Call centers globally are aware that they must continue to work on their efficiency and effectiveness if they are to improve the quality of customer experience, and boost bottom lines. Datamonitor’s Tom Pringle explains why the role that workforce optimization technologies play in realizing these goals is gaining credence…
In 2003, $695 million worth of the global call center budget was spent on workforce optimization technologies (WOTs). Datamonitor estimates this will total a staggering $1.2 billion by 2008 as call centers seek to better call center agent performance, efficiency of human resources and effectively capture, record and analyze telephone and data interactions between customer and call center agent.
Workforce optimization drives not only customer experience, but also call center agent satisfaction
The poor image call centers have, from both a customer satisfaction and agent working conditions point of view, needs to be addressed. WOTs solutions form component parts of an interlocking and interdependent solution chain for call centers. Their aim is two-fold; to improve the efficiency of call center operations, and to maximize the effectiveness of agents working in the call center. Call centers can adopt one or more of these solutions to create a workforce optimization solution to tackle the problems they face.
WOT solutions fall under four broad categories. Quality monitoring is the recording and analysis of telephone and data interactions between customer and call center agent. Workforce management is the efficient scheduling of human resources in call centers. Agent analytics is the analysis of agent performance using data from call center sources. Finally, eLearning is the online delivery of training to call center agents to improve their performance in key areas.
Agent analytics aim to empower call center agents through greater understanding of their own performance. Vendors in this area even offer systems whereby agents can be rewarded for improvements and better than average performance.
Agent empowerment means granting call center agents more control over their work. Scheduling solutions, as part of workforce management, can give agents some influence over their working days, as well as booking holidays and addressing their own time needs in relation to work.
The agent analytics and eLearning components forecast to grow fastest in the WOTs space
Quality monitoring will continue to draw the largest investment, which Datamonitor estimates will reach $414 million by the end of 2004. However, agent analytics, followed by eLearning, will be the fastest growing areas.
By 2008, call center spending on agent analytics will be treble that of 2003 which amounted to $39 million, while spend on eLearning will total $294 million by 2008, more than double that of 2003.
WOTs beyond the call center
Customer contact does not only occur in the contact center; examples include bank branches, ticketing offices, hospitals and other public services. These are essentially a different variety of employees, public or private sector, which must be scheduled and their performance monitored to provide optimum coverage and customer satisfaction. These working environments are heavily dependent on contact center styles variables, such as wait time and speed of service.
In a competitive economy businesses are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their rivals. Providing the very best levels of customer care and satisfaction is a key differentiator and the ultimate goal of a workforce optimization solution.
The market for WOTs has moved beyond being one in which a great deal of interest has been shown, to one which customers are approaching not only with interest, but also with the budget to make purchases. WOTs aim to address two core issues: efficiency and effectiveness. Call center efficiency is becoming a standard of good call center management. Customers who have ‘managed’ with existing deployments through the early years are now looking for ways to improve their call center performance. Advancing WOTs solutions to encompass effectiveness management must be the next step taken by vendors.