Workforce optimisation (WFO) is an industry strategy that enhances contact centre resources to promote customer experience, while also boosting operational efficiency. Mainly used by customer contact centres to improve workforce management and agent performance, WFO involves automating processes, data visibility, compliance on legislation, performance and quality monitoring, and solving staff business problems. Now, companies from all sectors are migrating much of their IT estate to the cloud, which is opening up a world of opportunity by digitally transforming customer engagement and WFO by allowing information to be accessed remotely, by an entire workforce whenever needed.

Optimising workforces to drive high standards of customer engagement will be greatly impacted by the rising use of cloud computing in the future. Making agents’ lives easier, boosting productivity, allowing flexible working from home, and decreasing operational costs, are all major benefits that can help to elevate customer contact centres into omnichannel-led, Customer Engagement Centres (CECs).

[easy-tweet tweet=”Manual spreadsheets can now be a thing of the past for those whose jobs include scheduling duties.” hashtags=”#Cloud #Workforce”]

The following advances in WFO, driven by cloud, can positively impact customer engagement strategies from all business sectors:

Avoiding the unnecessary red tape of a supervisor with self-management

Technology can empower employees to manage their own workloads overcoming the complexity and frustration of antiquated, manual schedule management. Self-service in the workplace will give employees a better sense of freedom from the restraints of processes meaning easier, faster schedule management on the channels of their choice. This delivery model will assist the contact centre agent in a way that is natural, fast, and optimises resources. Longer interactions will be reduced and mobile apps, text-based chatbots and internal portals will empower employees to manage their own schedules, change shifts, request annual leave and take part in training. Any interaction with the app or chatbot by the employee is automatically updated in the WFO platform, which could even automate further actions for the agent to react to.

Simplifying work with automation

Manual spreadsheets can now be a thing of the past for those whose jobs include scheduling duties. Transformation of business processes afforded by the cloud means that these planning tasks can now be automated across a work network, which includes many things that can become self-service, such as training, coaching and extra shift scheduling. If a scheduler wants to offer overtime or a shift swap, a notification (via the employee’s preferred channel) can be sent to appropriate employees, with the option for them to take up the offer. All of this is then automatically updated in all schedules that are relevant and in the agent portal and system – all driven by a cloud-based automated business rules engine. This advance in scheduling means that both the planner’s and the agent’s time is optimised to not dwell on spreadsheets or play email ping-pong. 

Collaboration – there’s no ‘I’ in collaborate

WFO means optimising people and processes to create better customer service and customer engagement. As contact centres adopt multi-channel approaches, agents may also be under pressure to gain new skills and work in blended contact centre environments (taking and making both inbound and outbound interactions across multiple traditional and digital channels). Now that multichannel has become the norm in most customer contact centres, the most modern centres are now already adopting an omnichannel customer engagement strategy that can take place across multiple channels, without loss of context and with a 360-degree view of the customer. This ensures that conversations never really truly end, even if interactions take place across multiple channels depending on the convenience for the customer at the time. This change needs to be reflected in the skills that workers have, which is where cloud collaboration tools will come in. Cloud collaboration enables employees to make the best of the skills and resources available, and in real time, with screen and video sharing, access to a knowledge base, skills-based presence and more, resulting in faster service that is more likely to hit first interaction resolution targets.

There’s no doubt that the workforce is changing with the age of the tech savvy and flexible millennial advancing into work. This means more employees will have the knowledge and capabilities to work from home. This is where the above cloud solutions can really benefit the workforce. The nine-to-five regime is beginning to evolve into a remote workforce and the tools and capabilities need to be in place to ensure that agents can do their best, whether in the contact centre or out. Cloud collaboration, scheduling and automation will make this move as seamless as possible.

These three distinct areas show where cloud technology can have a positive impact on the individual agent or the entire workforce. The future is about self-management, collaboration and automation, and having these advances work their magic from a cloud-based foundation available to access whenever and wherever.

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Colin Whelan has been a part of the Customer Contact Industry for the last 25 years, leading and supporting the UK & Ireland communities as a thought leader in resource planning, Back Office Optimization and Data, Analytics and Insight. Working for Companies including Barclays Bank, First Choice Holidays and Barclaycard, before joining Aspect as a Senior Solutions Consultant he was the Head of professionalism for the Forum, where he was instrumental in the development of the world’s first accredited University qualifications for the customer contact industry, along with standards in reporting, targeting and the use of intelligence. This career committed to developing and sharing best practice was recognised in April 2015 when the Forum Community gave Colin it’s “Industry Hero” award, “Over the past 7 years Colin has been a key figure within our community, committed to improving professionalism, making a huge contribution to the body of best practice in areas such as data analysis, back office planning and forecasting methodology. He embodies passion and enthusiasm for our profession.”