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Innovation Drives WFO Adoption
The workforce optimization (WFO) market has always been unique as a technology sector, due to the innovativeness of some of its vendors. Components of WFO suites are mature, but continue to evolve, and new capabilities are continuously introduced into the market. Recording, for example, a 35+-year-old IT sector, continues to undergo change, now moving in the direction of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based recording, called SIPRec. Analytics is being injected into the quality assurance (QA) process, giving companies access to information they have always wanted and needed. Back-office WFO is an emerging suite of capabilities, still in its infancy, which has the potential to deliver on the unfulfilled promises of business process management (BPM). Automatic call distributor (ACD) vendors are entering the turf of their WFO partners, at the request of their enterprise customers who want to simplify their operating environments by reducing the number of vendors and integrations they have to manage. And WFO vendors have started to get into the contact center customer relationship management (CRM) market. The classic components of the WFO market are mature, but WFO vendors remain innovative and are expected to continue to make investments and acquisitions that will keep them highly relevant for years to come.
Analytics will be Part of your Future
Analytics will play an essential role in the future of contact center QA, an essential business activity that gives companies visibility into customer insights and needs. In the new generation of analytics-enabled QA applications, speech and text analytics are used to review customer calls and written communications (emails, chat sessions, SMS, social media conversations, etc.) in order to identify the interactions that require management attention. Identified issues still need to be reviewed by a QA specialist or supervisor in order to screen out false positives where a phrase or sentence is mistakenly categorized as an issue, when in fact, it is not. Once an issue is confirmed, the reviewer must decide what corrective action to take, as the purpose of a QA application is to improve agent performance, not simply to identify mistakes.
Although analytics cannot currently automate the entire process, it enables companies to review most customer interactions, instead of just QA’ing 3 to 10 calls (1% to 3% of all agent interactions) per month. It’s time for companies to migrate from traditional and outdated QA systems and processes to an approach that is enabled by technology.
According to recent DMG Consulting research, there are three times as many back-office workers as front-office (contact center and customer service) employees. Companies need to optimize the performance of their back-office and branch resources, and nothing they have tried to date has done the job. Back-office WFO solutions – a work distribution and allocation solution supported by workforce management, performance management and quality control – have the potential to help these people-intensive organizations reduce their operating costs by 20% to 40% while dramatically improving quality and reducing re-work. Innovative companies have started to invest in these back-office WFO suites, even though they are still in their infancy. The current back-office WFO solutions are on the right track, and their providers are investing in making them easier to deploy and use. DMG expects this to happen in the next 2 to 4 years, but the pace of innovation will be sped up by end-user demand.
Contact Center Infrastructure Vendors Challenge the Status Quo
The status quo of the WFO market is changing as more contact center infrastructure vendors, also known as ACD providers, come to market with their own WFO offerings. Many companies are making it clear that they want to purchase recording and other WFO applications directly from their ACD vendor in order to eliminate the need for integrations and reduce the number of vendors they need to interact with. However, the WFO suite vendors are not sitting passively on the sidelines; they are continuing to invest in research and development (R&D) to keep their customers loyal and engaged.
The WFO market continues to be one of the most innovative in the contact center market. WFO suite vendors are investing to deliver new capabilities and contact center infrastructure vendors are fighting to capture a growing percentage of WFO sales. The market is “hot.” The winners are end users who are the beneficiaries of the investments and innovation in this dynamic market. This trend is expected to continue as long as end users continue to invest in their future. So if you need something you don’t see, ask for it!
Ask the Experts
I have heard about a new KPI called measuring the customer journey. What is it and how do I do it?
Companies have been trying to capture a holistic view of their customers’ behavior, needs, wants, preferences, etc. for years. In fact, this was a primary goal of the customer relationship management (CRM) movement in the 1990’s. Customer experience management, which followed the CRM era, was dedicated to improving customer perception, which of course assumed that a company had a means to measure it, and most did not.
With recent innovations and improvements in analytics, mobile computing, the Web, and even areas as mundane as storage and computing, companies now have better and faster visibility into customer activities in many channels. While most companies cannot yet capture and evaluate all customer activities and behaviors in all channels, and fewer can bring this data together in a single repository that allows them to analyze it and accurately predict the future, the market is moving in the right direction. Privacy issues aside, there is a tremendous amount of information available about consumers that can be leveraged by companies who are willing to make the investment.
Consumers are going to continue to call and interact with people in stores and branches, even as they adopt alternative channels. People will continue to use touch-tone and speech-enabled interactive voice response systems (IVRs) to quickly obtain information and transact business. In the future, they are going to be able to give voice commands to all types of devices, and all of this information needs to be collected and analyzed as part of each customer’s journey. Innovative companies will add additional servicing channels while continuing to support the established ones.
For the first time, companies have much of the information they need to evaluate the customer journey. This data is coming from voice-related channels (sales, agents, IVR, stores, branches, etc), as well as the Web, chat, SMS, mobile and social media. Once companies figure out what to collect and how to consolidate and analyze this data on a timely basis, they will be able to improve the customer experience.
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.