WFM for the Digital Age
Digital transformation is an essential direction for enterprises that are striving to deliver an outstanding customer experience cost effectively. A growing number of companies are recognizing the need to change the way they do business if they want to remain relevant to their customers. Many of these companies are not exactly sure what they need to do, but appreciate that the “old” way of conducting business is becoming less effective with each passing day, and even worse, it’s too expensive. While the term “digital transformation” takes into account the growing importance of digital channels – email, chat, co-browse, SMS, social media and video – this is only a small piece of what people are referring to. Contact centers are going to play an essential role in the digital transformation of most companies.
Enterprises that want to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations for excellent support must transform most departments and activities, including their service and sales organizations. It’s past time for companies to transition from multi-channel contact centers to omni-channel environments. In multi-channel contact centers, every channel has its own group of agents (i.e., each channel is essentially handled as a “silo.”) In these environments, agents typically have a view only into the channel they support. In an omni-channel contact center, the handling of all channels is centralized and agents have a comprehensive view of customers’ experiences throughout all channels, even if they are trained to provide support in only one or two of them. In these environments, companies have a consolidated system for receiving, queuing and routing all types of interactions. Because transaction handling is centralized, standardized rules can be developed and applied for handling interactions and communications across many channels. This approach enables an organization to better manage a customer’s journey.
Surprisingly, contact centers are ahead of the game when it comes to digital transformation, at least in terms of the concepts, if not the practices. Contact centers have been talking about omni-channel environments for more than 5 years (and multi-channel environments for the previous 15 years). Best practices are starting to emerge to help contact centers make the necessary changes in operations, people and technology to position them to support communications in a digital world. An essential element of this challenge is to view experiences from the perspective of customers and prospects, something that companies have failed to do for generations.
Companies who are operating omni-channel servicing environments need solutions to help them deliver a consistently outstanding level of service, regardless of the medium. Omni-channel WFM solutions are going to play an important role in the digital economy, as they are intended to help companies match agents to customer needs, cost effectively. Omni-channel WFM is about more than ensuring that at any given time, a sufficient number of agents are ready to handle the volume of incoming or outgoing interactions. The new generation of WFM solutions must take it to the next level by making sure that the right number of resources, with the right skills and right personality, are available to deliver an outstanding customer experience. This is a significantly bigger challenge than WFM solutions have addressed in the past, but it is a necessity for companies that want to provide a differentiated and personalized experience, which is one of the top servicing goals for the next 5 years.
WFM solutions need to transform so that they can help companies achieve their goals. Assigning agents to handle channels in fixed blocks of time is not an optimal approach. Contact centers need multi-skilled agents who can comfortably move from one channel to another, and their WFM solution must pave the way. As companies struggle to break down boundaries they have spent many years building, WFM is becoming more essential than ever. An effective WFM solution must address complex omni-channel staffing requirements and in doing so, it will improve the customer journey and increase company productivity.
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.