By Santosh Joy, Head of Operations North America at ActiveOps
Back in May, I was privileged to attend the annual conference of the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) in Nashville, Tennessee. There was a great agenda covering almost every aspect of contact center operations – and as second-time attendees, the team from ActiveOps spent a lot of time listening to contact center operations leaders talk about their challenges and how they’re trying to solve them.
SANTOSH JOY (CENTER RIGHT) WITH THE ACTIVEOPS TEAM AT THE SWPP ANNUAL CONFERENCE
In this article, I wanted to share three themes that came out of those conversations – and a little bit about how ActiveOps is uniquely positioned to help contact centers and their back-office operations to overcome the challenges facing them.
One of the biggest topics at SWPP this year was how workforce planners need to see beyond the call center and into the operations that surround it. After all, the work that takes place in the call center influences and is influenced by what happens in the back office – so being able to see a complete view of productivity and capacity across the business is essential for joined-up decision making.
Managing back office and call center functions in the same way and as a single unit allows businesses to achieve greater productivity while easing the pressure on employees across the business – welcome news to managers of burned-out call center employees. A single view of capacity can facilitate lending and borrowing of resources between teams, levelling out peaks and troughs and improving employee engagement in one stroke. Managing productivity in the call center in a similar way to the back office also unlocks new insights that managers can use to support their teams – for instance, if they can see that a team member is spending a lot of time in training applications or in applications that aren’t necessary for the task at hand, it might indicate a need for training which could improve productivity.
With a two-decade history helping complex back-office organizations improve productivity and reduce burnout in the back office, ActiveOps is uniquely positioned to help contact center operations leaders get the data and analysis that they need. One of our customers presented at SWPP, describing how they gained deep insights into how their employees were spending their time that helped them boost performance and decrease the “time to competence” for new employees.
When managers first started leading remote teams, a lack of information about their teams’ activity was a major challenge. Our conversations with call center leaders at SWPP made it clear that a new challenge has arisen – too much data, and no way to sort through it all.
In an ideal world, managers would move past analyzing data altogether, using software to gather, collate, and analyze productivity and capacity data. Combined with the right methodology for how you apply that data to your team’s activities, what we’re talking about is the professionalization of ops management. It would get managers back to leading their teams, rather than racing to understand what their teams are up to (or rather, were up to yesterday) – and it would also improve planning and forecasting, leading to more effective resourcing and potentially reducing the costs of overtime or outsourcing.
The presentation our customer gave at SWPP showed how our WorkiQ software can add a rich layer of insight on top of existing contact center systems, instantly giving managers insights that answer questions about employee activity and suggest actions they might otherwise not have decided to take to improve performance.
If you’re reading this and feeling daunted at the road ahead of you, don’t worry – the smallest of changes can have a huge impact as they scale up through your operations.
To work through an example: let’s say that, with the additional insights you gain into what your teams are doing and how they’re working, you manage to reduce after call work by 3 seconds per call. Assuming an agent manages 40 calls a day, that’s 120 seconds saved per person, per day. If, for the sake of argument, you have 500 agents working in your contact center, that’s 60,000 seconds, or 16.67 hours, saved each day. What would you do with those additional hours?
- The team could answer more calls, improving your average speed of answer and abandonment rate.
- At the same time, the team will have the freedom to spend longer on calls if they need to, improving your grade of service scores.
- Additional training could be provided, improving employee engagement by helping them grow professionally, and improving metrics across the board.
- Team members will be under less pressure, helping them feel less stressed and potentially reduce staff attrition.
Of course, that’s just an example of reducing After Call Work (ACW). If the training you gave your employees helped them save three seconds of hold time per call, you’d unlock an additional 16.67 hours of capacity each day. Every second saved, as you can see, really does add up.
The key to achieving this scale of result is to empower your managers and team members – not just with software, but with an approach to operations that makes the most of that software. At ActiveOps we created the Active Operations Management methodology to do just that – it helps team members, team leaders, and senior management understand the role of our software, and how to use it to its fullest advantage. It further professionalizes operations management as a discipline, and by encouraging a uniform approach across your organization you can achieve the maximum benefits to productivity, customer satisfaction, and employee wellbeing.