Personal LinkedIn Banner

Seasonal Workforce Planning – is your Contact Centre Christmas-Ready?

Matt Hughes 13-Dec-2018 07:11:27
0

 

Could employing more FTEs over Temps not only be good for your customers but also good for your business?

U-WFM Xmas Logo 

The Christmas surge

An obvious topical challenge faced by contact centres at this time of year, is how to address seasonal variations when demand can vary greatly.

By now you will hopefully have completed your strategic plans and are looking forward to a profitable Christmas period.  For many contact centres the next few weeks are critical to overall company profitability.  Although challenging, this period also represents a huge opportunity to not just meet but exceed customers’ expectations.

With the market intelligence company, Mintel, predicting some festive cheer for Britain’s retailers, contact centres need to be poised to deal with the extra demand.  Mintel’s latest research predicts that December’s retail sales will reach £47.7 billion (incl. VAT), growing a respectable 4% compared to last December, when sales hit £45.8 billion - £11 billion of which will be spent online.

 

How to prepare for the demand

With those figures in mind it’s easy to see how certain businesses have 30% of their volume concentrated during the holiday season and rely on it to see them through the rest of the year.  In these situations, companies usually:

  • keep a minimal workforce that matches "normal" operating months
  • recruit temporary labour to deal with the added workload at peak

What contact centres sometimes overlook is that there are lower-cost strategies to improve the quality of service and ultimately improve the customer experience.

 

To recruit or not to recruit? 

The optimal operating point is usually achieved by recruiting more full-time staff than many organisations currently do. The excess labour available in low-demand periods is easily offset by consolidating training and holiday during those times. This increase in headcount is usually not enough to match the demand at peak, but is often enough to meet the demand peak with overtime and smaller incremental seasonal recruitment.

Frequently, these additional employees can be recruited to full-time positions because natural attrition will eliminate excess capacity.  This strategy requires subtle but important changes in work, pay and coverage policies which let employees readily accept schedule changes (e.g. via pay differentials or more weekends off) in support of overarching business goals.

 

Christmas present and future

If you still haven’t prepared for this Christmas season, don’t despair, you can apply these strategies to the peaks and troughs of national holidays, major sporting events and the respective awareness weeks that may affect your sales/service in 2019. Companies that streamline seasonality workforce planning in this manner not only see tremendous cost savings, but also service quality benefits due to a larger percentage of work being managed by more seasoned agents.

 

For more information on strategic planning please see our article on Long Term Holiday Planning and our free Long Term Planner Calculator.

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

 

Season’s Greetings & Best of Luck over the Christmas Period!

 

U-WFM partners with Twilio

Matt Hughes 06-Dec-2018 07:00:12
0

Introducing our easy-to-use, Workforce Management in the Cloud to Twilio Flex - the first fully-programmable Contact Center Platform

 

Twilio Logo Red

 

 

 

 

Twilio Flex is a cloud-based contact center platform that's infinitely flexible and instantly deployable.  Flex delivers what you need to run a contact center out-of-the-box, allowing centers to deploy and customize discrete components to match exact business needs without deciding between build or buy.

 

At U-WFM we believe there is an easier way to deploy Workforce Management and make it accessible to all contact centers, regardless of size, aligning us perfectly with Twilio's infinitely flexible ethos. As one of the first cloud providers of WFM solutions we offer our Workforce Management platform as a 100% integrated cloud solution in Twilio Flex.

 

View our Twilio Showcase Page

 

Flex customers will quickly be able to navigate our easy-to-use, yet powerful Workforce Management Suite in the Cloud.

 

Sign Up & Start Building

Complete the short form below, for a 30-day free trial of U-WFM from within your Twilio Flex platform.  Unlike our competitors, in-person training and a welcome workshop are both included in our standard package.

 

 

  

U-WFM partners with Key IVR to deliver secure payment solutions to the contact centre

Matt Hughes 27-Nov-2018 11:03:29
0

 

U-WFM is pleased to announce its partnership with Key IVR, a provider of high-quality payment processing systems for contact centres.

 

Key IVR’s Agent Assisted Payments platform is helping contact centres reduce their costs of PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliance. Key IVR understands that processing card payments can be challenging and provides PCI compliant solutions that de-scope sensitive cardholder data from the business as well as the contact centre.

 

Click here to read full press release...

 

Steve Richardson-Frankton, Enterprise Sales Manager at Key IVR said, “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with U-WFM as both organisations have a combined ambition of providing the best technology solutions for contact centres. We’re looking forward to what the partnership will bring, presenting the market with an offering that will give them the competitive edge.”

 

For more information about Key IVR, visit their website: www.keyivr.com 

 

Ready to see the next generation of Cloud WFM?

Sign up for a solution demonstration:

SCHEDULE A DEMO

 

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -  But can it be applied to Workforce Management?

Matt Hughes 21-Nov-2018 13:35:40
0

 

An Insightful Event courtesy of the UK Contact Centre Forum (UKCCF)

 

Leonardo da Vinci is often referred to as a genius and reputed to have wisely stated that, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  And yet 500 years later, with a wealth of technological advancements and experience, the modern-day telephony sector is still more complex than users would like. You don’t have to take my word for it...

 

 Click here to read the full article...

 

Next Generation of Cloud WFM for Contact Centres

Matt Hughes 18-Oct-2018 07:00:20
0

 

U-WFM is pleased to announce the availability of its next generation cloud workforce management software for all Contact Centres.

 

Bringing Competitive Advantage for all Contact Centres

U-WFM believes there is an easier way to deploy Workforce Management and make it accessible, affordable and available to all contact centres, regardless of size.  Designed as an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform, U-WFM provides the proven benefits of automated forecasting and scheduling for the entire contact centre workforce. 

 

The Next Generation of Easy to Use Workforce Management in the Cloud

U-WFM offers their Workforce Management platform as a 100% cloud, OPEX based solution with zero capital outlay and technology hassle. This allows customers to immediately become more effective, efficient and economic on a pay-as-you-go basis, but still benefit from a premium Workforce Management solution. 

As one of the first cloud providers of WFM solutions, U-WFM’s flexible service models allow customers to unlock a real competitive edge by having access to the latest Workforce Management software and experts, straight to the heart of their operations. This has enabled many centres to deliver the optimal service and customer experience which previously they would have been unlikely to budget for or achieve.  U-WFM delivers the solution directly to where it is needed, expects only to be paid for what customers use, and when they use it.

 

The U-WFM Difference

  • Uniquely, there are no exclusions to the capabilities of the U-WFM solution, with customers gaining full access to the complete U-WFM cloud suite. U-WFM’s mantra being that all customers benefit, all of the time. 
  • Unlike competitors, in the standard “most popular” option U-WFM delivers in-person training and a welcome workshop at no additional cost. The focus being on customers’ success.
  • U-WFM offers 3 customer packages, all customisable, but offered at the same single transparent price for full access to the system and its features.   

Click here to read full press release...

 

Ready to see the next generation of Cloud WFM?

Sign up for a solution demonstration:

SCHEDULE A DEMO

 

Free Long Term Holiday Planner

Tim Wharfe 14-May-2018 17:10:31
0

Allocating holiday/vacation hours for a long period of time is very time consuming. Our FREE Long Term Holiday/Vacation Planner allows you to create a long term plan in minutes.

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

Holiday-Alocation

The Calculation
There are various bits of information required to complete this task:

  • Current FTE
  • How many Hours per Week = 1FTE
  • What is the general percentage allowance for vacation over a vacation year
  • Should vacation days be rounded to that of a full time day shift (8 hours for a 40 hours week)
  • A requirement of agents for each week over the year

U-WFM will then process this information to give an allowance for vacation hours by both week and day.

In the above graph, the percentage distribution of agent requirement is plotted (orange line). What U-WFM will do is flip this line, in effect, showing a mirror image of the requirement (purple line).

The same principle can then be done by day, which will then distribute the weekly hours over individual days. The daily allowance can then be auto imported in to U-WFM’s vacation planner.

The Result
When the overall vacation hours are distributed over the mirror image, what happens is lower vacation allowances are plotted at busy times and higher vacation allowances are planned at quiet times.  Thus helping to balance agents working hours over the year and crucially, to increase Service Level with no cost to the business.

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

What is WFM?

Christine Chapman 30-Apr-2018 13:01:36
0

 

Definition

WFM stands for Workforce Management, but what does that mean? In a nutshell, it’s the job of getting the right agents, with the right skill in the right place at the right time. Workforce Optimisation is another term, which just takes the planning of your resources (staff) to another level, but in essence it is all Resource Planning.

 

Overview

If you are asking the question, then you are probably working in a call centre that hasn’t invested six figure sums in purchasing software to forecast how many calls are going to arrive each 15-minute interval of every day, automatically schedule flexible shifts for agents to work to meet demand, and track what those agents are doing during their shift. That said, you are probably doing all these tasks in some shape or form, but perhaps it is time for you to take a breath and think about how you approach the job of Resource Planning, and whether, before long, you may benefit from acquiring a cloud-based solution to make the job easier, such as U-WFM.

Continual process of Workforce Management

What is WFM

The WFM function can initially be divided into 3 functions:

  • Forecasting
  • Scheduling
  • Real-Time

It is the glue that binds together the 3 main perspectives of call centre management:

  • the customer
  • the staff
  • the bottom line

Good resource planning will ensure that there are enough agents on the phone to deliver a good customer experience. This in turn balances the workload of the agents, so they should neither be too quiet or too busy. The result being an efficient operation, with costs managed effectively, good customer retention/satisfaction and a happy workforce.

It is often said that WFM is both an art and a science, mathematics and algorithms play a major part in a sophisticated forecasting model, but without the common sense and business knowledge of someone who understands your company and how it operates, this will fall short of the accuracy you need to run an efficient call centre. The human element is as important as fancy footwork in Excel or WFM software, and that is where the art comes into it.

Click here to read full article...

Interested in a free trial of U-WFM?

SIGN UP FOR FREE TRIAL

Long Term Holiday Planning

Tim Wharfe 20-Apr-2018 14:51:24
0

 

The Problem

Planning for vacation over long periods of time can be a difficult task to complete. To achieve a quick and easy calculation of how and where to allow agents to ‘spend’ their vacation time, U-WFM are introducing a calculator that will allow this operation to be completed in record time.

The Calculation

There are various bits of information required to complete this task:

  • Current FTE
  • How many Hours per Week = 1FTE
  • What is the general percentage allowance for vacation over a vacation year
  • Should vacation days be rounded to that of a full-time day shift (8 hours for a 40 hours week)
  • A requirement of agents for each week over the year

U-WFM will then process this information to give an allowance for vacation hours by both week and day.

In the below graph, the percentage distribution of agent requirement is plotted (orange line). What U-WFM will do is flip this line, in effect, showing a mirror image of the requirement (purple line).

Holiday-Alocation

The same principle can then be done by day, which will then distribute the weekly hours over individual days. The daily allowance can then be auto imported in to U-WFM’s vacation planner.

The Result

When the overall vacation hours are distributed over the mirror image, what happens is lower vacation allowances are plotted at busy times and higher vacation allowances are planned at quiet times.  Thus helping to balance agents working hours over the year and crucially, to increase Service Level with no cost to the business.

Sign up for our free Long Term Holiday Planning tool

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

 

WFM Recommended Process

Tim Wharfe 18-Apr-2018 18:37:29
0

 

Introduction

When the dust settles after the implementation of a new Workforce Management system, one of the most common queries is not actually about the software at all. It is about the how and when of going from nothing to a finalised schedule.

This blog will be going through a recommended process that WFM Administrators and Resource Planners can follow in order to give everyone, business and agents the best from your hard work.

 

Process Cycle

There is a well defined basic process cycle that WFM Administrators generally follow.

WFM Basic Process

1. Forecast – Using the most recent historical information

2. Schedule – Create a new schedule from rules already in Workforce Management

3. Manage – Intraday management of the schedule

4. Analyse – Use most recent data to feed back to forecasting

 

Reasons for Process

Most businesses will want to give agents schedules a certain number of weeks in advance. This allows agents to plan their lives and maintain a healthy work/life balance. This is normally done in rolling weeks. Every week, a new week is released to agents maintaining the same length of future visibility at all times.

It is important to get the number of future weeks published right. If there is not enough, agents will not be happy. If there are too many, any changes to schedules, especially due to leavers or new starters will require the WFM administrator to re-schedule more than they would otherwise need to, increasing their workload.

Typically, although by no means a rule, agents receive around 4 weeks notice of their upcoming shifts. The length of shift notice does differ across businesses.

For these reasons it is important to robustly stick to a well defined process and follow it through consistently.

 

Recommended Process Table

For this example, we will be assuming that agents are receiving 4 weeks notice for their schedule and also using 4 weeks of historical data to build a forecast.

The below table shows a timeline spanning 11 weeks in total. 6 weeks in the past, the current week and 4 weeks in to the future.

 

WFM Process Table

The below process covers what should be worked by the WFM administrator every week.

This Week

  • Offline entry and minor schedule adjustments as required
  • Reforecast week utilising most recent historical data
  • Reschedule agents. As shifts were locked previously, only breaks and lunches may be changed
  • Republish
  • Enter offline activities as known. No forecasting or re-scheduling is required as both these weeks already have a forecast and schedules where shifts, but not breaks and lunches are locked
  • Create new forecast
  • Create new schedule
  • Lock shifts, but not breaks and lunches
  • Publish

Week 1 (next week)

  • Reforecast week utilising most recent historical data
  • Reschedule agents. As shifts were locked previously, only breaks and lunches may be changed
  • Republish

Week 2 & 3

  • Enter offline activities as known. No forecasting or re-scheduling is required as both these weeks already have a forecast and schedules where shifts, but not breaks and lunches are locked

Week 4

  • Create new forecast
  • Create new schedule
  • Lock shifts, but not breaks and lunches
  • Publish

If the above process is followed every week for each of the relative weeks in the future, agents will have a consistent view of their shifts and the business will have greater visibility of their expected results.

U-WFM offers free trials of our cloud based Workforce Management Solution

SIGN UP FOR FREE TRIAL