Contact centers can’t keep up with today’s—or tomorrow’s—sky-high customer experience expectations using yesterday’s workforce management tools. For workforce managers who want to stay ahead, it’s time to rethink the spreadsheet.
You’re missing big opportunities to optimize your operations and your team if you’re still relying on spreadsheets for:
- Staff scheduling
- Workforce planning
- Demand forecasting
- Attendance tracking
- Time-off requests
- Time tracking
- Agent workloads
- Compliance tracking
- Employee performance
- Real-time operations
The Benefits Of Workforce Management Software
To thrive in these increasingly uncertain economic times, contact centers need the power of sophisticated workforce management systems.
Today’s workforce management software leapfrogs the output of spreadsheets by eliminating the guesswork of day-to-day employee scheduling and demand forecasting. It helps workforce managers strike the critical efficiency balance between necessary staffing levels and contact volume.
When workforce managers plan for too many agents, it unnecessarily drives up staffing costs. Understaffing, though, creates gaps in coverage and negatively affects both the employee experience and customer experience.
The key features of today’s best workforce management software solutions improve employee productivity, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction while boosting operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. At the same time, these solutions quickly and dramatically decrease both administrative costs and labor costs.
No top-performing customer service center today effectively operates and meets business goals without the benefit of workforce management software.
The Trouble With Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets were once a useful way to organize employee schedules. In fact, for small customer support centers, with few agents, low volume, and only one or two channels, spreadsheets still may work effectively for managing your CX center’s staffing.
For most contact centers today, though, the functions of workforce management are nuanced and increasingly complex and changing. Typical modern customer service centers are scheduling on-site, remote, and hybrid employees—across multiple time zones—and answering customers across multiple channels. These multigenerational teams are increasingly difficult to recruit, train, and retain, so agent satisfaction is critical.
The combination of advances in technology, the post-pandemic evolution of the workforce, and market demands in a constantly shifting economic environment means successful customer service centers can’t operate in business-as-usual conditions. They must constantly adapt and optimize.
That’s why spreadsheets fall short and quickly become an optimization hurdle, not an optimization boost. With spreadsheets, resource planning can quickly become bogged down by human error and duplicative, manual tasks. They don’t enable the streamlined processes necessary to improve and optimize areas like:
- Workforce productivity
- Customer engagements
- Daily performance
- Demand planning
Related Article: 4 Key Contact Center Trends For The Post-Pandemic World
Improving What Matters With WFM
A dedicated workforce management tool ensures consistent service quality, elevated agent experience, and effective analysis of productivity and efficiency data, all of which are levers for turning up two of the most important goals of every workforce manager, across size and industry: operational efficiency and cost containment, both of which are closely tied to your customer support agents.
Agent happiness and agent productivity directly and positively influence both contact center costs and operational efficiency. That’s because labor costs are typically the single biggest expense for CX organizations, including recruiting and training expenses.
When you can keep agents happy, and they stay with your customer service center long-term, labor costs decrease. Contact centers that effectively leverage technology to meet agent needs simply do better than those that don’t.
Here are five critical benefits of workforce management solutions and reasons to replace your spreadsheets.
1. Clearer Insight into Schedule Adherence
Schedule Adherence is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) for most customer support centers. It indicates how often agents follow the tasks scheduled for them—and at the scheduled time—throughout the day.
Schedule adherence is easily overlooked because it can be difficult to calculate without a workforce management system. A sophisticated workforce management solution supports and automates tracking of the tasks you want your agents to complete, and records when the agents complete them. These are functions well beyond the capabilities of spreadsheets.
With spreadsheets, there is no easy way to keep track of agent adherence to schedules or optimize attendance management or absence management.
2. Improved Visibility Into Operations
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Spreadsheets provide a very limited view of your operations. That prevents you from identifying and addressing trends, both good and bad, to optimize productivity and forecast more accurately.
Managing service-level agreements (SLAs) is nearly impossible with spreadsheets because you can’t see how fluctuations in contact volumes are impacting your ability to meet service commitments. Workforce management systems, with real-time metrics, provide this visibility and the insights to deliver on your SLAs.
Sophisticated workforce management solutions with robust reporting features power smart planning and performance through dashboards that include insights into areas such as:
- Service levels
- Forecast accuracy
3. Greater Time And Cost Efficiencies
Let’s talk efficiency. Simply put, time really is money, and no contact center can afford to waste it. When you replace spreadsheets with more efficient workforce management, the positive impact goes straight to your organization’s bottom line.
Scheduling 20, 50, or even 100 agents a month in advance requires a lot of work and information. It’s a balancing act that starts with capacity planning. If your contact center is relying on spreadsheets for capacity planning and scheduling— even with the most experienced staff—it’s an overwhelming, time-consuming process involving aggregating data and ensuring its accuracy.
The process extends to other areas of your customer service center too. Consider the wider efficiency impact of a more holistic, comprehensive workforce management solution.
Integration is key functionality for an effective workforce management solution and one of the most important considerations when choosing the right alternative to spreadsheets for your customer service center. HR, payroll, and your telephony system, for example, must seamlessly integrate with your workforce management software and processes to fully leverage the efficiency opportunity.
There are many available tools to replace spreadsheets, but not all alternatives can integrate with pre-existing functions and drive efficiency for not only the contact center, but the overall business too. The greatest efficiency benefits come from workforce management solutions that enable functions like accurate forecasting and intelligent scheduling, while also optimizing other essential applications your CX center relies on, such as your HR suite and quality management software. Seamless systems integration empowers overall operational efficiency through quick and easy data sharing and better decision-making, ideally in real-time.
Time spent on inefficient tasks with disparate platforms diverts time and resources from more valuable processes and needs.
4. Stronger Data Security
Data security has never been more important. But spreadsheets are only as secure as the individual employee creating and using them. Human error is a real security risk.
Spreadsheets with confidential details of customer interactions can serve as valuable training for an agent, but, in a spreadsheet, it is sensitive customer data at risk of being emailed without encryption. With today’s distributed workforce, security is an even more difficult and costly challenge, especially with remote employees working from home.
The most secure workforce management solutions are cloud-based platforms. Users log in through the web browser of their choice and access is managed through secured authentication and encryption. These controls keep data protected.
5. More Accurate Forecasts
Contact centers that will thrive and scale through whatever comes next must operate with agility. That takes accurate demand forecasts.
Omnichannel customer experiences are typical in today’s contact centers. But spreadsheets aren’t equipped to schedule agents based on how many concurrent chats they can handle, so forecasting quickly becomes difficult, messy, and even inaccurate.
Accurate forecasting for digital channels requires a balancing act of factors that didn’t exist in the days of voice-only call centers, when workforce management by spreadsheet was the norm. In today’s omnichannel environments, though, they miss the mark.
The most advanced workforce management software, though, can account for concurrent interactions across multiple channels. That makes accurately forecasting contact volume easy, with positive, trickle-down effects on productivity and service.
Level Up From Spreadsheets With Playvox Workforce Management
Don’t let yesterday’s spreadsheets keep your contact center from thriving today—and tomorrow. You can optimize productivity, employee satisfaction, and customer experience, while driving down labor and operational costs, with modern workforce management software.
Playvox can help.
Our WFM is a cloud-native solution built to manage across digital channels, with robust features for:
- AI-powered forecasting
- Smart, automated, and flexible scheduling
- Real-time workforce visibility
- Intraday management reporting
- Performance management
Want to learn more about the benefits of trading in spreadsheets for an automated cloud-based platform? Download our guide, “The Dangers of Forecasting And Scheduling With Spreadsheets.”
We’ve also simplified calculating the return on your investment to switch with this three-step calculator. Try it here.
See A Demo Of The WFM Features That Matter Most To Your Contact Center
Schedule a customized demo today to discover how the advanced features of Playvox’s workforce management software is helping companies like Angi and Afterpay bring operational excellence to customer service teams like yours. From increased efficiency to improved first contact resolution to better forecasting and scheduling, we can help you optimize in the areas that matter to you.
Start the evaluation and selection process by talking to the Playvox experts today.