Customer expectations are on the rise, and customer service is evolving to meet them. Under such conditions, call centers are at the front lines, tackling queries around the clock. Support agents are faced with an increasingly demanding environment. Call center workforce management (WFM) is crucial for keeping teams agile, motivated, and efficient.
However, the challenges are multifaceted. With employee attrition in care and support roles soaring to 87.6%, call center workforce managers must navigate choppy waters. They need to handle high agent burnout rates and health-related concerns. On the flip side, about 49% of call centers now prioritize employee satisfaction as a top KPI.
Call center workforce management serves as a strategic compass in this scenario. It empowers call centers to manage their workforce efficiently. Effective workforce management in call centers also fosters a supportive environment. This increases agent happiness and productivity, which is instrumental in improving customer service.
This article discusses the importance of effective call center workforce management. We’ll explain how it can optimize your support team performance. You’ll acquire a deeper understanding of manager responsibilities. We’ll also share the best WFM practices in light of the evolving challenges and opportunities in this sector.
Workforce management in a call center is an integrated set of procedures optimizing agent performance. It also helps enhance operational efficiency and customer service. The workforce management process aims at:
With the growing complexity of call center operations, efficient WFM is essential, as it helps reduce costs and lower employee turnover.
Effective workforce management in a call center brings multiple advantages.
Managing a call center workforce is taxing. It has to cater to the persistent demands for quick customer support. It also has to handle the intricate dynamics between managers and agents. Several challenges come to the forefront.
WFM aims at balancing the needs of both the business and its employees. Here’s a closer look at the essential responsibilities involved.
This process involves predicting the volume of incoming customer interactions for various intervals. It can refer to periods like days or weeks.
WFM teams use a mix of historical data, expert knowledge, and forecasting software. The ultimate goal is to identify patterns and trends.
Based on forecasted demand, WFM teams devise optimal agent schedules. These align the right number of agents with the necessary skills for shifts that match expected call volumes.
Agent scheduling aims at ensuring the right number of agents are available to handle the predicted volume. It balances service levels, cost efficiency, and employee satisfaction.
Upon preparing the schedules, the WFM team assigns them to agents.
Striking a balance between agent preferences and the business’s operational rules ensures that the right agent is available for the right task.
Real-time events can disrupt planned schedules. Unexpected spikes in call volume or agent absenteeism are among these occurrences.
Intraday management involves dynamically adjusting to such changes to ensure consistent service levels.
Call centers monitor key metrics to assess agent performance. These insights guide training and feedback, fostering continuous performance improvement. Operation managers or WFM analysts commonly assess metrics like the ones below.
Identifying deviations in these metrics allows for targeted feedback and potential additional training for agents.
Continuous agent training is essential for equipping agents with the latest skills and knowledge.
Up-to-date agent training ensures that they can efficiently handle the varying nature of customer interactions.
As part of call center management, the call center workforce manager role is pivotal. They drive optimal productivity within a multi-site, multi-skilled 24×7 call center setup.
This role centralizes forecasting, scheduling, and intraday performance management. The ultimate purpose is to ensure the seamless handling of inbound and outbound communications. This requires a deep understanding of call center operations and emerging industry trends.
Let’s summarize visually the key responsibilities, skills, and competencies of a call center workforce manager.
Here are the best practices and essential tips to optimize your workforce management and drive outstanding results.
Keeping your call center WFM operations compliant with all labor laws helps avoid legal repercussions. It also promotes a fair work environment where employees feel protected.
Stay updated on local and international labor laws and regulations, such as:
📜 Pro tip: Always consider employee rights when making workforce management-related decisions. Compliance audits should be conducted regularly.
Effective agent hiring is essential for getting the right candidates into your team. Ensuring a seamless onboarding process reduces ramp-up time and boosts productivity.
Take the following steps to streamline the hiring and onboarding processes:
Update hiring checklists and training materials to reflect current needs.
🚫 Pro tip: Never rush the hiring and onboarding processes.
Maintaining effective communication between call center teams ensures alignment. This strategy also helps address agents’ concerns in real time. It creates a sense of belonging and encourages cooperation. The collaboration across roles and departments enhances the holistic functionality of the call center.
Implement the following strategies to foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration in your call center:
Incorporate tools that allow you to connect with your team on various channels so that no one is left behind. Team collaboration tools feature file sharing and easy access to all updates and documentation. Such functionalities will empower your call center workforce to perform more efficiently. It will also eliminate any gaps in communication.
📣 Pro tip: Always consider agents’ input to ensure a frequent and consistent communication flow.
Utilizing forecasts ensures optimal staff alignment with expected interaction volumes. Forecasting data also helps design and optimize call center shifts. This results in correct workforce distribution, ensuring consistent service delivery.
Regularly update schedules based on refined forecasts. Also, consider peak hours and adjust shifts accordingly.
Use analytics and forecasting tools like an Erlang call center staffing calculator to determine optimal staffing levels. Note that advanced customer service platforms like Touchpoint can offer an efficiency reporting feature providing valuable insights into your call center team performance.
🌦️ Pro tip: Be flexible when scheduling agent shifts. You’re in an extremely unpredictable line of work.
Matching agent skills and preferences with business needs boosts morale and reduces attrition.
The following tips will help you streamline task distribution in your team:
🧑🏻🎓 Pro tip: Consider skills and performance and never rely solely on seniority for assignments.
Real-time adjustments ensure service levels are maintained despite unexpected challenges. Preparing for abrupt fluctuations in interaction demands or agent availability enhances flexibility and responsiveness in unpredictable situations.
Use real-time analytics to monitor and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Consider unexpected factors like sudden call volume spikes and maintain an emergency response plan. To keep it efficient, test and update it regularly.
⚡️ Pro tip: Be swift when acting upon real-time changes and never disregard minor issues, as they can escalate.
Happy agents perform better and stay longer, which is an important consideration, given the tremendous cost of agent replacement.
Promote work-life balance and mental well-being. Recognize and reward outstanding performance.
🤕 Pro tip: Treat signs of burnout or dissatisfaction seriously. A one-size-fits-all approach to agent needs should be avoided at all costs.
A self-service portal empowers agents to place inquiries and take action independently. They can also obtain the necessary information when they need it. This reduces administrative overhead and ensures timely responses.
The tips below will help you make the most of an employee self-service portal:
🛡️ Pro tip: Ensure airtight self-service portal security.
Continuous learning equips agents with new skills, adapting to the evolving needs of the call center industry.
Offer regular training sessions and workshops. Encourage feedback and idea sharing.
Analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs) offer insights into a call center’s workforce effectiveness and areas needing improvement. These metrics let workforce management stay in line with the current industry trends and processes.
Regularly review crucial KPIs like:
Harness these metrics for refined workforce performance management decisions. Adjust strategies based on analytical insights.
📊 Pro tip: Set realistic KPI targets by considering consistent deviations. Your decisions should be data-driven and never rely solely on intuition.
Sharing success stories inspires the team and showcases the value of workforce management.
Celebrate milestones and achievements. Communicate the positive impact of workforce management on the business.
🏆 Pro tip: Reward valuable business contributors and highlight their successes.
Modern technology solutions, from artificial intelligence to predictive analytics, can refine certain aspects of WFM. Scheduling regular upgrades and updates of your tech stack keeps the WFM process aligned with the latest technological advancements.
Adopt the following strategies to fully benefit from the available WFM solutions:
🚫 Pro tip: Avoid assuming everyone understands new tools without training.
In the complex and dynamic call center environment, the role of workforce management software cannot be overstated. Advanced feature-rich customer service platforms like Touchpoint offer powerful tools to streamline:
As call centers strive to meet the ever-increasing expectations of both clients and their staff, adopting robust workforce management solutions becomes indispensable. Therefore, for call centers aiming for outstanding performance and sustainable growth, investing in the right workforce management software is key.
Looking to boost agent satisfaction and productivity through exceptional call center workforce management? See how Touchpoint can help you achieve that goal.
Iustina is a curious copywriter with an analytical mind and a demonstrated history in the advertising industry. She likes mixing words with data and is passionate about human behavior. When she's not at her work desk, you'll probably find her enjoying refreshing tea flavors, spilling stories on paper, or binge-watching true-crime documentaries.
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