workforce management

How to Select the Best Workforce Management Solution for your Contact Centre

The ability to evaluate the effectiveness of your workforce management solution can drastically improve the performance of your contact centre.

Workforce management (WFM) solutions provide contact centres the ability to forecast, schedule and track performance as well as analyse agent productivity and provide insight into shrinkage by category and interval. Using a workforce management solution can provide so much more insight than an Excel spreadsheet, helping you to streamline operations, optimise performance, and engage agents. While it sounds like a simple and straightforward process, there are many differences between the various solutions on the market so it is important that you really understand the capabilities of the system to ensure they meet the needs of your contact centre’s size, structure, and requirements.

Below are several important factors you should consider in order to get the best workforce management solution for your contact centre.

Easy Integration

Every business wants to implement the best workforce management solution for their contact centre, but it can be a disruptive process that damages your business if your solution isn’t integrated effectively. Versatile WFM solutions can integrate with your payroll to provide managers and agents not only the ability to view schedules, swap shifts, and analyse performance but also view things such as annual leave accruals and availability.

Access to data to Create and Automate Reports

Having access to the backend tables and fields can be extremely important if you want to build custom reports and use the data typically stored in a workforce management system for other reporting requirements.  Ensuring your system provides this functionality is an important consideration. Open APIs

The ability to automate processes to export or import information can also be an extremely valuable timesaver.

What-if Forecasting and Scheduling Capabilities

Workforce Planners often need to test out different situations in both forecasting and scheduling.  What if your service level changed or you received double the contacts for an ongoing period due to changes in lockdown rules?  Having the ability to easily test out different forecasting and scheduling requirements for the same date ranges, without overwriting your existing information is an essential feature that must be standard in a good workforce planning tool. The right reporting solutions and dashboards that can display key performance indicators and performance outcomes.

Ability to Plan for Different Types of Contact

Workforce Planners no longer only plan for inbound voice calls.  As the complexity of customer service increases, so too does workforce planning and the variety of channels that you need for forecast and plan for.  Understanding how your selected tool can handle each channel, should be an essential part of your selection process. Good workforce planning tools can be used at an enterprise level to forecast and schedule for the following:

  • Inbound voice
  • Outbound
  • Chat
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Back Office Processes
  • Branches

Ability to Plan and Track where your Staff are Sitting

The aftermath of the Covid pandemic is that many organisations need to be able to track where staff are sitting when they come to work or be able to report on who is working from home and who is in the office.  A strong workforce planning tool can help with seating plans and allocation of seats with social distancing as well as help you track and easily report on where your staff are each day whether that be WFH or in the office.

Agent Self- Serve Capabilities

Providing staff with the tools to view their schedules, swap shifts, apply for leave and view how they are performing against set KPIs is an important part of engaging staff and making them feel empowered.  Being able to do this from anywhere, on their phones, is an additional benefit.

When selecting a good workforce planning tool, it is important to understand the self-service capabilities for both agents and team leaders to make sure they can do the things you need them to be able to do.

Ease and Granularity of Setting up Security Levels

With different people accessing the information in your workforce management tool, it is important to be able to easily provide different roles within your contact centre with the level of access they need to each feature within the tool.  Ensuring that your workforce planning tool can easily create different security profiles with the level of access you need is an essential part of selecting a good workforce planning tool.

Ability to Deploy in either On Premise or Cloud Environments

Understand your IT environment and the requirements for an on premise or cloud solution as well as the security requirements that go with that.  The right workforce planning tool for you needs to meet your IT requirements.

Selecting the right tool for your organisation, requires more than yes/no answers.  To really understand if a tool will meet your workforce planning requirements you need to ask to see those features in action.


onshoring contact centres

Why Contact Centres are looking at Onshoring Contact Centres again

Over the past two decades, many Australian organisations have formed a large dependency on offshore contact centres mostly due to the fact that staffing costs are significantly lower than hiring staff in Australia. When the pandemic hit last year however some organisations such as Westpac and Telstra, decided to move some of their voice channels back on shore to mitigate risk.

As many countries around the world have been in lockdown, businesses that were offshoring contact centres in countries such as India and the Philippines, have had to adapt quickly and find other ways to manage customer enquiries. In line with an increased demand for local contact centres, the technological flexibility of being able to easily offer work from home opportunities especially during periods of lockdown, has made Australia more favourable than perhaps some of the developing countries.  In this blog we look at why some contact centres are coming home and what market factors are driving the shift.

History of Contact Centres:

Traditional contact centres were first popularised with large businesses as an easier way to communicate with customers and address customer service complaints. These contact centres typically employed domestic agents to help handle a variety of customer service needs.

However, over time as contact centres gained significant popularity, many businesses sought to cut costs by outsourcing their contact centres to countries that could handle customer service at a much cheaper cost than domestically. For the past two decades, this has been the standard procedure for many businesses when dealing with customer service interactions.

Changes brought about by COVID-19:

With such a heavy reliance on offshore contact centres, when the pandemic hit it caused not only a great deal of stress on global trade, but a variety of structural complications for businesses with large numbers of staff working in contact centres. The sudden lockdown of countries such as India and the Philippines meant that many staff could no longer work due to poor internet in remote villages and the lack of suitable working conditions at home.

Businesses who were entirely dependent on offshore operations such as Telstra were left with a large base of customers unable to contact any support services. This has been seen across a number of large and multinational organisations. As a result, Australia, with its flexible work from home conditions, good internet coverage and the ability for staff to work from home, even during lockdowns, has become a much more compelling option.

The Aftermath:

The pandemic has impacted the way many industries structure their operations. There has been a significant shift in the mindset of companies having realised that the expenses saved from offshoring do not always outweigh the performance benefits of keeping contact centres onshore.

Furthermore, the continuing trend towards a customer focused experience means businesses now more than ever are placing a significant focus on delivering high quality customer service. The advancement of technology has also helped facilitate this change by lending a helping hand to reduce the number of staff required to offer the same or better service onshore while providing more flexibility for staff.

This can be brought about by deploying innovative solutions to help ease businesses back to onshore operations and ensuring staff are trained in the areas of expertise they need to have.

Moving forward, it’s safe to assume that the movement towards bringing some of the inbound voice, contact centre roles back onshore and mitigating risk by having staff work from different locations will continue.


KPI Blog

10 Key Metrics and KPI's for Contact Centre Performance

The contact centre industry is the backbone of brands all over the globe. It provides the necessary contact point for customers to connect with brands, whether that be troubleshooting, simple questions or administrative needs.

Understanding how to make a profit on the double bottom line (DBL) involves employing a broad range of KPIs and key metrics to ensure a contact centre meets every need that a business may have in supporting their customers.

Here’s a list of 10 key metrics that can be used by contact centre managers to ensure the delivery of both strong customer experiences and financial performance through workforce efficiency.

1. Customer Satisfaction

According to a Contact Center Helper report, 95.7% of the 380 contact centre professionals they asked thought customer satisfaction was one of the most important metrics.  Customer satisfaction is a quality-based measurement to gauge the overall quality of the delivered customer service. A strong customer satisfaction result means more customers have been satisfied with the quality of service provided.

The value of quality in a customer service experience cannot be understated. It’s shown that 67% of customers are happy to pay more for a better customer experience.

2. Service Goals

Staffing Requirements are based on service goals. How quickly you wish to answer the contacts.​There are two ways of measuring this either average delay or grade of service. Average delay refers to the average amount of time a customer spends waiting in the queue for an answer from an agent whereas grade of service is the defined as a percentage of contacts answered within x seconds.  A common grade of service is 70% in 20 seconds however service level goals should take into account corporate objectives, market position, caller captivity, customer perceptions of the company, benchmarking surveys and what your competitors are doing.

3. First Contact Resolution

First contact resolution refers to the percentage of people who received the necessary answer on their first contact and did not require any further contact relating to the initial problem. This metric reflects the knowledge base and expertise of the agents working in the contact centre as well as how well your customers are directed through the IVR to the appropriate agent.

The industry benchmark for the first call resolution measurement is between 70% to 75%.

4. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter score was developed by Bain and Co in 2003 and is a measure used to gauge customer loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm with a company.  It is calculated by asking customers one question: “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?

This metric is not as popular as it used to be as it is also influenced quite highly by factors outside the contact centre such as pricing, negative publicity in the media and overall branding.

The industry median net promoter score is +44, meaning there’s generally more positive promoter scores than negative.

5. Customer Effort Score

A customer effort score refers to the effort that a customer has given, to get a solution or answer to their desired question. This score provides an overall view on the performance delivered, the level of customer service and includes variables such as ease-of-access, wait times and more.

This metric is very similar to the customer satisfaction number as feedback is provided back to the company through a survey form from the customer. As a result, the feedback could be biased and may not accurately represent a customer's effort to obtain a solution.

6. Advisor Satisfaction

There is a famous quote by Richard Branson “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.”

Advisor satisfaction is a measure of the contact centre team’s happiness which like customer satisfaction can be measured in many ways. Tools to improve staff engagement and more frequent measurement of advisor satisfaction has become increasingly important with the rise in work from home staff.

 7. Quality Score

Quality scores are a measurement of staff performance as they provide the ability to assess the overall caller experience while focusing on the conversation had with the agent.  They help team leaders and managers understand where more training and development is needed for staff members and highlight those that are doing well and deserve a reward.

Calibration is key when measuring quality to ensure any suggestion of bias is removed.

8. Forecast Accuracy

Forecasting for contact volume and aligning this information with efficient work schedules is critical if you want to run a profitable contact centre so measuring forecast accuracy is a favourite for Workforce Planners.

Forecast accuracy is the comparison of forecasted contacts to actual contacts expressed as a percentage.  There are two ways of looking at the forecast accuracy:  If you divide by the forecast contacts you find the percent of error in the forecast.  If you divide by the actual contacts, you find the percent the forecast varies from the actual.

9. Average Handle Time (AHT)

Average handling time tells you how much time on average, an agent spends working on a task.  It includes total talk time + total hold time + total wrap up time and is divided by the number of contacts handled.

Average handle times may rise when there’s increasing complexity in customer queries from a new product or business change. Therefore, it may not be an accurate representation of an employee's performance. The length of AHT is dependant on what the service or product is and can vary greatly in length.

A contact centre is one of the most highly time scarce environments where every second is worth something. However, some organisations have chosen not to set this as a KPI but to measure it in the background.  Unfortunately, because it has such a large impact on staffing requirements, it cannot be completely ignored.  Even if it is not set as a KPI, management can use it to coach and train staff to improve the way they handle contacts to get better results.

10. Adherence

Schedule adherence is the degree to which agents do what they are scheduled to do in terms of being logged on.  ​It is measured as a percentage of scheduled time on the phone.

For example, if an advisor is scheduled to take calls from 3pm to 4pm, but was five minutes late and takes calls from 3:05pm-4:05pm, they were only at work for 55 of their scheduled 60 minutes. This means that the advisor’s adherence percentage would be 91.6%, as highlighted below.

Adherence Formula: Total Adherent Minutes / Total Scheduled Minutes x 100

This metric is often confused with others, including conformance, occupancy and utilisation, but it is used widely in contact centres around the world.

For more information or recommendations on contact centre metrics, contact Call Design today.


IVR

How IVR’s Have Changed the Contact Centre Industry – written by Brett Redman

How IVR’s Have Changed the Contact Centre Industry

 

IVR’s…love them or hate them, they are an almost ubiquitous part of the contact centre industry and have been around for a very long time. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the first commercial IVR system was built to perform order entry and inventory control back in 1973, although the technology was certainly in its infancy, and considered expensive and difficult to implement.

Since then, the technology has come a long way, and is now pretty much considered a standard part of any contact centre that has any scale to it. The technology has also grown and changed to use Standards based programming like Voice XML, and more recently the acceptance of speech recognition via Siri and Amazon Alexa, Google etc has meant that more and more systems provide for input to be gathered via speech recognition rather than DTMF (Dual Tone Multiple-Frequency, also called Touch Tone).

There is a common misconception that IVR’s are the same as ‘automated attendant’s’. While they might these days be built using the same technology, an IVR is an application that provides information, or is used to perform transactions, whereas an automated attendant is simply built to route calls to a specific area. So, while an IVR may have an automated attendant as a front-end application, it provides much more benefit than a call steering application. For example, an automated attendant would play a message like ‘welcome to ABC company, please press 1 for sales, or 2 for customer service’. An IVR however would be set up to play a similar message, but perhaps with an additional option ‘or press 3 for self-service’. Choosing this option would allow the system to begin a dialogue that collects information from callers, such as customer number and password, and then allows suitable transactions to take place. Examples of this are in a banking environment where the IVR is used to retrieve an account balance, transfer funds, or pay a bill etc.

 

"While they might these days be built using the same technology, an IVR is an application that provides information, or is used to perform transactions, whereas an automated attendant is simply built to route calls to a specific area."

 

The Benefit of using an IVR

The benefit of an IVR over an automated attendant is that the IVR enables simple tasks, that would normally be performed by an agent, to be automated.  As a result, the agent has more time to work on more complex tasks. An IVR can be used to run many hundreds of instances of the same application, therefore allowing large amounts of callers to be serviced automatically, at the same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because they enable many more calls to be serviced quickly and at significantly less cost, you can see why contact centre managers love them.

The Introduction of CTI

 When IVR’s first became commercialised, if a customer failed to complete their transaction in the IVR, and the IVR allowed the customer to be transferred to an agent (not always possible within the application, and a common complaint about IVR’s), then the customer had to begin their query again from scratch, identifying themselves again and requesting whatever it was they were wanting to do in the IVR.   As a result, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) was introduced in the early 1980’s by ROLM Corporation, a US PABX vendor.  CTI allowed information gathered by an IVR application, or an agent, to be transferred to the agent’s computer, along with the telephone call so that the agent’s computer could do something with that information. This is generally known as a ‘screen pop’ and allows the call to be completed much more quickly and with a better level of satisfaction for the caller as they do not have to provide the same information multiple times. The CTI information also allowed for more intelligent routing decisions to be made.

The other cool thing about this type of technology is that it is very similar to “chat bots” and other newer automation technologies. They can all use the same basic logic structure, providing similar functionality, and using the same integration points to access information using a different input / output mechanism – IVRs using speech and voice processing whereas a chat bot uses text.

 

"CTI allowed information gathered by an IVR application, or an agent, to be transferred to the agent’s computer, along with the telephone call so that the agent’s computer could do something with that information. This is generally known as a ‘screen pop’ and allows the call to be completed much more quickly and with a better level of satisfaction for the caller as they do not have to provide the same information multiple times."

Considerations for use

With all this technology comes the hard part of deciding what to do with it. I come from the school of thought that says, “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should”. So, the first part is to decide what you want to achieve.  For example, is it to reduce agent head count and cost?  If so, automate every possible use case that you can. If, however it is to provide a better customer experience, then you should probably start by understanding what your customers want from an automated system. If the goal is somewhere between these two extremes, then you should be looking to automate as much as possible, while still making the experience for the customer as painless and simple as possible. To maximise take up rates on the IVR, ideally offer the customer something they can’t get any other way, such as 24 x 7 service; a shorter waiting time for an agent if they have tried and failed the self-service, or something else that is of value to your customers.

 

"To maximise take up rates on the IVR, ideally offer the customer something they can’t get any other way, such as 24 x 7 service; a shorter waiting time for an agent if they have tried and failed the self-service, or something else that is of value to your customers."

 

Auto-Attendant-vs.-IVR

 

 What are the day-to-day benefits of an IVR?

So, what is in it for contact centre agents and management? To put it simply, agents get the opportunity to spend more time doing more exciting work and less time doing the more mundane tasks. Given the cost of labour, management gets to increase throughput without increasing costs to the same extent. This level of engagement will create happier, more motivated agents, who will in turn, be better suited to serving customers. This motivation, unsurprisingly, will contribute to a more efficient contact centre and increase customer satisfaction.

If you would like us to review your IVR configuration or know more about our IVR solutions contact us today.

 


Alvaria logo

Aspect Software Announces Merger with Noble Systems

New combined company will expand its global reach in the Customer Experience technology space

Westford, MA. May 10, 2021. Today, Aspect Software will merge with Noble Systems of Atlanta Georgia, to form Alvaria, (pronounced: ahl-vahr-ee-uh), a new global company delivering optimised customer experience and workforce engagement software and cloud services technology solutions.

 

 

The newly combined company will be led by Patrick Dennis, Aspect President and CEO.

“This merger will combine two of the leaders in the customer experience space into a major unified force for innovation and growth,” said Patrick Dennis, President & CEO of Alvaria.  “Our unified customer base represents the largest financial institutions, healthcare, online retail, and travel and transportation companies in the world. We are so excited to embark on this next stage of our corporate development.”

Abry Partners (“Abry”), a Boston-based private equity firm, spearheaded the merger and is now the majority owner of the combined company. Vector Capital, owner of Aspect, will continue as minority equity holder. The total value of the combined transaction is over $1 billion USD.

“We are impressed with the transformation of Aspect under the leadership of Patrick and the Vector team,” said Tomer Yosef-Or, partner at Abry, “and Noble Systems will be an excellent merger partner, making Alvaria an even stronger competitor in the market.”

Andy Fishman, a Managing Director of Vector Capital, added, “We congratulate and thank Patrick and the entire Aspect organization for their incredible work. We are excited to partner with Abry as we bring together Aspect and Noble Systems as the new Alvaria and look forward to supporting the new company through its next phase of growth.”

Jim Noble, founder and CEO of Noble Systems, will transition into a new role as an advisor to Abry and Alvaria. “Jim has made a lasting impact in this marketplace,” continued Mr. Yosef-Or. “He has led Noble through 30 years of innovation and growth. This merger is a fitting exclamation point to his successful career.”

News of this merger was met with enthusiasm from key Industry Analysts. According to Nancy Jamison, Industry Director, Information and Communications Technologies at Frost and Sullivan, “Aspect plus Noble is a very strong match. Their combined technology stack and market presence, particularly in outbound contact management, will make Alvaria an extremely formidable player in the space. This should be welcome news to enterprise customers worldwide.”

According to Mary Wardley, VP Customer Care and CRM research at IDC, “The Aspect/Noble merger will be a jolt of lightning to the Contact Centre market for several reasons; first will be the surprise to the market, second will be the long-term opportunity these two companies and product lines bring. Large enterprise customers will especially see big benefits through innovations to come. This could spur more acquisitions as vendors vie for customers and market share.”

“We are launching Alvaria with an aggressive schedule, beginning with the immediate introduction of our new corporate identity and website, www.alvaria.com, followed by merged operations,” said Michael Harris, Alvaria Chief Product Officer and CMO. “Customers of Aspect Software and Noble Systems will continue to use the existing products and services they depend on now for delivering mission critical services, without interruption, followed by a seamless transition to the next generation of Alvaria systems and services.”

Aspect Software and Vector Capital were advised by Jefferies LLC as their sole financial advisor, and Paul Hastings LLP as their legal counsel. Abry Partners was advised by TD Securities (USA) LLC as its financial advisor, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP as its legal counsel. Noble Systems was advised by Eversheds Sutherland as its legal counsel.

 

Media Contact:

Alvaria, Aspect Software & Noble Systems:
Michael Harris, CPO/CMO, Alvaria
Press@alvaria.com

About ALVARIA:

Alvaria was founded through the merger of Aspect Software and Noble Systems, technology leaders in Customer Experience (CX) and Workforce Engagement solutions. Our name is derived from Latin for “hives” – nature’s perfect form for millions of years – bringing you solutions that are scalable, resilient and secure, with efficiency, speed and pinpoint accuracy. ALVARIA. Reshaping Customer Experience.  For more information, please visit www.alvaria.com

About Abry Partners:

Abry is one of the most experienced and successful sector-focused private equity investment firms in North America. Since their founding in 1989, the firm has completed over $82.0 billion of leveraged transactions and other private equity or preferred equity placements. Currently, the firm manages over $5.0 billion of capital across their active funds. For more information on Abry, please visit www.Abry.com.

About Vector Capital:

Vector Capital is a leading global private equity firm specialising in transformational investments in established technology businesses. With more than $3 billion of capital under management, Vector actively partners with management teams to devise and execute new financial and business strategies that materially improve the competitive standing of businesses and enhance value for employees, customers, and all stakeholders. For more information, visit www.vectorcapital.com.


Contact Centre After Pandemic

Call Centre status after COVID-19 Pandemic

Call Centre status after COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Since the beginning of 2020 and the inception of COVID-19, contact centers have had to make adjustments as to the way we work and employees' daily lives. This shift in the workplace proved to be specifically challenging for contact centers and help desks. Agents were used to being in an office and not working virtually. The change to in-person and effectively assisting customers had to take place quickly and efficiently. On any given day, agents might experience more extended workdays due to higher call volume, handling of complicated subjects, and customer complaints, and aggravation.

Agents are now going to transition from work-from-home to the office each day. This will be a slow process due to the sensitivity of the Pandemic, and there are mixed outlooks as to the right time for agents to switch back to face-to-face.

Below is advice for managers as agents that begin to return to offices and are no longer working from home.  

  • Ensure employees are educated about safety and wellness in the workplace. It would be best to have transparent processes for the teams to understand the new job design and workplace setting. Managers should have constant contact with their employees to support team members and ensure they are safe upon them returning.
  • Conduct regular meetings to discuss shifts and changes that may occur. These meetings should take place daily, give appropriate updates to the teams, brainstorm new ideas in the new setting, and discuss how to handle complicated situations.
  • Scheduled breaks need to be encouraged for agents do not feel overwhelmed or frustrated with their jobs. This is a time to rejuvenate agents for when they return to the phones. Creating a better customer experience will benefit the team and the business goals.
  • If a team member needs additional support after COVID-19 and switches back to face-to-face work, offer them extra support and reinforce the importance of their schedule breaks and recharge. If additional support is needed, please refer them to employee assistance programs available through the workplace.
  • Due to the large number of employees that work in a contact center and shared workspace, managers should ensure that the following areas are cleaned and well maintained:
    • Workstations
    • Keyboards
    • Telephones
    • Desks and chairs
    • Rest Areas
    • Photocopier and printing areas

the best methods to keep contact centre agents super motivated

The Best Methods To Keep Contact Centre Agents Super Motivated

Turnover is a major concern in many contact centres. Between the monotonous daily routine and the work environment, many agents experience exhaustion and may choose to look elsewhere for work. However, if you can trial new and different ways to coach and motivate agents so that they enjoy their work more, then they are more likely to stay with the organisation.

Motivated agents tend to have better success across all company KPIs and when they feel empowered, there is a greater sense of commitment to perform at a higher level.  These things both lead to a better customer experience.

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Call Design Australia Contact Center

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Contact Centre

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Contact Centre

 

The contact centre is one of the most important departments in your organisation. Contact centre agents have a direct line to your customers, handling the various customer service issues that your business is facing on a day-to-day basis. When you are outsourcing your contact centre efforts, it’s essential to choose who you work with very carefully. Even as a critical facet of your organisation, it’s easy to make mistakes when you outsource your contact centre. Below, we discuss four things to avoid when outsourcing your contact centre efforts. 

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Call Design Australia

4 Reasons to Utilise an Omnichannel Customer Experience

4 Reasons to Utilise an Omnichannel Customer Experience

 

With the digitalisation of the customer journey, businesses need to implement an entirely digital customer service experience. With an increase in channels for customers and brands to interact, your company has an incredible opportunity to meet your customer where they are with exactly what they need. An omnichannel customer experience will allow your brand to leverage the preferred platforms of your audience to provide a better customer service experience.

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