skills. How many requirements can we or should we require of our adult learners? Is there a minimum or a maximum you have found?
Thanks so much for your assistance.
There is no easy answer to your question. All requirements need to be reflected in the quality assurance (QA) form so that you can evaluate how well your agents are meeting them. Of course, there is an art to creating QA evaluation forms. You may decide to include some of your requirements in broader categories, instead of detailing each and every specific one. On the other hand, if failing to meet a requirement can result in a fatal flaw, it needs to be reflected as a discrete evaluation question/requirement. If you have many requirements, you may already have taken this approach.
With regard to your adult learners, they are required to master everything that they are being evaluated on. Most people have limits to what they can remember; the more frequently people use information, the more likely they are to recall it.
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.