By Spencer O’Leary, Regional Managing Director North America at ActiveOps
Integrating front and back-office resources to improve customer experience and operational efficiency
Traditional organizational structures mean that operations leaders usually have a specific remit – you manage the front office or the back office. In isolation, ops leaders can optimize their department, but it still creates sub-optimal outcomes for an organization’s overall operational efficiency given the inherent latency that is built in whenever you segment pools of workers into smaller groups. This approach can deliver great service but sometimes too much capacity is left on the table.
The drawbacks of separating front and back office
Take the front office. You might need 100 call center staff when the phone lines open at 9am, but 15 minutes later you only need 80 of them as call volumes drop. You can’t employ people for just 15 minutes, so at best you have 20 people ‘available’ for the majority of a four-hour shift, creating a constant oversupply of resources in the front office.
At the same time, many organizations will have an undersupply of resources in the back office during certain periods when work volumes fluctuate. With multiple day service levels in the back office, available work is rarely an issue – knowing who is available, and who can do what work when, however, is a challenge.
For some operations leaders, that has sparked a light bulb moment – what if you could share resources across the front and back office. Some ops leaders have done just that by taking a holistic approach to workforce management. Those leaders realized they could smooth out peaks in back-office workloads by moving staff from the front office to handle low level back-office tasks, while reassigning back-office staff to do more complex work.
Historically, the difficulty with sharing front and back-office resources is a lack of suitable technology and siloed systems and data that hinder the ops managers ability to respond to shifts in workload in real time. By investing in the right tech, ops teams can get real-time visibility into work in progress, skillsets and incoming work volumes, enabling the front and back office to share resources as needed.v
By breaking down staffing and data silos and using operational intelligence to make informed decisions, organizations can improve customer service, employee engagement, and cost-effectiveness.
Regional Managing Director North America at ActiveOps
The adoption of a new model
We are seeing operations teams across banks and insurance companies adopting this holistic approach, driven by a need to cut costs while also meeting evolving customer expectations and needs. Customers increasingly expect a seamless experience through a single point of contact.
I recently visited one of our banking clients in North America, whose operations head was one of the first to take what they call an ‘enterprise’ view of workforce management where they are using data to allocate resources across front and back-office teams depending on forecasted work volumes. Not only did this lead to more efficient work allocation, but it also enabled employees to learn new skills beyond their usual roles. As a result, attrition rates decreased, and the organization managed workload fluctuations without the need for constant hiring. It also helped boost their agility levels, enhancing future resiliency.
Ultimately integrating resources between the front and back offices helps improve operational efficiency. By breaking down staffing and data silos and using operational intelligence to make informed decisions on resource allocation, organizations can improve customer service, employee engagement, and cost-effectiveness.